Wake up, Europe! Support and solidarity mobilizations for Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens during the 1992-1995 war

An exhibition of the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in cooperation with Memory Lab, with the support of the French Institute for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Goethe Institute Bosnia and Herzegovina

For the majority of people in Europe, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina remained mainly a tv-event; many felt that it did not really concern them or that nothing could be done about it. Also the Western governments adopted a widely passive or neutral stand towards the war. But at the same time there were also thousands of individuals in countries across Europe who decided they did not want to remain bystanders. Beyond professional aid organisations, support and solidarity mobilisations included ordinary citizens, artists, intellectuals, journalists, cities, informal groups and NGO's, for example in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Serbia or the Czech Republic.

The main aim of the exhibition is to provide a historical overview of these mobilisations, a little-known dimension of the Bosnian war. It was a very heterogeneous mobilization, a mixture of humanitarian and civic engagement, which occurred often in close interaction with those in Sarajevo and BiH who were involved in the civic, cultural and intellectual defense of the Bosnian way of life and of their country. The exhibition highlights the role of Sarajevo and BiH in calling on the outside world to abandon its passivity, summarized in the slogan “Wake up Europe”, showing which different forms of commitment existed in reaction to these calls, which ones were examples of concrete initiatives, and what were the discourses and discussions that accompanied these mobilisations.

Beyond contributing to our knowledge and reflection about the war in BiH as part of contemporary European history, this exhibition also wants to stimulate reflection on a timeless question: What do we understand by solidarity? And to what extent can these mobilisations from the 1990s be also an inspiration for today?

The documents - photos, leaflets, posters, newspaper articles, letters and other visual documents - come from over fifteen countries, with written documents in eight different languages, in order to underline the European dimension of these mobilisations. All accompanying texts have been written in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and in English.

The realization of the exhibition was made possible thanks to the financial support provided by the Goethe Institute BiH and the French-Institute BiH with means of the Franco-German Cultural Fund. The exhibition was shown at the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina between October and December 2021. Encouraged by the positive feedback, as well as for the importance of the topic, we are currently discussing possibilities of touring the exhibition around Europe, particularly in 2022 which marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

You can find more information about the exhibition in this information booklet.