Yugoslavia has always been a mixture of cultures, where different peoples had their own identity and cultures. Under Tito’s communist rule, the unity of Yugoslavia was emphasized. After his death in 1980, without a new, strong leader, this artificial unity turned out to be unfeasible. Ethnic, political, and social tensions led to war. Nationalist Bosnian Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims faced off against each other. Especially in Bosnia, this lead to large-scale violence and ethnic cleansing. The most well-known massacre occurred in 1995 in Srebrenica, the UN-supervised enclave, in which about 8000 Bosnian Muslims were murdered. This genocide is seen as the first genocide on European soil since the Holocaust.

Comics and graphic novels about the genocide in Bosnia

Sacco and Kubert’s work on the Bosnian war and Srebrenica has illustrated the effectiveness of a using a journalistic viewpoint and a reportage structure within the genre of comics and graphic novels. Sacco utilizes oral testimonies and interviews, combining these personal stories with an informative non-fiction narrative that provides an eyewitness view of the conflict. Many of the recent graphic novels illustrate the failure of the idea of “never again” and draw comparisons with the Holocaust, while others emphasize some of the lessor known features, like the rape camps and the prevention of Bosnian Muslim births by Serbian forces. Family stories of hardship and survival are prioritized, and the current graphic novel work on Bosnia and Srebrenica raises necessary questions about the work of transitional justice and recovery in countries following genocide.

 

J. Sacco (2000). Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95, p.203. Safe Area Gorazde © Fantagraphic Books, 2000.
J. Kubert (1996). Fax from Sarajevo: A Story of Survival, p.102. Fax From Sarajevo © Dark Horse Comics, 1996.