The extent of the sentence will give some satisfaction to many of the victims. Mladić, however, has not accepted his guilt. He insulted the judges, disrupted trial proceedings and showed himself recalcitrant in confronting reality. This unites him with other defendants indicted by the UN Tribunal. The former Bosnian Croat general, Slobodan Praljak, dramatically staged his rejection of the court in an absolute act of defiance. As the appeal judgment was delivered he declared, „Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal“. Then, in full view of the astonished judges and the world public, he drank poison and subsequently died. The Serbian warmonger, Vojislav Šešelj, praised the act of suicide as ’heroic’. He knew the Croatian defendant from his own internment in The Hague. This blogpost reflects on the closure of the ICTY, its achievements, and its legacy.
Where does a contemporary history of Serbia begin? How is the Yugoslav legacy reflected within it? And does all the talk about memory and forgetting in post-conflict societies really help to answer these questions? With such doubts I left for Serbia this October. For the past six years, I have participated in excursions about memory culture across the post-Yugoslav region. Most of the study trips were organized by “Memory Lab”.
This is a network of individuals interested in the culture of dealing with the past in Western Europe and the Western Balkans. Since our first meeting in Sarajevo in 2010, forty memory activists and analysts have travelled together to explore how the societies in Western Europe and the western Balkans perform their history. We have visited Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, France, Germany and the German-Polish borderland, Kosovo and Macedonia, Belgium; and in 2016, our joint study trip has lead us to Serbia.
When socialist Yugoslavia fell apart, or was torn apart (as some historians claim), falling into civil and international war, Croatia, as well as some other former Yugoslav countries, looked back into its past in order to find its foundations, on which it can historically, ideologically and, most importantly, symbolically lay on. Today, Croatian society faces considerable historical revisionism or even forgery – especially with regard to remembering the crimes at Jasenovac concentration camp.