Project Description

Ljerka Šram and Milivoj Dežman

The love story of Ljerka Šram and Milivoj Dežman represents a unique part of Zagreb history. Their tragic romance is considered to be the last true love story of old Zagreb. Ljerka and Milivoj knew each other from childhood, as their families lived in close proximity to each other. As a young protégé of Franjo Rački (Croatian historian, politician and writer), Milivoj was sent to a convent school to prepare for his future medical studies, while Ljerka started her acting career by participating in amateur plays being performed in various noble houses in Zagreb. It is on one of these occasions that the two met after a long period of time apart, and Milivoj fell in love with Ljerka immediately. Unfortunately, the love was not equal on both sides – although Ljerka promised to wait for Milivoj while he finished his studies in Graz, one theatre play poster from Zagreb ended up in Milivoj’s hands. It listed participating actors and actresses, and Ljerka was given the title of ‘Mrs.’, revealing that she married in his absence. Disappointed but still determined in his love, Milivoj returned to Zagreb as a doctor and began to write theater plays with roles already set for Ljerka. After Ljerka’s husband fell into debt and fled the city from his creditors, she and Milivoj moved in together but never married. What happiness they had lasted for only a short time, for Ljerka fell ill with tuberculosis. Using his influence as a doctor, Milivoj Dežman started the construction of the first specialized hospital for lung patients in this region of Europe, with Ljerka being one of the first people treated there. The end is unfortunately tragic, because despite the success that the hospital had in fighting the disease, Ljerka was unable to recover and died in Milivoj’s arms. The hospital stands to this day, in ruins, forgotten by many, just like the love story connected to it.