white house, the

white house, the

From Fear to a Handshake


CATEGORIZED IN

Stunning. An extraordinary account of engagement with intractable and murderous hostilities, of the energy generated by hope. A thrilling narrative of those who learn to overcome the injuries done to them and those embittered beyond grief.
Jeremy Seabrook, Guardian & BBC Journalist

the white house tells the story of the possibilities of reconciliation in a universal culture saturated with images of war. It shows how it is possible, against all the odds, to bring together former enemies – survivors of a killing camp, and representatives of those who ordered and perpetrated the atrocities and killing. The book is a narrative which shows how it is possible to dismantle nationalism. It starts with something ghastly and ends with a handshake. Over a thousand men and boys, mostly Muslim, were murdered and many more tortured in the killing camp in the Serb administered iron-ore mine of Omarska between May and August 1992 during the Bosnia War. Ten years after the war ended Mittal Steel bought the mine. Survivors and relatives of the victims demanded a memorial. The Serb administrators refused. The Soul of Europe was called in to mediate between Muslims and Serbs. the white house tells the story of this process, talking to victims and perpetrators and achieving the first steps towards acknowledgement of crimes committed and agreement to cooperate on a memorial which is still to be built.

Peter Pelz and Donald Reeves founded the Soul of Europe, which works for reconciliation in the Balkans. Peter Pelz is an artist, writer and translator. Donald Reeves MBE is a former Rector of St James’s Piccadilly, London.

REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

Stunning. An extraordinary account of engagement with intractable and murderous hostilities, of the energy generated by hope. A thrilling narrative of those who learn to overcome the injuries done to them and those embittered beyond grief. ~ Jeremy Seabrook, Guardian & BBC Journalist

The White House is a harrowing and moving account of the aftermath of the disintegration of a region into vicious civil war. All human reactions are to be found in this story of Omarska: embedded bitterness; indifference; hypocrisy as well as renewal and hopes for reconciliation. The White House chronicles the initiative by the Soul of Europe to enable the beginnings of reconciliation in one corner of the Balkans. At one level it is the story of mediation centered around the concept of a memorial to the thousands of Bosniaks murdered at the Omarska mine site. At another level it is an intimate account of the human responses to the murder and mayhem of the most recent civil war on European soil. This account of the initiative by the Soul of Europe to bring some light into a dark corner of the Balkan war deserves to be widely read and absorbed. Its themes of memory, justice, trust and mistrust emerge from the words of individuals caught up in the maelstrom and entwine against a complex background of religious and ethnic difference and of long and tortuous history. It is the story of all human beings with their failings and their possibilities. I hope that this honest account by Donald Reeves and Peter Pelz of the hard and painstaking work of mediation will encourage and inspire many.’ ~ The Archbishop of Canterbury

‘This book is a wonderful story of the courage of compassion and tenacity of dialogue in the face of fear and polarization. It is inspiring and adds to the gathering body of evidence that peace is possible, from the ground up, in spite of the historical factors and divisions that would wish to keep us apart. I highly recommend it to scholars and practitioners alike.’ ~ John Paul Lederach, Professor of International Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana

ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
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