THURSDAY 1ST NOVEMBER 2012
First thing this morning we crossed the Mostar Bridge and poked about the east bank of the town.
This archway was completely destroyed during the siege of Mostar. Note the sign indicating a war photo exhibition. Bev and I viewed the photographs which were the work of New Zealand born Wade Goddard. Wade arrived in the former Yugoslavia in 1992 to try his hand at photojournalism. Over the next ten years or so he covered the events in the former Yugoslavia.
After our second visit to the Mostar Bridge we walked back along some of the back streets of the main CBD to our apartment. The following photographs show some of the effects of the mindless shelling.
At first I thought this building may have been a cultural centre because of the intricate concrete panel designs but I was told it was a large shopping complex that was totally destroyed.
I would like to think that if this building is ever demolished and if the panels are taken down they be erected in a public park as a memorial to those who suffered in the terrible war.
The four sides of the building were similarly decorated and bombed. The whole interior was burned out as a result of the bombing.
Imagine the despair the owners must have felt when they saw their beautiful house crumbling before them.
It is difficult for those of us who have never experienced the devastation of war to know how those who have lived through a war must feel. Imagine living in a partially destroyed city and every time you go out you are reminded of those terrible years. But as the time slips by and another generation comes and goes the memories will fade. Someone however doesn’t want people to forget as the next image suggests.
Even though there are many depressing images in Mostar following the war there is a lot of bright things to see too. Following some of the colourful wares for sale in the markets.
Pashmina wool fibre for clothing and other textile articles is obtained from the neck region of the pashmina goat, which is a special breed of goat indigenous to high altitudes of the Himalayas in Nepal, Pakistan and northern India. They produce a double fleece that consists of a fine, soft undercoat or underdown of hair mingled with a straighter and much coarser outer coating of hair. Bev thought the scarves here were too cheap to be fair dinkum, but just the same we bought some for presents and for ourselves, not because they may have been cashmere but because of their design and colour.
Belly dancing was once described as ‘the dance that could melt a stone’. There was an abundance of Turkish souvenirs because of the Ottoman history in the town. Today we visited an old Turkish house down by the river. Fortunately, it suffered minimal damage during the war. The house, now preserved in museum form, has a most homely atmosphere. Not only was it calming to the soul but the design and layout was so basically functional.
The Turkish house was built in 1635. It was only in recent times that the family who owned it moved out so it could be used as a museum.
On the way back to our apartment we went to the supermarket (actually a farmers’ market) and stocked up. Some how we ended up with more food than we bargained for but it was not expensive and the stall owners were friendly and were going to get as much money out of us as possible.
Tomorrow we are catching an early bus to Sarajevo.
Before leaving Mostar we want to say that we hope the people of Mostar never ever have to go through another war. They have had their share. Of all the people we have met so far on this odyssey our thoughts will be forever with them.
SOME BASIC FACT LEADING UP TO THE 1990s WAR.
In the spring of 1990, free elections were held in Slovenia and Croatia. Milan Kucan (political leader) won in Slovenia, a non-communist, won in Croatia. Both countries moved swiftly toward independence, and in June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence. The federal government ordered the Serb-dominated army to suppress the secessionists. In Slovenia, a ten-day war resulted in Serb defeat. In Croatia the seven-month war ended in a cease-fire and Croatia lost control of some of its territory.
In November 1991, Macedonian declared independence and in April 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina did the same. Yugoslavia now only consisted of Serbia and Montenegro.
Civil war quickly broke out between ethnic Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims in the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Croats and Muslims often fought together against the Serbs.
The bloody civil war officially ended with the Dayton Peace Accords in Jan. 1996. NATO troops remain stationed in the area to maintain peace.
Elections were held in Sept. 1996. A three-party presidency was to be elected with a Serbian, Croatian, and a Bosnian Muslim to fill each post. Momcilo Krajisnik, a Serb, Kresimir Dubcek, a Croat, and Alija Izetbegovic, a Bosnian Muslim, were elected. There has been little cooperation between any of the three and so tensions in the area remain high.
Before leaving Mostar and the war I think a quotation by Albert Einstein rather pertinent.
‘General fear and anxiety create hatred and aggressiveness. The adaptation to warlike aims and activities has corrupted the mentality of man; as a result, intelligent, objective and humane thinking has hardly any effect and is even suspected and persecuted as unpatriotic.’
Also one piece of old wisdom.
When you wage a war, you hope to be better off afterwards.
Then you wish that your enemy shall be worse off afterwards.
Later you are gleeful that your enemy isn’t any better off.
Finally you wonder why everyone is worse off.
But this wisdom is remembered only afterwards.