e-ISSN: 2671-3659
p-ISSN: 2671-3675
Founded: 2021
Period: Biannually
Publisher: Balkan Studies Foundation


War Memorials and their Impact on Reconicliation: Vukovar as a Case Study

Blerta Ahmeti PhD Student, University of Szeged Author 0000-0003-2121-0480




War memorialization initiatives recognize and preserve the occurrences of past suffering in societies emerging from violent conflict. Furthermore, an intrinsic association also exists between memorialization and the reconciliation. However, determining the contribution memorialization provides to the reconciliation process of the former parties in the conflict is debatable. This paper addresses memorialization initiatives as an important instrument for the reconciliation process. Specifically, it looks into the role of war memorialization in the town of Vukovar in Croatia with regard to the reconciliation process between Croats and Serbs there. Vukovar has a dense concentration of Croatian War of Independence (Homeland War) memorial centers and commemorative events. Vukovar’s war memorialization alternatives exclude the remembrance of ethnic-Serb victims*, thereby hampering the reconciliation of the former adversarial parties in the town. More efforts must be invested in to ensure the memorialization of what the Serbians suffered.


The Past, Memorials, Victims, Former Conflicting Parties, Reconciliation


  • mnesty International. (2010). Behind a wall of silence prosecution of war crimes in Croatia. Author.
  • Baillie, B. (2013). Vukovar’s divided memory: The reification of ethnicity through memorialisation. Electronic Working Paper, University of Cambridge 22. Retrieved from: http://www.conflictincities.org/PDFs/WorkingPaper25(DividedMemory).pdf
  • Bloomfield, D., Barnes, T. & Huyse, L. (2003). Reconciliation after violent conflict: A handbook. International IDEA.
  • Barsalou, J. (2014). Reflecting the fractured past: Memorialisation, transitional justice and the role of outsiders. In S. Buckley-Zistel & S. Schäfer (Eds), Memorials in times of transition. Intersentia Publishing Ltd.
  • Barsalou, J. & Baxter V. (2007). The urge to remember: The role of memorials in social reconstruction and transitional justice. United States Institute of Peace.
  • Brett, S., Bickford L., Sevaenko. L., & Rios, M. (2007). Memorialization and democracy: State policy and civic action. International Center for Transitional Justice.
  • Buckley-Zistel, S. (2006). Inbetween war and peace: Identities, boundaries and change after violent conflict. Millenium: Journal of International Studies, 3.
  • Buckley-Ziste, S. & Bjorkdahl, A. (2016) Memorials and transitional justice. In O. Simic (Ed.), An Introduction to transitional justice. Routledge. Retrieved from: http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzE0Mjc2NjVfX0FO0?sid= 4b4998c6-1c06-438c-b9f0-4673b74e863d@sdc-v-sessmgr03&vid=0&format=EK&lpid =nav_126&rid=0
  • Buckley-Zistel, S. & Schäfer, S., (eds). (2014). Memorials in times of transition. In Series of Transitional Justice. Intersentia Publishing Ltd.
  • Croatia Week. (2015). Candles to burn tonight for Vukovar Remembrance Day. Retrieved from: https://www.croatiaweek.com/candles-to-burn-tonight-for-vukovar-remembrance-day/
  • Clark. J. N. (2013). Reconciliation through remembrance? War memorials and the victims of Vukovar. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 7, 116.
  • Cruvellier. T., & Valinas. M. (2006). Croatia: Selected developments in transitional justice. International Center for Transitional Justice. Retrieved from: https://www.ictj.org/ publication/croatia-selected-developments-transitional-justice
  • Govier. T. (2009). A dialectic of acknowledgment. In J. Quinn, (Ed.), Reconciliation(s): Transitional justice in post conflict societies. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Hajayandi.
  • P. (2014, April 16). Dealing with past atrocities: Do Rwandan memorials contribute to enhancing the reconciliation process? This Is Africa. Retrieved from: https://thisisafrica.me/rwandan-genocide-memorials-help
  • Hamber. B., Ševčenko. L., & Naidu. E. (2010). Utopian dreams or practical possibilities? The challenges of evaluating the impact of memorialization in societies in transition. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 4, 397.
  • Javanovic. I. (2015, August 18). Vote to scrap Cyrillic in Vukovar Angers Serbia. Balkan Insight. Retrieved from https://balkaninsight.com/2015/08/18/serbia-protests-overcyrillic-script-denial-in-vukovar-08-18-2015
  • Kardov. K. (2004). Silencing the past: Vukovar between the place and space of memory. In M. Hadžić & Z. Centar (Eds), The violent dissolution of Yugoslavia: Causes, dynamics and effects: collection of papers. Centre for Civil-Military Relations.
  • Kosic. A., & Tauber, C. D. (2010). The perspective of reconciliation and healing among young people in Vukovar (Croatia). International Journal of Peace Studies, 5, 45.
  • Kriesberg. L. (2007). External contributions to post-mass-crime rehabilitation. In B. Pouligny, S. Chesterman, & A. Schnabel (Eds), After mass crime: Rebuilding states and communities. United Nation University Press.
  • Kwon. H, & Faust. D. (2006). The stone of fury, after the massacre: Commemoration and Consolation in Ha My and My Lai. University of California Press. Retrieved from: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kentuk/detail.action?docID=837227
  • McCan. K. (2013). The role of memorialisation in conflict prevention. Peace Insight. Retrieved from: http://www.insightonconflict.org/2013/12/role-memorialisation-conflict-prevention
  • Memorial Centre of Homeland Vukovar. (n.d). Velepromet Hangar – MCDR Vukovar. Retrieved from: https://www.mcdrvu.hr/en/memorijalne-lokacije/velepromet-hangar/
  • Milanovic. M. (2012). The role of cultural heritage in the process of reconciliation between Serbia and Croatia. University of Mecedonia, Thessaloniki.
  • Milošević. A. (2017). Back to the future, forward to the past: Croatian politics of memory in the European Parliament. Nationalities Papers, 45, 893.
  • Milošević. A. (2018). Can memorials heal the wounds? European Observatory on Memories, 56.
  • Naef. P. (2013). Souvenirs from Vukovar: Tourism and memory within the post-Yugoslav region. Tourism Review, 3. National Transitional Justice Working Group Zimbabwe. (n.d). Memorialisation.
  • Pilic. D. (2009). Croatian Serbs also fought for Croatia. Bosnian Institute News. Retrieved from: http://www.bosnia.org.uk/news/news_body.cfm?newsid=2634
  • Rehak, D. (2008). Through the roads of hell: Through Serbian concentration camps 1991…into 21st century (Zagreb: Croatian Association of Camp Inmates of Serbian Concentration Camps.
  • Rieff. D. (2016). In praise of forgetting: Historical memory and its ironies. Yale University Press. Retrieved from: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kentuk/detail. action?docID=4518755
  • Rosoux. V. (2015). Post-war reconciliation : In search of a typology. Revue Internationale de Politique Comparee, 22, 17.
  • Ruwanpathirana. T. (2016). Memorialisation for transitional justice in Sri Lanka. Discussion Paper, Centre for Policy Alternatives, 43.
  • Schellenberg, R. P. (2017). Commemorative war museums in 1990s post-war Croatia. The Museum Review, 2. Retrieved from: http://journals.sfu.ca/rogerspub/index.php/tmr/ article/view/6
  • Singh. R. (2014, July 24). Divisive memorials are holding back Bosnia. Balkan Insight. Retrieved from: https://balkaninsight.com/2014/07/24/divisive-memorials-areholding-back-bosnia/ 24 July 2014
  • State Institute for Statistics of the Republic of Croatia. (2021). Population by naturality by towns. Retrieved from: https://www.dzs.hr/Hrv/censuses/census2011/results/htm/ H01_01_04/H01_01_04_zup16.html
  • Staub, E. (2000). Genocide and mass killing: Origins, prevention, healing and reconciliation. Political Psychology, 21, 367.
  • Tanjug. (2010, November 4). Tadić apologizes during Vukovar visit. B92. Retrieved from: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2010&mm=11&dd=04&nav_ id=70684
  • Telegraf. (2016, November 16). Vukovar is a place of suffering of two people- Linta: Croatian victims have been recognized, Serbian are being negated. Retrieved from: https:// www.telegraf.rs/english/2466173-vukovar-is-a-place-of-suffering-of-two-people-linta-croatian-victims-have-been-recognized-serbian-are-being-negated
  • United Nations General Assembly. (2006). Basic principles and guidelines on the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of gross violation of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.
  • Ven. C. (2015, November 20). Vukovar: Still divided by war. Aljazeera. Retrieved from: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/11/vukovar-divided-war-croatia-serbia-massacre-151120090853383.html
  • Vladisavlevic. A. (2019, January 15). Vukovar suffering from media’s “war and division” narrative. Balkan Insight. Retrieved from: https://balkaninsight.com/2019/01/15/ vukovar-suffering-from-media-s-war-and-division-narrative-01-15-2019
  • Vladisavlevic. A. (2019, February 13). Croatia’s Vukovar dreams of prosperous future, not war-torn past. Balkan Insight. Retrieved from: https://balkaninsight.com/2019/02/13/ croatias-vukovar-dreams-of-prosperous-future-not-war-torn-past
  • Vukovar Tourist Board. (n.d). The cross at the place where the Vuka enters into the Danube. Retrieved from: http://www.turizamvukovar.hr/vukovar_eng.php?stranica=202
  • Weinstein, H. M., & Stover, E. (2004). Introduction: Conflict, justice and reclamation. In E. Stover & H. M. Weinstein (Eds), My neighbor, my enemy. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from: https://www.cambridge.org/core/product/identifier/ CBO9780511720352A009/type/book_part