Roland Bartetzko is a former soldier with the German Army, the Kosovo Liberation Army, and Croatian Defense Council and took part in extensive engagements during the conflicts in the Balkans.
These are his memories of dangerous, deadly, and sometimes funny times. It is the true story of what the war was like in Bosnia and in Kosovo.
“The Smell of War” invites us on a tour that starts on a hot summer day in the city of Mostar at the height of the Bosnian war and ends in a small valley in Kosovo when the Serbian forces start their withdrawal.
In between the pages, we learn about the fighting which took place, but also about the different people that were involved, their hopes and their troubles: civilians, refugees, children, reporters, criminals and sometimes lunatics.
There are stories about death and the evil things humans do to one another, but also funny and heartwarming ones, about simple people with true courage who resisted and fought for a just cause.
Unlike many other ‘memoirs’ about war, Bartetzko doesn’t paint a heroic image of himself and his brothers in arms: they are sometimes scared, make a ton of mistakes, and things do not always end well.
A story can be very interesting, but if we don’t draw the right lessons from it, it’s just a story and nothing more. Therefore, at the end of many chapters, Bartetzko gives advice. His ‘lessons’ are practical tips for everyone who wants to know how to survive in a war zone or how to stay calm and manage stress in extreme situations.
The “Smell of War” is an amazing and true story. It is a tribute to the real soldiers who are fighting our battles and the brave civilians who selflessly help them.