The Why? Memorial - Atlas Obscura

The Why? Memorial

A NATO bombing took the lives of 16 civilians in 1999—the ruins remain in the center of Belgrade. 


Tucked away to the rear of St. Mark’s Orthodox Church in Belgrade is the Zasto? (Why?) Memorial, which commemorates those who lost their lives when a Serbian television station was the target of a missile.

On the evening of 23rd April 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombed the Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) headquarters in Belgrade. The incident occurred during a bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After a single NATO missile hit the building, 16 RTS employees were killed. Most of the victims were technicians, security workers, or makeup artists.  Many of the employees were trapped in the rubble of the ruined building for days, only able to communicate with those outside via phone. Somehow, RTS managed to return to the air in less than 24 hours, airing from a different, secret location.

At the time, NATO justified the bombing stating that it was intended to disrupt the Yugoslav Armed Forces. But the Yugoslav government stated the RTS building served no military purpose and should not have been a military target.

Over the years, there have been plans to restore the building, but as yet it still stands as a ruined reminder of NATO aggression in Belgrade.

Know Before You Go

The memorial is tucked away in the corner of Tašmajdan Park behind the rear of St. Mark's Orthodox Church.

It can be easier to spot the ruins of the building beyond the car park than to look out for the memorial.

Please remember this is somewhere people died, treat the area with respect.

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February 29, 2024

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