This article analyzes the war memories and processes of meaning-making of Dutch veterans who returned to places related to their deployment in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It argues that the incentive to return can be found in the difficulties that veterans have in assigning positive meaning to their deployment because existing collective and cultural memories about the war and the genocide in Srebrenica do not align with many of the veterans’ experiences during and after the war. In the analysis of interviews conducted with seventeen Dutch veterans, attention is paid to their wartime memories, motivation to return, and experiences during the return trips. Returning to former places of deployment provides a way to reconcile memories, especially traumatic ones. The building of these memories passes through several phases: introspection; opening up to family, friends, and relatives; and helping others.
I would like thank all interviewees for their willingness to share their experiences. The anonymous reviewers and editor have provided constructive and insightful comments to this article. Stijn Reijnders and Maria Grever gave feedback to this text. Laura Wondolleck helped me out with the transcriptions. This research was funded by the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
- ESHCC A&CS