Iva Valdmanová

* 1955  

  • "Probably the worst was the hopelessness of people who lost their homes and had to move somewhere, not even knowing where. Several convoys were organized, numbering a thousand or fifteen hundred people. They were Serbs, but also Bosnians, and they moved across the Serbian Landscape to Serbia. They had no idea what awaited them there. And it was also very unpleasant when they displaced almost all the houses in Knin and the Croats came to the newly occupied territory and threw things out of the windows. Furniture, bedding, everything. They said it stank of Serbs. That was pretty depressing. We drove through the city and under the windows along the road were piles of things that were useful and those people who were leaving would need them, but they didn't have them. The Croats threw everything away and some civilian service took it to the dump. There were tons of clothes, furniture, food. It was a devastating discovery for me that people might hate each other so much or be provoked into such hatred.”

  • "We came to a village, for example, where we wanted to check a house. We were always ordered to take precautions before entering, so that we would not be killed by a grenade. When the owners of the houses left the barracks, soldiers came there and loaded various traps. The grenades were on the handle, in bed, in the oven, under the threshold. That's why we first threw stones and sticks into the house to activate any explosive traps. It often happened that everything flew into the air. The best thing was when there were a lot of animals that checked the area by walking through it. That's why we often went to the houses where there were a lot of animals. For example, once we came to a barracks where a cow was lying in a double bed. It lay there. Or a sow with piglets ran out of the house."

  • "Every day there was a big meeting at the camp about what was going on outside, what we found out. And we were constantly talking about the corpses that were damaged, and it was not known why. Since I had an agricultural school and I know that a pig is an omnivore and a hen too, so I raised my hand during one session and said that I thought the dead bodies were eaten by animals. My colleagues thought that the people were tortured because they had bitten noses, ears, fingers. This opinion of mine was somehow verified, and then it was written into the report that they were not tortured victims, but that the damage to the bodies was caused by animals that ran there abandoned."

  • Full recordings
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    v Ostravě, 20.01.2020

    duration: 02:42:25
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
  • 2

    v Ostravě, 31.01.2020

    duration: 01:31:12
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
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I could not talk about my experiences in Bosnia for a long time. It doesn’t hurt now, and I think the war experience changed me for the better

Iva Valdmanová, circa 1975
Iva Valdmanová, circa 1975
photo: Archive of Iva Valdmanova

Iva Valdmanová, neé Vebrová, was born on June 17, 1955 in Ústí nad Labem. She grew up in Ostrava, where the family moved due to her father’s work in mining. She graduated from the secondary technical and agricultural school in Nový Jičín. She refused to join the unified agricultural cooperative (JZD) and instead she joined the army. She completed a military training and a one-year school for flight control assistants in Prague. For about eighteen years she worked at the military airport in Mošnov, first as an assistant of a manager of flying and then as a flying manager. In 1994, she went on a mission to the former Yugoslavia as an UNPROFOR international observer. In the then capital of the Republic, the Serbian country of Knin experienced a Croatian offensive in August 1995. She mapped the consequences of an operation called the Storm, she provided humanitarian aid, and examined the corpses of civilians. From 1996 to 1997, she was sent on a peace mission to Iraq. After returning to the Czech Republic, she left in the rank of lieutenant in the reserve, because she did not find a suitable position at the airport. She has served as an international observer in the Bosnia and Kosovo elections several times. She worked as a bartender, cleaner, accountant or a maid and masseur on a river ship. Eventually, she opened a private massage salon. She and her husband raised three children. She gained the status of the war veteran.