Thanks to the valuable support of “Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past”, the project team of “Human Faces of Conflicts” had the opportunity to meet and interview Ms Ana Kvesic, a Zagreb-based Croatian storyteller. Ana is originally from Vukovar, a city on the Danube in Eastern Croatia that, in pre-war period, was a prosperous centre with a mixed community of Croatians, Serbs and other ethnic groups. At the beginning of the 1990s, Vukovar was severely damaged during the siege and the fall of the city and it suffered heavy civilian and military casualties. As a result of the conflict, an ethnic divide exists between the Croat and Serb populations. In early 1990s Ana found herself as an internally displaced person (IDP), hosted in a hotel in Zagreb where she lived until 2002. Afterwards, Ana decided to buy a flat opposite to the hotel in Zagreb, while keeping her properties in Vukovar.
The volunteer of “Human Faces of Conflicts”, Sonia Angiolin, met Ana in May 2017 and conducted the interview exactly behind the hotel in Zagreb where our storyteller lived as an IDP. In the recorded video Ana tells the stories of everyday life during the war in Vukovar, of how some people interrupted contacts with their neighbours and friends because of their nationalities and how some others tried to help each other despite national belonging. She also described her life as an IDP in the hotel in Zagreb, where living conditions were initially harsh, but they were soon mitigated. Thanks to the support and the training of international organisations, Ana started the process of conflict elaboration and understood that it is not possible to classify a person based on his/her nationality or ethnic belonging. She also mentioned that during the 1990s, the parts involved in the conflicts used to point at scapegoats for atrocities and that propaganda and the political exploitation of the conflict still exerts influence on the memory of the war. Therefore, this leaves little space for the part of civil society involved in peace building efforts that is advocating for reconciliation. At present times, Ana told us that often initiatives in Vukovar, such as conferences, exhibitions and commemorations, are mostly targeted to a small audience at the political level and are not capable of involving citizens and the civil society on the whole.
We thank once more Ms Ana Kvesic for having participated in “Human Faces of Conflicts” and shared her story in our online platform.
Note on the video. To facilitate the viewing of the video “Human touch / Ljudski dodir”, the English subtitles include comments and notes in square brackets. Alike, fictitious names were assigned to some of the characters mentioned by the storyteller.
Disclaimer: “Human Faces of Conflicts” shares stories focusing on people who helped others on the “other side” of the conflicts”, without any intentional direct or indirect reference to political, economic, cultural, identity, religious information that may be related to a conflict or to specific actors and parties involved in a conflict. The views and opinions expressed in the story are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of the project “Human Faces of Conflicts”. Neither the project team nor its volunteers and contributors may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.