thomas does: The Balkan Diaries I Srebrenica & Potocari

Hard to comprehend.
Easy to understand.

The sky above Srebrenica demonstrates what’s possible. Mountains of clouds push themselves in front of brilliant blue, delicate tatters of fog condense to shades of grey and overlap into a sea of shapes. Rays of sun pierce the lead-grey sky and hit the ground, it´s starting to rain – all of a sudden only a few drops are left, to be blown away by the upcoming winds.

Gravestones pierce the ground from below – like thorns. Angled marble boards form half a circle roughly 330 feet in circumference. Written in stone are 8,372 names – names of identified victims of genocide. Tragedies abstracted to numbers and letters. And there is room for more names – the ones yet to be found, or identified. It’s hard to comprehend what has happened here.

A group of 20 women have gathered under a tree on the hillside to pray. When their prayer is finished one of them stands on the path between the gravestones, her head veiled by a shawl. The woman starts to shiver, to wail and finally to cry so bitterly that none of us will ever forget that moment.

This is the place where small Bosnia becomes a worldwide topic – because no matter who massacred whom and gave the command to murder an entire ethnic group or tolerated that command  or executed it – Srebrenica is the exact place where we easily understand what being a human means; and look straight into the eye of a hard fact: what we are capable of.

– Axel Rabenstein, text
– Thomas Bönig, images

Learn more about Thomas’ project on his website, YouTube and Facebook page.

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2 comments

  • Thomas, I really like these series from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). I just wish it were called something else rather than Balkan because BiH is not the only country on the Balkan peninsula and the title tends to be a bit misleading.
    Anyway, the story of Srebrenica is very sad. In fact, it’s terrifying and it leaves me speechless. It is even more terrifying that many of the suspected Serbian war criminals responsible for these crimes are at large. Some have even been freed by the Hague Tribunal. An to add insult to the wound the Serbian leadership never recognized that a genocide was committed there (they said it was just a crime, and even that only after the West pressured them to do so).
    Germany at least had decency to come to terms with the Nazi crimes and even today it is dealing with the consequences of the past.
    Serbs? They are simply in a state of complete denial. according to them, absolutely nothing wrong happened in Srebrenica.

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