February 07th 2012 07:30:33 PM
I’ve often said that in bombing the Serbs, we were bombing the same clueless, multi-culti, in -denial types that we are. The difference is that over there, the shit had hit the fan and the Serbs found themselves under physical attack and being forced to react. A reality that God has been kind enough so far, to drag out over decades for us here. From a series of letters by “S.J.,” starting in October:
…In spite of what is usually thought about the conflict in B&H, it wasn’t a clear-cut three-sided ethnic conflict (or, perhaps more correctly, ethno-religious conflict). The fact of the matter is, little was done to curb the rising nationalism among Croats and Muslims early on. People like Tudjman and Izetbegovic were let off with a slap on the wrist, even though they openly advocated policies that were identical to those that led to WWII.
Under normal circumstances such people wouldn’t be likely to survive for long in a communist/socialist country, and the fact they didn’t conveniently “disappear” is a clear indication those who shared their views had infiltrated the Yugoslav institutions. These people, with outside assistance, formed groups of like-minded individuals that were FAR from
representative of the views held by average people (who generally wouldn’t have supported the breakup of Yugoslavia), so, theoretically at least these groups shouldn’t have been able to do what they did.
In reality, the people didn’t really even know what was going on. Characteristically, Serbs (and particularly those from the urban areas, who were far less in touch with the reality, and less aware of the rising hatred that was more openly expressed in the rural areas) were less aware than most, and the war came to most as a COMPLETE surprise. My family lived in Mostar, and even after a terrorist attack on one of the military bases, and a massacre at a Serbian wedding party, and the advice given to my mother by a Muslim friend (advice that my mother, like other Serbs, thought was completely out of the blue, which further indicates just how detached from reality they were), they decided it was perhaps a good time to visit my grandparents’ village for a few days. Little did my parents know that they would never again return home. They took nothing with them, as it was never meant to be the start of their refugee life. They, like most others, thought that the Yugoslav government would sort everything out in no time. But things quickly spiraled out of control.
The Muslims and the Croat secessionists, together with more and more Croats and Muslims from within the Yugoslavian military, organised further attacks, and the war broke out in no time. The Serbs, on the other hand, had no paramilitary organisations (not until later on), and were entirely unprepared. They were completely reliant on the Yugoslavian state, which was disintegrating on all levels.
To get back to the issue of ethnic conflict: It is commonly thought that it was simply a conflict BETWEEN different ethnicities. It wasn’t. Yes, all Serbs were on one side, the side of the legitimate state. But it wasn’t so clear-cut among Croats and Muslims. Not only were there Muslims who fought on the side of Yugoslavia, but there were conflicts among the secessionist Muslims as well. It’s not exactly clear why they fought with each other, but these were Muslims coming from extremely backward rural areas, and their reasons are as complex to fathom as the reasons behind the tribal conflicts in Afghanistan.
Some of these villages were almost unknown. I’ve heard of at least one instance of a Serbian village being attacked by Muslims coming down from the mountains behind the village, that the Serbs didn’t know were even inhabited. It was later found out that there we 13 Muslim villages on that mountain, mostly formed by mujahideen and their families preparing for the war. How they escaped detection is unknown. Regardless, Serbs — faced with the realisation that they were in the midst of something that was CLEARLY planned, and a war that all but they prepared for — soon formed their own paramilitaries.
With subsequent accusations of genocide and whatnot, all sides were further polarised, and the conflict became an inter-ethnic one. Most Western media, late on the scene as always and not caring enough that it was crossing the line between journalism and propaganda, only showed that later side of the conflict.
“Zelenilo’, which approximately translates to ‘greenery’, a Croatian organization charged with taking care of public spaces and the like, posted overdue-payment notices on Jewish graves in the cemetery in Karlovac. Essentially, it’s to inform the “visitors” that the dead have overstayed their lease. It’s, however, uncertain who “Zelenilo” expects to pay for an extension of the leases, given that virtually all of the descendants of those buried were killed in the Holocaust.
Truth be told, the article comes from a Croatian news portal, and the tone seems to suggest they are a bit surprised as well (not necessarily shocked in a “this is incredibly insensitive” sense, but more like “this is ridiculous”).
But this is nothing new. The Croats and Muslims alike seem to have very little respect for the graves of others. Knowing from past experiences, many Serbs fleeing during “Operation Storm” decided to exhume the bones of their more recently deceased, and took them for reburial in more deceased-friendly regions. That [is] in stark contrast to what happened in my grandmother’s village (to give an example of which I have first-hand knowledge), where a Muslim graveyard was built INSIDE the village (which had no Muslim population) while the Turks still ruled, specifically to annoy the Serbs (as both Serbs and Muslims normally don’t build graveyards so close to houses. The fact that they did in a village that was entirely Orthodox seems to indicate malice on their part). Anyway, the Muslim graves were never touched. The Serbs even built a fence around it recently, to prevent cattle from disturbing the graves (something the Muslims didn’t bother with).
December letter, in response to my blog “Jewish Cemetery Desecrated in Kosovo Capital“:
Desecration of cemeteries is nothing new to the enemies of Serbs (be they Croats, Muslims, Albanians or Hungarians). Traditionally (and despite the decades of communist brain-washing, still today) Serbs have enormous respect for the dead. It manifests itself in various ways, with one of them being the tendency (again, among those “in touch” with their roots) to NOT speak badly of the recently deceased…. Those sentiments don’t seem to be present among our neighbours, and desecration of Serbian cemeteries, which to many Serbs is even more horrifying that the slaughter of the living (as it is seen as something absolutely sacrilegious, cruel, and when you think about it, unnecessary regardless of how much you hate someone), become one of the preferred methods of terrorizing Serbs. The dead don’t fight back, after all.
[And if dead Serbs did, they’d be tried for war crimes.]
That tactic was employed by the Croats in Croatia (to be fair, it wasn’t done EVERYWHERE, at least not back then), and it became clear to us Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to what extent the Serbs from Croatia were brutalized when we saw them in convoys, on trucks and in cars, with the bones of their dead wrapped in plastic. It seemed morbid even to us (and somewhat sacrilegious in itself, as bones are not meant to be moved without Church, family and State approval), but one can understand the sentiments of a mother not wanting the grave of her child desecrated by those who did similar things in the past (WWII).
Of course, what happened afterwards proved that these measures were necessary… The number of times swastikas and “U’ signs (Ustasha equivalent of a swastika) have appeared scribbled on Serbian Churches, particularly in the Dalmatian region and other areas where Serbs were a significant element, is alarming, and a clear message to Serbs that they’re not welcome.
In Kosovo we saw an even worse level of savagery. It wasn’t enough to vandalize graves and destroy churches. They resorted to turning Churches into PUBLIC TOILETS, and some graveyards proved useful spaces for rubbish [dumps].
…It’s important to mention that [my grandmother’s] village, [inside which a Muslim cemetery still stands,] like most in Herzegovina, was a target of Ustashe and Handzar terror. My grandmother’s elderly parents were locked inside their house by the Ustashe…and the house was set on fire. Some people were thrown into “jame” (pit caves), injured or dead, and some sent to Jasenovac (my grandfather was among those sent to Jasenovac, but he managed to escape by jumping into a river and swimming for his life. As it was nearly winter, the Croats just let him go, probably thinking he’d freeze to death anyway). And as if that wasn’t enough, “jame” throughout the region were later concreted over by the communists, as it was seen that “dwelling on the dead” would cause a strain in ethnic relations.
So, if anyone had reason to hate, it was these people, but they didn’t resort to desecrating the graves of others. If only the Albanians, who enjoyed a better life in Yugoslavia and Serbia than in Albania itself, and who have essentially had everything go their way, had just a little bit of that respect. They don’t even have the “excuse’ of taking revenge. Revenge for WHAT, exactly? […]
And from this week, in response to my “Disfiguring the Disfigurement of Jasenovac” blog:
The difficulty in establishing definitive facts in relation to the WWII genocide in Yugoslavia (by which I mean ALL of Yugoslavia, including the areas occupied by Germans, Italians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Albanians, and Croatia which was controlled by the Ustashe with the aid of Bosnian Muslims who took part in both SS Handzar divisions and special Muslim Ustashe divisions) lies in the fact that study was repressed for some 50 years by the communists, and some 20 years by the West and their local allies.
Nevertheless, there is more than enough information to go on. However, one thing needs to be made clear. Evidence DOES NOT MEAN bodies, because there simply aren’t as many bodies as those killed. Just as in the Holocaust outside Yugoslavia, bodies were burned, or otherwise completely disposed of, so that the actual mass graves don’t contain as many bodies as there were people killed. The Ustashe went one step further (some rather sickening details will follow, for which I apologise, but it is necessary), and cremated people WHILE STILL ALIVE, threw people into icy rivers, after cutting their abdomens open to ensure there was no “risk” of survival, but there was still suffering involved. They also used the body fat to make soap, similar to how lampshades were made out of skin of Jews.
I won’t go on, but in short, body count isn’t something we can rely on. So to compensate for it, Serbian historians have relied on reports made by the Croats, Italians, and Nazis, and also on the census information. Not even that is entirely reliable, as those in more remote areas wouldn’t have been covered by the census, and as entire families and villages were wiped out, there was no one to report the deaths after the war.
Another thing needs to be taken into consideration: Jasenovac was only ONE of many concentration camps operated by the Ustashe. It wasn’t even the worst among them, as there was one camp which was only for children. That particular camp was run by Catholic nuns, and the wives and sisters of those who operated Jasenovac.
Another thing Serbs find particularly insulting is the insistence on referring to almost all camps in Yugoslavia as “concentration camps”. VERY FEW were concentration camps, and most were in fact death camps. One of them, Sajmiste in Belgrade, has a unique position in WWII history in that it was the only URBAN death camp. No other death camp operated so openly. Sajmiste was designed to frighten Serbs into submission, its horrors a daily [reminder] as they went to and from work and school.
Also related to the Jasenovac post, reader Steve responded:
Hi, just read your piece about Jasenovac. I can’t remember the source now, but I read someone quoting that in German war archives it is clear in German Officers records that 1,000,000 Serbs were killed by Croatians.
Indeed, I am reminded that in the course of doing research for my 2010 Jerusalem Post article “Mass Grave of History,” I came across such an official German figure for Croatia. So we know that at least a million Serbs were killed there.