By Heike Karge
For our trip we had resolved to visit eleven geographical destinations. Eleven locations, which for us were in some way connected to both wars, to the Second World War or the war of the 1990s, and which we intended to visit and explore with this perspective in mind.
Well now, it is not as simple as that. Since every single one of these eleven locations has its own history – within both wars. And every location to this day carries traces of both wars.
Sometimes the traces are shouting you blatantly in the face – in the form of ruins overgrown by lovely greenery next to the road or in the form of a provoking memorial commemorating the heroes of one side, while the victims of the other side are meant to be made forgotten. Many of the traces are more inconspicuous: in the form of a neglected and long forgotten memorial dedicated to the fallen Partisans of a village somewhere along the roadside. In the form of a man in a wheelchair on the road, carrying disabilities inflicted during the war, forcing the hastily rushing bus to slow down because of his slow vehicle. Some traces do not even exist – sometimes not yet and some of them not any more. We know of the events – which could have become traces of memory – from books and from the internet. Not always does the world of media correspond with the local reality. Bruce Lee has been lost to us and a police officer taking a rest in the municipal park of Mostar reacts with an indifferent yawn to our irritating question about Bruce – last year he was supposedly still there. Many topics that were of top priority for us on our trip turned out to be of minor interest to the people living here. And perhaps it is the same the other way around.
We tried to understand how both wars and their commemoration are connected. The situation is different from that in Germany, where memories of the Second World War do likewise change, and very rapidly in recent times, but they do not do so because of a new war.
We tried to understand how people in Bosnia and Herzegovina today remember the Second World War, and what the new war, the war of the 1990s, means to their lives and their memories. Is it still possible to look at traces of memory of the Second World War in Yugoslavia without taking into account the events of the 1990s? At least for those among us dealing with contemporary history that hardly makes any sense. Not just because the local people also cannot do so. But also because every generation aims at writing a new version of their history.
We share much but not all of what we have heard during our journey. And we have learned a lot. For example, that we have to deal with the history of one place in one time in order to better understand the history of this place in another time. Only then will both stories merge into one complete image.
In preparation for the journey, we specifically dealt with one or another wartime past of certain locations.
These were the following locations:
|Related to the Second World War:|
|9.||Mostar (Partisan Monument)|
|Related to the war of 1992-1995:|
|9.||Mostar (Bruce Lee-Memorial)|