Today, the 6th of December, will forever be etched in Dubrovnik’s history, for on this very date in 1991 the city came under the heaviest of attacks in the Homeland War and thanks to the bravery of a group of heroes defended itself and repelled the attack.
On this day 28 years ago, at exactly 5.50 am, the Yugoslav National Army with warships, planes and cannons attacked Dubrovnik with all their might with the aim of weakening the defence lines around the city from Belvedere, in the south, to Sustjepan, in the north. It was a bitter fight.
The Yugoslav Nationals Army’s bombardment of Dubrovnik, including that of the Old Town—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—culminated on 6 December 1991. The bombardment provoked international condemnation, and became a public relations disaster for Serbia and Montenegro, contributing to their diplomatic and economic isolation, as well as the international recognition of Croatia's independence.
Black Friday around the world might conjure up images of shopping sales and discounts, but Black Friday in Dubrovnik has a completely different meaning. Black Friday as this day was to be known was the fiercest attack on Dubrovnik, not only during the Homeland War, but in the entire and lengthy history of this Adriatic city. And Black Friday also represents a turning point in the siege of the city as the Croatian defenders managed to defeat the numerous attacks from the land, air and sea and therefore foil the plans of the aggressor.
After this fatal day the morale of the defenders rose significantly and the Yugoslav National Army realised that taking Dubrovnik would not be as easy as they had hoped. This day, 28 years ago, proved to be a turning point, not only in the defence of Dubrovnik, but also in the Homeland War. In May of 1992, the Yugoslav National Army retreated to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the offensive on the 6th of December the Old City was struck by 48 82-millimetre missiles, 232 82-millimetre and 364 120-millimetre mortar shells, as well as 22 wire-guided missiles. Two impact craters indicated the use of heavier weapons. The bombardment was concentrated on Stradun—the central promenade of the Old City—and areas north-east of Stradun, while other parts of the Old City sustained relatively few impacts. The attack subsided at 11:30 am. Sadly 13 civilians lost their lives — the heaviest loss of civilian life during the siege of Dubrovnik.