Lest We Forget

On 18th of November 1991 the city of Vukovar fell by the hands of terror and murderous rampage perpetrated by Serbian led military and paramilitary forces. Such terror and devastation had not been seen in Europe (and wider) since World War II.

I remember watching BBC television World News covering the Serbian paramilitary forces marching down the streets of destroyed Vukovar and chanting in Serbian language: “Slobo, Slobo, šalji nam salate, biće mesa, biće mesa, klaćemo Hrvate!” (“Slobo [Slobodan Milošević, president of Serbia], Slobo, send us some salad, [for] there will be meat, there will be meat, we will slaughter Croats”). The BBC reporter’s commented during the film news-clip: the Serbs and Serb forces are chanting combat victory songs. (!) Unbelievable! In these days of remembering the victims of Vukovar BBC should release that film-clip/news coverage for public viewing as a testimony to the utter fear and horror injected into Croatian people’s bones from those early days of the Croatian War of Independence. Or perhaps as testimony to the urgency Croatians felt in the need to defend their lives.

1991 Serb forces badger Croatia's frail civilians

According to figures from the Vukovar General Hospital, during the Serb aggression on Vukovar which started on 25th August 1991 and ended on 18th November 1991 with the crushing of the city’s defense, 1624 people were killed (905 combatants, 12 children, the rest civilians). On 20th of November 1991 the Serb forces didn’t stop killing: they took 261 Croatians from the Hospital to the nearby desolate stretch of land called Ovcara and massacred 200 while the whereabouts of the remaining 61 are still unknown. Perhaps they took them to one of the concentration murder and torture camps within Serbia (e.g. Begejci, Stajicevo, Nis, Sremska Mitrovica …) where Croatian civilians were taken from the beginning of the aggression.

In 1989 radical political changes occurred in Eastern Europe. People had had enough of Communism and stifling authoritarian regimes. Berlin Wall came down, a number of communist governments were voted down and democracy began to thrive – it seemed like a joyous party all around. But not in Croatia, not in Bosnia and Herzegovina! Serbs did not want to part with Yugoslavia, but it wasn’t theirs in the first place! I shall leave the writing on the poisoned and untenable concoction that Former Yugoslavia was for future postings. To be fair to all, it is important to understand why Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia wanted to and succeeded in releasing their people from the unnatural and corrisive glue that held Former Yugoslavia together.

For now, may the tortured and brutally murdered innocent, freedom loving people of Vukovar rest in peace. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A.,M.A.Ps.(Syd)

Lest We Forget

Vukovar war cemetery today


  1. As we approach Remembrance Day here in Canada, a day that marks the fallen of WW1 and WW2, how can we fail to remember all those brave people who died in more recent times, defending their ideals and their beloved country? I wear the poppy in their memory.

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