Lessons From Wartime Bosnia-Herzegovina, by Benjamin

Saturday, Sep 3, 2011

I have been following the survivalist trend on YouTube for about a year now and so far you provide the best and most realistic advice of anyone. Many of the people who offer advice, in my opinion are not qualified based on what they are saying. And I can say this based on my experience. Half of the things I hear other people say cannot be applied to the situation I was in or most situations, but you seem to understand.

I was born and raised in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I saw that a fellow Bosnian gave you his story, but he was in the rural part, so my email will be different because I was in the city in the early 90s.

Short of writing a book, the full story would be difficult for me to present. So I will just make some rarely addressed points, based on my own experience.

- Gun confiscation is a major concern. Immediately before SHTF in Bosnia, all of the guns in my part [of the country] were confiscated by the local police. How do we address that? The worst part is that the police think they're doing you a favor. They're exposed to the same propaganda and government orders as everyone else, so you can't reason with them. Some people on YouTube are packing thousands of rounds of ammo in open sight in their basement. Not smart. In Bosnia, the only people who were left with guns to defend themselves were those who hid them well. You also can't depend on the Constitution to save you. When there is nothing to enforce them, your legal documents become irrelevant.

- House confiscation is a major concern too. When looting took place, you had to leave your house. Unless you have a good 5 or 6, gun-trained men to guard the windows and doors 24/7, you will be looted. Most of the houses in America are not built of [concrete-filled] cinder blocks as they are in the Balkans, so in America I would imagine that a molotov cocktail wouldn't have to go through a window to set it on fire. I had Molotov cocktails thrown at the side of my house in Bosnia. It did nothing to the double cinder block construction. My house in Bosnia survived multiple mortar and RPG fragments because of the reinforced cinder block construction that was required because of the cold weather we would have. As you can imagine, plastic siding, which is popular in American cities will not afford you the same protection. Since only the criminals had guns after the gun confiscation, I don't have to tell you who was left defenseless when the police were sent into the battle field hundreds of miles away.

- Supplies are not in circulation. Sarajevo was under  siege  and complete lock down for four years. Supplies were not coming in for four years, unless you had lots of foreign currency to pay off the dealers in the black market. Don't count on government or foreign aid. All of that UN "humanitarian" help that was sent to Bosnia - surprise, surprise - many of the UN soldiers were selling it, not distributing it for free like they were suppose to. The people who had a producer mindset did survive. The people who depend on imports from distant lands, they're gonna starve to death. You had once wealthy Sarajevans starving to death because the Yugoslavian Dinar hyper inflated and couldn't buy anything in the black market. 

- A lot of survivalists on YouTube have the mindset that they're just gonna chill in their house for a couple months or years. I can tell you right now, in Bosnia at least...less than 1% of the population was successful with that approach and they were the people living in remote parts of the country that the military and looters didn't know existed. Everyone else was constantly moving. If your house is under fire from more threats than you can handle, you're gonna have to leave immediately, leaving behind everything. If you are a racial minority in your neighborhood, you'll have to leave as well. In Bosnia, if you were a Catholic or Muslim living in the Serb part of town, you would be the first one to die.

- What about the women and children? Tens of thousands of women were raped in the Balkans wars. If you have any integrity as a man, you won't leave your mothers, sisters, and children behind to go out into the forest and "bug out". If you have grandparents, who's going to take care of them? If you have someone in your family who is handicapped, what happens to them? I know that you, Mr. Rawles know all of these concerns, but I'm just addressing them because none of the "experts" on YouTube has given them serious thought and in my Bosnia experience, these were the first concerns.

- Being on the move [when necessary] saved many people. The people living in the rural part of the country may have it the worst. They're gonna be the first ones targeted because they are not so densely populated. Having numbers on your side saved you. Even if you were unarmed, a criminal is less likely to take that risk. [Some racist comments snipped.] Lower class people will take revenge on their self-proclaimed entitlement being taken away from them. That's something to consider if you live in a suburb. So you may have to be on the move, regardless to where you live.

- Physical fitness is an absolute must. Hunger management is something you should master. Some of the stories I heard from the people in the rural parts of Bosnia is that they had to walk up to 100 miles a week to escape genocide and get to the central part where the Bosnian military was in control. Then I see that some borderline obese guy on YouTube living in the middle of Tennessee and he doesn't look like he could walk up a flight of stairs. Being ready now and practicing intermittent fasting will help significantly. I've been practicing infrequent feeding over the last two years (one large meal per day) like they practice in various Eastern European and Israeli spec. ops. units and it's conditioned me to be able to get by three days without food before any strong urges of hunger kick in. Not only is important to get by without food for a few days at a time, but it's important to maintain mental clarity, physical reaction time, and most importantly moral integrity.

- The last point I want to make is perhaps the most important point. You have to keep your morals and values in check. You have to maintain your composure in all situations. In Bosnia, luckily people have a strong sense of these things. When the going got tough, you could rely on your friends/family and most of the time even strangers to do the right thing. Everyone had an equal share of food and water for the day and you could trust everyone not to try to take more than what they were given. Maybe this is a city thing in the US but my experience here has been that people have no qualms about stealing things with no regret. It's one thing to steal food when you're starving but people here steal things they don't even need. When I lived there at least, you could leave a stack of currency on the sidewalk and no one would try to steal it because it just doesn't belong to them and you're taught not to take things that don't belong to you. I don't mean to incriminate all Americans but a lot of people (mostly the younger generations) have a greedy, individualistic, entitled mindset which will not serve them any good when SHTF. That is the most important thing...not selling out, not stealing or lying, etc. Keeping your morals in check. And then you have keeping composure. How are you going to handle yourself when a buddy dies, God forbid? How are you going to handle yourself emotionally when the food or water runs out? All of these things determined whether you lived or died in Bosnia. Usually it was the guys who were all gung ho pro-war that got killed first. I saw a video titled "People who want WROL" or something to that effect. The jerks cited in that video were perfect. There was a lot of people who looked forward to the war to be heroic...they were the first to die or mentally break down. When the shelling took place, they just curl up and start crying. They show the most cowardice in difficult times, etc.

This came out longer than I had planned. I'll leave it at this. It's just some things that stood out when I think about the old times. I wish people weren't so naive about the world we live in. War and any civil unrest works at an intense dynamic. Things happen and they happen often faster than you can think.

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