On an April morning, when the first snowmelt brought grassy scents from the mountains, the Luftwaffe sent wave after wave of Stuka dive-bombers to raid Belgrade. Armies from four hostile nations poured across the border. It took less than two weeks for the Yugoslav army to surrender. Even before that, Germany had declared Sarajevo part of a new state. “This is now the Ustashe and Independent State of Croatia,” the Nazi-appointed leader had declared. “It must be cleansed of Serbs and Jews. There is no room for any of them here. Not a stone upon stone will remain of what once belonged to them.”
People of the Book is a historical fiction novel by Geraldine Brooks that concerns itself with an imagined history of the the Sarajevo Haggadah, a well-known and very prized illuminated manuscript.
I read this passage, which so conveniently happens to be on page fifty-six of the novel, and was absolutely struck by the matter of factness of its wording. So blunt. So cold. But this is what happened.
I knew this would be a fantastic addition to the Friday Fifty-Six link up because not only is it a fantastic introduction to this fascinating novel, but it is also absolutely chilling in the way it portrays the way hatred spreads–how quickly and forcefully it can take over an area and change people’s lives in an instant.
This is how genocide happens. It doesn’t take much to convince people to hate.
The Friday 56 link up is hosted by Freda’s Voice.