Map Study Trip "Commemorating Wars" in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Study Trip Commemorating Wars.
The Commemoration of the Second World War and the War of 1992-1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Route and Destinations:

1. Zagreb 8. Jablanica
2. Jasenovac 9. Mostar
3. Donja Gradina 10. Sutjeska
4. Kozara 11. Gorazde
5. Prijedor 12. Srebrenica
6. Banja Luka 13. Sarajevo
7. Sarajevo
Sarajevo 2SrebrenicaGorazdeSutjeskaMostarJablanicaSarajevoBanja LukaPrijedorKozaraDonja GradinaJasenovacZagreb

Srebrenica / Potočari

Page Contents


Overview

The massacre committed against Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995 has in the meantime been officially acknowledged as genocide. Since 2003, on the 11 July of every year, commemorative services and mass burials are held at the memorial centre Potočari. Srebrenica has not only become a symbol for the violence and brutality of the war of 1992-1995, but also for the failures of the international community in this war.

Official Website of the Memorial Potočari-Srebrenica: http://www.potocarimc.ba/_ba/mc/


Julia Kling: "The Role of the UN in the Srebrenica Case"

Srebrenica, situated in eastern Bosnia, is the place where in July 1995 several thousand Bosniaks were executed by Bosnian-Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladić, and has become a symbol for the horrors, which hide behind the term „ethnic cleansing“.

Das niederländische Kontingent (Dutchbat) war hier stationiert.The crimes against humanity committed in Srebrenica are of an even more tragic dimension since the enclave had already held the status of a UN safe area since 1993 and therefore fell under the direct protection of the United Nations and its peace-keeping troops.

The most brutal massacre in Europe after the Second World War thus occurred practically under the eyes of the whole world, without intervention by the UN.

After the atrocities became public, investigations were commissioned both by the UN as well as the government of the Netherlands in order to find out, how and to what extent the UN soldiers at the scene and the United Nations in general were to be held responsible for the events of July 1995. One of the results of the investigations was the realisation that the Dutch contingent (Dutchbat), posted in the enclave at the time of the crimes, had not been in any position to offer protection to the civilian population due to an unclear mandate and a clear military inferiority compared to the advancing Bosnian-Serb troops. The situation was further aggravated by the fact that more than 50 soldiers of Dutchbat had been taken hostage by Bosnian-Serb troops. Moreover, the order that was forwarded to the UN soldiers at Potočari, stating that the protection of their own troops was of higher priority than the implementation of the mandate, can also be considered as fatal. It led to a situation where thousands of refugees seeking shelter in the Dutch compound did not receive any help.

SrebrenicaIn addition though, further grave mistakes can be attributed to the United Nations. Despite repeated requests by the Dutch, no NATO air support was authorised, presumably because in the United Nations it was feared that this would threaten the UN soldiers’ peace-keeping and humanitarian mission. Moreover, the hardly working exchange of information between the individual areas of responsibility resulted in fatal consequences: Even when it became clear at the scene which objectives Mladić was following in the enclave, this information was not passed on with the necessary emphasis to the relevant authorities, or rather the command structures did not meet the developments with an appropriate reaction.

SrebrenicaIn the Srebrenica case, many of the shortcomings can be detected that became symptomatic for the entire UN commitment during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The international community did not only come to absolutely wrong conclusions about the Serbian war aims, it also did not have a common concept for the mission in the first place. Only when the Srebrenica massacre became public, a reorientation with respect to the international commitment in Bosnia and Herzegovina was agreed on.

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Claudia Wagner: "National and International Consequences of the Srebrenica Massacre"

The Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, when within a few days more than 8000 Muslim boys and men were killed, constituted the tragic “climax“ of the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. The couple of hundred UN soldiers posted in Potočari had to look on as the men and women who had been seeking their protection from the Serbian troops were separated and taken by buses to unknown locations. Right after the departure of the buses there was lack of clarity as to the whereabouts of the men. Only during the following months, due to evidence given by the few survivors, and satellite pictures, the dimensions of the horrors became clear. Survivors and their family, UN soldiers, and the General Secretariat of the United Nations, the peoples of Bosnia, and the High Representative have followed very different ways in dealing with the massacre and its consequences.

Confessions of Guilt

On 15 November 1999 the report of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was published, commenting on the accusations and listing the failures of the United Nations.

To begin with, the adopted measures of the UN are reviewed as having been neither adequate nor reasonable. The weapon embargo did not lead to results, humanitarian aid too often failed to reach the victims, and the deployment of peace-keeping troops would only have been a reasonable measure if there had existed an identifiable will for peace among both parties or in the case of a peace treaty being brought forward. Secondly, the missing flow of information is being denounced (e.g. air force) and numerous incidents of misinformation are also being admitted. Moreover, the Secretary-General admits that the extent of the Serbian war aims was misconceived. He also calls into question the use of the safe area concept: the “safe area“ was by no means safe, because adequate defense was impossible; by demilitarising the area, it simply made it easier for the Serbian forces to attack, since the Muslims were left with only a few light weapons, while the Serbs were advancing with heavy equipment.

This comprehensive confession of guilt was followed from the Dutch side by the report of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) which in April 2002 charged the Netherlands with being partly responsible for the massacre. The report led to the resignation of the entire cabinet of the social-democratic prime minister Wim Kok. In July 2005 the Netherlands accepted their being partly accountable in a government report. At the same time, however, in December 2006, about 500 former UN soldiers were awarded a medal by the Dutch government. According to foreign minister Henk Kamp they had received an “extraordinarily difficult appointment“ and according to official investigations could not be held responsible. The award of the medals was met with substantial concern and protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In June 2004 the government of the Republika Srpska acknowledged the massacre as such. At the end of March 2010, the government of Serbia, with a narrow majority and after a turbulent session, passed a resolution in which they apologise for the massacre, however while avoiding the use of the term “genocide“.

Legal Proceedings

Already on 25 May 1993 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was founded on the basis of Resolution 827 of the UN Security Council. To this day more than 160 suspected individuals have been indicted. In November 1995 it brought charges against Ratko Mladić, leader of the Bosnian-Serb army and special police, and against the president of the Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadžić. In February 2002 the trial against the former state president Slobodan Milošević began. Controversies were caused both in Serbia and in all of Europe by the presentation of the “Scorpion-Video“ during the trial, which shows scenes of six Muslim civilians, some of them still under age, being shot by members of the Serbian paramilitary group Škorpioni (Scorpions). Milošević died in March 2006. In July 2008 Karadžić was arrested; he is currently on trial. Originally the ICTY wanted to conclude its work in 2011, however, Mladić is still at large.

A lawsuit by Bosnia and Herzegovina directed at Serbia as legal successor of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not successful. Nevertheless, in a resolution at the end of February 2007, the International Tribunal rated the Srebrenica massacre as genocide.

Also the lawsuit brought up against the UN at the district court of The Hague in June 2007 by the organisation “Mothers of Srebrenica“, which had been founded in 2002, was rejected due to the immunity status of the UN. In March 2010 the court of appeal in The Hague confirmed the UN’s immunity.

Help on the Scene – The Guilty Conscience of the “Internationals“

Already shortly after the war, the mothers and widows of the missing men began to commemorate the massacre by staging protests on the 11th of every month. They demanded a memorial to be erected at Potočari, the former UN base, where most of them had seen their men for the last time. It took some time for the Bosnian-Muslim SDA-party and the international community to be convinced. When the city council could not come to an understanding about the place of commemoration, the High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch on 25 October 2000 passed the resolution to erect a cemetery and a memorial at Potočari – which is on the territory of the Republika Srpska. In May 2001 the “Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery Foundation“ was founded, and just under two years later the first 600 victims were buried there. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) had specially developed a pioneer program in order to identify the 40 000 missing persons of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the war in Kosovo. In September 2003 the official opening of the memorial by Bill Clinton took place. The memorial had been financed by governments and private organisations. It is made up of two parts. Parts of the old battery factory, where the UN soldiers had been based, were turned into a room of memory (spomen-soba), containing an exhibition with photographs, memories and personal items of the victims. On the other side of the road one finds an open mosque and the cemetery. Every year in July the newly discovered and identified dead are buried there.

The international community has been trying to support the return of Muslims into the region, which began again in 2001, for example by rebuilding the mosques and by the appointment of an imam. The Society for Threatened Peoples, however, on their website describes the returnee policies of the international community as a complete failure, since the returnees can neither be provided with security nor noticeable economic aid.

Local Perception of the International Activities

The commitment of the international community regarding the memorial at Potočari is often seen as a “compensation” for the failure to protect the Muslim civilian population. No other memorial in Bosnia and Herzegovina is financed by the international community. Thus, through international influence, the Srebrenica massacre is turned into the – though fiercely contested – centre of official commemoration. In an article from the “Zeit“, the memorial is described as the “place of official commemoration“, as a place where “politicians step in front of the cameras”. The question remains how the memorial is perceived by the local population.

Right after the war, the local Serbian population celebrated the 11 July as the day of liberation for Srebrenica and 12 July as a commemoration day for the Serbian victims of Muslim attacks. At the end of the 90s new orthodox churches and crosses where erected, mosques in contrast continued to be destroyed. The commemoration of the massacre of Bosniak men and boys in July 1995 organised by the “Mothers of Srebrenica“, was repeatedly disrupted from the Serbian side by singing nationalistic songs, as in 1998 on the occasion of the first visit of the mothers and widows. In 2000, on the occasion of the first major memorial service, buses used by Muslims were targeted with stones, and a house belonging to Muslim returnees was set on fire. The return of the Muslims was perceived as an attack on the Republika Srpska. Two days prior to the memorial service for the tenth anniversary (2005), two bombs were found on the memorial grounds but were disarmed in time.

A central demand of the Serbian population remains, that also their own victims of Muslim attacks should not be forgotten. That is why in the meantime, 12 July has been introduced as a commemoration day in memory of the attacks on Serbian villages around Zalazje in the year of 1992.

In general though, the government of the RS and the police appear to be acting in an increasingly cooperative way concerning the protection of returnees.

To a great extent the returnees are women who want to be close to their dead relatives. For them the psychological, not the political aspect of the memorial and the cemetery is of greater importance.

Amra Begic, our guide through the memorial, has herself lost numerous male relatives and repeatedly stressed the importance of our visit. Her father was found in December 2008 and buried in July 2009. On the one hand, the identification of her father was only possible due to internationally supported forensic science; on the other hand she again and again referred to the failures of the UN during her tour. Nonetheless, the cemetery as a place for mourning continues to be of great importance for her as a family member.

As we unfortunately did not have any further opportunity to talk to local people or the “Mothers of Srebrenica” about their view on the role of the international community and the meaning of the memorial, from this point it can only be referred to newspaper articles and internet sources.

On the occasion of the inauguration of the memorial by Bill Clinton in July 2003 one of the widows of Srebrenica told a BBC reporter that the former US president was the only one with the necessary “moral authority” to open this memorial. At the same time many of those attending the ceremony had mixed feelings as to Clinton’s attendance: on the one hand one was of course grateful as the US intervention had helped to end the war; on the other hand the intervention should have come much earlier.

A step towards reconciliation was undertaken in 2008 by a number of Dutch soldiers who took part in the peace march from Tuzla to Srebrenica. This march was held for the first time five years ago, and since then takes place annually. For the soldiers it was also an attempt to overcome their own trauma.

In 2004 and 2005 a number of one-day presentations by the ICTY were staged in Brčko, Foča, Konjić, Prijedor, and Srebrenica with the title “Bridging the Gap“. The Tribunal presented its work to survivors, their families, returnees, local politicians, scientists and journalists, and answered their questions, some of which were exceedingly critical.

It is certain that for the families burying their dead remains of central importance, even if the identification process can be painful. For many Muslims, however, reconciliation is connected to the extradition of Mladić. In the words of the anthropologist Ger Duijzing it is to be stressed that a collective memory of Serbs, Muslims and Croats with regard to the Bosnian war is essential for the continuity of the Bosnian state.

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In memory of Srebrenica, July 1995: Message to the world from students of the University of Regensburg, Germany, June 2010

Dear Sir or Madam,

We are students of the University of Regensburg who attended a seminar offered by the Department of Eastern and South-East European History. As part of this course we also took part in a one week excursion to Bosnia-Herzegovina. We focused on how to handle the remembrance of World War II and the war in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995. When we were there we dealt with different ways of commemorating former concentration camps in Jasenovac, Donja Gradina and Omarska, and commemorating the wars in general in Sarajevo, Sutjeska, Goražde and Srebrenica. Furthermore, we engaged ourselves in the fate of many people who were afflicted. Since we have done a lot of scientific research in our seminar about the various locations, we thought we were well prepared for the trip, both factually and mentally. However, that was not the case, and we realised that in Srebrenica.

The guide of the Srebrenica memorial site in Potočari first told us her own story, which might be representative for almost anybody in that area. After several months of hunger, tremendous fear and the war around Srebrenica, which resulted in the conquest of Srebrenica by Bosnian Serbs – despite the presence of UN soldiers, her father and her brothers were separated from her and her mother, and taken away on busses. It soon became clear that they were killed, like thousands of other men. The busses carried them to mass graves, in front of which they had to line up in groups of ten, and were shot dead. Of course, these locations were hidden so that it would be hard for other people to find them. In a further act of brutality, the corpses were dug up again and distributed to secondary mass graves in order to conceal this genocide. Until today the surviving dependants have been searching for the remains of their beloved men in order to bury them in an appropriate and reverent manner, and also to find closure in the sad truth that they are not missing, but dead.

We were all shocked to realise that our guide herself was one of the victims, and the way she explained the happenings in Srebrenica in 1995 all touched us deeply. She pointed out that she feels obliged to tell others about this genocide so that it will not be forgotten. We all agreed to support her by reminding others, in Western Europe and the whole word.

Our aim is to raise awareness and to make others think – in the whole world, since we share this woman’s opinion that people in Srebrenica could have been saved if there had only been a declared intention to help, and more insight into the situation. The United Nations, founded after World War II to guarantee world peace, promised to help the Bosnians, but they failed. There was no one who intervened when their population was persecuted and slaughtered by their neighbours.

Therefore, it is an issue of regret and disappointment for the UN that the war and especially the genocide in Srebrenica happened – despite the presence of UN soldiers. It is fatal and outrageous with regard to the future. There will never be a world without war if one does not learn from previous mistakes. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives. However, the situation will not be improved by blaming organisations, governments and individuals publicly, who, without any doubt, failed in July 1995. Certainly, several mistakes were made, also by the United Nations, who confessed that in their Report in 1999.

In the beginning, this message was intended to be sent to an organisation that is going to build such a memorial in Potočari. A “Pillar of Shame”, which will contain the names of responsible organisations and UN soldiers. But our seminar group has agreed that this is not the right thing to do and we will not support this project. Moreover, carving names into a memorial of shame lacks the idea of communication. The question of responsibility of the happenings in Srebrenica is not only a legal matter, but also a political and ethical one. We have to face these issues.

Consequently, we decided to distance ourselves from the “Pillar of Shame” project, and we wish to not only address Western Europe, but the whole world, with our message, in order to point a finger at what must never happen again. We are in charge, but one will not succeed in solving problems by naming and shaming others.



Picture Gallery Srebrenica



Marion Forster, Julia Merl and Birte Richardt: Travel Diary Entry, 28 May 2010

On the way to Srebrenica. The road is bumpy. Exhausting. We take a break at a well. A bus with soldiers. All of them are wearing the BiH badge on their right arm, but on the left an additional one from the R.S., sown on by hand. Once again we become aware of the situation in this country. Later on the trip we have to stop. Right next to the road, the ground is being cleared of mines. Unbelievable. 15 years after the war. I shudder, and at the same time I look out of the window and realise how untouched the landscape is, exactly because there was war and because one cannot roam around freely. It seems strange that restrictions should give freedom. Strange that such odd obstacles should be needed so no one can interfere with this beautiful landscape.

The long journey gives us an opportunity to get ready for what is going to await us in Srebrenica. We all hear it once again. Srebrenica was under Serbian siege since 1992 and then declared a UN safe area. Dutch UN soldiers, here. Were supposed to protect. Could not. Are not equipped well enough, do not receive the appropriate orders. In July 1995 the Serbs ultimately engage, the shelling of the town. 20,000 people flee from Srebrenica to Potočari, to the UN compound. At first they are all let in. Then the realisation comes that there are too many of them. There is only room for 5,000. Selection. Only women with their babies are still admitted. The rest? Is sent away. Some of them attempt to flee through the mountains to Tuzla, into the federation. Few of them succeed. Many run directly into the Serbian troops. In Srebrenica the most brutal genocide since the Second World War occurred in July 1995. Between 12 July and 17 July in Srebrenica up to 8000 Bosniaks, 8000 humans, are brutally murdered.

We are prepared for what waits for us. So we still think at this point. Were we really prepared? Can one be prepared for such a place?

Srebrenica. Just arrived. It is hot. How hot was the summer of 1995? It is rather crowded here. Groups of school children. Their shouting. At first I am disoriented. The bustle around us makes me feel insecure. The children have brought flowers. We walk around the burial ground. Truly a place of peace. An open mosque. Innumerable white wooden pillars – the graves. The sun is blazing down on us. Every pillar shines resplendent. The plaque with the number of victims is sobering, upsetting, but still it does not destroy the feeling of calm. This place has something magical. A large pillar prays to the heavens, to all peoples, in English, BCS, and Arabic, that something like Srebrenica must never happen again, and never again to anyone. I let it get near me. I feel. Still I notice how emotionally exhausted I already am. Here, at our last destination for the week.

All of us go to the open, symbolic mosque. Amra Begic meets us there and begins her story. I do not listen to her properly. Do not feel ready to take in anything. Somehow I feel I cannot take any more. At the same time I feel bad, cruel, empty, and cold. For a long time I think she is just some sort of museum guide. She talks about this place, where one should even smoke – a symbolically repeated last cigarette shared with the dead, with people one was separated from in 1995 at exactly this spot. She talks about how she still comes here today, smoking and imagining how her father looks down at her from above scolding her for smoking here, well scolding her for smoking at all.

Suddenly I prick my ears. She is talking of herself. Of her own dismay. Of the fact that her family died here. That her father was killed here. She tells us about what she feels today, when she gives a tour of this place, with a firm voice though but from time to time with tears in her eyes. Her father and 26 of her cousins were killed here. The remains of her father were only found a few years ago. He was buried here in 2009. She has been giving these tours for 5 years. For 5 years she has been telling this story again and again, several times every day. Her story. She is not a guide. She was 16 back then.

Many of us have already turned away and simply left, cannot listen to all of this. Many still remain and cry silently. It is not embarrassing any more to stand in this circle listening to this woman and to simply cry. I can hardly describe what I feel while I am looking some people from our group in the eyes and find tears there. Everything is so moving and intense. More and more of us start crying. Then the woman’s story ends. We stand around. Move apart. Some of the people in small groups, some on their own. Just sit down somewhere and stare.

I myself am sitting on a bench in front of the small hill with the roses. Roses as a symbol for the anonymous dead whose remains could not yet be found. I look at every rose. How could I have been so cold? How could I not have felt more when I entered this place? In the morning we had all still stood in front of the bathroom mirror and thought about things like: Should I wear sunglasses or maybe not? Which top should I wear? In the morning? In fact just until a moment ago. Even while entering this place we bothered about such trivial things.

And now? Now I am sitting here and I am so terribly aware of how small I am.

This woman has triggered something. It is hard to describe. It is all this suffering here. But in addition it is everything that happened during this week. It seems as if she touched on all of this once again. During the whole week we heard, saw and felt so much hardship. We went to Omarska and held out despite listening to Satko’s stories. Despite all of us looking at his face while we were imagining him in 1992, lying on the floor, almost starving. In spite of all of this we kept up. Now we cannot do so any more. Everything comes back to us.

I turn around. Look for the others. Some are sitting next to each other in front of the commemorative plaque. All of them with downcast and empty faces. Some are smoking. Others are wandering around the burial grounds. Yet another group sits silently somewhere else. So we are all feeling the same thing.

Still I ask myself if they perhaps feel more. Did they feel right from the start? I look at the burial ground, at the others, again at the pillars. I feel scared of myself. How quickly one becomes indifferent. I feel ashamed of myself. Want to leave.

Some of us manage to visit a photo exhibition in a building right on the memorial grounds. The photos which can be seen there show the way from exhumation to identification of the human remains.

We cross the street and enter the factory site on the other side. Now it becomes clear, we have left the place of peace. We have arrived in a bleak factory landscape. We look along the cold container walls and everyone hangs on to an individual film going through ones head. So this is where it all happened. All those people, the crowd, the hope, the being exposed, without protection, being left over. Exactly here.

Then, a huge hall, with a space for a film projection in the middle of it, separated, black. Next to it some sort of an exhibition presenting the fates of individuals. Only a few. Texts, pictures. I cannot look at all of them. Do not have to. I get goose bumps. In front of the space with the screen. Everbody crosses an invisible barrier. One can feel the anxious hesitation pertaining to the upcoming impressions. I remember the film at Donja Gradina. Do not feel strong enough. At the same time I am willing to test out my limit, to make up for what I was not feeling before.

A mother of Srebrenica. The women smilingly gazes into the distance. She is talking about the beautiful eyes of her son. About the way they shone. About love. She says she remembers it exactly. Also their very last look. Their goodbyes happened very quickly, they were sure they would see each other again very soon. It turned out differently. She was to see her son for the last time that day; it was the last time she would see the colour of his eyes.

No music accompanies the film. Oppressive silence. One can hear people crying, feel a lump in one’s throat. Again and again people leave. Images of the UN safe area. People being rounded up, crying, shouting, screeching. Others during the flight to Tuzla. It is incredibly moving. Grown up men in the grass, they have been caught up with, captured, crying, like small children. No pride. Only fear. What does it feel like when all social barriers collapse? The certainty that one is lost. Being defenseless like a child once again. What kind of situation does man have to be in to reveal his true nature once again?

And the burning question in all of us: Who filmed all of this? How could anyone film this? The images are not black and white, not how one knows the images from documentations of bygone wars. They are in colour. Recorded only 15 years ago. What did I do on 11 July 1995?

We recognise the building we passed, the building in which we are sitting. The film ends. Everyone stays in their seats for an unusually long time. Black, crying. I cannot get up. I do not know anything anymore. I leave the room. Wipe away my tears. Amra and two of us are there. I join them. Do not know why. Maybe at this moment I just want to suffer. The other two tell me later that that is exactly how they felt. One of them asks the woman about the meaning of the Arabic signs on the grave stones. She looks at us and explains that Muslims believe that one day in some place one will meet again and be reunited forever. And then she adds with a voice and a look that I will never ever forget: And I hope, and I hope so very much that this place exists!

At this moment everything breaks apart. We break apart beneath this moment. We start sobbing. Without restraint. Unashamed. Like children. We have had too much. It is so cruel. This look. These eyes. Full of hope and yet filled with anxious doubt and tears. One of us runs away. Has to leave this huge gravehall. The woman runs after her. Later I hear that this woman even managed to find the strength to comfort her. She said that everything will be ok, that it happened a long time ago. That it is good we have come here. It is important to build the future. One must never ever forget. The one who ran away feels ashamed that she had to be comforted when she should be comforting the women. She can hardly look into her eyes. Where does this woman get her strength from?

We do not have this strength. The two of us still standing there together. Incapable of hugging properly. Standing there and crying. Someone joins us and takes us into their arms and we just accept it and cry so very badly. I do not think I can describe what it feels like to fall into the arms of someone who is actually a stranger, and to cry. When everything else does not matter any more. When one is so upset that one does not think about whether it might be strange or embarrassing to behave that way.

Afterwards. We had not been prepared. No one. No one talks. We hide from the others. Everyone for himself. I sit down in the sun not saying anything. No one talks. Some continue crying for some time. I shiver. Many are smoking. Me too. No words.

The bus arrives. We get on and drive off and no one talks. I stare at the bottle that is rolling back and forth on the floor in front of me. We decide to stop in Srebrenica. Have a coffee. Stay together. We sit on a bench not far from the others who have gone to a café. We have a good sight of them, because we are sitting on a higher ground. By now we are able to talk about it, because we were able to cry. I feel touched. The other two understand. We talk to each other in an incredibly open way. Our whole life, all our own problems seem so futile and insignificant, and hardly existent. We feel gratitude for our beautiful life. For the luck not to have been born then, not here.

I look across to the rest of the group. They are all sitting at a round table and still staring. Everyone has a drink in front of them. No one cares. This is probably also an image I will never forget. Seemingly just a strange sight, which, however, goes so deep because it says so much about our experience and our group. I feel deeply touched. To see everyone somehow mourning together, keeping silent. How everything we just saw and heard touches everyone without exception. This moment is like our journey: full of infinite sadness and yet so very precious. Everyone of us understands and feels. That is so precious. We look around. How is it possible to live together in Srebrenica today? It is unimaginable. It is more than I can comprehend or try to understand.

The weather forecast of the newspaper in Srebrenica does not show the weather of the federation. Srebrenica is situated within the RS.

In the evening. Back in Sarajevo we meet Satko and go out. In retrospect this might seem strange. Back then it felt completely normal. The journey is full of extremes. Only a few hours ago we had been standing next to each other pale and full of a terrible sadness. Now we are standing around a table with pivo and rakija listening to the music. We have not forgotten about the events of this day nor have we blocked them out. We try to deal with them. We have understood a little more, what life should really be about. It is the people and that is exactly why we are here, together, enjoying our group.

We talk about the day, but also about other, nice, things. We celebrate. We experience this country in the same way it presents itself to us, in fact in the same way that it feels to us. This country is home to beautiful, luxurious and infinitely sad poetry.

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