90-year-old Djordge Mihailovic could not be absent from the ceremony marking 100 years from the end of World War I. Serbian Djordge Mihailovic is the keeper of the Serbian cemetery Zeitenlik Allied Cemetery in Thessaloniki, the biggest military cemetery in the Balkans.
Dressed in military uniform, the guardian of the 20,000 dead opened the doors of Zeitenlik and welcomed the officials and the visitors who attended the ceremony on the Armistice Day.
More than 20,000 Serbian, French, British, Italian Russian and Greek soldiers and Bulgarian POWs, who died in the battles on the Salonika front during World War I are buried in Zeitenlik.
The sleepless guardian over 20,500 souls is Djordge Mihailovic, guardians were also his father and his grandfather before him.
Serbian cemetery keeper Djordge Mihailovic walks past a Serbian soldiers monument during a ceremony marking 100 years from the end of World War I, inside Zeitenlik Allied cemetery, #Thessaloniki, Nov. 11, 2018.@JohnPapanikos#WWI100#photojournalism #greece #WWIcentenary pic.twitter.com/R9PgJGgTBf
— Giannis Papanikos (@JohnPapanikos) November 11, 2018
The largest part of the complex is the Serbian Military Graveyard, which contains the remains of c. 7,500 soldiers. The French sector contains the remains of 8,000 French soldiers. The Italian sector holds about 3,000 graves; the British sector holds about 2,000 graves, and there is also the Russian sector with about 400 graves. There are also graves of Bulgarian POW, such as graves of fallen Greeks transferred from the battlefields of Kilkis.
The ceremony on Armistice Day 1918-2018 began in the Serbian section of Zeitenlik. Officials and local authorities held honoring ceremonies also in the Russian, French, British and Italian sectors.
In each sector, a wreath was laid, a minute of silence was held while a military band played the national anthem of each country.
Wreaths were laid also at the Greek Monument and the military band played the national anthems of Greece,France,Germany, USA, Romania, Serbia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, UK, Italy, Malta and Cyprus.
18.5 million people, civilians, soldiers and officers lost their lives in the World War I (1914-1918).
The Mihailovic Family
The first keeper of the graveyard was Savo Mihailović, who was the head of the group that was responsible for the exhumation of Serbian soldiers and their transfer to the area of the future military cemetery. Mihailović, a Serb from Grbalj, collected the bodies of his dead friends and comrades, and then protected and guarded the cemetery until his death in 1928.
He was succeeded by his son Đuro Mihailović, who succeeded in preserving the cemetery and relics from Nazi looting during World War II. Đuro died in 1961 and was buried along with his father on Zeitenlik.
Today, the keeper, host and curator of the Serbian Military Cemetery at Zeitenlik is Đorđe Djordge Mihailović, Đuro’s son and Savo’s grandson, who lives in the keeper’s house with his wife and daughter. Although new burials at Zeitenlik are forbidden, a special decree was issued that allows Đorđe to be the last person buried here when he dies.
Djordge Mihailovic was honored by the Neapoli Municipality in 2016.
sources: ethnos, dailythess, makedonia, wikipedia
PS No, I am not going to write a sentence about 72-year-old US President Donald Trump who let European Leaders honor alone the dead of WWI and preferred to stay in his hotel in Paris on Saturday due to a light rain….
President @realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops? Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow – & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom. Rain didn’t stop them & it shouldn’t have stopped an American president.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) November 11, 2018
John Kerry said it all.