‘Forever Connected’: State Narratives and the Dutch Memory of Srebrenica

Part of the Springer Series in Transitional Justice book series (SSTJ, volume 8)


This chapter explores the refusal of the Dutch government to follow up on the European Parliament resolution of 2009 that called for a national Srebrenica remembrance day. It argues that it makes sense to consider Srebrenica as a trauma within a Dutch political context. The chapter analyses the political relevance of trauma in relation to the Dutch/United Nations (UN) Srebrenica mission and shows that the talk of a ‘Srebrenica trauma’ touches upon the core values of social order. It explores why the failed peacekeeping mission in Srebrenica is not approached to reflect on the effects of peacekeeping in relation to victimhood and genocide, but has instead been reconceptualised in a narrative of national progress in order to adjust the image of the Netherlands in terms of a robust partner on an international stage. It concludes that the official Dutch discourse on Srebrenica has been destabilised by a recent judgement of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. This judgement may—at least partly—open up a way of processing the past in different ways.


Srebrenica Commemoration National identity The Netherlands Trauma discourse International law 


  1. Blom, Hans, and Peter Romijn, eds. 2002. Srebrenica a ‘Safe Area’. Reconstruction, background, consequences and analysis of the fall of a safe area, 1637–1638. Amsterdam: Boom Publishers. Google Scholar
  2. Both, Norbert. 2000. From indifference to entrapment: The Netherlands and the Yugoslav crisis 1990–1995. Amsterdam Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bunting, Madeleine. 2002. Something had to be done. But no one knew what it was. The Guardian, 18. April.Google Scholar
  4. Canguilhem, Georges. 1991. The normal and the pathological. New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  5. Douzinas, Costas. 2002. The end of human rights. 2nd ed. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
  6. Dudink, Stefan. 2002. The unheroic men of a moral nation: Masculinity and nation in modern Dutch history. In The postwar moment, eds. Cynthia Cockburn and Dubravka Zarkov. London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  7. Edkins, Jenny. 2003. Trauma and the memory of politics, 9. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. European Parliament. 2009. European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica. P6_TA (2009) 0028.Google Scholar
  9. Kalse, Egbert. 1999. “Srebrenica” blijft trauma Defensie. NRC Handelsblad, 14. July. (My translation).Google Scholar
  10. Laub, Dori. 1995. Truth and testimony: The process and the struggle. In Trauma: Explorations in Memory, ed. Cathy Caruthy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  11. De Leeuw, Marc. 2002. A gentlemen’s agreement: Srebrenica in the context of Dutch war history. In The postwar moment, eds. Cynthia Cockburn and Dubravka Zarkov, 162–182. London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  12. Praamsma, Hendrina, Jet Peekel, and Toni Boumans . 2005. Herinneringen aan Srebrenica: 171 soldatengesprekken. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker.Google Scholar
  13. Rohde, David. 1997. A safe area. Srebrenica: Europe’s worst massacre since the Second World War. New York: Pocket Books.Google Scholar
  14. Runia, Eelco. 2004. “Forget about it”: ‘Parallel processing’ in the Srebrenica report. History and Theory 43:300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rijsdijk, Erna. 2012. Lost in Srebrenica: Responsibility and subjectivity in the reconstructions of a failed peacekeeping mission, 55–92. Amsterdam: VU University.Google Scholar
  16. Simons, Marlise. 1998. Bosnia massacre Mars do-right self-image the Dutch hold dear. The New York Times, 13. September.Google Scholar
  17. Supreme Court of the Netherlands. 2013a. Judgement in the case of the state of the Netherlands (Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs) v. Hasan Nuhanović, 3. 6. September 12/03324.Google Scholar
  18. Supreme Court of the Netherlands. 2013b. Judgement in the case of the state of the Netherlands (Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs) v. Mehida Mustafić-Mujić, Damir Mustafić and Alma Mustafić, 8–9. 6. September, 12/03329.Google Scholar
  19. The Guardian. 2002. ‘Dutch cabinet resigns over Srebrenica massacre’. 16. April.Google Scholar
  20. Van Olst, Peter. 2002. ‘Srebrenica, een open oorlogswond’, [‘Srebrenica, an open war injury’], Reformatorisch Dagblad, 10. April.Google Scholar
  21. Van Oostrom, Frits 2007. A key to Dutch history: The cultural canon of the Netherlands. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Withuis, Jolande. 2006. De ontstuitbare mars van het psychotrauma [the unstoppable march of psychotrauma]. De Volkskrant, 13. May.Google Scholar
  23. Withuis, Jolande. 2010. The politics of war trauma: The aftermath of World War II in eleven European countries. Amsterdam: Aksant.Google Scholar
  24. Withuis, Jolande, and Annet Mooij, eds. 2010. The politics of war trauma: The aftermath of world war II in eleven European countries. Amsterdam: Aksant.Google Scholar
  25. Zarkov, Dubravka. 2002. ‘Srebrenica trauma: Masculinity, military and national self-image in Dutch daily newspapers.’ In The postwar moment: Militaries, masculinities, and international peacekeeping, eds. Cynthia Cockburn and Dubravka Zarkov. Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Military EthicsNetherlands Defence Academy (NLDA)UtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations