While the images from the photo gallery at the Srebrenica memorial certainly can be said to speak for themselves much more clearly than I could ever describe them, I will attempt to do so anyways. Tarik Samarah’s famous photograph of a broken doll left behind at one of the mass grave sites near Srebrenica sums up the utter hopelessness and defeat of what took place. At a first glance, it could be considered only a minuscule and insignificant children’s toy amidst all the chaos from aftermath of the Bosnian conflict of the 1990’s. However, when taking a closer look, it seemingly represents pure hatred. It is bleak, grim and displays innocence lost. It is said that the figurine was strategically placed as a threat to survivors of the genocide. The black and white portrait highlights that this event was something from the past, but also that the lack of color represents a complete void of life and positive substance.
The doll’s split face and ants crawling around its naked plastic body resemble one of the thousands of human corpses, many of which were mutilated, which were also deserted throughout the Bosnian countryside. It is profoundly demoralizing and symbolizes absolute despair. When I look at this doll, I imagine all the similar playthings that belonged to children shortly before the war broke out. I imagine these children simply playing with their toys, completely unaware of what would be coming their way in the next few months. That these children and their families would be fighting for their lives in a short matter of time. That this was the end of reality as they knew it before the outbreak of violence in their homeland. That the innocence of these small children in Bosnia would be lost forever.