Utopias of Nation : Local Mass Killing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1941-42
Abstract: This study analyses the mechanisms of local mass violence perpetrated by the Croatian fascist Ustasha organisation and the Serbian nationalist Chetniks in Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1941–42. A theoretical and methodological model has been devised, that is based on an investigation the three “dimensions” of mass killing, namely intent, systematics and magnitude. Each of the dimensions are connected to the three phases of conceptualisation, implementation and realisation, which forms the “process of mass killing”.The conceptualisation phase relates to how the actors conceived their ideas of “ethnic purification” and exclusion, and how the ideology was mediated to the public. The analysis of the implementation phase aims at identifying the phases and levels of systematic destruction, and the social processes at work in the local communities, including how victims tried to cope and avoid perseution, public responses, and the motives for participating in terror. The third phase is dedicated to a statistical analysis in order to identify the magnitude of destruction, victim categories and the effects of policy changes.The empirical data is based on documents originating with the main belligerents, witness statements, memoirs, and statistical data. The conclusions are that the killings and persecution were well organised, although there were differences between the main belligerents. The study also shows that propaganda played a less important role for participation in mass killing than is frequently believed, while factors such as insecurity and the prospect of personal gain were more salient. The theoretical and methodological ap-proach proved particularly useful, since it showed that local circumstances significantly affect the destruction process. At the same time, the study identifies a strong correlation between decision-making on the political level and local mass killing.
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