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‘Croatia’s Stalingrad’: The massacre in Vukovar still casts a long shadow, 19 years on

He and the other journalist were advised that they could enter the city, but decided it was too hazardous.

“Later on we confessed to each other how often and how deeply we’ve regretted this conclusion,” Glenny remembered. “We’d traveled to the border of a crime without parallel in postwar Europe. It was our responsibility to report the exact facts about Vukovar, but we were too fearful.”

Vukovar’s absolute destruction throughout what are the first stage of the wars in Yugoslavia encouraged comparisons to Stalingrad during World War II. The city was surrounded by 40,000 JNA soldiers and Serbian paramilitaries and, for 87 days, defended by only 2,000 fighters together with the Croat national shield. Even if the Serbs eventually took the city, it was a pyrrhic victory.

“The exhilaration of both Serb fighters and lots of civilians in the information of Vukovar’s liberation is on a degree explained by ignorance. But anyone who thinks you could liberate a heap of useless destroys that you have generated needs remedial instruction in semantics,” Glenny wrote in his 1992 book, the Fall of Yugoslavia.

Countless stunt fighters were killed when Vukovar had been shot, and thousands of thousands of non-Serb inhabitants expelled. When it was eventually returned to Croatia in 1998, the town was rebuilt and turned into a symbol of Croatian independence and immunity, as it remains now.

Nonetheless, it is what happened following that helped fasten Vukovar’s standing amongst the massacres which could go on to establish the wars in the Balkans, which could just conclude four decades after with all the US-brokered Dayton Accords.

Despite a bargain between the JNA and the Croatian authorities that Croat soldiers and civilians from town could be evacuated, 261 guys removed from Vukovar’s hospital had been hauled to a farm construction at Ovcara, outside town, and conquered. They were subsequently taken in classes of between 10 and 12 to a different website where they had been taken and buried in a mass grave.

Back in 1996 Slavko Dokmanovic, the Serb mayor of Vukovar at the moment, was indicted for war crimes within the incident and detained by the UN. He recovered himself. At least 2 JNA officers were convicted by the International Criminal Court, and it had been one of a variety of war crimes for which Slobodan Milosevic was detained before his departure in 2006.

Regardless of the convictions, Vukovar remained a thorny dilemma between Serbia and Croatia, together with Zagreb seeking reparations from Belgrade within the issue. In 2015, the International Court of Justice ruled that despite severe crimes were committed in Vukovar, Croatia hadn’t proved that genocide was perpetrated throughout the hospital massacre.

In response to this claim, Belgrade alleged that Croatia had perpetrated ethnic cleansing by expelling 200,000 ethnic Serbs from Croatia in 1995. The ICJ, again, discovered that although offenses were committed, the evidence wasn’t conclusive.

It reasoned that although many offenses were perpetrated by the forces of the nations during the battle, neither side had succeeded in demonstrating the intent to commit genocide by”ruining the people in whole or in part”.

Reflecting about the atrocities perpetrated by both Serbs and Croats from the early 1990s, soon before the massacres in Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo would create the cities and towns of the Balkans home names, Glenny cautioned that justifying massacres by pointing to those perpetrated by the other hand could just make certain that the routine of violence lasted.

“There is not any point trying to apportion blame to the filthy, murderous actions of Serb and Croat extremists,” Glenny wrote. “For after the logic of this battle had passed the stage of no return, the massacres were unavoidable.”