Srebrenica

Our visit to Srebrenica and Potocari was an amazingly unique experience that weaved so many experiences and emotions into a trip that only lasted a couple of days. It really did add a completely different level of depth to the knowledge I had previously had of the Bosnian Genocide that could not be felt through any of studying or reading books or accounts about the horrible events that occurred. It was a bit difficult to process at times, meeting multiple survivors and enjoying their company and laughing with them while just moments before and after they had shared their personal stories that gave an account of the horrible events that so many Bosnians experienced. Meeting these wonderful people and becoming acquainted with them, it was difficult to think about the horror that they had experienced as they retold their stories to us. It was an emotionally challenging couple of days and we moved quickly to so many places seeing and learning so much that it was difficult to really take in the enormity of it all. From hearing first hand accounts from survivors to seeing the processes used to find and identify the remains of those victims that were still missing and seeing the bones of victims and learning about the difficult task or identifying them in order to add at least a small amount of closure towards the families of these victims who have been suffering for so many years without knowledge of the whereabouts of their loved ones. Walking through the memorial cemetery at Potocari, seeing all the gravestones marked with so many varying dates of birth and all the same date of death was emotionally jarring to say the very least. The cavernous empty rooms of the battery factory where so many people were before losing their lives was filled with people visiting the memorial, but also with an eerie silence of all the people in that place left with no words to speak about the awful events they knew had occurred there. It was a reflective and silent trip. Everyone tried to take in as much as they could and so many moments of silence were occasionally broken by attempts to lighten the air, but ultimately it was the silence of incomprehension that I noticed the most. I spent much of the time trying to process and understand what we were experiencing, without much success. I found that contemplative silence and failed attempts to add a level of reasoning to an event that seemed completely impossible to understand were all I could offer myself while visiting those places. Hearing the stories, seeing the places, smelling the smells that all gave a physical presence to the incomprehensible things that humans had done to each other was a very intense experience.It seemed as though the near deafening silence that was weighing so much on everyone standing at that place in contemplation asking themselves how those things could happen almost seemed as though it could have been something beyond human consciousness asking the very same question.

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