The Winner’s Report.
The Award.
The Initiative.
Writing for CEE 2010
The countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe have had an eventful year
again in 2010. Croatia and Slovenia have settled their 20-year border dispute, thus paving the way for Croatia’s accession to the EU. Poland’s President Kaczynski and many
high-ranking political representatives died in an air crash. The international Court of
Justice found that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was not in violation of international law. In Hungary and Slovakia parliamentary elections resulted in a change of
government. In the Czech Republic newly established parties suddenly took charge of
the government. A chemical accident made Hungary the scene of one of the biggest
environmental catastrophes in the last few years.
APA – Austria Press Agency and Bank Austria, a member of UniCredit, also announced
the “Writing for CEE“ journalist award in 2010. It is aimed at promoting journalistic
discussion of issues concerning European integration and rewards reports focusing on
Europe and the EU with specific respect to Central and Eastern Europe.
In 2010 the EUR 5,000 prize goes to journalist Azra Nuhefendić, who was born in
Bosnia-Herzegovina and lives in Italy.
Her report “Der Zug” (“The Train”) portrays a journey by train from Belgrade to
Sarajevo at the outbreak of the war. The journey ends bitterly, the line remaining
interrupted for 18 years. Azra Nuhefendić takes the journey again at the beginning
of 2010, when the situation in former Yugoslavia has normalised and the connection
between Belgrade and Sarajevo is functioning again. We accompany the prize-winner
on the journey through former Yugoslavia – through a landscape of politics, through a
landscape of souls.
The award will be presented again in 2011. More information on the award and a selection of the best reports in the last few years can be accessed at
We hope you enjoy reading the prize-winning report for 2010.
Michael Lang Chief Editor, APA – Austria Press Agency Willibald Cernko
CEO Bank Austria, 11 January 2010
By Azra Nuhefendić
The reopening of the railway line between Belgrade and Sarajevo, for the first time
since the beginning of the war. After a gap of 18 years, a locomotive engine with three
carriages: one from the railway of the Republika Srpska, one from the Federation of
Bosnia-Herzegovina and the third from Serbia. On the train there were 15 passengers.
I considered myself an adult, an emancipated woman. Yet, fool that I was, once a
month I brought my dirty washing home to Sarajevo for my mother to wash. From May
until the beginning of October I used to travel by plane, but afterwards I took the train
because fog and snow in Bosnia made the flight unpredictable.
In those days three trains a day ran between Sarajevo and Belgrade plus a night train.
I boarded the night train which left Belgrade around midnight as normal. On that occasion, as well as the usual bag of dirty washing, I was carrying a suitcase full of books
in Russian which my sister was sending from Moscow to Sarajevo for safekeeping.
In my locked compartment I soon fell asleep, rocked by the sway of the train. The
journey took seven hours and the train would arrive in Sarajevo in the early hours of
the morning. But at some point I woke up with the feeling that it was too early to have
reached our destination. Outside you could make out voices which were different from
the driver and conductors of the night trains who tend to speak in low tones out of
respect for the passengers. I peeked out from behind the window curtain: we were in
the middle of the countryside. Later I discovered that we were near Vinkovci, a railway
junction about two hours from Belgrade in territory of the then Yugoslav republic of
Croatia. There were armed men outside. In spite of their uniforms they didn’t look like
regular soldiers. Scruffy, with unbuttoned shirts, they lolled about like drunks, dragging their belts behind them. Some were sitting on the ground. The railway line was
littered with empty beer bottles. They were shouting and swearing. I made sure that
my compartment was locked and waited. The men were from the ZENG, a Croatian
paramilitary unit formed by the Croatian authorities.
There was a knock at the door. An angry voice ordered me to open it. Phaw, I was hit
by a blast of alcohol fumes. The man asked to see my ID card. “Hmmm”, he muttered,
wanting to know where my husband was. “I haven’t got a husband”, I replied. “Ha ha
ha”, he laughed, “don’t tell me at your age you’re not married!” Then he demanded to
know what was in the large suitcase. “Books”, I replied. “Open it, let’s have a look“,
came the command. He picked up a book, turned it over, opened it and started looking
at it upside down. He couldn’t read Cyrillic. “Huh, you’re reading in Serbian!”, he said
with a grimace of distaste. “It’s Russian”, I replied scornfully. “It’s all the same s...”,
returned the man, and with that he threw the book on the bed and left.
After a while the train started on its way, crossing the bridge over the river Sava and
into Bosnia. At Doboj we were awakened again. This time the voices came from railwaymen, who politely and anxiously asked us to take our luggage and dismount the
train. The railway line had been cut off.
In the darkness, under the dim lights of a small countryside station, people started
dragging suitcases and bags along the railway lines. Mothers carried sleeping children,
some helped the elderly or the women. Not a word was spoken, not even a cry from
a child; all you could hear were footsteps and the rumble and scrape of baggage being
dragged along. Nobody protested at what was happening. Silence was the word. In
silence we did what we were told to do, we moved without questioning, we opened
our doors without resistance, we listened to all their lies. We, the ordinary people,
were in the majority, yet we obeyed as, one by one, our rights were taken from us.
What happened to us had nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. Our human and civil
rights were quite simply stripped from us.
We travelled a short distance by bus, whereupon we boarded another train which was
carrying passengers from Sarajevo who had ended up on the other side of the break in
the line. For the rest of the journey everyone was wide awake. Silent and troubled, we
stared out of the train windows. In the darkness of a damp and foggy Bosnian night,
we were trying to find a rational explanation for what was happening to us.
The railway line had been cut off and for eighteen long years no trains ran between Belgrade and Sarajevo. Later other railway lines were interrupted, other roads and other
connections were cut off, relationships curtailed. We were obliged to remain in an ever
diminishing space within ever tighter boundaries, unable to move around, where not
only physical but also mental contact was broken, until the breach was complete and
isolation turned into siege.
The railways more than anything else symbolised the development of socialist Yugoslavia. The most significant events in the life of the country can be seen through the
construction of the rail connections. The first “victory of new socialist man” (the official
title of the new society) was the construction of the Brčko-Banovići line. That legendary
route of 220 kilometres was built in 1947 in just six months, still a record today. Volunteer youth brigades from all over Yugoslavia and abroad worked on its construction. The
route was built immediately after the second world war to transport coal from Banovići
to the major cities and industrial centres of the country.
Those days in Yugoslavia the train was the only means of transporting large numbers
of the population. The Yugoslav authorities transferred entire villages from the poorest regions like Lika, from Croatia and Herzegovina to the vast fertile plains of the
Vojvodina. The so called settlers or colonisers who arrived in the Vojvodina moved into
the vacated houses of the folksdojčer, the German speaking minority who had lived
there before. The event was turned into an epic film, “Vlak bez voznog reda” (The train
with no schedule) to mark the heroic history of the Yugoslav people. After the second
world war the folksdojčer were accused of collaborating with the Nazis and over three
hundred thousand were forced to leave Yugoslavia.
Later on we travelled by train for completely different reasons, not for “trbuhom za
kruhom”, that is, in search of work and bread, but to study. Yugoslavia was a young nation and education was of the utmost importance. Every day trains carried thousands
of young people to the various university cities. These journeys were immortalised in
verse. The Serbian poet Vlado Divjak wrote a beautiful poem about Podlugovi, a little
railway station in central Bosnia. It tells of a blonde haired girl who keeps taking off
her beret to shake off the snow. Everything happened on those trains which brought
us closer to or took us further from love. That poem was set to music and the song
“Podlugovi”, sung by Zdravko Čolić, can still bring back nostalgia and, with a glass or
two of wine, even tears.
Another song is “Selma” by the legendary rock group “Bijelo Dugme” (“White Button”). The words “train”, “suitcase”, “window” appear in the lyrics but never the word
“love”. Yet it is considered one of the most sentimental and romantic songs. Selma is
leaving her lover, and at the moment of farewell, instead of telling her all she wants to
hear about love, he can only come out with the banal phrase: “Selma, don’t lean out
of the window”. It was to die for, was the way we described the most poignant songs.
Arsen Dedić, the popular Zagabrian singer-songwriter, sang “Brzim preko Bosne” (“By
express train across Bosnia”). It was during the seventies and eighties when, happy
and carefree, we jumped aboard the trains which would carry us south to the sea.
Never mind how long the train was, there was never enough room for everyone. During the months of July and August the trains looked like something out of India with
people hanging from every corner. The holidays began the moment of boarding. Like
a cliché in a film, there was always a guitar, a bottle of wine, and people sat in the corridors and sang.
The railway between Sarajevo and Belgrade was one of the three main lines that
crossed Yugoslavia. The two others were from Belgrade to Zagrabia and Ljubljana and
from there to Europe, and from Belgrade south, towards Skopje and Greece or via
Sofia towards Istanbul and the Middle East.
In those days too, we used the train on a journey in search of fashion to exchange what
little we had. Three or four times a day trains used to arrive in Trieste from Yugoslavia,
as well as hundreds of buses crammed full of people who couldn’t wait to spend their
hard earned savings on clothes.
With my friend Toni I travelled by train to Trieste one night in April just to buy a pair
of boots. We chatted with the other passengers and shared our snacks and drinks.
We offered our food around to responses of, “OK just a taste... Um, so good… who
made it?... Just another bite then...” But a few hours later when the other passengers
brought out their own provisions nobody offered anything to us. Toni and I pretended
not to notice and stared out of the window at the darkness, ashamed at the lack of
manners of these strangers.
In other countries the deceased would be carried by limousine or on a horse drawn
ceremonial carriage. But with us, when president Tito died, he made his final journey
on the blue train, the official name for the convoy that used to take him around the
country. His body was transported from Ljubljana to Belgrade by train on a journey
of around seven hundred kilometres. What I recall of the television images is not so
much the people who thronged the railway line to salute their beloved president one
last time, as much as the impressive locomotive which pulled the convoy without ever
stopping. It would slow down where people were gathered and give a loud, resolute
whistle as if to underline the fact that death is certain and inevitable, and fate can
neither alter nor stop it.
After eighteen years, a train left Belgrade for Sarajevo the other day. There weren’t
many people, the convoy was short, three shabby carriages, as if it were a slow train
driven not from necessity but from apathy. The few passengers inside were mostly
elderly without the typical excitement of travellers. The look on their faces was more
one of worry. Their expression reminded me of the night the line was interrupted. We
still don’t know where we are going or what the stops along the line will be., 11 gennaio 2010
Azra Nuhefendić
La riapertura della linea ferroviaria tra Belgrado e Sarajevo, interrotta all‘inizio della guerra.
Dopo 18 anni, una locomotiva ha trainato tre vagoni: uno delle ferrovie della Republika
Srpska, uno della Federazione di Bosnia Erzegovina e il terzo della Serbia. Sul convoglio
c‘erano 15 passeggeri
Mi ritenevo una persona adulta, una donna emancipata. Eppure, come l‘ultima deficiente, portavo i miei vestiti sporchi una volta al mese a Sarajevo, perché la mia mammina
me li lavasse. Da maggio all‘inizio d‘ottobre viaggiavo con l‘aereo, poi con il treno perché
la nebbia o la neve in Bosnia rendevano incerto il viaggio aereo.
All‘epoca tra Sarajevo e Belgrado circolavano tre treni al giorno, più uno notturno. Mi ero
imbarcata, come al solito, su quello notturno, che partiva da Belgrado intorno a mezzanotte. Quella volta, a parte il solito bagaglio sporco, portavo una grande valigia piena di
libri in russo che mia sorella mandava da Mosca a Sarajevo per metterli al sicuro.
Ben chiusa a chiave nello scompartimento mi addormentavo cullata dal vagone letto. Il
viaggio durava circa sette ore e la mattina presto si arrivava a Sarajevo. Quella volta, però,
mi ero svegliata con la sensazione che fosse troppo presto per essere arrivati alla meta.
Dall‘esterno s‘udivano voci diverse da quelle pronunciate dai conducenti e dai conduttori
dei treni notturni che, solitamente, parlano a voce bassa per rispetto dei passeggeri.
Ho sbirciato da dietro la tendina del finestrino: eravamo fermi in mezzo alla campagna.
Dopo ho saputo che eravamo vicino a Vinkovci, un nodo ferroviario a circa due ore da
Belgrado, sul territorio dell‘allora repubblica jugoslava della Croazia. Fuori c‘erano tanti
uomini armati. Malgrado indossassero delle uniformi, non sembravano militari regolari.
Disordinati, con le camice sbottonate, camminavano ciondolando come ubriachi trascinandosi dietro le loro cinture, alcuni stavano seduti per terra. Attorno al binario c‘erano
tantissime bottiglie di birra vuote. Gridavano e imprecavano. Mi assicurai che la porta
del mio scompartimento fosse ben chiusa e aspettai. Gli uomini erano gli ZENG, ovvero
paramilitari croati, unità formate dalle autorità croate.
Bussando alla porta, qualcuno con voce rabbiosa mi chiese di aprire. Puuuf, una ventata di alcool mi assalì. Quello mi chiese di fargli vedere la carta di identità. «Hmmm»,
bisbiglia e domanda dove sia mio marito. «Non ho marito», rispondo. «Ha ha ha», ride e
commenta: «Non mi dire che alla tua età non sei ancora sposata!» Poi domanda cosa trasporto nella valigia grande. «Libri», rispondo. «Apri, vediamo», ordina. Quello prende un
libro, lo gira, lo apre e lo guarda capovolto. Non sa leggere il cirillico. «Pfui, leggi serbo!»,
mi dice con una smorfia sul viso che dovrebbe mostrare la sua ripugnanza. «È russo»,
rispondo con disprezzo. «È la stessa m...», dice quello, butta il libro sul letto e se ne va.
Dopo un po‘ il treno riparte, passa il ponte sul fiume Sava ed entra in Bosnia. A Doboj, ci
svegliano di nuovo. Questa volta le voci sono dei ferrovieri, i quali, gentili e preoccupati,
ci chiedono di prendere i nostri bagagli e di lasciare il treno. La ferrovia è interrotta.
Nella notte buia, sotto le luci fioche di una piccola stazione nella provincia più profonda,
la gente trascinava valige e borsoni lungo i binari, le madri portavano i bambini semi
addormentati, qualcuno aiutava un vecchio o una donna. Tutto accadeva senza parole,
neanche i bambini piangevano, si udiva solo il rumore dei passi e dei bagagli trascinati.
Nessuno protestava per quello che ci stavano facendo. Il silenzio era la parola chiave.
Zitti accettavamo quello che ci ordinavano, ci spostavamo senza opporci, aprivamo loro le
nostre porte senza ribellarci, ascoltavamo quando loro mentivano. Noi, la gente comune,
eravamo più numerosi, eppure ubbidivamo a quelli che ci toglievano, uno dopo l‘altro,
tutti i nostri diritti. Quello che ci facevano non aveva niente a che fare né con l‘etnia né con
la religione. Semplicemente stracciavano i nostri diritti umani e civili.
Un breve tratto di strada lo percorremmo con gli autobus, poi ci fecero salire su di un
treno, un convoglio che era giunto con altri passeggeri da Sarajevo, e che si era fermato
dall‘altra parte della ferrovia interrotta.
Per il resto del viaggio non si chiuse occhio. Zitti e preoccupati fissammo i nostri sguardi
fuori dai finestrini. Nel buio di una notte umida e nebbiosa, una notte bosniaca, cercavamo una spiegazione ragionevole per quello che ci stava accadendo.
La linea ferroviaria era stata interrotta, e per diciotto lunghi anni i treni non circolarono
più tra Belgrado e Sarajevo. Dopo s‘interruppero altre ferrovie, altre strade, cessarono
collegamenti, i rapporti si estinsero. Ci costringevano a stare in territori sempre più piccoli, dentro confini sempre più stretti, a non muoverci, a interrompere i contatti non solo
fisici ma anche mentali, finché la rottura non fu completa, fino a che l‘isolamento non si
trasformò in assedio.
La ferrovia aveva rappresentato l‘immagine dello sviluppo nella Jugoslavia socialista più
di qualsiasi altra cosa. Le tappe più importanti della vita di questo Paese si possono
ripercorrere tramite la costruzione delle sue tratte ferroviarie. La prima vittoria dell‘uomo
nuovo socialista (così ufficialmente si definivano le nuove conquiste della società) fu la
costruzione di ferrovia Brčko-Banovići. Quella leggendaria ferrovia fu costruita nel 1947
in soli sei mesi di lavoro e contava 220 chilometri, una tempistica che, ancora oggi, è
un record mondiale. Ci lavorarono le brigate dei giovani volontari da tutta la Jugoslavia e
molti anche dall‘estero. Si decise di fare quel tratto perché nell‘immediato dopoguerra
c‘era bisogno di trasportare il carbone dalle miniere di Banovići verso le grande città e i
centri industriali.
A quell‘epoca il treno rappresentava l‘unico mezzo per i grandi trasferimenti della popolazione. Dalle regioni povere come la Lika, in Croazia, e l‘Erzegovina, le autorità jugoslave traslocarono interi villaggi in Vojvodina, in quella pianura vasta e fertile. I coloni, così
chiamavano quelli che arrivavano in Vojvodina, entravano nelle case vuote dei cosiddetti
folksdojčer, la minoranza tedesca che ci viveva prima. Dopo la Seconda guerra mondiale,
i folksdojčer furono accusati di collaborazionismo con i nazisti, e circa trecentomila di loro
dovettero lasciare la Jugoslavia. Su quell‘evento fu fatto un film, «Vlak bez voznog reda» (Il
treno senza orario), un‘opera epica che ci istruiva sulla storia eroica del popolo jugoslavo.
Successivamente ci spostavamo con i treni per ragioni ben diverse, non per andare
«trbuhom za kruhom», cioè alla ricerca di lavoro e pane, ma per imparare. La Jugoslavia
era una nazione giovane e l‘educazione era un vincolo categorico. Ogni giorno i treni portavano migliaia di giovani verso i centri universitari. Anche quello venne immortalato. Il
poeta serbo Vlado Divjak scrisse una bellissima poesia su una piccola stazione ferroviaria
nella Bosnia centrale, Podlugovi. Narra di una ragazza con i capelli biondi, che portava il
berretto sulla testa e che ogni tanto lo toglieva per ripulirlo dalla neve. Tutto succedeva
tra i treni che ci portavano o ci strappavano l‘amore. Quei versi vennero musicati e la
canzone «Podlugovi», che canta Zdravko Čolić, ancora oggi ci fa nostalgia e, se nel mezzo
c‘è pure un bicchiere di vino, capitano anche le lacrime.
Un‘altra canzone è «Selma» del mitico gruppo rock «Bijelo Dugme» («Bottone bianco»).
Nei suoi versi ci sono le parole «treno», «valigia», «finestrino», e neanche una volta
si menziona la parola «amore». Eppure la considero tra le canzoni più sentimentali in
assoluto. Selma se ne va e lui, nel momento dell‘addio, invece di dirle tutte quello che
desiderava sull‘amore, riesce a pronunciare un‘unica frase banale: «Selma, non sporgerti
dal finestrino». È veramente da tagliarsi le vene, come definivamo le canzoni struggenti.
Arsen Dedić, il popolare cantautore zagrebese, cantava «Brzim preko Bosne» («Con il
rapido attraverso la Bosnia»). Erano gli anni settanta e ottanta quando, felici e spensierati,
ci attaccavamo ai treni che a tutta forza ci portavano verso Sud, al mare. In quei convogli,
a prescindere da quanto fossero lunghi, non ci stavamo mai tutti. Nei mesi di luglio e
agosto assomigliavano ai treni indiani, pieni di gente dentro e fuori. Le nostre vacanze
cominciavano già con l‘incarrozzamento. Come nei film, pieni di luoghi comuni, c‘era
sempre la chitarra, la bottiglia di vino, e si cantava seduti per terra nei corridoi.
La ferrovia tra Sarajevo e Belgrado era una delle tre linee principali: da Belgrado verso Zagabria, Lubiana e poi l‘Europa. L‘altra da Belgrado a Sud, verso Skopje e la Grecia, oppure
via Sofia verso Istanbul e il Medio Oriente.
Una volta usavamo il treno anche per esportare il nostro «avere», e per scambiarlo per
l‘»apparire». Tre o quattro treni arrivavano ogni giorno a Trieste dalla Jugoslavia, insieme
con centinaia di autobus pieni di gente che non vedeva l‘ora di spendere i propri risparmi
per comperare vestiti.
Con l‘amico Toni ho viaggiato in treno una notte d‘aprile per comprare a Trieste solo un
paio di stivali. Con gli altri passeggeri abbiamo chiacchierato e condiviso i nostri panini e
le bibite. Glieli offrivamo con tanto di «prego... un assaggino... si... grazie... è buono... chi
l‘ha fatto... la prego, ancora un boccone». Ma dopo un paio di ore quelli avevano tirato
fuori le loro cibarie. Mangiavano senza offrirci nulla. Toni e io facevamo finta di niente,
fissavamo nel buio fuori dal finestrino vergognandoci per la scorrettezza di quegli sconosciuti.
Negli altri Paesi il defunto si sposta su una limousine oppure su carri cerimoniali trainati
da cavalli. Invece da noi, quando morì il presidente Tito, l‘ultimo viaggio l‘ha fatto con il
suo treno blu, così si chiamava ufficialmente il convoglio con il quale si spostava per il
Paese. Le sue spoglie furono trasportate da Lubiana a Belgrado in treno, un viaggio lungo
circa settecento chilometri. Quello che ricordo dalle immagini trasmesse in televisione
non è tanto la gente che si radunava lungo i binari per salutare, per l‘ultima volta, l‘amato
presidente, ma l‘imponente locomotiva che trascinava il treno senza fermarsi. Rallentava
un po‘ dove c‘era gente e rilasciava un fischio forte e risoluto, come a voler sottolineare
che la morte è una cosa certa e inevitabile e che il destino non si può né mutare, né
Dopo diciotto anni, l‘altro giorno è partito un treno da Belgrado a Sarajevo. C‘era poca
gente, il convoglio era corto, tre vagoni trascurati, sembrava un treno locale che si trascina più per inerzia che per effettivo bisogno. Dentro rari passeggeri, principalmente
anziani, senza quella tipica febbre dei viaggiatori. Nei loro sguardi non c‘era eccitazione
ma preoccupazione. Sui loro volti ho riconosciuto l‘espressione che mi ricordava quella
notte nella quale la ferrovia fu interrotta. Noi non sappiamo ancora dove siamo diretti, né
quali saranno le fermate., 11. Jänner 2010
Von Azra Nuhefendić
Wiedereröffnung der Bahnlinie zwischen Belgrad und Sarajevo, die seit Beginn des
Kriegs unterbrochen war. Nach 18 Jahren fährt wieder eine Lokomotive mit drei Waggons: Einer stammt aus der Republika Srpska, einer aus der Föderation Bosnien-Herzegowina und ein dritter aus Serbien. Im Zug sitzen 15 Passagiere.
Ich habe mich immer für eine erwachsene Person, eine emanzipierte Frau gehalten. Dabei brachte ich immer wie die letzte Schwachsinnige einmal im Monat meine
schmutzige Wäsche nach Sarajevo, damit Mutti sie mir waschen konnte. Zwischen Mai
und Anfang Oktober nahm ich das Flugzeug, dann den Zug, weil Nebel und Schnee das
Fliegen in Bosnien unsicher machten. Damals fuhren zwischen Sarajevo und Belgrad
drei Züge tagsüber und einer nachts. Ich war wie üblich in den Nachtzug eingestiegen,
der gegen Mitternacht von Belgrad abfuhr. An diesem Abend trug ich neben dem Gepäck mit Schmutzwäsche auch einen Koffer voller Bücher in russischer Sprache, die
meine Schwester aus Moskau nach Sarajevo schickte, um sie in Sicherheit zu bringen.
Verriegelt in meinem Abteil und vom Waggon geschaukelt schlief ich ein. Die Reise
dauerte normalerweise circa sieben Stunden und am frühen Vormittag traf man in
Sarajevo ein. Diesmal erwachte ich allerdings mit dem Gefühl, es sei noch zu früh, um
schon am Ziel zu sein. Draußen hörte man andere Stimmen als die der Schaffner und
Lokführer der Nachtzüge, die normalerweise aus Rücksicht auf die Passagiere leise
sprachen. Ich zog den Vorhang des Abteilfensters zur Seite und spähte hinaus: Wir
standen still, mitten auf dem Land. Später erfuhr ich, dass wir uns unweit von Vinkovci
befanden, einem Bahn-Knoten im Gebiet der damals noch jugoslawischen Republik
Kroatien. Draußen standen bewaffnete Männer herum. Obwohl sie Uniformen trugen,
schienen sie keine regulären Soldaten zu sein. Schlampig, mit offenen Hemden stapften sie wie betrunken herum und zerrten an ihren Gürteln, einige von ihnen saßen
auf dem Boden. Längs der Schienen lagen unzählige leere Bierflaschen. Die Männer
schrien und fluchten. Ich vergewisserte mich dessen, dass die Tür meines Abteils gut
verriegelt war, und wartete ab. Die Männer waren ZENG, halbmilitärische Kroaten, von
den kroatischen Behörden gebildete Einheiten.
Jemand klopfte an die Abteiltür und befahl mir mit wütender Stimme, sofort zu öffnen.
Puuh, eine Alkoholwolke schlug mir ins Gesicht. Der Mann wollte meinen Ausweis sehen.
„Hmmm“, murmelt er und fragt mich, wo mein Mann sei. „Ich habe keinen“, antworte ich.
„Ha ha ha“, lacht er und kommentiert: „Sag mir nicht, dass du in deinem Alter immer
noch nicht verheiratet bist!“ Dann fragt er, was im großen Koffer sei. „Bücher“, antworte
ich. „Öffne ihn, damit ich kontrollieren kann!“, befiehlt er mir. Er nimmt ein Buch heraus,
dreht es um, schlägt es auf und betrachtet es verkehrt herum. Er kann nicht Kyrillisch
lesen. „Pfui Teufel, du liest Serbisch!“, sagt er und schneidet eine Grimasse, die seine
Abscheu ausdrücken soll. „Das ist Russisch“, antworte ich verächtlich. „Das ist immer noch
dieselbe Sch…“, erwidert er, wirft das Buch auf die Liege und verlässt das Abteil.
Nach einiger Zeit fährt der Zug wieder los, überquert die Brücke über den Sava-Fluss
und erreicht Bosnien. In Doboj werden wir schon wieder geweckt. Diesmal hören wir
die Stimmen der Eisenbahner, die uns freundlich, aber beunruhigt bitten, unsere Koffer
zu nehmen und den Zug zu verlassen. Die Bahnlinie ist unterbrochen.
In der dunklen Nacht, unter den fahlen Lichtern eines kleinen Bahnhofs in der tiefsten
Provinz, schleppten die Menschen ihre Koffer und Taschen die Schienen entlang. Mütter trugen ihre schlaftrunkenen Kinder, irgendjemand half einem Alten oder einer Frau.
Alles geschah schweigend, nicht einmal die Kinder weinten, man hörte nur das Geräusch der Schritte und der über den Bahndamm geschleiften Gepäckstücke. Niemand
protestierte wegen dem, was man uns antat. Den Mund halten, das war die Parole.
Schweigend akzeptierten wir, was man uns befahl, wir gingen widerstandslos weiter,
öffneten ihnen unsere Türen ohne zu rebellieren und hörten ihnen zu, wenn sie uns
anlogen. Wir, die einfachen Leute, waren in der Überzahl, doch wir folgten jenen, die
uns nach und nach all unserer Rechte beraubten. Was sie taten, hatte weder mit Ethnie
noch mit Religion etwas zu tun. Sie zerstörten ganz einfach unsere menschlichen und
zivilen Rechte, eines nach dem anderen.
Wir fuhren eine kurze Strecke mit dem Bus, dann stiegen wir in einen Zug um, in
einen Konvoi mit anderen Passagieren aus Sarajevo, der am anderen Ende des unterbrochenen Streckenabschnitts gehalten hatte. Während der übrigen Reise konnte niemand ein Auge zutun. Still und besorgt blickten wir aus den Fenstern. Im Dunkel einer
feuchten, nebeligen Nacht – einer bosnischen Nacht – suchten wir eine vernünftige
Erklärung für das, was uns geschah.
Die Bahnlinie war unterbrochen und 18 lange Jahre fuhren keine Züge mehr zwischen
Belgrad und Sarajevo. Danach wurden weitere Bahnlinien, weitere Straßen unterbrochen, Verbindungen fielen aus, Beziehungen wurden gekappt. Man zwang uns,
in immer kleineren Gebieten innerhalb immer engerer Grenzen zu leben. Wir durften uns nicht bewegen, mussten nicht nur physische, sondern auch gedankliche
Kontakte abbrechen, bis die Trennung vollständig war, bis sich die Isolierung in Belagerung verwandelte.
Die Bahn war mehr als alles andere das Symbol der Entwicklung im sozialistischen Jugoslawien gewesen. Die wichtigsten Etappen im Leben dieses Landes lassen sich mit
dem Bau seiner Bahnlinien nachvollziehen und neuerlich befahren. Der erste Sieg des
neuen „Sozialistischen Menschen“ (so wurden die Errungenschaften der Gesellschaft
offiziell bezeichnet) war der Bau der Bahnstrecke Brcko-Banovići. Diese legendäre, 220
Kilometer lange Strecke wurde 1947 in nur sechs Monaten gebaut. Noch heute ist das
ein Rekord für den Bau einer Bahnlinie. Brigaden junger Freiwilliger aus ganz Jugoslawien und auch aus dem Ausland hatten daran gearbeitet. Die Bahnstrecke wurde
errichtet, um in der ersten Nachkriegszeit Kohle aus den Bergwerken von Banovići in
die großen Städte und Industriezentren zu transportieren.
Damals war der Zug das einzige Verkehrsmittel für große Massentransporte von Menschen. Die jugoslawischen Behörden verfrachteten ganze Dorfbevölkerungen armer
Regionen wie der Lika in Kroatien oder aus der Herzegowina in die große, fruchtbare
Ebene der Vojvodina. Siedler oder Kolonialisten wurden jene genannt, die in der Vojvodina eintrafen und die leer stehenden Häuser der sogenannten Folksdojčen, der deutschen Minderheit, bezogen, die hier zuvor gelebt hatte. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg
wurden die Folksdojčen der Kollaboration mit den Nationalsozialisten beschuldigt,
300.000 von ihnen mussten Jugoslawien verlassen. Dieses Ereignis wurde im Film
„Vlak bez voznog reda“ (Zug ohne Fahrplan) geschildert, ein episches Werk, das uns
die heroische Geschichte des jugoslawischen Volks nahebringen sollte.
Später dann fuhren wir mit dem Zug, aber nicht auf der Suche nach „trbuhom za
kruhom“ – „Arbeit und Brot“, sondern aus anderen Gründen: nämlich um zu lernen.
Jugoslawien war eine junge Nation – und Bildung eine kategorische Pflicht. Täglich
brachten die Züge tausende Jugendliche zu den Universitäten. Auch das wurde verewigt: Der serbische Dichter Vlado Divjak schrieb ein wunderschönes Gedicht über
einen kleinen Bahnhof in Zentralserbien, Podlugovi. Im Gedicht beschreibt er eine junge blonde Frau mit einem Barett, das sie dann und wann abnimmt, um den Schnee
abzuschütteln. All dies geschieht zwischen den Zügen, die uns die Liebe bringen oder
sie uns entreißen. Die Strophen des Gedichts wurden später auch vertont, und das
Lied „Podlugovi“, von Zdravko Čolić interpretiert, weckt noch heute in uns Nostalgie.
Trinkt man dazu auch noch ein Glas Wein, fließen gelegentlich sogar Tränen.
Im Lied „Selma“ der legendären Rockgruppe „Bijelo Dugme“ („Weißer Knopf“) kommen Worte wie „Zug“, „Koffer“ und „Fenster“ vor, aber kein einziges Mal das Wort
„Liebe“. Und dennoch halte ich dieses Lied für eines der sentimentalsten überhaupt,
denn Selma fährt weg, und im Moment des Abschieds sagt er ihr nichts von seiner
Liebe zu ihr, er bringt nur einen einzigen, banalen Satz heraus: „Selma, lehn dich nicht
aus dem Fenster“. Es ist wirklich „zum Sterben schön“, wie wir bei herzzerreißenden
Liedern zu sagen pflegen.
Arsen Dedić, der bekannte Zagreber Liedermacher, sang „Brzim preko Bosne“ („Mit
dem Schnellzug durch Bosnien“). Es waren die 70er und 80er Jahre, wir sprangen
glücklich und unbekümmert in die Züge, die uns in den Süden, ans Meer fuhren. In
diesen Zügen, ganz egal wie lang sie waren, fanden wir nie alle Platz. Im Juli und
August ähnelten sie indischen Zügen voller Leute drinnen, aber auch draußen. Unsere
Ferien begannen schon beim Einsteigen in den Zug. Wie in Kitschfilmen hatten wir
immer eine Gitarre und eine Weinflasche dabei, saßen in den Gängen auf dem Boden
und sangen. Die Bahnlinie zwischen Sarajevo und Belgrad war eine der drei Hauptlinien: Sie verlief von Belgrad nach Zagreb, Ljubljana und dann nach Europa. Die andere
verlief von Belgrad nach Süden, Richtung Skopje und Griechenland, oder via Sofia nach
Istanbul und in den Nahen Osten.
Wir nutzten aber den Zug auch, um unser „Haben“ zu exportieren und es mit dem
„Anschein“ zu tauschen. Drei oder vier Züge trafen täglich in Triest ein, gleichzeitig
mit hunderten Bussen voller Menschen aus Jugoslawien, die es kaum noch abwarten
konnten, ihre Ersparnisse auszugeben, um Kleidungsstücke zu kaufen.
Mit meinem Freund Toni machte ich in einer Aprilnacht diese Zugfahrt, bloß um in Triest
ein Paar Stiefel zu kaufen. Wir unterhielten uns mit den anderen Reisenden, teilten
unsere Brote und Getränke mit ihnen und tauschten kurze Sätze aus, wie „Bitteschön
… kosten Sie mal … Ja … Danke … Es schmeckt … Wer hat das zubereitet? … Bitteschön … Noch einen Bissen“. Nach ein paar Stunden packten dann die anderen Passagiere ihren Proviant aus. Sie aßen, allerdings ohne uns etwas anzubieten. Toni und ich
taten so, als wäre nichts geschehen. Wir schauten aus dem Fenster und schämten uns
für das unkorrekte Benehmen dieser Fremden.
In anderen Ländern unternimmt ein Verstorbener seine letzte Fahrt an Bord eines eleganten Autos oder einer prächtigen Pferdekutsche. Als Präsident Tito starb, machte er
seine letzte Reise in seinem „Blauen Zug“ – so hieß der Zug, mit dem er durch das
Land zog, in der offiziellen Amtssprache. Sein Leichnam wurde von Ljubljana nach
Belgrad überführt, die Fahrt war 700 Kilometer lang. Was mich an den vom Fernsehen
ausgestrahlten Bildern beeindruckte, waren nicht so sehr die entlang der Schienen versammelten Menschen, die sich zum letzten Mal von ihrem geliebten Präsidenten verabschiedeten, sondern die imposante Lokomotive, die den Zug zog ohne ­anzuhalten.
Der Zug verlangsamte seine Fahrt lediglich dort, wo Leute standen, und ließ einen
lauten, resoluten Pfiff ertönen, so als wolle er hervorheben, dass der Tod etwas
Sicheres und Unvermeidliches ist und dass man das Schicksal weder ändern noch
aufhalten kann.
Nach 18 Jahren war schließlich vor wenigen Tagen wieder ein Zug von Belgrad nach
Sarajevo unterwegs. Nur wenige Leute saßen in dem kurzen Zug, der nur aus drei
heruntergekommenen Waggons bestand. Er schien mir wie ein Lokalzug, der mehr
aus Trägheit als aus einem wahren Bedürfnis dahinrollte. Im Zug saßen nur wenige
Passagiere, mehrheitlich ältere Leute, die nicht das sonst typische Reisefieber hatten.
In ihrem Blick lag keine Spannung, wohl aber Unruhe. In ihren Gesichtern sah ich einen
Ausdruck, der mich an jene Nacht erinnerte, als die Bahnlinie unterbrochen wurde. Wir
wissen immer noch nicht, wohin wir fahren – und auch nicht, wo wir halten werden.
Curriculum Vitae
Azra Nuhefendić
Contributing writer: “Osservatoiro Balcani e Caucauso”, “Nazione Indiana”, “Il Piccolo”,
“Sud”; Coordinator of the EU project “Dialogue for Democracy”. Researcher for the
BBC in Belgrade, “Financial Times”, Dutch TV, “Corriere della Sera”; (1995-1992). Journalist for Radio Television Belgrade, Editor of the Sarajevo’s daily “Oslobodjenje”.
Journalist Prize: “Premio Dario D’Angelo” reserved for the best non-Italian journalist
(2004). ( Special Prize for reporting on the revolution in Romania (1989). Annual Prize of Radio Television Belgrade
for contributions on financial scandals (1987.) “Best Reportage of the year“, on the
miners‘ strikes in Kosovo (1986). Living in Italy since 1995. Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Journalism prize
Writing for CEE –
Open for Entries
in 2011
The future of Europe is vitally dependent on how quickly and effectively the continent
can be made to grow together. In this process the media play an important role.
Eligible for participation
Journalists from Europe
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for those contributions which help overcome borders and prejudices, deal with the
future of Central Europe or the Europe of the regions, or minority issues or dialogue
with neighbours.
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The jury selects one contribution. There is only one winner. The best ten to twelve
contributions are published on the website – on submission,
the authors agree to waive their publication fee for the website.
Deadline for entries:
July 31st, 2011
Announcement of the winner
in a ceremony in Vienna in November.
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