Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe's Worst Massacre Since World War II
Blood and Vengeance: One Family's Story of the War in Bosnia
The Reluctant Superpower: United States' Policy in Bosnia, 1991-95
Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime
Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood
The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia
Plunging forward into pitch-black night, their faces lashed by unseen branches, Srebrenica’s fleeing Muslims stumbled forward one against another. Fearing that the fifteen thousand men would disperse and scatter in the darkness, their commanders had linked many together with white string, one man’s belt loop to the belt loop of the next, and then the next, until they formed an endless column snaking for mile after mile over eastern Bosnia’s darkened mountains and through her wooded, mist-shrouded valleys. Fleeing fallen Srebrenica—which Serb soldiers had at last overwhelmed the day before, on July 11, 1995, after the enclave, its houses and buildings windowless and burned and pocked with shell-holes, its cratered streets teeming with homeless refugees, had endured more than three years of misery, the last two as a United Nations-protected “safe area”—these Muslims shuffled blindly up and over Bosnia’s black hills.
For though they had fled the fallen city, leaving their wives and daughters and fathers to the mercy of Serb conquerors—who even now were drunkenly celebrating their triumph, surveying the twenty-five thousand refugees huddled around the Dutch United Nations base at Potocari, picking out young women and raping them, singling out old men and boys and executing them1—Srebrenica’s fifteen thousand men well knew that they had not escaped. If Serb troops did not bother to follow, they did not need to: they knew the Muslims had undertaken a desperate attempt to reach Bosnian government-held territory forty miles away, knew the trails they must take, the roads they must cross. Gazing up at the hills above the city in the early morning gloom of July 12, the Serbs had watched the ten-mile-long column wend its way slowly out of the far reaches of the enclave and, after taking a few shots and picking off one or two, had taken up bullhorns. “We know you are going to try and pass through with your column!” they shouted. “Better for you to go to Potocari and leave with the buses!”2
However much they might have wanted, in their hunger and exhaustion, to believe these sweet words, however much they might have wanted to trust the Serbs to send them peacefully back to government-controlled land, the Muslims knew, as Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic later put it, “what Serbs did before.”
Wherever they captured people, they either detained or killed all males from 18 to 55 [years old]. It has never happened that the men of that age arrived across the front-line.3
Srebrenica’s men understood as well that they were “special cases,” that years of massacre and retribution meant that they could expect no quarter after the countless raids their fearless commander Naser Oric had led against nearby Serb villages, raids in which Srebrenica’s famished refugees would storm Serb lines, picking houses clean of food before setting them afire. And so Srebrenica’s fifteen thousand ignored the Serbs’ siren song and set out in their long column, with fewer than one in three bearing some kind of weapon, and…
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