July 10, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC — Twenty five years ago, the world witnessed the largest massacre in Europe since the Holocaust—the genocide at Srebrenica where more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces starting on July 11, 1995. Despite clear warning signs, the international community failed to protect the people of Srebrenica.
“We remember the victims and survivors, and the families and communities forever changed by this horrific violence. Many suffer the pain of still not knowing what happened to their loved ones, pain that is exacerbated by growing denial—including by government officials—about the truth of what happened,” said Naomi Kikoler, director of the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. “In 1995, just 50 years after the Holocaust, we would have thought that genocide again in Europe would not have been possible. And the Srebrenica genocide was preventable. UN safe areas were created, but failed to protect civilians. We must work to prevent mass atrocities like this from happening today.”
In April 1993, one year into a civil war that began when Bosnia sought independence from Yugoslavia, the United Nations declared the town of Srebrenica a safe haven under UN protection. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims sought refuge there from attacks by Bosnian Serb forces, but in 1995 the UN failed to prevent the town’s capture by Bosnian Serb forces and the ensuing massacre. In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ruled that the killings and mass expulsion of Muslims from Serb-controlled territories in eastern Bosnia constituted genocide.
One of the many important lessons of the Holocaust is that there were warning signs. The Holocaust was preventable. It was the result of actions taken and not taken. Genocide is preventable and by heeding warning signs and taking early action, individuals and governments can save lives.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum seeks to inspire citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
Learn more about the Museum’s work on Srebrenica and Bosnia and Herzegovina at ushmm.org/bosnia.View All Museum News Releases