Small Croatian town builds stone Mercedes monument for migrant workers

IMOTSKI, Croatia, (Reuters) – Local Croatian sculptor Roko Drzislav Rebic is carving a life-sized stone replica of a Mercedes Benz Minika car as a monument to the thousands of workers who left their homeland in search of a better fortune abroad.

The Mercedes came to be known as a symbol of success for those workers, who would drive home in their cars to show they had made money after fleeing poverty and unemployment.

The monument will be revealed on June 8 in Imotski, a small town situated on the slopes of the Dinara mountain, 30 km (48 miles) from the famed Adriatic coast. The town’s population has decreased over decades due to successive waves of migration.

“Our fathers and grandfathers moved away, mostly to Western Germany at the time to earn something. To show they have earned some money they would drive back home in their Mercedes car,” Ivan Topic, who runs a club of old-timer vehicles told Reuters.

“Out of gratitude to them we are building this monument today,” Topic, who owns eight Mercedes cars, told Reuters,

One of the biggest waves of economic migration began in 1971, when thousands left for Germany in search of work. Another was in 2018 after Croatia joined the European Union and thousands of young people left the country to work in Western Europe.

Rebic told Reuters that the stone was brought from areas near Imotski and once the monument is finished it will weigh 50 tonnes.

Topic said that according to his estimates there are up to 8,000 Mercedes cars in Imotski which has the population of 25,000.

“Not all of the cars are registered.” he said.

Reporting by Antonio Bronic; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Sharon Singleton