Echoes of the Third Reich in Serb Terror in Srebrenica
Echoes of Third Reich in Ethnic Cleansing
The Milwaukee Journal
17 July 1995.
Missing from the heart-rending photographs of terrified refugees were the dusty railroad cattle cars and the sullen storm troopers watching with expressionless faces. Nevertheless, some of the roads and villages of [predominantly Bosnian Muslim-inhabited] eastern Bosnia last week looked too much like eastern Europe when it was the Nazis conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
For the last three years, the ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia and the bestial acts that accompany it have been perpetrated chiefly by Bosnian Serb militias commanded by two of the world’s most bloodthirsty guttersnipes: Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, and Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military commander.
Last week, their victims included the former residents of Srebrenica, one of the supposedly “safe areas” the United Nations proclaimed in 1993. Forced from their homes in Srebrenica, where many had fled after being left homeless by previous campaigns of ethnic cleansing, as many as 30,000 Bosniaks [Bosnian Muslims] fled westward.
Women, the very young, and the very old told how they had been separated from families. They told of rape, of murder, of infants being dragged from the arms of their mothers. They told how men had been rounded up for “investigation.”
It was impossible to verify these harrowing accounts, since reporters were barred from Serbian-held areas. But many of the refugees told similar tales, lending credibility to the accounts. Moreover, reports of rape and other atrocities have been confirmed by independent investigators.
Bosnia has become the graveyard of thousands of innocent people: mostly Bosniaks, but also Croats and Serbs. But it has buried more than bodies.
By late last week, the U.N. Security Council had condemned the Bosnian Serbs 78 times, but failed to take effective action that would halt, much less reverse, the Bosnian Serb conquest.
Bosnia is also becoming the graveyard of the moral reputation of the U.N. and the rest of the civilized world, a world that sees — but does not challenge — the dismemberment of a country and the conquest of its people.
‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Brings Tales of Terror
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, p.8A
14 July 1995.
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — In one of the largest cases of “ethnic cleansing” in the 39-month Bosnian war, more than 14,000 Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] refugees reached government-held territory Thursday with tales of horror, while thousands more — mostly men — were missing.
The frightening yet familiar stories of rape and murder began to emerge from the refugees a day after they were rounded up and deported by their Bosnian Serb conquerors who swept through Srebrenica, a U.N.-protected “safe area” now lost to war and the world’s inertia.
The refugees claim Serb soldiers, making cruel jokes, dragged off young women, tore men and boys from their families, shot civilians and burned houses. As the convoy passed through Serb-held villages on the way to Tuzla, they said, civilians stoned the sweltering buses.
It was impossible to confirm the refugees’ harrowing accounts immediately: All the journalists were banned from the deportation staging area, and the Serbs refused to allow U.N. peacekeepers to supervise the bus loading or to accompany the refugee caravan.
The nightmare began earlier in the week, as thousands of frightened Muslim [Bosniaks] fled Srebrenica to the nearby village of Potocari. On Wednesday morning, the Serbs captured Potocari. Women, children and the elderly were herded at gunpoint onto buses and trucks, while able-bodied men and boys — some as young as 10 or 12 — were separated for interrogation. Hundreds were taken to a soccer stadium in the Bosnian Serb-held town of Bratunac, relief workers said, but many more remained unaccounted for.
As they arrived in the government-held town of Tuzla — itself already teeming with refugees — the displaced of Srebrenica recounted moments from their harrowing ordeal.
One woman told U.N. relief workers she watched in horror as Bosnian Serb soldiers grabbed and carted away her two nieces. Several refugees told reporters in Tuzla that a number of young women were removed from buses and taken off to be raped. Some of the women returned; others did not.
One refugee said a Serb soldier gave her a bar of chocolate, her first food in two days, but she claimed she also saw rebels shoot a woman and a 10-year-old boy.
Two other refugees — women aged 17 and 23 with young children in tow — said they saw Serbs shoot a 50-year-old man and a boy of 5.
The accounts of shootings could not be confirmed independently. A U.N. spokesman, Alexander Ivanko, said a woman and a child died en route from Srebrenica but gave no details.
Refugee Ibrima Adenovic said she saw Serb soldiers take an 8-month-old baby from its 23-year-old mother then drag the woman away screaming from the last Serb barricade before the trek into government land.
Sedalija Selimovic is one of the few men to make it through the Serb cordon. Looking 20 years older than his stated 44 years, he claims the Serbs took boys as young as 12 off for questioning and, once darkness fell in Potocari, “all night, I was hearing women screaming.”
Selimovic, whose wife was killed when Serbs shelled Srebrenica in 1993, arrived in Tuzla with his 18-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.
“We will die one day, probably by natural death,” he said. “But we all died in Srebrenica. Of fear.”
Bosnian Muslims suffering like Jews under Nazis, says Jewish leader
by Jewish Telegraphic Agency
28 July 1995.
“The expulsion terror practices in Bosnia today is quite comparable to what happened from the beginning of the Third Reich to the outbreak of the war,” Ignatz Bubis, chairman of the central council of Jews in Germany, told German radio last week.
Bubis said he could not understand why the United Nations and NATO have not learned the lessons that came from appeasing the Nazis before the outbreak of World War II.
In the interview, Bubis said he supported Western military intervention on behalf of the Bosnian Muslims, who, after a three-year-old war, are under increasing attack by the rebel Bosnian Serb forces.
However, Bubis limited his comparison of the Bosnian plight to that of the Jews before the “systematic annihilation of the Jewish people.”
Similar outcries have echoed throughout the Jewish world over the past week, as Bosnian Serb forces have heightened their assault against the U.N. “safe havens” in Bosnia.
Bosnian Serbs captured Srebrenica, one of the U.N. “safe havens” last week. They have also stepped up attacks on others, including Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.
The takeover of Srebrenica has also set off a new round of emergency aid shipments by Jewish organizations.
Last week, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee set into motion an emergency shipment of food, medicine and clothing for tens of thousands of refugees from Srebrenica.
The shipment from Split, Croatia, set out Monday and is expected to reach Tuzla — where many of the refugees from Srebrenica are located — with minor difficulties because it will have not have to encounter Bosnian Serb checkpoints, said Yechiel Bar-Chaim, the Joint’s country director for the former Yugoslavia.
A total of 60 tons of supplies destined for the besieged capital of Sarajevo are being held up by Bosnian Serbs 10 miles outside the city, Bar-Chaim said in a telephone interview from Split.
The Joint is working in conjunction with La Benevolencija, the humanitarian aid society of the Sarajevo Jewish community, and World Jewish Relief, the British humanitarian organization.
As a group, the Jews in Bosnia have not taken sides in the war. This allows them to carry out their humanitarian missions.
In Britain, a newly created coalition of Jewish organizations launched what has been described as an unprecedented emergency appeal for Bosnian war victims.
Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, said, “There is a moral imperative for Jews everywhere to intervene in the face of racism and xenophobia.”
At the same time, however, the Jewish Board of Deputies, British Jewry’s umbrella organization, was considering toning down a statement on the situation for fear of creating a backlash against Jews in Serbia.
“There is a feeling that anything said by Jews outside is liable to misinterpretation by anti-Semitic factions,” said Neville Nagler, chief executive of the board.
In the Middle East, Israel and Jordan joined forces to coordinate a humanitarian aid effort for Muslim refugees in Bosnia. Under a joint operation called “Peace in the Middle East — Peace in the World,” two planes, one Israeli and one Jordanian, flew to Bosnia on Tuesday to bring medical supplies, clothing, blankets and other aid to the war victims.
The Jordanian and Israeli planes took off separately from Amman and Tel Aviv for Split, Croatia. There, their cargoes were unloaded and redirected to Tuzla, where thousands of Bosnian Muslims have fled from Bosnian Serb attacks.
Rabin last week called Jordan Television during a telethon to raise money for the Bosnian Muslims. He made a personal pledge of $3,000.
Rabin told the television audience that he condemned the attacks by the rebel Serbs on the Muslims in Bosnia, adding that Israel opposes all assaults on people based on their religion, be they “Jewish, Muslim or Christian.”
Back in the United States, leaders of the organized Jewish community, though silent for many months, are again raising their voices against the escalating war in Bosnia.
The National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council said it was outraged at the deterioration of the situation in Bosnia.
“We deplore the United States’ failure to provide effective international leadership while millions of people have been forced to flee their homes and hundreds of thousands have been killed because of their ethnicity or religion.” said Lynn Lyss, the umbrella group’s chair, in a statement earlier this month.
Both the NJCRAC and the American Jewish Congress called on President Clinton and Congress to end the arms embargo on Bosnia.
In a letter to Clinton, David Kahn, the AJCongress president, and Phil Baum, its executive director, wrote: “It is time for our leaders to recognize the clear failure of the present policies, and at long last allow the Bosnian government to defend its citizens from further aggression and put a stop to the genocide.”
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has also written to the president, urging him to commit to prosecuting the Serbian leaders who are responsible for the current policy of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.