The photographer Pawel Starzec shows in his photos where war crimes took place during
the Bosnian War, 30 years ago. By doing so, he not only documents the crimes but he also
opens up difficult questions about how the country remembers these events.
The massacre of Srebrenica with over 8000 Bosnians murdered by Serbs still shapes the collective memory of the Bosnian war worldwide. But there were also countless other places in which war crimes took place.
In his series “Makeshift”, created between 2013 and 2018, the Polish photographer Pawel Starzec shows a selection of these mostly everyday places. For his research, he mainly used the final report of the United Nations, which mentions more than 700 such places. For Starzec, it was not just a matter of showing the places of terror that took place there. He mainly documented what happened to these places during the postwar period and how memory was constructed there.
Once a year former prisoners and survivors return with their families in remembrance to the otherwise abandoned plateau.
Until today, the plan of erecting a memorial in the empty “white house” has not been realized, as no agreement could be reached between the different groups. In 2004, the Indo-British steel group ArcelorMittal reopened the surrounding area of the former mine. The ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) sentenced ten of the perpetrators for their crimes.
Today, nothing in the primary school indicates how Bosniak and Croat prisoners suffered at Trnopolje. There is however a memorial for Serbian soldiers who died in the war.
The former camp is now located in the Bosnian Special Administrative Region District Brčko. In 2013, a memorial with photos and newspaper articles about the former prison camp was set up inside of one of the halls.
Relatives, survivors and activists throw 250 roses from the cliffs into the abyss of the river in memory of this day. The families of the victims are still searching for 80 percent of the skeletal remains of their relatives, as the bodies were burnt or buried in other places.
On 26 September 1997 the Serbian soldier Nikola Jorgić from the Doboj region was found guilty by the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf in 11 cases of genocide against 30 persons and was thus the first person accused of genocide in Bosnia.
While in Sebrenica, located eleven kilometres to the south, the victims of the genocide of the Bosniaks are remembered each year, in Bratunac there is only remembrance of the Serbian victims.
The Bosnian Serb commander of the camp from May to November 1992, Branko Vlaco, was sentenced to a long prison term in 2014.
The hotel business in Vilina Vlas was resumed after the war. As a guest of the wellness hotel, you still don’t learn anything about the past of the hotel.
Neither on the official tourism pages nor on the bridge itself any reference to these cruel events 26 years ago can be found. The only signs attached to the stone bridge indicate that the bridge inspired Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrićsfür to write his novel “The Bridge over the Drina” and that it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007.
This crime was one of the main accusations that led to the lifelong sentencing of the Serbian cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukić . In 2013 the local authorities wanted to tear down the house. It was only after protests by victims’ associations that it was renovated and marked with a plaque as one of the few places where crimes were committed against the population.
Although the museum has a permanent exhibition on the Bosnian war, there is nothing to be read on the museum’s official website about its own past as a prisoner facility.
Up until now, the members of an NGO of female war victims have failed to put up a memorial plaque in front of the sports hall to remind people of the terrible crimes that have taken place there.
Karaman’s House in Miljevina near the town Foča in today’s Republic of Srbska. Here Muslim-Bosnian women and underage girls were held captive by Serbian troops and regularly raped for several months. Some perpetrators were sentenced by the ICTY and serve long prison sentences.
One of the war criminals at that time, Vinko Martinović, was sentenced to an imprisonment of 18 years, which he was able to end six years earlier. His return to Mostar is hard to tolerate for the victims of his crimes.
Responsible for n-ost photography. After studying design with a focus on photography and working for an international photographer, he worked as a freelance photographer in Berlin. Since 2011 he has built up the image department at n-ost. Speaks Polish as well as English.