Published: December 2019
Languages: EN, DE
The war on Yugoslavia in the 1990s essentially was about restructuring Southeast Europe after the end of the Cold War. To achieve this goal, the US even deployed the combatants with which it had previously fought the USSR in Afghanistan and which it would later call „Al Qaeda“.
The political and media propaganda regarding the war on Yugoslavia has been well researched. Interestingly, however, many media outlets and commentators are still trying to uphold the official narrative of the time, in contrast to the later war in Iraq, for example.
There may be various reasons for this. On the one hand, the propaganda in question dates back to the early days of the Internet and is therefore generally less well known to the public. On the other hand, the implications, notably for Europe, are particularly far-reaching in this case.
From today’s perspective, it is of course a trivial statement that most Western media outlets supported NATO’s war on Yugoslavia, but at the time even critics believed in a media „failure“, especially because the media ties of foreign policy groups were not yet broadly known.
The following sections provide an overview of propaganda in the war on Yugoslavia as well as references to further literature and documentation.
1. The Serbian »Death Camp« (1992)
One of the most notorious cases of propaganda in the Yugoslavia war is the alleged Serbian death camp of Trnopolje in Bosnia. The story began in August 1992, when three British journalists visited a refugee camp whose inmates stressed that they were being treated very well (see video below).
The journalists, however, went to a fenced off transformer area right next to the refugee camp and filmed the men through a barbed wire fence, making it appear as if the men were imprisoned, which in fact they were not (see site map below). The journalists then asked a man emaciated from illness or war-related malnutrition to take off his T-shirt.
The resulting photograph – carefully cut to size – landed on the front pages of most Western media as „proof“ of Serbian „death camps“, which in turn served as justification for NATO’s subsequent intervention in Bosnia,