Last night our local Swiss library had the privilege of hosting Marica Bodrozic, a German/Croatian, who read from her new book Mein Weisser Frieden (my white peace). Bodrozic moved with her family from Croatia to Germany eight years before the civil war broke out in her native country. Many of her family members – people she loved – went to war, killing and being killed. Mein Weisser Frieden is an attempt to make sense of how a war with such atrocities could happen, what makes normal people turn into hate mongers and killers. What made her reading so powerful was the intimate relationship with the words, the emotions and the people of her pages.
Neighbours that used to live peacefully side by side turned against each other, destroying each other’s homes. The massacres. The hate rhetoric she herself lives with, even now, since the publication of her book. She is seen as a traitor to her own people by even considering the other side’s story. While she read I often thought of Ruanda. I realized I had put Africa in its own category. That the same thing happened so close, in Europe…but then, didn’t it happen even closer, right across the Swiss/German border which is just two miles away, during the Second World War? The whole issue is very current, with all that is happening today. The refugees fleeing into our countries. The rise of right-wing parties like the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland/Alternative for Germany) in Germany – Bodrozic told of one AfD party leader openly stating to the media that the refugees eat German children!
Listening to her read, I wonder – if I was in that situation, would I have the strength to go against the power of the masses? Especially if my life or that of my family was in the balance? Bodrozic tells us stories of people that did. Stories of hope. That not all is lost. But I still wonder, if history doesn’t just keep repeating itself, over and over. ..