My Genocide Story

Published date: 
May 7, 2014

As recounted by Senadz Lubovac

I was about 29 years old when the war started in Bosnia. We went from living in a safe city to suddenly the war starting and you cannot believe what is happening around you.

At the beginning of the war the first night Serbian forces put a few tanks on the hills about a mile and a half from my house. At night, they started shooting with those tanks. I remember the windows in my apartment rattling. This was the first time in my life I can remember my knees shaking. I was that scared.

Senadz Lubovac During Speech

Senadz Lubovac During Speech

From the first few minutes of the war when you see burned bodies on the street and experience heavy shelling, you are really shaking. It looks like a bad dream that you are never waking up from. Within a couple of months you become an experienced person in a war environment. You can recognize the sound of guns, the bullets flying around you, and recognize if grenades will land near you, if you need to take cover, or if you don’t need to do that. 

There are many things that happened during that war that are categorized as genocide.

When you look at when the war started, you can find similar things to how other wars started. You have one nation or group or ethnicity that is trying to present the other group as evil for the purpose of gaining the land or other economic gain. They train you through the media and use of propaganda. In the case of Bosnia it took about eight years. They pictured the other group as your enemy to justify the killing of that group. I spoke with many soldiers from my country and many of them used to be friends with the other side. During the war some of them killed their best friends, because during the war, the friend was of the wrong ethnicity. That is one of the things that you cannot believe until it happens to you. 

Through the war you can see people changing. Somebody who used to be a friend or neighbor suddenly looks at you strangely because he believes that you are his enemy and that you are going to do something bad to him.

What struck me was the destruction of the city and the destruction of the spirit of the city. Before the war most people did not care about your national or ethnic background. Through the war, it becomes important what your last name is, who your parents are and what is the group that you belong to.

After two and a half years I was able to escape. I remember I was desperate to the point that I did not believe I was going to be able to escape. It was a summer night when I finally managed to leave the country, and I remember, looking through the window of the bus and pinching my cheek over and over thinking “wake up, wake up, this is too good of a dream.” Fortunately, it wasn’t a dream this time.  While I was in besieged Sarajevo, for two and a half years, I used to have a dream that I am leaving the country, but every time I would wake up realizing that I am still there, in the war zone environment.  This time the “escape dream" was reality. 

Lubovac presented as part of the Genocide Awareness events held at GateWay Community College. The event also hosted Jodi Elowitz, from the University of Minnesota who presented "Flickering Images: The Holocaust in American Television and Film."