In the 1990s Svetlana Broz, granddaughter of former Yugoslav head of state Marshal Tito, volunteered her services as a physician in war-torn Bosnia. She discovered that her patients were not only in need of medical care, but that they urgently had a story to tell, a story suppressed by nationalist politicians and the mainstream media. What Broz heard compelled her to devote herself over the next several years to the collection of firsthand testimonies from the war. These testimonies show that ordinary people can and do resist the murderous ideology of genocide even under the most terrible historical circumstances. We are introduced to Mile Plakalovic, a magnificent humanist, who drove his taxi through the streets of Sarajevo, picking the wounded up off the sidewalk and delivering food and clothing to young and old, even when the bombing was at its worst. We meet Velimir Milosevic, poet, who traveled with an actor and entertained children as they hid in basements to avoid the bombing and gunfire, and we hear the stories of countless others who put themselves in grave danger to help others, regardless of ethnic background.
Faced with a world in which unspeakable crimes not only went unpunished but were rewarded with glory, profit, and power, the Bosnians of all faiths who testify in this book were starkly confronted with the limits and possibilities of their own ethical choices. Here, in their own words they describe how people helped one another across ethnic lines and refused the myths promoted by the engineers of genocide. This book refutes the stereotype of inevitable natural enmities in the Balkans and reveals the responsibility of individual actions and political manipulations for the genocide; it is a searing portrait of the experience of war as well as a provocative study of the possibilities of resistance and solidarity. The testimonies reverberate far beyond the frontiers of the former Yugoslavia. This compelling book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the reality on the ground of the ethnic conflicts of the late twentieth and the twenty-first centuries.
About Svetlana Broz
Dr. Svetlana Broz, cardiologist, is currently Director of the NGO Garden of the Righteous in Sarajevo, the President of the Board of The First Children's Embassy in the World and a member of various NGOs, including the Association of Independent Intellectuals CIRCLE 99. She lives in Sarajevo.
"For every front line soldier there are dozens, if not hundreds, of ordinary people whose lives are affected by conflict. To most, the mere act of survival is all-consuming. Some commit remarkable acts of heroism and a few place themselves in great danger by reaching out across conflict lines to people in need. The people in this book are ordinary. Their stories are anything but ordinary. In view of this, their testimonies are all the more necessary. That in itself makes this an important book." —Her Majesty Queen Noor, Member of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP)
"Broz has collected stories of those who had refused to put their ethnicity ahead of their humanity...This is a precious testimony." —The Boston Globe