Friday, January 04, 2008

"The Bridge Betrayed" by Michael Sells [12]


Bridge Keeper

This section begins the chapter on the role of Croatian nationalism in Bosnia with a brief history of the Stari Most bridge in Mostar, and its destruction at the hands of HDZ extremists.

Europeanizing the Bosnians

Tudjman spoke of Croatia's task of "Europeanizing" the Slavic Muslims of Bosnia; this was a euphemism just like "ethnic cleansing" and meant essentially the same thing as that more infamous phrase. This chapter briefly sketches Tudjman's anti-Semitism, proto-fascist tendencies, and the deceit and betrayal of Mate Boban's breakaway Croat republic in western Herzegovina. Again, the material in this section should be quite familiar to any reader of this blog.

The Madonna

A brief description of the Marion apparition at Medjugorje; and of the initial rivalry between the HVO and the HOS; the eventual combining of the two and of Tudjman's complete betrayal of his Muslim "allies."

The Convoy of Joy

More depressing--and again, all too familiar for most of my readers--details sketching the rest of the Croat-Bosnian Government war of 1992-1993. The "convoy" of the subtitle was a humanitarian convoy 'allowed' to pass on to Tuzla, only to be trapped and ambushed once it had passed HVO lines.

This section also details how Tudjman and his government continued to stoke the fires of Christoslavism from a Catholic perspective, and how intolerance against Muslims in Croatia proper grew. The section ends with an explanation that it was Western pressure on Croatia which ended the fighting, strongarming the Croatian leadership into accepting the Croat-Muslim Federation.

The Madonna and the Concentration Camps

This lengthy section recounts the power struggle between the more moderate members of the Croatian Catholic clergy--Bishop Kuharic of Zagreb, Archbishop Puljic of Sarajevo, and others, against the extremist Franciscan clergy of Herzegovina. The proliferation of Nazi and far-right regalia at Medjugorje, the open support of Herceg-Bosna extremists by local Franciscans and vice-versa; the contempt Tudjman showed for international justice when he promoted General Tihomir Blaskic after Blaskic had been indicted by the ICTY...all of this is covered. The section ends back where the chapter began--with the destruction of the bridge, by which Tudjman symbolically cut his ties to the "Orient" which supposedly held Croatia hostage, 'outside' of a particular conception of 'Europe.' Sells wonders of any of the pilgrims who heard the Virgin of Medjugorje and her calls for world peace could also make out the pitiful screams of the Muslim victims of HVO-directed genocide.

Diving From the Bridge

Sells introduces us to Amir Pasic, a native of Hungary who directed the rebuilding and renovation of Mostar in 1987. At the time of books publication, Pasic lived in Istabul, he still had the plans for the city, and he was planning on rebuilding it yet again. Whenever the conversation turns to politics or religion, he ignores the speaker and continues talking architecture and construction

In 1994, young boys in Mostar showed up on swimming trunks so that they could take part in the annual diving off the bridge into the Neretva River. The bridge was gone, of course, so they dived from the ugly modern temporary bridge as well.


Anonymous said...


I know Amir Pasic and he is a Bosniak architect born in Mostar (i.e. he's not a native of Hungary). If Michael Sells' book says anything different, it's mistaken.


Anonymous said...

When I was a young boy, I had an opportunity to taste how cold Neretva really was. And let me tell you Kirk and Andras, I almost froze to death! Even during summer time, the river is soooo cold!