European Vacation ’16: Day 9 — Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Day 9: Tuesday, October 4

Tuesday was an easy, take-our-time kind of day in Sarajevo… at one point, it was very somber. We spent almost all day with Fedja, who took me, Erin, Carrie and Rich to an exhibit about the Srebrenica Genocide that occurred over two weeks in July, 1995, toward the end of the war in the Balkans. It was an unnecessary and preventable tragedy, much like the War in the Balkans itself. Bottom line: In the spring of 1993, the UN declared the besieged city of Srebrenica, in northeast Bosnia near Serbia, a “UN Safe Area.” But in 1995, the UN’s predominantly Dutch soldiers failed to protect the city from takeover by the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska (VRS). The VRS subsequently killed more than 8,000 men, women, AND CHILDREN, execution style, in waves after groups of them were tortured for days on end.

The Serbs refuse to see their war crimes for what they are/were, but to this day, families continue to seek out DNA evidence to explain relative’s disappearance and murder at Srebrenica, and mass graves continue to be discovered.

I’m sorry this day’s post couldn’t be more uplifting, but it reminded me in some ways why our trip to Bosnia was so important. Not only was it a chance for me to see and feel the country that had come to mean so much to my family (and to me, by witness to many stories), but also the people who they (and now I) consider family there. They have endured things most of us would never shudder to imagine, and they persevere and work to lift Bosnia up every day of their lives.

The day also afforded us some gift shopping and more time in the old city. Fedja and I broke away for him to show me a church and synagogue from the 12th century, just a stone’s throw from one another. And that’s not rare in Sarajevo. For CENTURIES Sarajevo, and Bosnia itself, was a tale of peaceful coexistence and appreciation. I think many strive to return to that time, and I have confidence that the Bosnian people will fully get there.

It was also a sad day given we had to say goodbye to Fedja and Adi (we missed Malka L ). But we did get to meet Fedja’s twin sister Zinaida (“Zina”), and he really lit up a bit in her presence. This pleased me greatly, seeing him so laid back without a care in the world for those moments (and yes, Fedja, I know you are reading this).

I’ll never forget my time in Bosnia, but it was far too short. Next time, we’ll have to dedicate a full 7-10 days to a country I will forever now view as a second home.

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