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In mid-July 1995, the Bosnian Serb army killed thousands of Muslim men and boys as they fled Srebrenica along what became known as the “Trail of Life and Death,” which stretches for 40 miles over the heavily forested mountains to Tuzla. Months after the massacre, Gilles Peress and I found hundreds of skeletons scattered along the trail. Next to one of the bodies was a battered copy of the Koran, its pages stained with mold and caked in mud. A few yards away, a small shaving mirror hung from a branch. And on the ground below it, resting on a flat gray stone, was a straight razor rusted shut by the rain and snow. Years later, while reading a collection of poems by the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, I came across these lines: “History counts its skeletons in round numbers. A thousand and one remain a thousand as though the one never existed.”


 
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