A dazed memory

April 5, 2012

By Damir Sagolj

It is twenty years since the man was killed. His remains were given different names; he became just a number in sad statistics – one of ours or theirs. Behind the broken window of his burnt home, between grave marks of innocents only ghosts live.

I don’t have any of my pictures from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia anymore. I shot many photos – mostly of dead people and destruction. Very few had any life in them. Then, just as the killings stopped and a different war continued in November 1995 I abandoned my photos; I didn’t want to have them anymore.

Not a smart move, but it was what I wanted at the moment – to forget, to put it behind, to move forward.

All I have now are the cracks in my memory to peek through and imagine lives before we became just numbers. Only the weed grows around ruins, just like nails and hair on the dead bodies – the reminder.

I had all my photos in one room, at my former army unit on Vrazova street, Sarajevo. I would walk past that building every day. All I had to do was to use the key I kept for many years and pick up my film. I didn’t. Then a rich man bought the building and my archive went where I wanted it to go – into the trash.

No matter how hard I try to explain what I did, it doesn’t work. Then, just a moment later, it all makes perfect sense again.

Soon after, it all became very abstract – the faces faded into shapes, names into numbers, lives into bones… I don’t trust my memory any more, it is selective and dazed.

That’s why it was important in Sarajevo to have people from outside who were stronger and more sober. They meet these days in Sarajevo for the big anniversary reunion. Probably very few really understand how important what they were doing in 92-95 was.

Without them, history would be written by the those who killed the man.

Thank you.

(View Reuters photos from the siege of Sarajevo here)

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