Where am I?

Author of Bosnian death camp memoir speaks at Fontbonne

By Megan Myers

April 8, 2008

On April 8, 2008, Rezak Hukanovic, author of Tenth Circle of Hell: A Memoir of Life in the Death Camps of Bosnia, spoke in the Lewis Room of the University’s Jack C. Taylor Library.

Before an audience of around 55 members of the University and visitors, Hukanovic, a Bosnian Muslim, recalled his own deeply personal and painful memories of the war and genocide in Bosnia that claimed thousands of lives and displaced thousands more.

Tenth Circle follows the author’s experience from the siege of his hometown, Prijedor to his time in the infamous Manjaca and Omarska concentration camps. The book’s translators note that Hukanovic chose to write the memoir in third person because he felt like “the brutal events he endured…must have been happening to someone else.”

Hukanovic recounts the brutality of the camps, where Serbian paramilitary soldiers systematically tortured, raped and killed their primarily Bosniak and Croat prisoners.

The memoir is also instructive in its recollection of the peace and ethno-religious tolerance that Bosnians enjoyed only a short time before the violence broke out. “The guys he knew split up into Muslims and Serbs only when they played soccer on the banks of the Sana River on hot summer days…but those were different times,” writes Hukanovic of his friendships with Serbian neighbors and friends prior to the war.

Hukanovic’s visit was arranged by Dr. Ben Moore and Dr. Jack Luzkow as part of the University’s Bosnia Memory Project, which is dedicated to establishing an enduring record of the experiences of Bosnian immigrants in St. Louis. The exhibit uses interviews, text, photographs, maps, and video to tell the story of genocide in the Bosnian city of Prijedor between 1992 and 1995.