Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia

By Keith Doubt | Go to book overview
Save to active project


The fact that the concept of evil has no explanatory power just
when we feel most need of it does not mean that it is inessential
to our understanding of what happens even then.

—Raimond Gaita

What is the evil in war crimes? The word “evil” is a signifier, and its meaning needs to be recovered; otherwise, the word loses its significance despite the preponderance of its use. During the war against Bosnia, the nationalist Serb Army and the Yugoslav People’s Army deliberately targeted civilian funerals. Massacres sometimes occurred during services, thus preventing family members from burying their loved ones. Communities were forced to abandon their deceased in fields or on streets. The war criminals then grotesquely discarded the bodies into remote pits or inaccessible mines. Sometimes they planted grenades into these pits to discourage the recovery of the bodies.

The term “mass graves” is a misnomer because mass graves are not graves. Religious ceremonies and social rituals were not properly performed. While saying prayers for the dead, religious leaders took refuge from shelling by jumping into graves. In Sarajevo, Serbian snipers attacked and killed those preparing graves. Women and children were deliberately wounded or killed by shells while throwing dirt into a grave during a service.

An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the Institute for Research of Crimes against Humanity and International Law in Bihać, Bosnia, Septem


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 152

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?