The Forgotten Camp

By Minela

A confined space, aggressive interrogations, and dehumanization are just a few of terms that may come to mind when trying to describe the word ‘concentration camp’. In the discussion of the concentration camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina not only did these things happen, unfortunately the politics of memory have created an inability to properly memorialize what happened.

During World War II, the outside world was appalled and disgusted about the treatment of millions of European Jews, Roma, and other minority groups. When the information of the treatment that went on in the concentration camps or as many would call them prison or work camps people were quick to recognize the brutal and inhumane treatment of these people. Fast forward to the early 90’s in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you could see a similar sight. If journalists had not heard rumors about the camps and fought to document the truth, most of the world would not be aware of what they thought would never occur again after WW II. For myself, it came as an utter and complete surprise to find that most of the concentration camps used in the 1990’s war were either unoccupied or serving a purpose other than a commemoration sight like that of Auschwitz. The most infamous WW II concentration camp Auschwitz today serves to remind the world of what hatred and military force can do to the masses. So why is that message not clear in the former camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina today?

Before spending a week with the Most Mira team, I had the very naive idea that genocide denial didn’t exist, and if it did, it was with the few who we’re uneducated. During the time I spent with Kemal (a survivor of the Omarska concentration camp) and the Most Mira team, I quickly learned that the camps and the remembrance aspects of them were rarely talked about. I hoped that by coming to Prijedor I could single handily solve the denial behind the camps. I sadly came to find out the problem was deeper than I imagined it to be. I continue to struggle to understand the situation as I thought it was a black and white issue and solution. I hope to persevere and use my research to help aid in a discussion of the camps and begin the understanding process it so desperately needs.

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