The Balkans and scars of war

After arriving in Croatia I travelled north to the beautiful Gacka Valley with the aim of staying a few days in his beautiful part of the country.

I booked a room in the small village of Zalznica and looked forward to exploring the area.

Dinner that night was at Bistro JELEN, where I became a regular.

I asked the chef, Zeljko, about hiking in the area. He warned me to stay to the trails as may still be land mines in the forest. This was my first encounter with the scars of the Balkans civil war, that raged from 1991 to 1999 and in some places like the Serbia/Kosovo border still happening.

In Mostar, the scars are still visible on the streets where brutal fighting in close quarters took place.

The scars are also visible in the small cemetaries that are dotted through the countryside. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph any. As one photo could not represent the large number of these new cemetaries or the death contained there.

The Massacre at Srebrenica is a documented war crime from the Balkan wars.

At Blagaj, near Mostar, there is a Sufi Mosque that sits above one on the largest springs in Europe.

This cushion sits in the little reading room of the most. A memorial to the Massacre at Srebrenica.

Travelling through the Balkan Countries. Monuments to.war are a regular occurrence.

In 2019, I visited Ljubjana, where there is a monument to the Peasant Uprisings. A moving monument that remembers the slavic peoples revolts against the Austro/Hungarian Empire.

ANZAC COVE, holds a special place in Australian history and mythology. Being so close to Gallipoli, where the Cove is located, I decided to visit. What’s another 1000km or so anyway.

I have always wondered why the Gallipoli campaign is so important. Australian forces took part in an attempt to invade Turkey. Turkey had only recently joined WW1 on the side of Germany.

The attack was a total failure with enormous casualties on both sides.

There are monuments to the dead on both sides.

It was said that WW1 was the war to end all wars.

In Australia, on ANZAC Day and Armistice Day, we all say Lest We Forget. But we do forget as the war ploughs headlong into more wars, more suffering, more death.

A few weeks after travelling through Kosovo, there was a fire fight near the Serbian/Kosovo border, killing 8 people. I had been near there.

Dear friends and followers, I’ve struggled with the ever-present reminders of war I encountered in the Balkans. Hence, this blog.

Normal broadcasting of lighthearted travel and adventure stories can now resume.

12 thoughts on “The Balkans and scars of war

  1. The breaking apart of Yugoslavia is a very complicated story, with so many conflicting viewpoints. Such a beautiful region with great people and culture.

  2. Hi Mick
    Thanks for that.
    I really struggle when visiting these places – and there’s just so many of them throughout Europe. They undo me, I don’t know what it is, maybe grief for wasted humanity.

  3. I have family in the region who survived the civil war in the 1990s and encourage everyone who travels to the region to visit the areas marred by the conflict. It is a humbling experience and an important opportunity to acknowledge other people’s suffering and be reminded of just how horrible things can get.

  4. I remember when it was unheard of to even contemplate travelling around the Balkans. I tend to use the civil war in old Yugoslavia as a “benchmark”/beacon of hope that eventually these conflicts can be “resolved” in other countries as well. Don’t think it’s happened so far but we can only hope.

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