“It wasn’t worth the time to examine it. He was what he was and everything he did was right if it conformed to what he was.” MORAVIA.
November 20th, 1991, the end of the battle of Vukovar, a small town with a population of about 30,000, sitting on the border between Croatia and Serbia. At a hospital in the city, a Serbian paramilitary unit took the two hundred Croat patients into the countryside, and killed them. Ethnic tensions, that went back to the role of the Croatian Fascist party, the Ustaše, in the Balkans during World War Two, had risen up again in the dissolution of Yugoslavia into its constituent entities.
Like the majority of Fascists, the Ustaše believed in racial purity and wanted to create a racially pure Croatia. To this end they devised a plan, to kill a third of the Serbs living in the ‘greater Croatia’ that stretched between the River Dina and Belgrade, expel another third, and convert the remainder to Catholicism. They put in place race laws similar to those of their benefactors in Berlin. The Ustaše set up a concentration camp in Jasenovac, and the Serbs, Jews, Communists and Romani of Yugoslavia were sent there, about 400,000 were exterminated between 1941 and ‘45. After the victory of Tito’s Partisans in 1945 many of these racial divisions, between Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs, were relegated in forming a united, socialist, Yugoslavia. Subsumed, but never fixed, because as Yugoslavia dissolved in the late 1980s those old grudges seemed to have never gone away.
How swiftly are the neighbourly bonds that make up communities shown to be nothing more than fantasy, how easily society slips back into ethnic tribalism, when those old wounds reappear, and are shown to have never been healed, just festering under the surface. Neighbours turned into butchers.