I always research local history when travelling with a camera, but this is a complex one – the Bosnian war in Mostar. Having read many accounts, I will try and paraphrase my understanding, but definitely, stand to be corrected and I am not apportioning any blame. The city is an amazing one, but it took me a while to acclimatise due to the ‘eeriness’. Now, I love the city, there aren’t many like it that I have travelled to.
Articles are being published even today about the city being divided. That is true – an imaginary line, but this impacts the locals and not the visitors. The Bosnian war was different in every city – they were all part of the former Yugoslavia. It was in short terms, ‘messy’ and as in many wars, down to religion. The participants were the Serbs (Orthodox Christians), Bosniaks (Muslims) and Croats (Catholic). Mixed families fought against each other.
So, the Bosnian Serb Army attacked Sarajevo which resulted in the Bosniaks and Croats joining forces to force the Serbs out of Mostar. The Croats wanted the Bosniaks to form a Bosnia / Croatian state, which was refused so the Croats besieged Mostar. Thousands lost their lives in Mostar and their graves can be seen all over the city.
The war allegedly ended in 1995 (started in 1992), but the city is still divided in a local sense. The Bosniaks (east) and Croats (west) stay their own side of the river – Nevetna. They have separate bus stations, schools, football teams, hospitals, the list goes on. War damage is prolific on both sides of the river & still evident today. People were expelled from their homes and forced to ‘their’ side of the river. Finical Institutions collapsed & the homes now seem to belong to no one and have been left to decay.
It’s hard to say if the buildings should be rebuilt. Would it make them forget the past or should it be left as a reminder that it shouldn’t happen again?
I must repeat that this divide hasn’t impacted me anyway as a tourist.
An intriguing, captivating and thought-proving city to visit, but definitely one I would recommend. The ‘don’t forget’ stones remembering the Bosnian war that are dotted around the city are poignant. But, these reminders are a must so history doesn’t repeat itself.