Monday, February 27, 2012

(45) Bosnia twenty years later a story of Bratunac, Srebrenica and loss

(Potocari Srebrenica)

1) Do you remember where were you when you realized the war was imminent? What town and what location in the town?

I was only 4 years long and my family and me were in Bratunac, my hometown before war, located only 3-4 miles from Srebrenica. We lived in the city center when military entered the town and started searching the houses and occupying the town. We were next house to ours, my grandparents house. Even though we had a clue that something is about to happen, we didn't leave in time because grandparents were stubborn and for them, army meant "friends and protection", not this time clearly.

2) Do you remember where you were when the war broke out, Specifically?

Adding on question 1's answer, we convinced my grandparents (dad's side) to leave and heard that nearest safe location was Tuzla, about 100 kilometers from where we were, Bratunac. Killing started and all sorts of torment to Bosniak ( Muslim ) families. Ethnic cleansing started and Serbs army started splitting males from females. I remember that everybody was taken to the local soccer field. We however packed and decided to leave even though we were told to stay. My grandparents, few neighbors, dad, mom took our car and 7 or 8 of us started the adventure to try to get out of town.

3) Where were you when the war came to your town? Were you at home, relatives, friends, work?

As I said. We left Bratunac taking nothing along, just trying to get out of hell and find a safe city accompanied with few neighbors and my dad's parents.

4) The most memorable event of the war for you was?

Right before we left our front yard, a group of Serb soldiers came in looking for my uncle and dad because they had significant roles in city, uncle was a lawyer and my dad was working for some company as a director for international something... anyways... They came searching through the house and since it was close to a huge Muslim holiday where you are supposed to make a sacrifice to God by killing a sheep, one of the soldiers came to me, grabbed me, and put a knife under my neck and said to my grandfather how he doesn't need to sacrifice a sheep, I would be a great sacrifice instead. Luckily, he didn't do it!

5) What made you hopeless during the war? 6) What gave you hope during the war?

Unfortunately I wasn't old enough to become hopeless or to know what that is. I was anxious to see my dad coming home alive every 15 days and I listened to the radio, and tv, when it would work, to hear about our forces and about their progress. We as a kids played war, that was the only game we knew, and it was the game that everybody around us played as well. Although, we didn't quite realize it was not a game until someones father or sister or brother wouldn't return!! It was all unreal for us kids.

7) Did you lose anyone close to you during the war?

I unfortunately did. My moms dad, my gradpa, is my closest relative that got killed. My moms family is from Srebrenica so their losses are countless!! I would make a mistake if I say that 80% of male population on that side of family was killed. From ages 12-13 to 65-70 including my moms uncles, their sons, sons of their sons.

8) Were you wounded during the war? Where were you wounded? Anyone close to you wounded?-
No. However I wasn't spared from seeing wounded people all over the place, either on tv or even live when I was unlucky. Perhaps the worst thing that I've ever seen was when a bombshell was dropped on Tuzla's city center with around 200 graduates having their highschool prom... bombshell fell right where they were and most of them were killed, 71 I believe. My 18 year old cousin was there too, didn't make it out. I was out playing, maybe a mile away from there, and ran into the house when we heard it and saw everything live on TV. Devastating.

9) Your biggest loss during the war was?

Very hard question. Besides the lives, I think my biggest lost as an individual is liberality and my development as a person. No matter how hard I try to go over it and not think about it, I will never be liberal and never be able to forget or forgive! I loved my grandfather, as everyone does, but someone took him from me. Many of my friends grew up without fathers, someone took them! All of that impacts on the development of my views and they are just messed up! Even tho I went to the States and got a great deal of education on liberal-arts institution, I will never be able to overcome what happened and my views will always be narrowly shaped by war.

10) What was the hardest part about the war?
No easy parts. Hardest part is today, when some of the politicians approve it and call the victims them legitimate and talk about it like nothing happened. We haven't learned a lesson at all.
11) Did you leave the country during the war?
Stayed the entire time.

12) 20 years later, what do you think of what happened?
As I said before, my views are shaped by what happened unfortunately and will be. I don't even know what to think, I think it was pointless sometimes because we didn't get anything. Neither did we get an independent country, neither do we live freely. Creators of massacre are living among us and walking freely while people who fought and gave their lives for this country have nothing! I think that I'm starting to lose my national identity. I once was proud Bosnian and Hercegovian whos dad fought for his country and independence of the same, now, that country doesn't exist. It is flooded by corruption and traitors, war crime generals, murderers and what not.

13) Are things better or worse than what you expected 20 years later?
Way worse. No progress in any aspect of life in last few years and it seams like there won't be any either. Political elite is the only kind that survives here.

14) Do you think war will return to BiH?
Yes, I think change is necessary. This time it won't be a war any similar to that one, this time neighbor will have to kill a neighbor for a piece of bred or because one has it and the other one doesn't. We are struggling for years and poverty is reaching its culmination. Something will have to change, this or that way.

15) What do you think the future of BiH will be?

Another tough one. I am pessimistic and I will shortly try to explain why. I graduated with degree in BA from an American private University and came back to try to find a job. You would say, or I thought, I was promising for my country and young, educated people are needed. Not quite! Corruption took over everything and no matter how educated or what potential do you have, you cannot find your place in society unless you have some sorts of relations inside the system. There is no jobs even for educated people. There is nothing. This is very hard for me to say because I really am a patriot and my families blood has been spilled all over this land to make it what it is today, and I'm ashamed of what it is! More I grow up, more I realize that this is not what they fought for and this is not what I want to call my country, this is not the country I would be willing to spill my blood for. For whose interest ?

This is my experience so far, I hope and pray for chance but if it stays like this... Dunno!


  1. Spoken from the heart and the thoughts shared by many... amazing story

  2. there is a point in what you wrote...
    I also hate war, but even more I hate people who talk about the war in which they never were...