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Visiting B&H: Famous Konjic and Tito’s shelter

During our tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we visited Konjic, a beautiful town. We headed to an unsual place: Josip Broz Tito’s atomic shelter

11. Sep 2014. | 12:00 | Saim Orhan
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The Konjic Bridge, which crosses the Neretva River, is an Ottoman masterpiece and was built in 1682, during the era of Sultan Mehmet IV. Nearby, we spot a minaret, ruined during the war years here. Actually, in the years after the war, locals repaired the many damaged mosques and minarets throughout the country, but left this one in shambles on purpose, so that the reality of those years would never be forgotten. And so it stands as a testimony to the pain and destruction of the war.
We continue on with our journey. We are heading for an unusual place. When viewed from afar, the place we are headed appears to be a spot right next to the mountain, covered in structures that are perhaps summer homes. But in fact, these are the entrances to what was once one of the greatest state secrets in Yugoslavia: dictator Josip Broz Tito’s atomic shelter. Called “D0,” there are three separate entrances and three separate tunnels for Tito’s bunker. We head into one of these tunnels. The three tunnels ultimately all come together at a certain point, where they become one tunnel headed into the actual shelter. The entrance points were all built to be incredibly strong, capable of withstanding bombings or even nuclear attacks.
As we walk around the shelter, it is more and more difficult to believe what we are seeing; everything, down to the smallest detail, appears to have been considered. There are the most developing coding machines of their time, all the necessary water filtration machines, stocked foods, generators for electricity, fuel tanks, bedrooms, meetings rooms, a conference room and central air conditioning.


The enormity of Tito’s shelter
This is an enormous shelter, ordered by Tito in case of possible war; it was also meant to be capable of withstanding a chemical attack, if one were to occur. The shelter is located on a hill some 280 meters high, and was constructed by carving it out of rock. We pass through many rooms in the shelter. Interestingly, it was meant to be able to hold some 350 people for six months without having to rely on water or food supplies from the outside world. Air conditioning and air vents were regularly placed throughout the shelter.
We keep on touring the shelter, passing into the section that Tito has planned to use personally. Here, there is a guest room for people who wished to meet and speak with Tito. Behind this is the room that had been planned as Tito’s office. There is a table here, with an old telephone and lots of chairs. The construction of the bunker began in 1953 and finished in 1979; $4.6 billion, adjust for inflation, was spent on this shelter, which, in the end, was never used. The furniture still stands here, just as it was originally placed. There is even still plastic covering some of the pieces of furniture. We head into a room that was meant to be Tito’s bedroom; in its stands a very wide bed.
The 350 people who were to be allowed to stay in this shelter were, not surprisingly, high-level state officials, people who were closest to Tito; personal assistants and high-level military people. But the entire shelter was itself a very closely guarded state secret. Only four military generals and Tito himself knew about the existence of this shelter. We continue our tour, coming upon a bathroom. The air conditioning system in this shelter is interesting, too; it still works, arranged so that the air temperature varies only between 21 and 23 degrees Celsius. We continue on to a bedroom that was intended for Tito’s wife, catching a glimpse of her wig. The company that built this shelter was a Yugoslavian company that was responsible for quite a few such state shelters throughout the Middle East. Now, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina is planning to turn this once-secret shelter into a touristic spot. This means, of course, that the cloak of secrecy that once shrouded this spot will finally be completely removed.

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