Alija Sirotanović

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Alija Sirotanović
Sirotanović on the 20,000 dinar banknote
Born (1914-08-14)14 August 1914
Orahovo, Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary
Died 16 May 1990(1990-05-16) (aged 75)
Breza, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia

Alija Sirotanović (14 August 1914 – 16 May 1990)[1] was a Yugoslav miner of Bosniak ethnicity, Hero of Socialist Labour and perhaps the most famous of all Yugoslav udarniks. He was held up by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia to be a model of a hard-worker in the former Yugoslavia.[2]

Early life and family[edit]

Alija Sirotanović was born in Orahovo, a village in the Bosnian city of Breza, and grew up in Trtorići. He was born in 1914, while Bosnia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He had six brothers and two sisters, all of whom were miners. One of his brothers, Ahmed, died in a mining disaster in 1970.

A coalmining contest[edit]

A worker in a coal mine in Breza, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sirotanović became famous when he and his crew mined 152 tons of coal in one shift.[3] This feat set a world record in coal mining and thus defeated another "model worker", Soviet miner Aleksei Stakhanov.

Political implications[edit]

As Yugoslavia was in political confrontation (see: Tito-Stalin split) with the Soviet Union around the time of the contest, his accomplishment was widely praised and publicised by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Josip Broz Tito is said to have offered to fulfill any wish Sirotanović had, but all Sirotanović is reported to have requested was a bigger shovel.[3] Tito granted his wish, and the larger shovel that was designed for him was later named after him: Sirotanovićka. He was offered an appartement in Breza, but he refused and decided to stay in his house in Trtorići.[3] The state also started building him a new house in his village Trtorići, but it was never finished.[citation needed] In 1987, Zabranjeno Pušenje recorded a song titled "Srce, ruke i lopata" (Heart, Hands and Shovel), paying tribute to Comrade Alija, the model of a hard working, modest man.[citation needed]


The famous 10-dinar banknote, which does not show Alija

He was pictured on the 20,000-Yugoslav dinar banknote, but was often wrongly claimed to be pictured on the 10-dinar banknote. Despite the obvious similarities, the 10-dinar banknote and its 1000-old-dinar predecessor with the same design are older (1955) and showed Arif Heralić, a metal worker working on a blast furnace in Zenica. The newer 20,000-dinar banknote was brought out on May Day in 1987.


External links[edit]