Vukovar

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Today we remember all the protectors of the city of Vukovar who lost their lives during the siege in 1991. To those killed defending the city, protecting their houses, and to those whose bodies were never recovered: we remember you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for our domovina.

Oprostiti, nikada zaboraviti. I reci cu vam samo jos jednu stvar: Zapamtite Vukovar.

18.11.1991

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The Battle of Vukovar (Bitka za Vukovar) was an 87-day siege of Vukovar in eastern Croatia by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), supported by various paramilitary forces from Serbia, between August and November 1991. Before the Croatian War of Independence the Baroque town was a prosperous, mixed community of Croats, Serbs and other ethnic groups. As Yugoslavia began to break up, Serbia’s President Slobodan Milošević and Croatia’s President Franjo Tuđmanstarted to pursue nationalist politics. In 1990, an armed insurrection was started by Croatian Serb militias, supported by the Serbian government and paramilitary groups, who seized control of Serb-populated areas of Croatia. The JNA began to intervene in favour of the rebellion, and conflict broke out in the eastern Croatian region of Slavonia in May 1991. In August the JNA launched a full-scale attack against Croatian-held territory in eastern Slavonia, including Vukovar.

Vukovar was defended by around 1,800 lightly armed soldiers of the Croatian National Guard (ZNG) and civilian volunteers, against 36,000 JNA soldiers and Serbian paramilitaries equipped with heavy armour and artillery. During the battle shells and rockets were fired into the town at a rate of up to 12,000 a day. At the time it was the fiercest and most protracted battle in Europe, and Vukovar was the first major European town entirely destroyed since the Second World War. When Vukovar fell on 18 November 1991, hundreds of soldiers and civilians were massacred by Serb forces and at least 31,000 civilians were deported from the town and its surroundings. Most of Vukovar was ethnically cleansed of its non-Serb population and became part of the self-declared Republic of Serbian Krajina. Several Serb military and political officials, including Milošević, were later indicted and in some cases jailed for war crimes committed during and after the battle.

The battle exhausted the JNA and proved a turning point in the Croatian war. A ceasefire was declared a few weeks later. Vukovar remained in Serb hands until 1998 when it was peacefully reintegrated into Croatia. It has since been rebuilt but has less than half of its pre-war population and many buildings are still scarred by the battle. Its two principal ethnic communities remain deeply divided and it has not regained its former prosperity.

VUKOVARSKI DJEČAK
Sjedim uz Vuku
na nekoj ploči, nepoznati dječak
gleda me u oči. Pogled mu je suzan,
poprilično tužan, zaključih: Imao je
život ružan! Kad ga upitah: Što me
tako gledaš? Uzvratio je: Zar ti ništa
neznaš? Potom nastavio uz drhtanje
pričati jezive doživljaje. Najprije
reče: Ja sam bez roditelja, bez
braće, sestara i prijatelja. Moja
sudbina je sva u jami, sklopio sam
oči tati i mami. Na ruci su mi zaklali
brata, bacili sestru sa petoga kata.
Gurnuli su staroga djeda u mrzlu
Vuku ispod leda. Dan i noć sam
kopao raku za svoju dragu i dobru
baku. Čim su stupili na Mitnicu
izvadili su oči jednom stricu. Drugog
su, za razonodu, stavili u vrelu
vodu. Ta zločinaćka čudovišta
silovali su tetku kraj Sajmišta. Na
kraju su neljudske strvi, umivale u
njenoj krvi. Ujaku su ogulili kožu,
drugi završio život na nožu A treći
oh Bože, u krušnoj peći. Ja sam
slučajno uspio pobjeći. Okrenuo je
onda dječak glavu, pljunuo očajno
na žutu travu. Ostao sam posve
zabezeknut pa sam morao uz njega
kleknut. Stiščući u grču zube i šake,
PROKLINJAO SAM SRPSKE MANIJAKE!

20 years have passed since the battle of Vukovar. We will never forget our heroes.

Bijeli križ opomenu šalje
putniče stani, ni koraka dalje
ovdje je palo golubova jato
a bili su za dom, bili samo za to

Pomoli se, onda dalje kreni
na ovom su mjestu pali golubovi bijeli
s ognjem pakla tu su se sreli
ostala su polomljena krila
a bili su za dom spremni!

Odustajem od svih traženja pravde, istine, odustajem od pokušaja da ideale podredim vlastitom životu, odustajem od svega što sam još jučer smatrao nužnim za nekakav dobar početak, ili dobar kraj. Vjerojatno bih odustao i od sebe sama, ali ne mogu. Jer, tko će ostati ako se svi odreknemo sebe i pobjegnemo u svoj strah? Kome ostaviti grad?

Tko će mi ga čuvati dok mene ne bude, dok se budem tražio po smetlištima ljudskih duša, dok budem onako sam bez sebe glavinjao, ranjiv i umoran, u vrućici, dok moje oči budu rasle pred osobnim porazom? Tko će čuvati moj grad, moje prijatelje, tko ce Vukovar iznijeti iz mraka? Nema leđa jačih od mojih i vaših, i zato, ako vam nije teško, ako je u vama ostalo još mladenačkog šaputanja, pridružite se. Netko je dirao moje parkove, klupe na kojima su još urezana vaša imena, sjenu u kojoj ste istodobno i dali, i primili prvi poljubac - netko je jednostavno sve ukrao jer, kako objasniti da ni Sjene nema?

Nema izloga u kojem ste se divili vlastitim radostima, nema kina u kojem ste gledali najtužniji film, vaša je prošlost jednostavno razorena i sada nemate ništa. Morate iznova graditi. Prvo, svoju prošlost, tražiti svoje korijenje, zatim, svoju sadašnjost, a onda, ako vam ostane snage, uložite je u budućnost. I nemojte biti sami u budućnosti. A grad, za nje ne brinite, on je sve vrijeme bio u vama. Samo skriven. Da ga krvnik ne nađe. Grad - to ste vi.