Countries, Culture, Europe

Srebrenica, lest we forget

It is just 25 years ago since Europe was plunged into a genocide we again ignored.

And just like the Holocaust of the Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals in the Forties the civilised West did not think the Balkans Muslims were worth protecting.

Camp of hell

Until too late.

I am indebted to my good friend Onur Gul, of Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com who has family links to Bosnia-Herzegovina, for flagging up today.

Poignant: Onur and his daughter

As he visited the graveyards in Srebrenica https://www.srebrenica.org.uk/.

Where the massacre of an entire town took place while we turned a blind eye.

I will be back

I had hoped to visit Srebrenica this year after missing out in the Autumn when I went to the Balkans.

With Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie to Medjugorje.

Arnie’s story

And discovered that it was too far from Sarajevo and I didn’t have enough time.

But while they may have been out of sight they were not out of mind.

Bey Mosque, Sarajevo

Sarajevo which was itself under siege marks its own and the greater Balkans wars.

It’s there in black and white at the Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide http://visitsarajevo.ba/?lang=en.

And you will get a sense of how the horrors of the war were played out as you take in the audio, video and everyday artefacts and personal testaments.

History revisited

One of the most heartwarming of them all is Arnie’s story. Yes, that Arnie.

For more visit Bosnia-Herzegovina https://www.visit-bosnia.ba/.

And while you search for holiday providers, let me recommend Marian Pilgrimages’ sister company Croatia Tours www.croatia.ie who operate in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

And here are some recollections of my Balkans odyssey… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/24/sarajevo-revisited/ and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know

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Auschwitz lest we forget… I think we have

Prisoners would rush to get the top bunk bed in Auschwitz.

Like overexcited schoolchildren at a summer holiday camp?

No, but because a malnourished human being will quickly lose control of their bowel movements.

And you wouldn’t want to be under that.

Behind these gates

The Son and Heir conveyed that story to me after visiting the Polish concentration camp as part of World Youth Day in Krakow.

Life in camp

And it is these graphic illustrations of what life was like in the concentration camp which are being increasingly retold this week, this day.

Eerie

On the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.

The challenging question for those of us whose mission is to see the world is whether Auschwitz is mawkish.

And, yes, it can be, if you disrespect the memory of those who were brutalised there by taking cheap selfies.

The Son and Heir

But I’m heartened at the same time by the ever-increasing interest in history by thus generation.

And the reverence shown by, among them, the Son and Heir at Auschwitz.

A personal war memory

And those young schoolboys who joined me in presenting the wreath at The Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ieper.

On my World War I Battlefields tour of Flanders and the Somme with GTI The Group Travel Specialists https://gtitravel.ie and In Flanders Fields.

Where I found the grave of my Great Uncle.

The politicians’ game

War history and war tourism is as old as time…

War tourism

For example the great Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott was not alone among well-known people to scour the Waterloo battlefield.

And my American colleague in Ieper took home fragments of exploded shells from Ieper.

Concentration camps today

I am always prepared to go the extra mile to seek out a battlefield, a graveyard or a genocide.

From visiting my first concentration camp in Dachau, and it was the first in Germany, on my Oktoberfest trip to Munich…

Every one a person

To discovering the inhumane lengths man will still go to settle grievances at the Museum of Crimes Against Humanity in Sarajevo.

Visit visitsarajevo.ba and www.bhtourism.ba.

Lest we forget?

I fear we have.

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The faces of 2019 – Crossroads of history

What do you do when you’re at a crossroads? Look both ways.

Which is what the Croatians and Bosniaks, the Turks and the Jordanians have done throughout their history.

And they continue to do so.

It was no coincidence then that it was Sarajevo http://www.visitsarajevo.ba where the First World War broke out.

It was there that a Bosniak Muslim separatist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Catholic Hapsburg Empire, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Because Sarajevo is where the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire met.

It may be 105 years ago.

But it is little changed from the August day when Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia’s carriage was halted by the bridge across the Miljacka River.

And you can see the very gun schoolboy Princip used and other historical artefacts from the day that changed the world for ever… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/21/sarajevo-the-scot-that-was-heard-around-the-world/

The Museum of Crimes against Humanity and Genocide http://yihr.hr/en/the-sarajevo-museum-of-crimes-against-humanity-and-genocide-1992-1995-learning-from-the-past-through-emotional-overwhelm-2/ provides a heart-rending and thorough examination of a difficult subject but is a must-visit in Sarajevo.

And you should look out too for how a Hollywood action man played his most important role too.

In showing his softer side to victims of the conflict.

At the heart of Sarajevo is the beautiful Bey’s Mosque.

It stands comparison with any of the great Islamic temples anywhere… https://sarajevo.travel/en/things-to-do/gazi-husrev-beys-mosque/176.

The Blue Mosque is Istanbul’s https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/wham-bam-thank-you-hamam/ and https://visit.istanbul greatest calling card.

And while it is epic I want to sing the praises like a call to prayers of the Hagia Sophia https://www.hagiasophia.com.

It is revered both by Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians.

The latter who place it as the headquarters of their church (they still call it Constaninople).

Hakan’s tales

Better still if you have a guide like Hakan who will place you in a Medieval daytime soap opera of life in the Great City with the Great and Good.

Which is every bit as enthralling as Game of Thrones.

There’s a story too to be told in Athens around the Acropolis… and that’s just the taxi drivers Georg and Antony… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/09/21/acropolis-later/and https://www.hagiasophia.com

You can find the Orthodox influence, the Romans and the Nabataeans in Jordan... https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/ and http://www.visitjordan.com

What Zuhair and G Adventures http://www.gadventures.com don’t know about Petra, the Dead and Red Sea and Wabi Rum isn’t worth knowing about.

The turn of the year is a crossroads for us all but for those who live at the junctures of the world every day is a crossroads.

And the wonderful guides who share their cities and countries with us show us the way.