Serbian refugees leaving Krajina in August of 1995
during Croatia's "Operation Storm" / "Oluja".
Author of photo unknown at this time.
Remembering the Fall of Krajina - "Operation Storm" / "Oluja", when the Croatians committed the great War Crime of Ethnic Cleansing against the Serbs that has never been punished.
The "War Years" of the 1990's for those of us who cared about what was happening in the former Yugoslavia were years that remain permanently etched in our hearts and in our consciousness. Many events over the course of those years made a significant impact, but for some of us the "Fall of Krajina" remains perhaps the most heartbreaking.
Like every morning during those years, I woke up on August 4, 1995 to news about what was happening in "the homeland" - what to some was the former Yugoslavia, what to others was "the Balkans", and what to still others was the center of the universe at that time. After more than four years of maintaining a strong Serbian stronghold in a historically significant area of Croatia, the "military frontier" where Serbs had been the majority for several centuries, and which the Croatian nazis had coveted more than anything else in their quest for "independence" from Yugoslavia, on that fateful day in August of 1995 the Croatians, with the support of the United States, finally succeeded in overwhelming the Serb patriots and the civilians. "Operation Storm" for the Croatians was an event that they would honor and celebrate enthusiastically every year thereafter. "Operation Storm" for anyone with any understanding or appreciation of the true nature of "war crimes" remains a horrific War Crime that has, to this day, gone unpunished.
There has been no real justice for the more than quarter of a million Serbs that were ethnically cleansed from the Krajina during that first week of August in 1995. Those brave Serbian people had refused to comply with Croatia's secession from Yugoslavia in 1991, knowing that it would be a death sentence for them if they did separate from Yugoslavia. They held on to the "Serb Republic of Krajina" for four years, a beacon of glorious, noble resistance, especially to those of us in the diaspora whose parents and grandparents, like my own, had been born and raised in Croatia and who were among the most dedicated Serbian Orthodox patriots anywhere to be found on this earth.
I remember that August day 24 years ago so vividly - not so much the day itself, but how it made me feel. I was in an apartment in Chicago, thousands of miles away, but the news hit me in the gut as though I was watching events unfold outside my window instead of on the television screen. So many of us took the devastating news very personally. For us, the "Serb Republic of Krajina" was the "homeland", regardless of where we had been born.
For the 10th anniversary of "Operation Storm" in 2005, historian Nebojsa Malic wrote an excellent essay describing the significance of "Krajina" and the nature of the war crime that befell this historic location in the Balkans. I highly recommend reading it:
To all those whose lives were lost, to all those who survived but lost their ancestral homes, to all those who became true refugees who did not have the benefit of the world's compassion and political activists fighting on their behalf, please know that you have not been forgotten, and that Krajina will remain Serbian forever in our hearts.
August 4, 2019
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org