Adriatic Reflections

January 19, 2011

Adriatic Reflections

1994 was not a good year for me.

In January of that year, due to the drawdown of U.S. Forces in Europe, my employer, who provided banking and financial services under contract to the U.S. Army, made me redundant . One of the claims to fame of this bank was the robbery of its South Bend, Indiana branch by Messrs’ Dillinger, Nelson and Floyd, back in 1934.

Unemployed in Germany, I accepted a job offer, as a convoy manager, from one of the many organisations supporting the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which was heavily committed in the former Yugoslavia.  My new employers believed that  experience gained in the British Army on active service would be helpful in my new duties.  This proved a valid premise.

With the breakaway in 1991 of Slovenia, followed by Croatia, the erstwhile Yugoslavia was crumbling — a state of affairs not to the liking of the Serbs. Similar to India, but on  an obviously smaller scale, and in earlier times, the two main elements of the populace, Serbs and Croats, formed the main ethnic groups in the region. However, each culture also had areas where members lived side by side throughout the country. This included the area known as Bosnia Herzegovina, which also had its own inhabitants, who were mostly of the Muslim faith. Initially Milosevic, the Serbian leader and Tudjman, the Croatian head of government, with the help of their ethnic minorities, intended to carve up Bosnia between them but the cooperative spirit did not last.

In 1992 armed conflict erupted and continued through to 1995. During those three years many terrible things happened, such as the massacres in Srebrenica, the Markale (Marketplace) bombardments in Sarajevo, prompting NATO to take a more active hand, and the horrors of Omarska Camp.  The war was in full swing as I left Frankfurt, drove through Austria and across the recently formed Slovenia, onto Zagreb, the Croatian capital.

It is an old cliché that fact is stranger than fiction but nowhere was this more relevant than in the cauldron of war that was the Balkans in the early nineties.  This period of history forms the setting for The Tuzla Run and over the coming months I’d like to draw on the events, such as those mentioned earlier, that took place, but which, for various reasons, were not mentioned in the book.

One Response to “Adriatic Reflections”

  1. Finally!
    A succinct explanation of that conflict – for the politically challenged. I lived through that time, hearing snippets of news from the media, and never really piecing it all together in any coherent way.
    I’ve subscribed, and am eagerly anticipating future blogs.

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