Bosnia and Herzegovina

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Holocaust is defined as the destruction of Jews during World War II. The Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Srpska referred to the Holocaust as the worst form of crime and genocide against a nation, and it also mentioned other victims of National Socialist ideology, such as Serbs, Roma, political prisoners, and homosexuals. (see OSCE report Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism: An Overview and Analysis of Educational Approaches, page 73). There is no information on whether the Roma are recognised as victims of the Genocide.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

Bosnia and Herzegovina has not established an official Holocaust Memorial Day due to the absence of state-level legislation on official holidays. However, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina does mark 27th January as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. (see OSCE report “Holocaust Memorial Days: An overview of remembrance and education in the OSCE region”, page 24)

The most important memorials of the victims of the World War II are the "Donja Gradina memorial site" in the Republic of Srpska - a former satellite camp of the largest Croatian concentration camp in Jasenovac, the "Vraca memorial park" - inaugurated in 1981 as the central memorial site in Sarajevo for the "Victims of the Second World War and the Partisan War-Dead" and the Jewish Museum Bosnia-Herzegovina and Jewish Cemetery in Sarajevo.

Village Donja Gradina is located on the right bank of the river Sava, on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the village of Jasenovac lies on the left bank. In the spring of 1941, the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia and the Independent State of Croatia was proclaimed (USK, Croatian: Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) by the fascist Ustaša movement.  The regime's largest concentration and extermination camp was established in Jasenovac. From the end of July 1941 on, the Ustaša mainly deported Serbs, Jews and Roma to the camp. At the beginning of 1942, the Ustaša brought the prisoners across the river to Donja Gradina with a ferry to be killed here, the guards stabbed and beat their victims to death. The bodies were subsequently buried in large mass graves or burned. Memorial and information plaque on the site of killings commemorating victims is placed in Donja Gradina in Republic of Srpska. On  9th July 9 1996, the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska passed a law regulating the status of the Donja Gradina Memorial Site in the Republic of Srpska.
During World War II, the Vraca fortress in Sarajevo was used as a prison and execution site: Ustaša henchmen murdered thousands of people here, primarily Serbs, Muslims, Jews, communists and partisans. Many of the victims were buried close to the fortress. The "Vraca Memorial Park" has commemorated the victims of World War II in Sarajevo since the 1980s. It was destroyed the Bosnian War (1992-1995) and the city of Sarajevo began restoring the Vraca fortress and memorial park in 2001, yet due to a lack of funds the restoration has not yet been completed. More than 11,000 victims' names are listed on a memorial plaque in the Vraca Memorial Park. The memorial park was declared a national monument in 2005.
Since 1966, the World War II victims from the city’s Jewish community, whose establishment dates back to the 16th century, are commemorated in a Jewish museum, located in the Old Synagogue »Il Kal Grandi« of Sarajevo.  The exhibit shows the richness of pre-Holocaust Jewish life as well as the history of the Holocaust in Bosnia. Beginning 1941, almost all of the Jewish residents of Sarajevo were deported to camps by the Ustaša; most of the deportees perished. The old Sephardic cemetery of Sarajevo was established in the 17th century on the Trebević mountain. Located on the cemetery, up the hill, is a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Bosnia-Herzegovina. One monument commemorates a group of Jews and Serbs who were brought to the cemetery and killed together by Nazis in 1941. The cemetery has been devastated several times; most recently during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. The cemetery was cleared of mines in 1998 and later restored as far as possible.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

According to the available information, there is no specialised institution, commission or research centre specifically dealing with the issue of the Genocide of the Roma.

In October 2006, the Goethe Institute and the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina organised an international conference entitled “The State of Holocaust Studies in South Eastern Europe: Problems, Obstacles and Perspectives”.Although Roma were not featured in the seminar, several of the papers were about the former Yugoslavia and some included Bosnia.

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

According to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) (Holocaust Memorial Days in the OSCE Region, page 9), “Bosnia and Herzegovina does not officially mark 27th January as Holocaust Memorial Day, due to the absence of state-level legislation on official holidays. On 27th January 2007, the International Holocaust Memorial Day was, however, marked. Under the patronage of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, events took place on the premises of the Jewish community. They were organised in co-operation with the Institute for Research of Crimes of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the International Law University in Sarajevo and the Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

There is a permanent exhibition on the Holocaust in the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

Learning about the Holocaust is, for the most part, integrated into school curricula throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina (See OSCE report “Holocaust Memorial Days: An overview of remembrance and education in the OSCE region”, page 24).

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

According to the OSCE ("Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism: An Overview and Analysis of Educational Approaches", page 35), Holocaust education can be difficult in Bosnia, due to varying perspectives on national history. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the “major obstacles to teaching and learning about the Holocaust are the different interpretations of national history. There are currently three different interpretations in force that are contesting for superiority in the country.”
By 2005, even though Bosnia had committed itself to incorporate the Holocaust education at the Stockholm Conference in 2000, it was unable to do so as the federal political system made it difficult. Furthermore, the country is still in the process of building a viable education system and Holocaust education is not its current priority.
"“Federal political systems also generate problems in many countries, with the absence of national curricula allowing significant regional differences in educational practice to emerge. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an example of the principal dilemma posed by federalist political structures, which delegate responsibility for education to the regional level. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina committed itself to including the Holocaust in the school curriculum at the Stockholm Conference in 2000, Jakob Finci, head of the Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has pointed out: ‘Unfortunately, our educational system is strictly divided along ethnic lines and there is no institution on the state level that deals in education. Thus the obligation we undertook in Stockholm has not been implemented yet.", according to the OSCE's "Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism: An Overview and Analysis of Educational Approaches", page 37.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

According to official sources, teachers are not provided with national in-service training on the subject of Holocaust education (See "Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism: An Overview and Analysis of Educational Approaches", page 62).

The first Council of Europe seminar concerned with the teaching of history in schools was held in Sarajevo in 1999. The topic was “Teaching Controversial and Sensitive Issues in History Education in Secondary Schools”. The seminar was co-organised with the Office of the High Representative within the framework of the Council of Europe’s Activities for the Development and Consolidation of Democratic Stability. Participants were cantonal Ministers of Education, historians, curriculum experts, teacher trainers, textbook authors and teachers.

In February 2015, the Association of History Teachers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUROCLIO HIP BiH), in cooperation with ZFD in BiH, YIHR BiH, Humanity in action Bosnia and Herzegovina and Anne Frank House, organised Training for trainers for the purpose of implementation of a pedagogical tool “Memory in motion” about culture of remembering and role of monuments. Pedagogical and didactic material “Memory in motion” is a result of joint work of a team of teachers and professors of history and history of art from Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad, who took in consideration the contributions of NGO representatives that work on non-violent conflict resolution, building peace and human rights issues. The training was organised in eight towns across Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from March to August 2015. The training is intended for both secondary school teachers - history, democracy and human rights and sociology and for professors at university as well as teachers and educators in the field of informal education.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

The Committee for the Reform of History Teaching in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been operating with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with the Agency for Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary Education since 2011. The Committee agreed upon continuing the training of history teachers in 2014 with the aim of introducing the draft document Learning Outcomes in History and Standards of Student Achievements and educating all history teachers across Bosnia and Herzegovina on how to adjust the teaching in regard to the defined learning outcomes.

2.5 Remembrance day

The Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina observes 27th January as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. There is no official day for commemoration of the Roma Genocide.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

According to the available information, there is no designated responsible person in the Ministry of Education.

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Edin Radošić, historian, University of Sarajevo

Bojana Dujković-Blagojević, chief editor of the publication “Once Upon A Time ... We Lived Together”

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

ESoDoc - European Social Documentary is the training initiative for media professionals and “cross-thinkers” who want to increase impact and outreach of their documentary films and cross-media projects by developing new storytelling skills, networking over different platforms, discovering new forms of team building, of producing and financing with the help of the crowd and new distribution strategies. In 2006, the project “Teaching History in Bosnia” brought 20 historians and history teachers from all over the region, to write a history of the Balkans they can all agree on. History textbooks have biased accounts of key events in history. These books, when compared closely, tell the history of the Former Yugoslavia in three different ways: Catholic, Islamic and Orthodox; Croat, Bosniac and Serb. To bridge the differences, an NGO has started a border crossing project, aimed at breaking the single view approach to history.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies
In a recent article published by the Sarajevo-based Oslobodjenje daily, 80-year old Bosniak-Muslim survivor of the Jasenovac concentration camp, Mr. Šerif Biser, commented: “Even this year, 2013, during the commemoration of Gradina (one of five sub-camps that formed the Jasenovac concentration camp), besides murdered Serbs, Jews, and Roma, the organisers did not even once mention the killed Bosniaks. Nihad Halilbegović wrote a book about murdered Bosniaks-Muslims in Jasenovac, stating all their names.”
In his interview Šerif Biser speaks about his life in Jasenovac camp and the fate of fellow camp survivors. Roma inmates were called “undertakers” since they were taking away killed prisoners and buried them (part 2, from 09,06 to 09,44 min).