My childhood memories-Croatian War of Independence

 

I woke up today thinking about it and thought I could share this experience with you. I remember clearly when it was all happening, I was 14 years of age,I was not allowed to pick better school in the city cause it was too far from home and too dangerous.It was beginning of the war. Everything seemed normal to me.  I went to local high school instead. Not much to choose from, but it didn’t bother me too much at the time. I was very lucky that area where I lived wasn’t badly damaged in the war, we were not attacked by  missiles and aircraft bombs. We had ruined buildings but nothing much as in some areas east and south of Croatia.

The most ruined was Vukovar. It was completely devostated.Vukovar was defended by lightly armed soldiers of the Croatian National Guard  and civilian volunteers, against  JNA soldiers and Serb paramilitaries equipped with heavy armour and artillery. During the battle, shells and rockets were fired into the town at a rate of up to 12,000 a day. At the time, it was the fiercest and most protracted battle seen in Europe since 1945, and Vukovar was the first major European town to be entirely destroyed since the Second World War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reason  the war started was a majority of Croats wanted Croatia to leave Yugoslavia and become a sovereign country, while many ethnic Serbs living in Croatia, supported by Serbia,opposed the secession and wanted Serb-claimed lands to be in a common state with Serbia.

Pink = Croat-held areas, Red = Serb-held areas .

The War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 .
I remember being at school, sound of air-raid siren,running  downstairs to shelter. As teenagers we didn’t take that too serious,it was exiting hiding and not attending classes.

We were not even aware  how children in other parts of Croatia had traumatic time, loosing their homes, watching their loved ones being killed, leaving home with one bag and never come back.Some went trough torture, some were raped. A lot of people have never been found. I look back now and I am so thankful that I have my family alive  and don’t suffer from  post traumatic stress disorder  like a lot of them do. 

The total number of deaths from the war is around 20,000. Croatia suffered around 12,000 killed or missing, including 6,788 soldiers and 4,508 civilians. Official figures from 1996 also list 35,000 wounded.

At the end of the war my parents sent me to my siblings in badly damaged area, 300 miles away.I was helping them to rebuild their home,any help was welcome,  they didn’t have any glass left on  doors and windows ,I remember sleeping in a room like that, having only necesseties to live with. But the atmosphere was happy! Croatia won the victory and it was big motivation to start again new life in independent country.

After the successful implementation of the Erdut Agreement which ended armed conflict in 1995, the relations between Croatia and Serbia gradually improved and the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1996.

Croatia is now renewed, small country with population of around  4000.000, joined the European Union on 1 July 2013. Its one of most popular tourism destinations  in Europe.

Movies

  • The Battle of Neretva (1969). This classic from Tito-era Yugoslavia imported Hollywood talent in the form of Yul Brenner and Orson Welles to tell the story of a pivotal and inspiring battle in the fight against the Nazis.
  • Border Post (Karaula, 2006). Croatian film about various Yugoslav soldiers working together just before the war broke out.
  • The Death of Yugoslavia (1995). Remarkable five-hour BBC documentary series featuring actual interviews with all of the key players. (It’s difficult to find on home video, but try searching for “Death of Yugoslavia” on YouTube; the book Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, noted above, was a companion piece to this film.)
  • The Diplomat (2015). Documentary about Richard Holbrooke, the American who negotiated the peace to end the Yugoslav Wars.
  • In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011). Angelina Jolie’s intense, difficult-to-watch directorial debut telling the story of the Bosnian conflict through the eyes of a civilian woman held in a “rape camp.”
  • No Man’s Land (2001). Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, this Slovenian production is by far the best film to grasp the Yugoslav Wars that shook this region in the early 1990s.
  • Srebrenica: A Cry From the Grave (1999). Harrowing BBC documentary about the infamous Bosnian massacre (also available on YouTube).
  • When Father Was Away on Business (1985). Croatian movie about a prisoner on the Tito-era gulag island of Goli Otok, near Rab.
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