Introduction: Not a Fairy Tale Once upon a time, in a faraway part of Europe, behind seven mountains and seven rivers, there was a beautiful country called Yugoslavia. Its people belonged to six different nations, and they were of three different religions and spoke three different languages. They were Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Muslims yet they all worked together, went to school together, married each other, and lived in relative harmony for forty-five years.But because it is not a fairy tale, the story of this beautiful country has no happy ending. Yugoslavia fell apart in a terrible and bloody war, a war that claimed some two hundred thousand lives'mostly in Bosnia'displaced two million people, and produced several new states: Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia. Albanians and Montenegrins are still struggling for their independence. This all happened in the middle of Europe not so long ago, between 1991 and 1995. The whole world was surprised by this war. We, the citizens of Yugoslavia, were even more surprised. When I think about it, I am still angry with myself. Is it possible that the war crept into our lives slowly, stealthily, like a thief? Why didn't we see it coming? Why didn't we do something to prevent it? Why were we so arrogant that we thought it could not happen to us? Were we really prisoners of a fairy tale? My generation in Europe grew up believing that after World War II, war of that kind could not happen again. Nuclear war between two superpowers was a possibility, not a local one fought with conventional arms. Another argument against the likelihood of a new war was that in World War II in Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands of people perished on all sides. The witnesses were still alive, the wounds were still open. And finally, we knew that Yugoslavia had no enemies. We lived peacefully with our neighbors: with Italians, Austrians, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Albanians. But one day we discovered that it is not necessary to have an outside enemy to start a war. The enemy could be inside'and indeed it was. It was bad enough digging up the past'the past that we tend to forget, that during the war Yugoslavia was occupied or controlled by Nazi Germany'but there was also a civil war between Serbs and Croats going on. In other words, there was a recorded history of bloodshed in our country, and it was easy to manipulate it in order to antagonize one another: Serbs became the enemies of Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Albanians, and the Croats at one point were also at war not only with Serbs but with Muslims as well, while the Macedonians? enemies were Albanians. Even if it appeared that way to us, the war did not descend upon us overnight. In the late eighties communism collapsed everywhere in Eastern Europe and in what was then still the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia was unprepared for the political changes that followed that collapse. We did not develop any democratic alternatives as Poland and Czechoslovakia had done, and the political vacuum was suddenly filled with nationalist parties. They all had the same program: independence and nation-states of their own. Simmering nationalism was soon spreading like a fire. The nationalist parties were voted into power in Croatia and Bosnia. In Serbia something strange happened: the Communist Party turned nationalist, led by Slobodan Milos'evic', who believed this was the way to keep his grip on power. Soon there were referendums all over, and people were voting for their independence from Yugoslavia. Slovenia took the first step, and by June 1991 it was out of the federation. The breakup had begun. The JNA (Yugoslav National Army) tried to stop Slovenia from leaving, but because Slovenia had no minorities to speak of, the army let it go. At this point, war did not look like a possibility. The names of the few soldiers and policemen killed in that spring oDrakulic, Slavenka is the author of 'They Would Never Hurt a Fly War Criminals on Trial in The Hague' with ISBN 9780670033324 and ISBN 0670033324.