Our source, Sudbin, lived in a city (Prijedor) that had a slim majority of Bosniak Muslims, like him. But the surrounding area was Serbian, and although his group was the majority, the Serbs were almost as numerous and tended to dominate the ranks of the police. The local government was overthrown in a police-instituted coup, and within a matter of months, all the Muslims and Croats in the area -- including Sudbin and his family -- were rounded up and sent to death camps.
A similar story repeated all around Bosnia, with Serbs suddenly butchering everyone who wasn't Serbian. The two camps they established -- one at Prijedor and another in Srebrenica -- would go on to massacre well over 10,000 men, women, and children. The next time you start to feel too optimistic about the future of our species, remember this: Our fanciest continent couldn't even go 50 freaking years without death camps cropping up again.
Meaning there were Serbs who grew up during the Holocaust and still thought concentration camps would be a good idea.
But while most of the killing in the Holocaust was done by German soldiers and policemen to strangers from different countries, the genocide in Bosnia was committed by the neighbors and co-workers of the victims. In Prijedor, the massacres were carried out at a mine where mere days before the killers and victims had worked alongside one another. "... Serbs, Bosniaks, Croats. They were workers for this company," says Sudbin. "And now you have a place where those living together were killed. You don't have to work together anymore, you have to kill each other ..."
It's weird how quickly it happened. The Nazi "Final Solution" wasn't the state policy for years; the organized plan for the Holocaust was only laid down in 1942, and until 1941, the vast majority of people murdered in their camps were political prisoners, not Jews or other targeted groups. The Bosniak Serbs, on the other hand, started genociding within days of taking over. Sudbin pointed out a local church at one point during our interview ...