In the past ten days, I have been collecting stories of people whose childhoods were marked by the Srebrenica Genocide (1995) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Starting tomorrow, I will begin sharing these stories on Humans of Amsterdam.
These are stories of survival, pain, hope, and strength. Each person photographed brought a personal item to the interview. This item is strongly connected to the person’s story and is often the only item they still have from the war. This series will give a unique and very personal insight into life before, during, and after the war in Srebrenica.
I created this series together with the War Childhood Museum from Sarajevo. An incredible museum that continuously focuses on researching and documenting stories of people whose childhoods have been affected by war.We hope you will learn more about the Srebrenica genocide, through the personal perspective of these courageous survivors, and share them with your community, family, and friends.
Each story is unique, but because many of them occur during the same tragic historic event, I want to give you a short explanation of what happened in Srebrenica 25 years ago. This way, you will be able to understand the context of these stories better.
In the summer of 1995, the Bosnian-Serb Army started an offensive aiming to overtake Srebrenica. Civilians from all over the area began taking refuge, and most of them went to Potocari, where the Dutch UN-Base was stationed. The UN-Base, used to be an old battery factory. To this day, people still refer to it as ‘the old battery factory.’
Within a few days, around 25.000 refugees arrived at the Dutch UN-base. About 6.000 of them stayed inside of the UN-Base, while the rest remained outside. On the 12th of July 1995, women and children were deported by buses to the safe territory, in Tuzla. Boys and men were separated and later executed. On the 13th of July, the Dutch UN-soldiers threw out the refugees sheltering inside of the UN-base. Amongst them were boys and men who were then captured by the Bosnian-Serb Army and later executed.
As rumors were spreading that, mostly boys and men were being captured at the UN-base by the Bosnian-Serb Army, many of them decided not to go to the UN-base. Instead, they tried to get to the safe territory (in Tuzla), 100 kilometers further, on foot. These boys and men walked in a long convoy, many of them were ambushed and executed. In total 8372, mostly boys and men, were executed during the genocide. Still, to this day, about a thousand people have not been found yet.