A Balkan Roadside Attraction

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Turanj, Croatia – June 2011

The long shadows of late afternoon creep across the landscape. Voices from the nearby village drift up on the warm breeze. Every couple of minutes a car whizzes by. This was once the front line in the war, which, like so many wars, has a patriotic name.

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Greenery has begun to wrestle with the architecture. Gentle and silent, it will defeat the disfigurement in the end.

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Various machines of destruction and defense are assembled here, some of them home made. Necessity breeds invention. A MiG carcass is prominently displayed at the front of the group. Consequences bared for all to see.

Every pockmark is the result of a finger pulling a trigger, a target in a scope. A deadly intent. Through a window framed by a bullet-scoured wall, rubble is displayed.

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Just beyond, yet forever out of reach: blue sky.

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29 thoughts on “A Balkan Roadside Attraction

  1. There is a terrible fascination about these sorts of places, particularly when the events are relatively recent. I guess it is the extreme contrast between the peaceful present and the violent near past. Fine words and images as ever.

    • Thanks, Robin. It’s not a place I would have stopped at on my own. I have no interest in war machines and battlefields. However, I had caught a ride with a small tour group down to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb and the guide really wanted to show us this place. I made the best of it.

  2. I share your dislike of war machines and battlefields; there is a profound sense of loss, sadness and frustration when we find ourselves in conflict locations. Instinctively, we seek reasons, but rarely find one that satisfies us. A couple of years ago, I read “The Art of War.” by Sun Tzu. I had been putting it off for years, simply because I didn’t like the title. But I was surprised by the underlying wisdom – the avoidance of war.

    “No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.
    But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

      • I listened to the audiobook which had explanations along the way. Listening is the best way because of the authenticity of delivery. It came down through an oral tradition. And there are various transalations. While you may not agree with all of the content, one thing is certain – you will look at conflict resolution from a different perspective!

  3. it reminds me at Goli Otok, an Island near Krk, Croatia. Some years ago I visited the ruins of an hold prison after the Second World War. I can’t forget the atmosphere of pain and desolation that i felt.

  4. And today the sun shines in an impossibly blue sky. Birds sing. Flowers bloom. Yet tragedy speaks to us from every image! You have captured the story brilliantly.

  5. “Greenery has begun to wrestle with the architecture. Gentle and silent, it will defeat the disfigurement in the end.” Beautiful description of the inevitable and welcome triumph of nature over madness, Julie.

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