Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Remembers Srebrenica Genocide

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  • 8/9/2019 Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Remembers Srebrenica Genocide


    Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Condemns Radovan

    Karadzic for Srebrenica Genocide

    "How can you ever adequately punish a man who is guilty of ordering the assassination of

    8,000 human beings [in Srebrenica]?" asked Elie Wiesel.

    INTRO: Mr. Elie Wiesel is a Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaustsurvivor. He is the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes

    his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps. Mr. Wiesel

    established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanitysoon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prizefor Peace. The Foundations mission, rooted in the memory of the Holocaust, is to combat indifference,

    intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote

    acceptance, understanding and equality.

    Copyright: The following OP/ED was republished from theDaily News for educational and

    non-commercial purposes. It is used for "fair use" only as provided for in section 107 of theUS Copyright Law.




    Its unimaginable.

    For 13 long years, we thought he was hiding out in the

    mountains, surrounded by bodyguards. We looked forhim in underground hideouts, tracked him down in the

    regions most obscure corners.

    All in vain Radovan Karadzic, the former

    Yugoslavias most infamous, most notorious fugitive,was actually a public figure. People ran into him on the

    street, in restaurants or at the movies; some people

    watched him on TV, talking about alternative health

    options, and no one discovered his real identity.

    In fact, examining pictures of him published by the

    press, with his fluffy white beard and glasses, I wouldnt have been able to unmask him myself.And yet I had met him. If I ran into him on the street, Id remember his face, I thought.

    It was in late 1992. I had come to do research on the situation in Bosnia and Serbia. Disturbing, even

    revolting reports were trickling back to us. Newspapers, radio and TV stations were broadcastinghorrendous images: cities bombarded, corpses lying in mass graves, massacred children, mutilated

    men, raped women.

    Reports of odious deeds were circulating: Tuzla, Srebrenica entered the annals of crimes against

    humanity. The words "Auschwitz in Bosnia" were solemnly pronounced.

  • 8/9/2019 Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Remembers Srebrenica Genocide


    Faced with various governments nearly official indifference, I responded to Yugoslavian President

    Dobrica Cosics invitation and, with members of Ted Koppels "Nightline" team, headed to Belgrade,

    Sarajevo and Banja Luka. We met with all the leaders in the region except the leader of Croatia. Its

    president, Franco Tudjman, was a Holocaust denier, and I refused to shake his hand.

    But I did talk with Slobodan Milosevic. And with Karadzic, in whose palace a real fortress the

    meeting took place. His gaze was icy, haunted, unearthly. He was the all-powerful master. Why so

    many executions, so many murders? Was it because of some violent mysticism, a cult of death? No.For him, it was something else: a fascination with holding absolute power over his enemies as well ashis allies.

    I asked him why he had had the famous Sarajevo National Library burned down. Given that he himself

    wanted to be known as a psychiatrist and a poet, was he afraid of books and their human and humanist


    Red-faced with anger, pounding the table, he claimed it was the Muslims themselves who had burned

    down the building from the inside.

    I objected. I had seen the library in ruins: the damaged walls, the artillery scars. The building had been

    attacked from the outside.

    No point in arguing the pigheaded Karadzic denied it all.

    The idea of creating an international tribunal was mine. One day, when I was in the office of Secretaryof State Lawrence Eagleburger, we talked about the tragic situation in Bosnia. What were the options?

    Political, humanitarian, military?

    That was when I suggested creating an international tribunal. My argument was that only indicting the

    killers for war crimes and crimes against humanity would frighten them. There would be no statute oflimitations, and they would have to be extradited. Eagleburger thought it was a good idea and proposed

    it in his negotiations with the allies in the U.S. and Europe.

    And yes, I think major criminals should be brought to trial before international courts in order to have a

    historical and also a pedagogical impact on future generations.

    People might ask: How can you ever adequately punish a man who is guilty of ordering theassassination of 8,000 human beings? Good question. It seems that, by its sheer scope, the crime

    outweighs the punishment. And yet, these trials help our collective memory. For that reason alone, they

    are justified.

    The shocking fact remains: Karadzic succeeded in walking free. For 13 long years. He lived withoutbodyguards, in Bosnian cities and villages, while local and international police and NATO agents were

    trying to track him down.

    Whose fault was it? Who was responsible? Who were the accomplices?

    Was his disguise that good, that successful? Perhaps, may God help us, beneath the killers mask, therewas a failed actor?

    Wiesel, Andrew Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Boston University, was awarded the Nobel

    Peace Prize in 1986. A Holocaust survivor, he was one of the leading voices to call the worldsattention to atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. This article, written exclusively for theDaily News,

    was translated from the French by Sharon Bowman.