Claudia Heinermann PHOTOGRAPHY









Sjećam se // I remember

War Memories and Dreams for the Future of Bosnian-Dutch youth


Sjećam se is a collaboration between Laura Boerhout and Claudia Heinermann.

Laura is a doctoral candidate at the University of Amsterdam. In the past years, she conducted research on the war legacy in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Netherlands, and is involved with different NGOs that address the heritage and memory of war in (extracurricular) education and in the public debate. This photo project shows only part of the stories that she has collected for her ongoing research project.

Claudia works mainly on long-lasting documentary photo projects about with an emphasis on 20th century historical topics and the consequences of war and genocide. She has been working in countries, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Lithuania and Rwanda and published, amongst others, the photobook ‘Enduring Srebrenica’ in 2012 on post-war Srebrenica. 


Sjećam se,

Ja sjećam se, te

Ma sta mi uradili

Ma sta mi govorili

Ma sta mi uradili

Ja sjećam se

I remember,

I remember, you

No matter what they  do to me

No matter what they  say to me

No matter what they  do to me

I remember


‘Twenty years is a long time, but then again not that long’, explained Inesa – one of the interviewees – when being asked how the legacy of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina is being dealt with. The war between 1992 and 1995 that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia deeply affected the landscape and its people. There are still missing persons, every year (re)burials take place and war criminals are still being prosecuted. Many events during the war remain controversial and contested, as politicians, victim’s organisations, veterans, artists, scholars and activists are all advocating for recognition of their perspective on the war. All of these groups have, to a different extent, the power to let their story be heard. This happens in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also in the Netherlands. This country, after all, received a substantial amount of refugees and is inextricably connected to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina as a result of the presence of the UN battalion in the designated ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica.
               In the Netherlands the public debate is dominated by legal and liability issues associated with this failed UN peacekeeping mission and until this day there is no official recognition of the Dutch government to commemorate the genocide in Srebrenica, that annually takes place on July 11 in The Hague. However, besides this public ceremony, Bosnian-Dutch people commemorate in numerous individual ways. They do this by, among other things, sharing stories about the time before, during and after the war from all over Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Not every story is granted an equal opportunity to be heard though.
               The photo procect Sjećam se (‘I remember’) – named after the song of the Bosnian protest band Dubioza Kolektiv – illustrates how Bosnian-Dutch youth (have to) navigate between the stories that they hear at home, at school, online and in the media about Bosnia-Herzegovina, then and now and across borders. One of the characteristics of the Bosnian post-war climate is the fact that people are often exclusively defined by the group they supposedly belong to. On the basis of their name, language and place of residence they are – often unsolicited­ – categorised along these lines. Such generalisations ignore the individual experiences and identifications of their choice. As a consequence, there is less space for stories about, for example, mixed families or cross-cutting solidarities.



In this project, young Bosnian-Dutch share memories of war and dreams of their future, on their own behalf. They share certain similarities: they are all born in Yugoslavia, they all fled to the Netherlands as a child, they are all fan of Yugoslav bands and all grew up with precious and painful memories of Bosnia’s culture and history. But, most of all, they are individuals with their own memories, perspectives and dreams for the future.