Roland Bartetzko and his platoon take cover in a trench in Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia as they defend themselves from enemy snipers, mortars and grenades. Escaping in small groups, with his troops shooting cover fire, he leaps out over dead bodies, darting from bullets and using his technician skills to connect an AK bayonet to cut through a fence. He then waits for a T-55 tank to cover his retreat.
This isn’t a war film or something from Call of Duty on PS3. This is a real profession. After German occupation in World War II, former Yugoslavia combined the Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Albanians and Slovenes in a communist regime.
However, in the 1990s the region was devastated by political and economic disaster and calls for independence in Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia arose. In 1995, Bosnia became independent.
In 1999, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians fought the Serbs in another war to gain independence, causing hundreds of thousands to become displaced and seek refuge outside the region.
Credit: Roland Bartetzko; Caption: Roland (left) improvises a meal on the front line and (right) stands in front of burning houses after they had been hit by tank fire
Roland’s job was to defend the Albanians as a bomb technician in the Kosovo Liberation Army. So what exactly happens in the life of a bomb technician and a career in war? We spoke to Roland to find out.