Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95

When you visit the Balkans and in particular the worst hit nation of Bosnia is really is hard to avoid the war. Not many people are all that open to talking about what is still an open wound, but there is evidence of the scars of war to be seen around almost every corner. From the bullet holes and ruins of Mostar to the shell marked streets of Sarajevo. Here the war is a subject that to be fully understood needs to be tackled head on. After the emotional rollercoaster of the Mostar Shelters tour we took in the city in which we explored the ruins and learnt all about the events of the conflict we were in for another shock. Over in the town of Srebrenica on the Bosnian/ Serbian border over 8,000 muslim Bosniaks were massacred in a genocide reminiscent of those perpetrated by the nazis in the second world war.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

Very little had prepared us for what we were about to see in this exhibition. We knew a little about the war and after taking the tour of the Mostar ruins we felt we had quite a grip on the politics and history that lead up to the war and the main events which took place during that time. But one thing that had slipped passed unknown was the terrible events in Srebrenica.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

I can’t help but wonder if the fact that the victims were Muslim Bosnian’s somehow makes the media feel this is less newsworthy. Of course, the atrocities the Nazi’s carried out at places such as Auschwitz were much larger in scale but there is no doubt that they were both just as calculated in their aim of ethnic cleansing via a method of cold blooded murder.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

I remember the feelings I had as I wondered around Auschwitz, part of me couldn’t take it all in, the horror of the place and the depths to which human being are capable of sinking. I felt like this should have been just something from the history books, a time in which lessons were learnt and never allowed to be repeated. But this feels more raw, more unbelievable, something like this happened not 70 years ago but during my lifetime, and even more shamefully, the whole world does not know about it.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

A brief summary of the events of Srebrenica

This is probably one of the hardest posts I have ever had to write to be honest. I sat in the exhibition hall watching images unfold in front of me on a horrific timeline of events that still make no sense to me. Maybe it is because I see no sense in judging people via their religion, their ethnicity, skin colour or anything other than who they are. Here I saw pure evil, evil cut from the same cloth of the Nazi’s we as a world fought to eradicate. So here is my best attempt to summarise, I suggest if you have any further interest you visit the exhibition yourself or do some further reading online.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

The Srebrenica massacre was the systematic killing of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men in the eastern town of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the expulsion of a further 20,000 civilian from their homes. It took place in July 1995 as part of the wider conflicts within Bosnia.The massacre has been identified as the worse event of mass murder in Europe since the second world war. An international tribunal eventually ruled that the events that took place here amounted to genocide.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

The genocide was used as a way of ethnically cleansing the lands on which these people lived, lands which the Serbs claimed and wished to annex. In order to do this they felt they needed to expel the Muslim Bosnians that called this place home. In March of 1995 the president of the self declared Republika Srpska ordered his forces to “create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica.” This resulted in the area being cordoned off and an embargo being placed on food and supplies. During this period local Bosniak fighters began to both flee and have regular skirmishes with the Serbian forces. This lead to operation “Krivaja 95” which culminated in the massacre. 

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

Part of what made the events even worse was that Dutch UN forces claimed areas around the city to be “safe Zones” including a place called Potočari. This meant that many of the residents gathered here and over 10,000 men and boys marched through thick forests to get here. This resulted in the people of Srebrenica effectively already being caged up in one location with the UN peacekeepers totally overwhelmed by the attacking serbs. Many of the men and boys were taken to Bratunac, forced to leave by use of terror including rape, murder and torture. They were then subsequently bound, blindfolded and executed between the 12th and 16th of July. 

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

One thing that the massacre did do was to open the eyes of the western forces to just how out of control this conflict had become and made them push for the eventual cease-fire that ended three years of war on Bosnian soil.

The exhibition in Sarajevo

The exhibition in Sarajevo is the first of its kind and aims to preserve the memory of what happened in Srebrenica and the victims of this genocide.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

Included here are many shocking images of the laborious process that the Bosnians alongside international workers took to try to identify the bodies of the victims. Included here are images of clothing and personal belongings, mass graves, skulls and bones of the victims as well as documenting the emotions of the survivors and victims families. These images are raw and uncensored documents of the horrors that took place there. They leave no story untold no matter how heartbreaking.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

Wandering silently down the hall of these moving photographs I felt I was witnessing history repeating itself all over again in front of my eyes. The scale of death and hatred here is unbelievable, the images of twisted bone, dirt and barbed wire will forever stay with me. But so they should, the memory of these poor people should be just as imprinted on us as the victims of Nazi Germany. Lines of silent coffins, burnt out homes, skeletal hands reaching out of the mud and mothers in unimaginable anguish. This exhibition has to be one of the most distressing and horrific I have ever encountered.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

The videos that accompany these beautifully sorrowful images tell the story of what happened here. From a timeline of events to personal stories, only by sitting through these testing pieces can we begin to comprehend this madness.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

Feelings

It is quite hard to summarise the swirling mix of emotions that fills you when visiting a place like this. After visiting Auschwitz it took me a while to really process what I had seen. Of course this is a little different, but what really bothered me the most was the lack of public knowledge around the world of this event.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

Of course, I was filled with anger and confusion at why such a thing would be allowed to happen and how another human being can perpetrate such acts. How someone can be so blinded by hatred of another person just based on race or ethnicity is something I will never, nor hope to, understand. Today more than ever it is relevant that we look upon these events to stop it spreading once again.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

But to compound the matter I feel that the lack of knowledge about this comes down to a general disregard for Muslim lives around the world. I am often taken a back by the portrayal of modern terrorist attacks, how those in the west with mostly white christian victims are greeted with a chorus of sorrow, but those that happen on a daily basis, ripping families apart and tearing down towns and cities of Muslim origin are routinely ignored.  How do we even today think that this is ok? Even just in the small act of not publicising such events we contribute to what culminated here; seeing people as unequal simply based on their religious beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender or sexuality.

Discovering the haunting truth about The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia at Gallery 11/07/95, things to see in bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, massacre, genocide, post world war 2, horror, balkan war, 1990's war, bosnian war, serbia, serbs, srpska, photography, memories, things you have to see in sarajevo,

This cannot be allowed to happen time and time again.

To learn more the official website is here: www.galerija110795.ba

The exhibition is in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

Did you know about these terrible events?

See more from this country:

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Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.
  • I find this war history fascinating. After visiting Croatia, I realised how much I didn’t know about this very recent conflict. I was in high school when it was happening but really had no visiblity of it……I bought a book called Visible Madness in Dubrovnik – the memoirs of a UK war correspondent and learned so much about the Balkans War as a result.

    • Yes. I was also in school at the time and I think it sparked my interest off. It is so interesting to learn more about it. But heartbreaking at the same time.

  • Jessica

    As it represents the history, some are still not open to know the events thru this gallery, but it would always be fascinating for me to see this part of the past.

  • Claire

    I’m always saddened how so few people know about these genocides that took place. I think these posts are so important to highlight to everyone the tragedy that took place in Bosnia and surrounding countries, so thanks for posting this.

    • Thanks. Yes it is a great shame that many of these stories go untold, their suffering covered up and forgotten about. It was a really thought provoking exhibition they put on.

  • I studied this region at university and remember watching much of this failing to comprehend how these things could be happening in our lifetime.

    • I know, after learning about the second world war you wonder how this could ever happen again, so scary 🙁

  • Jennifer McMasters

    I vividly recall the day CNN reported on the horror of Srebrenica. The memory shines so brightly in my soul because it was my “PONR” or point of no return. On that day I turned in slow motion to the news spewing forth. I stood frozen in time, as though nothing else existed other than the TV and myself. I didn’t think to stop the tears that came next. I was 28 years old.

    In the days that followed, I held my breath for the announcement of my country’s reaction to this act of treason against our very humanity. The answer came soon enough – the USA would do nothing. In that moment time stood still for me. It was then I consciously disconnected from my identity as an American. Never again did I pledge allegiance to a flag which meant little to me if the leadership was inconsistent with their choices.

    I commented because I have discussed this with many others over the years and yet no one, including myself, has ever suggested the decision could somehow be linked to the victims being Muslim. Every person willing to discuss it with me thinks along the same lines I do. At the time, the justifications for US non-involvement went like this (paraphrased with great liberty) – Yugoslavia is beautiful and its people are wonderful, but there is nothing else there for “us” as a superpower. Despite the genocide happening there, we can’t be the world’s policeman. Reading between the lines, I am sure the US did not stop the atrocities because the involved countries had no oil reserves, hence no economic impact.

    And that’s when I stopped being an American. I waited for many years before I physically left. When my nest emptied, I sold my house and left the country whose so-called Christian values are pathetically self-seeking.

    So yes, I knew then about this terrifying event in history. It was very publicized in the states when it happened. Back then, there were more terror attacks being perpetrated by the Red Army and IRA than extreme Muslims. While occasional radical Muslim factions would wreak havoc, it didn’t create the xenophobia we have today.

    I don’t think it had anything to do with the victims being Muslim and there was full coverage in the states. Most Americans were horrified. Some gave up their entire American identity over it. I acknowledge your opinion, though. Interesting perspective.

    I’m happy to say I live in Europe now. (Dark Tourism is a favorite of mine, as well. I don’t see you’ve stopped in Edinburgh. It is a gruesome yet magnificent place. Scotland has quite the macabre past.)

    • Hey. Thanks for your interesting comment and perspective and I appreciate how you feel.

      However.

      I am coming at this from a British perspective and not an American one and I believe the media to be quite different in the UK. Even now there is a lot of racial propaganda in a time when they are supposed to be much more tightly regulated. It’s shocking how much power they have over how the public perceive events. We also in the 90’s already had a very high muslim population, back then it wasn’t a case of racism due to muslim terrorists, in fact we were still very much fighting the IRA, my home city of Manchester was victim to a bombing in 1996 at their hands. But rather there was tensions between communities for other reasons such people not agreeing with the levels of immigration, certain people believing the Muslim community took away jobs, benefit, social housing, school places, hospital space and didn’t contribute etc etc. There was and in a different way still is many sections of the community in the UK who just hate them and really its just the excuses that have changed as to why.

      I was a lot younger than you were back then so of course my perception of the event is different, but I also asked others older than also said that the coverage was much less than other comparable events and as a child it was also something that was never covered at school or even brought up whereas again other similar events were. Ask young people do they know about what happened here, then ask them if they know about the Nazi concentration camps? This does not get taught, or repeatedly reported on like many other comparable events do. The point is that non of the people who we visited with or who visited whilst we were in the same hostel had even heard the name before. This was systematic racial cleansing just as Auschwitz was, ask those same people do they know that name? Then consider that this happened during our live time too.

      I also know that I grew up in a tense racial atmosphere, that went either way for people in my area, some it turned them into bigots, others it allowed then to have friends of all races from a young age and never really see anyone as different. I think maybe in terms of Muslims in the US this is a more recent development, I don’t know, I’m not from the US.

      I also never mentioned why the US didn’t intervene, I just reported back facts displayed in the museum about the events surrounding the UN and Dutch forces.

      Also. We have visited Edinburgh and love it up there, it was a while back and we would love to have written a better post but this was back in the early days, we should probably revisit and take better photos and re-write the post! If you look under the Destinations / Western Europe/ Scotland tab you can find it there. Thanks, Nic