Feb 15, Schuyler rated it really liked it Devasting is the first word that comes to mind. The story of the Bosnian War is a bit complicated like most wars but here is a radically condensed summary: Yugoslavia was made up of mostly Croatians, Serbians, and Muslims. And after WWII, the then president Josip Broz, commonly known as Tito, looked to down play ethnic nationalism and have each group live side by side peacefully. Then Tito died and Serbian nationalism took hold through the new Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, who became Devasting is the first word that comes to mind.

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Published on Sat 11 Aug By then his cartoon strip had become simply the most direct, unobtrusive means of narration for the stories of Gorazde in Bosnia from In the old federated Yugoslavia, this had been a minor industrial town along the valley of the River Drina, permanent population 18,, one-third Serbian, two-thirds Bosniac; in the wartime Balkans, it was a UN-designated safe enclave, impermanent population 57, Bosniacs, hardly a Serb left inside to speak of or spit at, surrounded by an inner cordon of Serbian forces and an outer zone of villages and towns from which all surviving Bosniacs had been expelled.

UN relief convoys reached the haven along the route east out of Sarajevo, called the Blue Road after the colour of UN helmets and berets. Sacco came in with the truck column, trailing the hack pack there to grab a quick overview while the destination was in the news. Sacco, though, stayed in the enclave on and off for months.

He pens no suggestion of eyes behind his round glasses, but they are in there all right, focused near and far, missing nothing: the enamel cookware on the stove or the naso-labial lines hunger and fear engrave even on the faces of children. Sacco found in Gorazde his guide and main man Edin, a postgraduate student, teacher, soldier and civic spirit.

But mostly what he did was to patiently record and observe. Because Sacco is so meticulous about details - he always gets the shape of the boots spot on, and the splat pattern of a mortar hit or the viscosity of blood pools - I accepted at once the reality in his imaginings of butchery on the bridge at Visegrad or death by exposure along the midwinter track up to the victualling point at Grebak.

He tidily subdivides his page into neat frames that show how the value of a life might be reduced to a backpack of flour or a pack of Drina cigarettes of peculiar foulness. People drag on Drinas with extreme satisfaction in single frames, deadly little images of desperation.

The deep dark is hiding inside the smokers as well as out. This account is cross-cut with many other testimonies, a very rough, but deadly accurate, guide to the history of the conflict with strategic maps, and brief interludes in which Sacco catches an incident or a mood.

Since the caption and speech bubble format strip away all superfluities, no adjectives and no adverbs required, none of the personal fragments comes over as an indulgence. In the end it will probably all be destroyed.


Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995

Yugoslavia had been a multi-ethnic country and its cultural pluralism was proudly propagandized throughout the world. Edin and many others recall having fun with their Serb and Croat friends during the Josip Broz Tito era. By bringing back the painful memories before the Tito era in which bloody conflicts raged between Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, he succeeds in inciting chauvinistic sentiment among the Serbs. The republics of Slovenia and Croatia , intimidated by the development of the situation, declare independence from Yugoslavia. The political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is rapidly deteriorating. Bosnian Serbs, fearing that once Bosnia gains independence they would be persecuted by the numerically superior Bosniaks and Croats, organize their armed forces and prepare for the upcoming war.


A rough guide to conflict

Every now and then, I noticed, they also spoke of a place chat might be even more frightening than Sarajevo itself. There was apparently this town, once not far off but now, with the Blockade, as unimaginably difficult of access as Dubrovnik on the coast, or distant Zagreb. Gore-aj-day, Gorr-as-dee. In a dim fashion, people apprehended that the mass graves of the latter were the price — and the pressure — for Bosnian signature at Dayton. Yer did this not after all constitute peace?


Safe Area Goražde

Our only hope was the support of the world. We thought they would stop it. In all of them, the process is the same: someone decides that a group of fellow human beings is not, in fact, properly human, and that the world would be a much better place if they were to be slaughtered. And so the cycle begins — a cycle of indescribable violence, terror, and of inevitable mutual distrust. A cycle where hate breeds hate, and where the peace and harmony of the past seem gone never to return. All it took was a moment to severe the ties formed over a lifetime.


They might recognize the bigoted hate-mongering that drives Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in the machinations of politicians who campaign for ethnic nationalism. We were always together They loved their Serb friends and neighbors and knew that they were loved in return. They had a good life Never in my life will I understand why.

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