Vahida Maglajlić – courageous heroine in the fight against Fascism
(Vahida Maglajlić was born in Banja Luka on 17 April 1907 as the oldest of ten children of the president of a Muslim sharia court. After graduating from a girls’ school, she wanted to continue her education, but her father insisted that she become a housewife. Through her brothers she came into contact with Marxism and the workers’ movement. She was one of the first women to participate actively in the movement and to become a member of the organisation “Women’s Movement”. She joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia on 1 May 1941. After the occupation of the kingdom of Yugoslavia and the formation of the independent state of Croatia, to which Bosnia & Herzegovina also belonged, she took an active part in the preparations for the organisation of a ceasefire. She joined the partisans in 1942 and became politically active. She supported the formation of the Anti-Fascist Front. Vahida died on 1 April 1943 in a village near Bosanski Novi after a surprise attack on the local brigade by the Germans. For a long time the medical school in Banja Luka bore her name, and it has only recently changed its name to Banja Luka Medical School. Two books have been written about this extraordinary woman: “Zapisi” in 2004, and “Moja porodica” in 2007.)
There have always been outstanding women who have influenced the course of history. They have fought for their rights in a male world, against restrictions of all kinds and traditional values imposed by society, and against unequal treatment and discrimination. Their achievements have changed the way we think.
Such personalities also existed in Bosnia & Herzegovina during the Second World War. No doubt because of the patriarchal society women were unfortunately not entrusted with major tasks. Tradition and conservative values meant that they were required to focus on their families rather than their own personal advancement. Vahida Maglajlić was one woman who showed that this did not need to be the case.
In spite of her origins in a wealthy, educated and well-off family in Banja Luka, Vahida Maglajlić soon realised that she could not be satisfied with the role of a housewife and that this was not her mission in life. While still young she joined “Women’s Movement”, an organisation for successful women, where she was very active, while not neglecting her role as the oldest sister in her own family. Her vital energy and strength were inexhaustible. She selflessly communicated her talent for the good and beautiful to her siblings and friends. At home she was the central focus and driving force within the family.
Her energy and flexibility came to the fore particularly in 1941 when Banja Luka and the country as a whole were preparing to rise up against the occupants, and many people required help and support. Banja Luka was a supply centre for partisans. The family house was transformed into a store and headquarters for the preparation of food and collection of clothing, ammunition and arms for the partisans. Vahida soon attracted the attention of the Fascists. She was arrested, tortured and interrogated, but she refused to capitulate and engineered her own escape, about which a number of version abound.
Posthumous people’s hero
Vahida Maglajlić fell into the hands of the Fascists and was buried on 1 April 1943 with twenty-seven other partisans in the village of Velika Rujiška. She was transferred shortly afterwards to the partisans’ cemetery in Banja Luka, where her grave can be visited today. She is the only Muslim woman in ex-Yugoslavia to have been declared a people’s hero.
Role model for Palestinian women
Her unbroken will in fighting Fascism was renowned far beyond the borders of ex Yugoslavia. Inspired by her courage and self-determination a Palestinian by the name of El Helou Mohamed wrote a leaflet about Vahida and put her face on the cover as an example to women in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. He succeeded in this regard and Vahida was admired by freedom fighters throughout Palestine.
The well preserved medieval fortress Medvedgrad (which means City of Bears). Located on the slopes of Medvednica (Bear Mountain) the fortress was built in the mid-13th century after repeated invasions by the Tatars. #zagreb #croatia #hrvatska #zagrebcroatia #zagrebcity #zagrebfacts #medvedgrad #medvednica (at Medvedgrad)