1996. ISBN 0-520-20690-8 (Cloth) $19.95.
ISBN 0-520-21662-8 (Paper, New 1998 Edition) $14.95
Order Info: 609-883-1759 or WEB order
1997 American Academy Religion Award, Excellence in Historical Studies Table of Contents and Books Reviews for The Bridge Betrayed
reports from a post-war survey by Andrew Herscher and Andras Riedlmayer.
- 1) UN on the Betrayal of Srebrenica / Implications for NATO in Kosovo
- 2) Burned Books in My Luggage: Cultural Genocide in Kosovo
- 3) 7 Misconceptions about Atrocities in Kosovo and NATOs Response
- 4) Short Summary of the Bridge Betrayed
- 5) Selected Reports on Organized Atrocities in Kosovo
- 6) 8 Detailed Reports on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia
- 7) Information on Andras Riedlmayer, Killing Memory
- 8) Boltzmann Institute Report on War-Crimes in Zvornik
- 9) The Complete Text of Crimes in Stolac Municipality (1992-1994)
- 10) Final Report and Annexes of the Commission of Experts
- 11) Reports of Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Special Rapporteur
- 12) Helsinki Watch Reports on Bosnia-Herzegovina
- 13) Indictments/International Criminal Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
- 14) IFOR-Protect War-Criminals and Location of War-Criminals
- 15) Genocide and Complicity at Srebrenica and Zepa/Documentation
- 16) Letter of Jeff Spurr to the Economist, on misrepresentations of Bosnia
- 17) History, Culture, and Destruction of Foca
- 18) Culture and Literature of Bosnia under the Ottomans
- 19) The Rabbi of Stolac by Stephen Schwartz
- 20) Links to Sites of Bosnia, Kosovo, and Human Rights
- 21) How to Help/Humanitarian and Reconstruction Projects in the Balkans
- 22) Articles by Michael Sells on U.S. Right Wing and pro-Milosevic Policies
- 23) The Serbian Orthodox Churchs Attack on the The Hague
- 24) Michael Sells on Serbian Orthodox Church Claims that NATO Targeted Serbian Monasteries
|Left : Close-up of the Hadum Mosque in Gjakova (Djakovica), built in 1594. The surrounding old bazzar historic district was burned and the mosque suffered extensive damage after being set on fire by Serbian police and paramilitaries at the end of March 1999. The photo shows the fire-scarred base of the minaret, the destroyed wooden portico, and (on the right) the burned-out manuscript library of Hadum Suleiman Efendi. (The top of the minaret wa shot off by Serb soldiers using a shoulder-launched missle on May 8, 1999). Photo taken October 1999 by Andras Riedlmayer for the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Survey (Harvard University).
|These images are among those featured in Burned Books and Blasted Shrines: Cultural Heritage Under Fire in Kosovo Exhibition, April 15, 2000 through August 15, 2000, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University. The exhibit featured photographs and other materials documenting the systematic destruction of cultural heritage during the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo. The photographs, by Andras Riedlmayer, Aga Khan Program bibliographer at Harvards Fine Arts Library, and Andrew Herscher, a practicing architect and Ph.D. candidate at Harvards Graduate School of Design, were taken as part of a post-war survey of the state of cultural heritage in Kosovo in October 1999. The survey was supported by a grant from the Packard Humanities Institute. See the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Survey,sample images
introduction by Andras Riedlmayer, 20 September 2000.
Libraries and Archives in Kosovo: A Postwar Report
Museums in Kosovo: A First Postwar Assessment
We found that architecture, manuscript collections, and archives of the period of Ottoman rule in Kosovo (mid-1400s to 1912) had been singled out for destruction during the ethnic cleansing campaigns of 1998-99. Among the most serious losses of manuscript materials was the burning of the Central Archive of the Islamic Community of Kosovo (KBI), which included the records of the religious endowments (evkaf), of the Islamic law courts, and of other Islamic religious and educational institutions in Kosovo going back to the 17th century. The archive was set ablaze by Serbian policemen on June 13, 1999, and was completely destroyed. Several regional archives of the KBI, and manuscript libraries in Peja (ipek, Pec), Gjakova (Yakova, Djakovica) and other towns in Kosovo, were also burned. An estimated half of the holdings of Kosovos public and academic libraries---nearly a million books---were also destroyed.
Major architectural losses include 219 mosques (1/3 of all mosques in Kosovo), three of Kosovos four well-preserved historic urban centers, as well as hundreds of other monuments. There was widespread and systematic destruction during the war of traditional residential architecture in Kosovos towns and villages, especially the mansions (konak, kulla) of the old Albanian families.
Although Kosovos famous medieval Orthodox churches and monasteries remain intact and are well-guarded by UN peacekeeping forces (KFOR), following the end of the war in June 1999 scores of less well-known Serb churches in rural areas were damaged or destroyed in revenge attacks by returning Albanian villagers.
Subsequent to our survey, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Council on Archives (ICA) sent their own expert missions to Kosovo which confirmed and expanded on our findings. Their reports are available on the web:
Libraries in Kosova/Kosovo by Carsten Frederiksen and Frode Bakken
General Assessment of the Situation of Archives in Kosovo by Bruce Jackson and Wladyslav Stepniak
Sample images from our survey of damage to architectural heritage in Kosovo can be retrieved here.
A satellite photo taken at the end of March 1999, showing the historic urban center of Gjakova being set ablaze by Serb police, can be seen here.
Andras J. Riedlmayer,
Fine Arts Library, Harvard University
Andrew Herscher is an architect, PhD candidate in architectural history and theory at Harvard University, and co-director of the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Project. Andras J. Riedlmayer directs the Aga Khan Programs Documentation Center for Islamic Art and Architecture at Harvards Fine Arts Library and is co-director of the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Project.
and Implications for Criticism of the NATO Kosovo Operation
|Captives from Srebrenica being held by Serb soldiers in the view of UN protection force soldiers. Almost all of them were murdered a few hours later. The vast majority of male captives between 15 and 60 years of age, shown in photos or video, have either never been seen again or have been indicated only by forensic identification of remains from mass graves.
Inside the village mosque in Stanoc i Poshtem (Serbian: Donje Stanovce),Sacred scriptures torn from their bindings and burned by Serb forces during the ethnic cleansing of the village in April 1999.
near Vucitrn, Kosovo:
Ironically, while UNESCO, the NGOs, and the UN and NATO adminstrators in Kosovo seem largely unaware of this aspect of the attempted genocide. and in many cases unaware that Kosovo had a five hundred year old, sophisticated Islamic tradition, the ethnic cleansers knew all about it. This systematic annihilation of cultural heritage had been planned well in advance of the NATO operation, and, as in Bosnia, was organized with the help of nationalist art historians and academics. Reconstruction officials knew of the Serb churches that had been attacked, but had little understanding of the wider and more organized annihilation of Kosovar Muslim heritage. In addition, in preparation for the annihilation of Kosovo, the Serbian authorities looted Kosovo of its archeological treasures in a multi-year operation, taking everything they could to Belgrade. For this, the finest account written on the organized cultural annihilation in Kosovo, see Andras Riedlmayer, Burned Books in My Luggage.
This position was argued by former presidential candidate Bill Bradley at Tufts University, November 29, 1999. For the UNs record in the Balkans, see above. As the Washington Post noted (p. A42, 1 December 1999):
2. The NATO action caused the horror.
Response: The savage expulsion of Kosovar Albanians had been planned since Milosevic revoked Kosovos autonomy in 1989. It was taking place before the NATO operation. See
- The International Helsinki Federation report: The Past Ten Years in Kosovo: Autonomy, Colonization and Genocide
- The Human Rights Watch Report on the September 1998: A Week of Terror in Drenica.
- Serbian Religious Nationalist Program for Cleansing Kosovo, 1991
- Serbian Religious Nationalist Program for a Greater Serbia Theocracy, 1996
- Serbian Unity Congress (SUC) Program for Cleansing Kosovo
3. NATO shows a double standard by not intervening in Burma, Chechnya, Rwanda, Sudan, and other places.
Reponse: NATO is a European alliance. In 1994 its mandate was changed from defense against Soviet aggression to protecting the peace and security of Europe. NATO has no mandate to operate in Africa or Asia. Africans and Asians would not take kindly to the forces of their former colonizers, even when those forces were sent to help them in humanitarian ways. The world should respond better to genocide and atrocities wherever they occur. African peacekeeping forces, such as the Nigerian peacekeepers in Sierra Leone, do not have adequate resources and need the support of industrial nations. But that does not mean NATO should turn a blind eye to genocide in Europe. Should the NATO nations have done more to stop the Rwanda and should they do more to stop other atrocities in Africa and Asia--yes, but not as a NATO operation.
It is a malicious argument to demand that because one has failed in the past or cannot help in every area and achieve utopia, one should do nothing where one has the resources to stop genocide.
4. Only a few thousand Kosovars were killed and thus the NATO operation was unncessary.
It will be years before we know how many were killed. Fewer were killed than the Milosevic (and the paramilitary forces supported by Milosevic) wanted and as we had feared when, as in Bosnia, communication with the victim civilian captives was cut off. The point of the NATO operation was to PREVENT the planned genocide from succeeding, instead of sitting back, as the UN did in Bosnia and watching, a three- year slow-motion mass-slaughter. The NATO operation succeeded to the extent that the killing did not reach the level of mass extermination envisioned by Serbian leaders of all major parties in Serbia since 1989. The point of intervention is to prevent genocide and, if it successful, we should respond positively, rather than feeling bitter and somehow cheated that the fatalities were fewer than feared.
5. The NATO action destroyed a strong anti-Milosevic opposition in Serbia.
This claim ignores the nature of the anti-Milosevic opposition. The vast majority of those demonstrating against Milosevic in 1996-1997 were demonstrating not against the policy of ethnoreligious extermination, but in protest of the fact that Milosevic did not pursue that policy successfully. There virtually no criticism of the three years of genocide in Bosnia or of the plans and rhetoric for expulsion and or destruction of Kosovar Albanians. The major opposition parties favored the destruction of Kosovar Albanians (see Seseljs Radical Party program link above under. no. 2. The general summary of the full report of the Helsinki Commission for Human Rights in Serbia shows how whatever opposition did exist had been crushed by 1998:
The media do use misleading generic terms (The Croats, the Serbs) to depict those foreces that commit atrocities in the name of their nation. But the sad fact is that much of the Serbian population is radicalized and supports policies of ethnoreligious extermination. The radicalization stems in part from the successful effort of war-criminals like Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic (indicted for genocide by the Hague Tribunal) to portray any criticism of their actions as a criticism of all Serbs. Their success is reflected in the widespread acceptance by Serbs that criticism of particular Serb leaders and the atrocities they committed in the name of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church are an attack against all Serbs. The major obstactle to finding individual responsibility for atrocities, rather than generic guilt for all Serbs, is the tendency among a large majority Serbs now to react to any criticism of the atrocities of a Karadzic or Mladic as if Karadzic and Mladic did indeed stand for the true aspirations and essence of the Serb nation, and the ability of Karadzic or Mladic supporters to portray any Serb who opposes atrocities as a traitor or not a true Serb. Pretending Serbian society has not been rotted by 15 years of virulent nationalism and extreme violence will do nothing to help that small but valiant group of Serb dissidents, from political activist Vesna Pesic to persecuted journalists, who are working for a decent and just Serbia.
7. These are age old antagonisms; it is the nature of Balkan peoples to exterminate one another.
This ugly stereotype was used for three years to allow ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. There have been tensions in the Balkans (if one wished to lump a group of disparate countries and cultures together arbitrarily under this name) for centuries as in every region of the world. But the tragedy in Yugoslavia and in Kosovo was caused in large part by Serbian religious nationalist militarization of the Kosovo story and symbols in 1989, the revocation of Kosovos autonomy, and the stirring up of a mass psychology of fear and hatred. There is nothing inevitable about such acts of destruction carried out by particular political, religious, military, and intellectual leaders. The Bridge Betrayed (summary below) examines how the Kosovo issue and heritage were abused and manipulated to create a cycle of fear, hate and atrocity.
For further discussion of the issues above, see the Human Rights Watch World Report for 1999. For an eloquent plea for engagement in Kosovo and an antidote to the Chomskyite arguments for passivity and indifference, see Wole Soyinka on Kosovo.
Followed by Full War-Crimes Documentation:
|Michael Sells, The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996, new printing with a preface on Kosovo, 1998).
The Bridge Betrayed also demonstrates the activities of Croat religious nationalists in destroying non-Catholic culture and communities throughout Herzegovina and especially in the Mostar Region, culminating in the deliberate destruction of the ancient bridge that symbolized the bridge of cultures, religions, and peoples in Bosnia throughout the centuries.
At the Kosovo commemoration of 1989, Serbian religious nationalists combined four symbols into a lethal mythology: (1) a militarized portrayal of the sacred time of 1389, (2) the sacred space of Kosovo or the Serb Jerusalem, (3) the historical memory of WW2 atrocities against Serbs, and (4) false accusations that Albanians were carrying out WW2 style genocide against Serbs. Through media control they generated a mass psychology of fear and hate. The militarized mythology of Kosovo was instrumentalized by the militias, religious leaders, and secret police of Serbia throughout the genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Kosovo story had become ideology of Christoslavism, the view that Slavs are Christian by essence and that conversion from Christianity entails a race transformation and a race betrayal. Most ominously, the militarized mythology maintains that those who converted to Islam became Turks and are responsible, along with their descendants, for the killing of Prince Lazar, the Christ-prince of the Serbian Golgotha of 1389.
To understand the genocidal intentions of militant Serb nationalists we must understand Kosovo. But the cliché that the conflict is age old and inevitable is false; and indeed, it reflects the distorted history of the ethnic cleansers rather than historical reality. The abuse of the Kosovo legend to motivate genocide has been carried out by Serbian religious, intellectual and political leaders, and there was nothing inevitable about such manipulation. Serbia will retrieve its greatness when it finds a vision of Serbian heritage, including the Kosovo story, focused upon building community rather than destruction. New leaders such as Father Sava Janjic, quoted at the beginning of the new edition of The Bridge Betrayed, offer a more inclusive and humane vision of Serbian religious heritage.
on Organized, Mass Atrocities in Kosovo
Selected Reports, from March-April, 1999
- Human Rights Watch Kosovo Report 14 / Mass Killings Around Velika Krusa, Kosovo
- Human Rights Watch Kosovo Report 15 / Mass Deportations viewed from Kukes, Albania
- Human Rights Watch Kosovo Report 16 / Organized, Mass Atrocities by Serbian Police at Dakovica
- Human Rights Watch Kosovo Report 17 / The Emptying of Prishtina and Organized Atrocities
- Human Rights Watch Kosovo Report 27 / Massacre of More Than 60 Villagers in Bela Crvka
- Human Rights Watch Kosovo Report 28 / Killings and Atrocities in Southern Kosovo
- Open Society Institute Report 59 / Mass-Killings and Organized and Atrocities
- Open Society Institute Report 60 / Mass-Killings and Organized Crimes Against Humanity in Bosnia
- International Crisis Group Reports on Bosnia and Kosovo
Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 771
|Left: Milan Mico Kovacevic and Simo Drljaca, indicted for genocide in the Prijedor area of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
|Numbered and Indexed by Michael Sells and Aida Premilovac
|War Crimes Index
|3rd report, part I
|3rd report II
|4th report I
|4th report II
|6th report I
|6th report II
|7th report part I
|7th report III
|8th report II
|Bosnias National Library in Sarajevo, shelled and burned by Serb military forces on August 25-26, 1992 in the largest book burning in history.
|Andras Riedlmayer: Killing Memory: Bosnias Cultural Heritage and Its Destruction (Philadelphia: Community of Bosnia, 1994), vhs, 55 minutes.
Ethnic Cleansing Operations
in the northeast-Bosnian City of Zvornik from April through June 1992
- Boltzmann Institute Report, Part 1
- Boltzmann Institute Report, Part 2: Detailed Report
- Boltzmann Institute Report, ANNEX
(Note, the CIJ version of the Com. of Experts Reports by J.L. Maillot is down)
- The CIJ andJ.L. Maillot Site for the Report and Annexes
- The Report and Annexes can be found at this IGC gopher site
- The Report and Annexes can also be found in html form at this Bosnet site
pursuant to paragraph 32 of Commission resolution 1993/7 of 23 February 1993,
appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Commision in September 1992.
|General Ratko Mladic, Indicted for Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, Still At Large
and Information on How to Obtain These Reports.
|Zeljko Radznatovic (Arkan), indicted by the ICTY for crimes against humanity in Croatia and BiH, assassinated in Belgrade 19 January 2000
of the International Criminal Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY),
established pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 827, 25 May, 1993
- Press Release on the Indictments of Mladen Naletitic (Tuta) and Vinko Martinovic (Stela)
Ethnic Cleansing of Mostar Municipality
- Indictments Against Goran Jelisic and Ranko Cesic Genocide at the Brcko-Luka Concentration Camp
|Indicted War Criminal Radovan Karadzic, former president of the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska, RS), architect of Ethnic Cleansing. At large the RS.
|Indicted War Criminal Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, former commander of Serb forces in Croatia and Bosnia, at large in Serbia.
|Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic
|For Genocide at Srebrenica and Vicinity
|Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic
|For Genocide Throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina
|Zeljko Meakic, former commander of the Omarksa camp, the site of daily, organized killings, torture, and rape.
|From May to early August 1992. An estimate 5,000 people were killed at Omarska.
|Zeljko Meakic, Kvocka, Prcac,.et. al.
|For Genocide at Omarska
- Indictments Against Miljkovic, Simic, Todorovic, et. al.
- Indictments Against Dragan Nikolic Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity at the Susica/Vlasenica Camp
- Indictments Against Dusan Sikirica, Dosen, Fustar, et. al. Genocide at the Prijedor-Keraterm Concentration Camp
- Indictments Against Dusan (Dule) Tadic and Borovnica Crimes Against Humanity at the Prijedor Region and at the Keraterm, Omarska, and Trnopolje Camps
|War Criminal Zoran Vukovic, Convicted of Rape as a Crime against Humanity for rape and participation in organized rape at Foca.
- Historic Indictment Against Dragan Gagovic and Others For Organized Rape in Foca. The First International Indictment for Organized Rape as a War-Crime and Crime against Humanity
- Indictments Against Dario Kordic and five other Bosnian Croats Crimes against Humanity, Massacre of Bosnian Muslim in the Lasva Valley and Vitez
- Indictment Against Ivica Rajic Crimes against Humanity / Massacres of Bosnian Muslim Civilians in Stupni Do
|War Criminals Milan Mico Kovacevic and Simo Drljaca
|Indictments for Genocide in Prijedor and surrounding camps of Omarska, and Keraterm
- Indictment Against Zoran Marinic of the HVO Atrocities against his Muslim Neighbors in Busovaca
- ICTY Press Release on Marinic and Kupreskic Indictments For Atrocities against Bosnian Muslim Civilians in Busovaca and the Lasva Valley
FRENCH IFOR COMPLICITY WITH RAPE-CAMP ORGANZIERS
|Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, Senior Bosnian Serb commander after General Ratko Mladic, currently on trial in the Hague for genocide for mass-killings carried out at Srebrenica
Early in the spring and summer of 1992, Serb religious nationalists captured the predominantely Muslim town of Foca on the banks of the Drina river in the eastern Bosnia. Only few days after entering the town, the religious nationalists started a systematic campaign of annihilating every trace of Bosnian Muslim civilization. The famous Aladza (Colored) mosque, built in 1551, was dynamited, and on its place, today, there is a bus parking lot. The state-run prison and the Partizan Sports Hall were transformed into rape camps where Muslim women and girls were held and rape for days, sometimes weeks.
Exterior Aladza mosque, constructed in 1551, Dynamited in 1993
For an illustrated history of Focas culture and its destruction, follow this link.
- The Coalition for International Justice (CIJ)
- International Criminal Tribunal on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
- The Helsinki Commission for Human Rights in Serbia.
- The Task Force on Indicted War Criminals
- International Crisis Group Crisisweb Page
- The Independent Independent Commission on Kosovo (with Major Documentation of the Kosovo Crisis)
- Helsinki Watch Serbia
- The BosNet Milosevic War Crimes Page
- The TRP Indict Milosevic Appeal
- Mario Profaca War Crimes Reports Page
- Women For Women in Bosnia (formed in response to systematic rape as a tool of ethnic cleansing).
- Greek Helsinki Watch/Bosnia-Herzegovina (with links to 8 major sites for human-rights reports on BiH).
- International Court Page
- International Court page: Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia Genocide Case
- How To Help Kosovar and Bosnian Refugees and Sources of Information on the Kosovo Situation
- FOB director Glenn Rugas Visit to Refugee Camps in Macedonia and Albania
- ZaMir Peace Network in the War Zone / People Search / Data Base for Kosovar Albanians
- Women For Women Sponsorship Program for Refugees From Kosovo
- Medica Zenica: For Treatment and Support of Bosnian Women with War Losses or Trauma
on U.S. Right Wing Support for Ethnic Cleansing in the Balkans
- Michael Sells, The GOP Right, The Belgrade Lobby, and NeoConfederacy Groups: Multiple Connections.
- Michael Sells, Mutt America, The Religio-Racist Right and the Balkan Genocide.
At a time when the tribunal on war-crimes in the former Yugoslavia was engaged in major prosecutions against Croats, Muslims, and Serbs--a time when most of the activity was in prosecuting Croat war-crimes--the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Pavle issues a statement accusing the tribunal of foscusing almost exclusively on crimes by Serbs (a blatant falsehood). He then also authorized the relocation of a Serb monastery to the city of Foca, where Serb units had destroyed the Muslim community, set up rape-camps (see Foca above) and destroyed all mosques and Islamic monuments. To celebrate the extermination of Muslim presence in Foca, the Serb extremists renamed the town Srebinja (Serb-place). Patriarch Pavle in this document refers to the city not as Foca, but as Srbinje. Full Document at Serbian Orthodox Church Web Site.
How Serbian Orthodox Church Leaders Used Monasteries to Entice Ethnic Hatred
See also, Michael Sells, Protecting Kosovos Treasures, reprinted in the Journal of Aerospace and Defense Industry News, July 19, 1999.
Back to Michael A. Sells main page
Back to Michael Sells Community of Bosnia Page (note: this is the Community of Bosnia page that is and will continue to be maintained by Michael Sells. The official page is under construction and will be found at
Offical Community of Bosnia Home Page