The opening of the Marine graveyard
Marine graveyard in Pula, (german K.u.k. Marinefriedhof), is one of the largest military graveyards in Europe. The graveyard opened in 1862 when the then Ministry of Navy acquired 4.000 m2 of land to use for the burial of military servicemen. Although the initial practice was burial in collective tombs, as early as 1870, the burials started in individual tombs, which resulted in improved hygienic conditions.
Expansion and World War I
Over time the Marine graveyard expanded, and today it occupies a surface of 22.039 m2. During World War I, many victims of war were buried at the graveyard. These were primarily the officers and soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Later on, soldiers serving in other armies also were buried there. The victims of the Baron Gautsch steamship accident (1914) and the crew members from the sunken battleships Szent Istvan and Viribus Unitis (1918) were buried at this same graveyard, which makes it even more special. During the war, in 1918 and after the war, collective tombs were reintroduced. That was necessary, especially for the burials of the deceased from a heavy flu pandemic during the last winter of the war (1917/1918). Following that period, authorities decided to stop with burials in this graveyard. They reintroduced plans for the construction of a new cemetery for consideration. Twelve Austro-Hungarian admirals (commander of Austro-Hungarian navy A. Bourguignon von Baumberg 1879 and others) and one Turkish admiral got buried at this graveyard.
World War II
During World War II, burials were reinitiated at this graveyard. This way, around 300 Italian and German soldiers and many civilians who died during the Anglo-American bombing were buried there. Soldiers and civilians of various nationalities were buried there: Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins, Italians, Austrians, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian, German, English, French, and Turks.
Proclamation of a Memorial cemetery
Marine graveyard succeeded in retaining its urbanistic-architectural form, preserving architectural heritage, and enhancing its cultural value. Hence the graveyard soon received valorization. By the decision from October 27, 1960, the graveyard has been declared a Memorial site, at which point new burials ceased. The graveyard houses commemorative marks of Austro-Hungarian soldiers from World War I, Italian and German soldiers from World War II, and the memorial dedicated to National Liberation Struggle fighters and victims fallen in World War II. For a long time, the graveyard remained intact and left at the mercy of time. Then, in 1989 a new restoration of the graveyard began.
Agreement on the arrangement and maintenance of the Marine memorial graveyard
Thanks to the decisions of the Administrative and town authorities at the time, as well as the Austrian Black Cross and German Peoples alliance caring for war graveyards, they reached an agreement on the arrangement and maintenance of the Marine memorial graveyard. On May 3, 1997, a Navy Ball took place in the House of the Croatian Defenders (former Navy casino). It was a formal ceremony marking the completion of the graveyard's restoration. Today the graveyard is listed as one of the monuments protected by the Hague convention. A unique attraction is that this graveyard houses the largest cypress plantation in this part of the Adriatic.
Significant cemetery of Europe
On the day of 11th September 2023. Marine graveyard in Pula was proclamed as one of the significant cemeteries of Europe, and became part of Association of Significant Cemeteries of Europe (ASCE).
Year of establishment: 1862
Location: Sveti Polikarp, Pula
Cemetery surface: 22.039 m²
Cemetery type: Military, Navy
Number of buried persons: over 100.000
Official web page: www.mg.hr