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My village is Milacevci, an hour-and-a-half's walk fiom Srebenica. That's where I was born, where I married, where I stayed. He's from the area, we lived close by. I lived well, my husband worked as a laborer in Potocari at the zinc plant, I built the house, I had good kids, I lived well.
When I came to his house, that's how it is where I'm from, there were six of them and I was the seventh. We all lived together for five years and then I built myself a house. We built it ourselves, my husband was a workman and he knew how to do things, the kids were a bit bigger, it was hard, Just one salary. We had a bit of land, a cow, I always had a cow, so we had butter and cheese for the house, for our needs. We had enough vegetables for ourselves, we always provided everything for ourselves. And there was a salary. Everything was fine, times were normal.
It was all mixed, we all got along, with the Serbs too, they were nearby, in the neighborhood. Over there where I'm from, about an hour from where I married, I had neighbors, there were two Serbian houses, we lived with them like with our own people, there was no difference, we lived well, everything was fine, we were like one big family. A send-off to the army, a wedding, a death, a birth, we'd all be there together. They worked together at the zinc plant, the workers were all together, they weren't separate, they lived normally.
When the shooting first started, this man and woman, Serb neighbors of ours, were at my brother's and my brother-in-law's, they were all there together, they'd come at night, to help each other. And when it started, one of our men was killed and his sons came and said now we're going to kill you 'cause our father was killed. Then the Serb said to my brother, when he saw they couldn't stay anymore, that nobody was going to help them, he said take me away if you can, I can't stay here anymore, take me away. You could still go then. And my brother and brother-in-law took him and his wife and whatever they could carry across our territory and over to theirs. They looked out for each other. They parted as friends. They didn't touch us and we didn't touch them, up until then. Later, everybody turned their backs and nobody could help.
I heard how they used to talk, what war was like, what war means, that's how they used to talk, but it doesn't have to be like that, that's how it used to be, now people are smart, educated, it can't happen now, I thought. I couldn't believe it could be like this. Why, we lived together with the Serbs, we all lived normal lives, we worked together, the workers were together, everything was together, I couldn't believe it could come to us killing each other. That we'd be killing each other, us them and them us. I just couldn't believe it. What it is, who's fault it is, I don't know. I thought it could never happen, I don't know that anybody deserves to be killed like that, to suffer. What did we need that for? Whoever it is, whoever's waging that war, they're not human, anybody who could do something like that can't be human in my eyes. Whoever started the war for whatever reason, is not human. What did we need that for, why did it have to happen?
We were encircled for three years, nobody could get out and nothing could come in. In our village we could work, we had food, as far as that was concerned. But then they came from Zepa, from Cerska, from Konjevic po1je, from Viegrad, they came from all over. They all came to us, those refugees. What could we do, they came hungry, with small children, give me some bread, give me some milk, give, give, and you've got to help, to give. What you've worked to have for yourself you have to give to somebody else and then they're nothing left. The hardest thing for us was when somebody had nothing to eat. I couldn't turn the children away when they came asking for bread, give me something, give me a piece of bread, I had to give it to them even if it meant my own family going without. Women came, children and men, ablebodied, but there was no work, they couldn't earn anything, so it was only if somebody wanted to help and give them something. They'd come to the door begging, and if you said you had nothing to give, sometimes I really didn't, they'd sit down and wouldn't go until you gave them something. That's hunger for you. Nothing was working, not the zinc plant, nothing. We had nothing, no electricity, no shops, no food, we had nothing, we were left with nothing. We didn't have electricity, you couldn't do anything, the creak, the little river, was at the bottom of our village, that's where we hooked up a power system, so we could listen to the news, get a bit of light, but it was hard, all hand-made.
Then, I know it was from the Command, some people came from Srebrenica and said you women go to Potocari, to UNPROFOR, and you men go through the woods. We left the house, my husband and my son said to us go fast, 90, and they stayed behind. So we went, my daughter, me, my sister- in-law and her child, and the first night UNPROFOR said nobody was to leave the compound because if anything happened to one of us they wouldn't be responsible, we should stay in the compound with them. Since they weren't giving any guarantees we went down to the compound, spent the night there, but nobody came. Around noon the next day, the houses in the surrounding villages were already burning, you could see the flames, the smoke. At one they started walking among us, leading people away. What could we do, we surrendered. UNPROFOR did nothing, it was disarmed, it had nothing, civilians like LIS, they disarmed UNPROFOR when they came. We'd pinned all our hopes on UNPROFOR until I saw it disarmed, and then I said, we're done for. The people were already paralyzed with fear. They were disarmed and these men came in armed. All day they kept leading people away. By dark we were still none the wiser. They led the men away, and the young girls. You watch it all, them being taken away, you don't know where, and the day isn't over yet. When it started getting dark, that second night, we lay a blanket down by the asphalt road and the children lay down, they started sending the horses and food the people had brought down from above, they started moving them on to Bratunac. At night they ride their horses among the crowds of people and I keep saying, we're done for, we've had it tonight. We never thought we'd survive. The UNPROFOR people walked around, what could they do, they were like us civilians, they had no arms, the people started crying for help, and we'd all be on their feet, but the UNPROFOR people just kept saying no, no, and then we'd sit down again, it never occurred to anybody to get some sleep, you just sat there, shaking. A man yells for help, it's one in the morning, we looked at the watch, a man yells for help, it rings all through the whole valley. You don't budge you're so scared, it's driving you crazy. You know immediately that they're torturing him.
Day breaks, the buses come, we get on, there's blood all along the road. There by the roadside in Kravica were our people, our brothers, our children, tied up, everybody recognized somebody, there were thousands of them, and we were in the bus, we looked at them and the bus drove by. Who could help anybody, nobody, nobody could help anybody.
In Kravica I caught sight of my son, I saw he'd stayed there. My Azmir. He didn't see me, he didn't dare look, he was tied up, hunched over. I dream of it, of my son, of how I saw him and drove by.
My husband didn't come, or my son, or my brother-in-law, or my father. I have no news of them. If only somebody could promise me, that's where he is, he's dead, he's in a camp, so I'd know. I hope, I still keep hoping, he's alive somewhere, but who knows when I'll find out.
I don't hope for anything for myself anymore, it can only get worse. How do I think I'll live now? I don't, I can't think about it, every time I think something it turns out different. just so my kids are alive, so they can build a life for themselves somewhere, so they can live, as for my own life, I don't think about it at all.
The whole world, the whole world knows what happened, how it was, Our life in Pouocari, tile whole world watched. If only somebody could have helped just for the People to Survive, forget about tile territory, the houses and everything, I'm not thinking about that, just tile people, if they'd staved alive, never mind how we lived, suffered, but how can I live, who do I live with? That's the hardest part, who do I live with? He took care of everything, it's getting harder and harder Without him. We went to Sarajevo once, the two of us, that was before, we just walked around, got some things. He was everything to me.
"Tell me, if you know," she caught uo with mee at the door.
Simon Wiesenthal Center-Museum of Tolerance Library & Archives