Interview with Igor Hinger

  • general

  • 30 November 2021

An interview with Igor Hinger, Professor of German language and literature.

First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to speak for our newsletter as part of the Living History Project. Tell us a little more about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me for the interview. I am Igor Hinger, professor of German language and literature. I work in all three schools in Vareš, two primary and one secondary. I live in the village of Osoje, married, father of two children (son Benjamin and daughter Emma). In 1997, I returned to Vareš after the war.

Where were you during the war?

Until 1994 at Daštansko, then two years in Germany and one year in Austria.

What was your first job?

After finishing high school, because the war was on, I joined the army and undertook various trainings. It wasn’t until I returned from abroad that I enrolled in college. I have studied and worked in a store as well.

When you look at life then and now in Vareš, can you make a comparison?

It was my best years, as a teenager, I was 19 years old when the war started. At that time, there were a lot of organizations that worked with young people, sports clubs, rich social and cultural life in short. When I compare it with now, of course, the first difference is that there are far fewer people now than there were before, now the majority of inhabitants are the older generation. Once graduating from high school or college, the youth mostly go to find work.

This is the first difference, and the rest - I walk a lot in BiH, especially in smaller areas, if you enjoy a social, cultural and sports life, Vareš is at a very enviable level compared to neighboring municipalities. The lack of young people is the biggest problem in Vareš. If you take the school, for example, in 1991, in the primary school in Vareš, we counted 1,200 or so students, and now that is the number of 250 students. 28 students are enrolled in the first grade at the level of the entire town.

Can you make a comparison of life once, during the operation of the Mine, and now in the area of the municipality of Vareš?

I was younger then, but I remember those columns at 3 o’clock when the workday was over. At that time, they worked according to the four-brigade system, in three shifts, but most of them worked in that first shift, so when the work was finished at three o'clock, it was columns of people and vehicles. Even then, I worked in a trade shop, so somehow most of the work was in that period from 3 to 4 hours. Not only in shops, but also in cafes. There were about 20 buses that drove to all the villages, and even two buses for one village. It was an irreplaceable and indescribable feeling.

When Rudnik and Ċ½eljezara were operating, how much attention was paid to environmental protection?

I can't talk about it right now, because I don't even know what the laws in that area were at the time, but what could be seen, and we all used to say: you're smart, like putting under an ironworks - it's all year round it was muddy, even that sand, gravel was being extracted from the river for malting in Pajtovo. As for that, it means that not so much attention was paid to ecology, because only that indicator of the color of Stavnja spoke enough. As for other things, for example, the cleanliness of the town was much better, we had people who maintained the hygiene of the parks and everything else, the containers were not so neglected and dirty. So, more attention was paid there and there was more regular cleaning of the town, streets, firefighters, communal workers who already did that, it was regular and there were regular people in the maintenance of parks and streets, which is not the case now.

Can you tell us a bit more about your engagement in the Scout Squad "Zvijezda" Vareš and the activities you carry out?

I've been in the Scouts since 81/82, with a break during the war. As a child, I went through these many youth work organizations and sports clubs, from young firefighters, to a holiday federation, but Scouts have always been my number one priority and it simply has remained a love to this day. We are very active. A detachment is something that teaches children and young people about life: the organization of yourself, the organization of those you work with, it simply teaches you responsibility and planning. It operates on several fronts, from ecological to informal teachings on nature orientation, topography, music festivals, singing, socializing, wintering, camping, various competitions, meaning an organization where in fact everything that forms a young person is part of the activities, all the things you need to pass a young person.

You are familiar with the Eastern Mining Project, what are your expectations, do you have any concerns?

Well, I would say that this project for Vareš is a straw of salvation, as polite as it may sound now, but it is simply a straw of salvation, because - we are witnesses through the activities that EM did with the Scout Squad. It is a company of young people and when I see you 40, 50, come out and participate in events and everyone is maybe up to the age of 40, it is an indicator of what that company will mean for Vareš and for young people. On the other hand, a company that no one leaves, is another indicator of its success. We see that the workers are happy and content, cheerful and smiling.

I'm not afraid of anything in particular, but would say that no matter how hard you try to invest in ecology (environmental protection), it will probably show some harmful effects, but when we weigh what the company will bring to Vareš, and what will happen from the negative consequences, the positive effect will be much higher.

Do you think that the quality of life in Vareš will improve after the opening of the mine?

The quality of life will certainly improve, I do not know how many of you will be employed in the end. There will be a regular income, as soon as they have an income, then they will celebrate, get married, they will need music, and they will pull in many small crafts that exist and there will probably be a need to open new ones.

Do you have a message for young people?

Well, I can talk from my experience. In ’93 I finished high school and immediately went to war, drafted into the army. When a truce was signed between the Army of BiH and the HVO, I went to Croatia, and then to Austria and Germany. I came back here again, and I would say that a young man, always wants everything in his life. Normally it will be easier to achieve in Germany than here, but if we take into account other things in life, I would tell them to ask themselves whether material goods are the most important in life or everything else?

If you are here, and your mother and father and brothers and sisters live here, and you move to Germany, you live alone, you may have a better standard of living, but you miss out on everything else. Now, is it better to have a salary of 1000 KM, live in Vareš and tomorrow when you get married, wife and husband as well or go to Germany to live alone for 100 euros? Even when you buy a car, you have no one to brag about it to! It's not all about the money, hopefully, they will learn. Well, I do think about this and I understand that there is no work here.  If there is little opportunity, you should leave, but if you can live here with some income from your work, then I think there is a lot a nicer life to be had than anywhere else.

Thank you for your time, we hope that this cooperation will continue in the future.

Thanks to you, too. And I sincerely hope that we will continue to cooperate on many activities as before.