Vukovar hosts an annual international film festival at the end of August. After sunset, films are also shown outdoors. The atmosphere under stars, at two rivers, with high-quality films attracts numerous visitors. The programme is also enriched by concerts and exhibitions.
Vukovar is surrounded by greenery and its inhabitants prefer to relax in Adica Park, not far from the city centre. The name comes from the Turkish word “ada” or river island, because the forest is completely surrounded by the old and new riverbed of the Vuka.
Vukovar is a multi-ethnic, intercultural community of about 20,000 inhabitants. The women of Vukovar are citizens, workers, family women, but as this book shows, also scientists, activists, strong role models. In the still largely patriarchal society of Croatia, the successes of women are not sufficiently reflected. It is therefore not surprising that only four streets in Vukovar bear women’s names. The street “Tri ruže” or “three roses” reminds of three sisters of a long-established German family from Vukovar, whose beauty was also immortalized in a song.
She was called the Angel of Vukovar, the Gandhi of Vukovar, and anyone who knew her would testify that she was somehow not of this world or of another time. Ljiljana Gehrecke grew up in Vukovar and spent her youth here. She studied economics, received her doctorate in organizational sciences and worked as a university professor in Serbia, Croatia and Germany. Her professional life reflects an impressive career of this versatile personality.
After the war she returned to Vukovar in 1996 and founded the Europahaus Vukovar in 2000, which became a place of dialogue and overcoming gaps. Ljiljana knew how seldom to listen to her fellow men, to hear the suffering behind their words and to accompany them empathetically, but also arguably, through the process of recovery. She knew that the basis of the recovery of the traumatized society lies in individual inner change, in overcoming one’s own suffering. “I see in Vukovar people, not as they appear, but as they really are in essence, as perfect human beings created according to the face of their Creator,” her words read. To bring their fellow citizens back to this state was their goal. “In this way she brought understanding and peace to the world and drove violence and war out of it. She did not succeed, but when will the good ever succeed? And yet – what would we do without such people?” it says about Ljiljana in a newspaper article after her death.
For her persistent efforts for reconciliation, reconstruction of trust and the war-torn relationships among Vukovar’s fellow human beings, she was honoured with many awards and lastly in 2015 with the Federal Cross of Merit. She dedicated this award to her fellow citizens and invited them to take a spark of hope and incentive with them in order to transform Vukovar into a united and solidary community.
Vera Johanides is considered the first lady of Croatian biotechnology, Croatian brewing, industrial microbiology and biochemical and ecological engineering.
She was born in 1917 in Tompojevci, municipality of Vukovar. She grew up without a father, with two sisters, a brother and a wise mother, who provided her with the appropriate education. In 1935 she graduated from the Vukovar Grammar School, after which she studied in Ljubljana at two faculties, the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Technology, which she completed in 1940 and 1941 respectively.
In 1955 Vera obtained her doctorate in antibiotics and worked with the Croatian pharmaceutical company Pliva. As a university professor, she taught and researched at the Faculty of Technology and the Faculty of Nutritional Sciences and Biotechnology in Zagreb, where she co-founded the first doctoral studies.
In honour of this extraordinary scientist, whose opus includes 110 published scientific papers, 53 professional articles and 14 patents, the Croatian Academy of Technical Sciences has been awarding the “Vera Johanides” prize to young scientists every year since 2003. Vera herself was honoured throughout her life with numerous national and international awards and prizes.
Vera Johanides co-founded the scientific conference “Die Tage Lavoslav Ružičkas”, which has been held in Vukovar for 17 years. Proud of his former high school student, the Vukovar Gymnasium organized an exhibition about Vera in 2018. The poster with her curriculum vitae is now permanently in the foyer of the grammar school to serve as a motivation for lifelong learning and creativity. Throughout her life, she has pointed out the peculiarities of her syrmic homeland with her character, her openness, but also her use of language. In honour of Vera Johanides and other successful former pupils*, 20 lime trees were planted around the school building.