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The Danger of Cultural Erasure in Inter-Ethnic, Inter-Religious, Trans-National Rescue During Genocide: A Comparison of the Shoah and the Bosnian Civil War

Elyse Pierce

Vol. 4, No. 1

Summer 2022

Pages: 16‒28

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2022.vol4.no1.02


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Holocaust Studies

Shoah, Holocaust, Judaism, Jewish Studies, Holocaust Studies, Kindertransport, Bosnian Genocide, La Benevolencija, International Intervention

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International genocide intervention strategies that involve the extended evacuation and/or displacement of refugees often save the physical lives of would-be victims at the expense of psychological and social trauma and cultural erasure. Through a comparison of the international rescue efforts of the Kindertransport program in Great Britain prior to and during the Second World War and the refugee caravans organized by La Benevolencija in Sarajevo during the Bosnian Civil War, the benefits and dangers of inter-ethnic, inter-religious rescue in times of mass violence are examined, along with how the social dynamics of racialized religious identification influenced the occurrence of these intervention strategies. The implications gleaned from this comparison offer guidance for current and future genocide intervention programs, where great care should be taken, whenever possible, to keep family groups intact and together, provide necessary psychological and social services for refugees, and allow for the continued practice of communal cultural and religious traditions without forced assimilation. The moment of physical rescue is only the initial component of a successful intervention into religio-ethnic violence; to truly prevent the genocidal destruction of a people and culture, those people’s ability to identify with their traditions and maintain their way of life is of equal and vital importance.


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