Saturday, June 20, 2009
My beloved foreign correspondent sent me a note this morning reminding me of some of the more brutal of the brutalities of the last Great European war. He found it as he was researching a new novel which has something to do with the concentration camps in the Balkans, but it also reminded me of a story. Around the time when the event more recent troubles began in the region, my friend Mark Dippé was visiting some Serb friends in Sarajevo. At the moment they heard that their Serb brothers and sisters had launched a campaign of slaughter against their Croat brothers and sisters, he said that they, seemingly modern and reasonable people up to that point, literally jumped up with joy at the opportunity to grab their weapons and get to killing. It is of course hard for us, civilized with our mountains of McDonald's and hundreds of channels of TV, to understand such depth of hatred, but my correspondent's link did explain just a bit of it. It's just a small thing, the above device, a Srbosjek, or "Serb cutter," but it represents so much, and was invented by the Ustaše - Croatian Revolutionary Movement - as a way to efficiently slit the throats of captured Serbs, of which there were very very many, while engendering in the murderer as little fatigue as possible.