Surviving the Bosnian Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak

Surviving the Bosnian Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak

by Selma Leydesdorff
     
 

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In July 1995, the Army of the Serbian Republic killed some 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in and around the town of Srebrenica—the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II. Surviving the Bosnian Genocide is based on the testimonies of 60 female survivors of the massacre who were interviewed by Dutch historian Selma Leydesdorff. The women, many of whom

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Overview

In July 1995, the Army of the Serbian Republic killed some 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in and around the town of Srebrenica—the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II. Surviving the Bosnian Genocide is based on the testimonies of 60 female survivors of the massacre who were interviewed by Dutch historian Selma Leydesdorff. The women, many of whom still live in refugee camps, talk about their lives before the Bosnian war, the events of the massacre, and the ways they have tried to cope with their fate. Though fragmented by trauma, the women tell of life and survival under extreme conditions, while recalling a time before the war when Muslims, Croats, and Serbs lived together peaceably. By giving them a voice, this book looks beyond the rapes, murders, and atrocities of that dark time to show the agency of these women during and after the war and their fight to uncover the truth of what happened at Srebrenica and why.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In July 1995, the Serbian army murdered about 8,100 Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica—a town that had been designated a "safe area" by the U.N. and was ostensibly under the protection of Dutch soldiers. That the Dutch—outnumbered and unprepared—did nothing to stop the killings only added to the survivors' trauma and feelings of abandonment. With sensitivity and compassion, Leydesdorff (We Lived with Dignity) interviews about 50 female survivors of the Srebrenica massacre, many of whom still live in refugee camps, in this valuable oral history. Many of the women still exhibit signs of severe trauma, and though they survived, most have not found a new reason to live; others feel relentless guilt they could not do more to save their families. Exploring the war-torn years from 1992 to 1995 that led to the genocide, Leydesdorff puts her interviews in a broader, scholarly context by relating the women's experiences to survival stories of WWII and to prior research on trauma and rape victims. One of her main conclusions is that too little effort has been made to listen to these women's concerns, which she addresses by giving readers a valuable perspective on these survivors, encouraging them to tell their own stories. (Oct.)
Internationale Spectator

"A book of remarkable integrity that gives the victims voices, faces, families, and lives.... The author succeeds in creating an honest and sensitive picture from the jumble of stories, emotions, and reminiscences.... A work of great social relevance." —Internationale Spectator

Oral History Review

"Surviving the Bosnian Genocide provdes a clear, concise analysis of conditions in Srebrenica and the genocidal massacre in Potocari. As an author, Leydesdorff manages to organize excerpts from dozens of interviewees in a manner that allows their words to carry the weight of the experience, while interjecting herself only to provide the necessary historical perspective to maintain its readability. Ultimately, this collection of experiences succeeds at placing the human toll of mass atrocities in the forefront of the historical discussion in a way that preserves the emotional scars such events leave in their wake." —Oral History Review

From the Publisher
"Surviving the Bosnian Genocide provides a clear, concise analysis of conditions in Srebrenica and the genocidal massacre in Potocari. As an author, Leydesdorff manages to organize excerpts from dozens of interviewees in a manner that allows their words to carry the weight of the experience, while interjecting herself only to provide the necessary historical perspective to maintain its readability. Ultimately, this collection of experiences succeeds at placing the human toll of mass atrocities in the forefront of the historical discussion in a way that preserves the emotional scars such events leave in their wake." —Oral History Review

"Leydesdorff's book focuses on the notorious selective massacre in July 1995 of 8,100 disarmed Bosnian Muslim men by Serb nationalist forces under the comand of General Ratko Mladic, in the area around the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia... The women speak of the shock, in the early days of the war, of seeing trusted Serb neighbors turn into rapists and murderers; of their own fathers, husbands, and sons forced to take up arms; of weeks spent living rough with their children in the forests to avoid slaughter; of hunger, homelssness, and virtual imprisonment in the enclave; and of the bitter moment of escape that was simultaneously the moment of loss, the last glimpse of a husband or son. They also spoke (reluctantly and elliptically) of rape and described surviving brutal attacks by Serb men. The memories of these victimized women are the 'little' sorrows of war, Leydesdorff says, seldom deemed worth listening to, neglected in the political histories." —Women's Review of Books

"An important contribution to the scholarship on the experiences, memories, and traumas of genocide and on the wars in Bosnia.... Leydesdorff is one of the best oral historians of women's lives and their memories and experiences of genocide." —Melissa K. Bokovoy, University of New Mexico

"A book of remarkable integrity that gives the victims voices, faces, families, and lives.... The author succeeds in creating an honest and sensitive picture from the jumble of stories, emotions, and reminiscences.... A work of great social relevance." —Internationale Spectator

"With sensitivity and compassion, Leydesdorff... interviews about 50 female survivors of the Srebrenica massacre... in this valuable oral history." —Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253356697
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
10/11/2011
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Selma Leydesdorff is Professor of Oral History and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She is author of We Lived with Dignity: The Jewish Proletariat of Amsterdam, 1900–1940 and editor (with Nanci Adler, Mary Chamberlain, and Leyla Neyzi) of Memories of Mass Repression: Narrating Life Stories in the Aftermath of Atrocity.

Kay Richardson is a retired editor with 30 years of experience in international scholarly publishing. During her 13 years of residence in the Netherlands, she gained fluency in Dutch and developed an abiding interest in Dutch history and culture.

Indiana University Press

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