There was an item on the ITN news last night that prompted me to write this post: the trial of former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian war of 1992 to 1995.
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This is of particular interest to me as it is a topic I’ve briefly touched on in my 4th book, ‘Retribution.’ 1992 is the year William is posted to Germany after completing his training as an officer in the Royal Engineers Regiment. It is the year the war in Yugoslavia officially began under the command of Serbian leader, Slobodan Milošević, when forces were mobilised within the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to secure Serbian territory. A war soon spread across the country and this was swiftly followed by the ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ that was reported in the news.
In my own Book, this was perhaps best portrayed in a letter William wrote to home, a few extracts of which are included below:
“This is not about two opposing sides in combat but something far worse. This is about man’s inhumanity to man. When I think about what Avalon and I suffered, it’s nothing compared to what these people are going through… the victimisation of certain ethnic groups, happening on a day to day basis in this country, is beyond belief!
Political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been threatened! The Serbian government warned them, they don’t have the military strength to take on their Army. They’ve been ordered to leave the country or face the consequences! In other words, they’re being shot at, bombed and their homes are being torched. I’m talking about defenceless families – women, kids, the elderly, the sick. They say they’re being treated worse than animals, robbed of their possessions, forced out of their homeland with nothing but the shirts on their backs. Unless I’m imagining things, this is how the nazi holocaust started and it’ll lead to genocide. I never imagined I would witness anything like this in my lifetime… I guess I need to see this with my own eyes, even though I might not be able to stomach it. If that’s the case, I’ll be better off in Civvy Street, protecting my nearest and dearest.”
Unfortunately it did indeed lead to genocide.
Prior to this conflict, Bosnia was ethnically diverse with a population of Serbs, Croats and Muslims living together. After watching last night’s report, it occurred to me that my own portrayal didn’t do nearly enough justice to the horror the Serbs rained down on the citizens of Bosnia. It seems horrendous to imagine that they wanted to create a ‘pure’ state; where Concentration camps and mass graves would return to Europe for the first time since the world war 2.
My own inspiration to depict the advent of this tragic war came from a short film I found on YouTube from a TV series titled ‘Peacekeepers.’ It’s about an hour and 20 minutes long and the action doesn’t start until about half an hour in but then it became very depressing.
The link to the film is https://youtu.be/a9thf92vfio
It’s perhaps also worth mentioning that the role of British soldiers was not to intervene but to provide humanitarian aid (and in William’s case) assist the movement of UN forces.
It is a sad fact that we live in a world where conflict and war continue to prevail, even though we strive for peace. I saw the conflict in Bosnia as an example of the true evil humans are capable of and like the holocaust, there can never be any justice. This account does at the very least conclude with the latest news that Karadžić is likely to be found guilty of his war crimes.