OSLOBODJENJE BUILDING ON FIRE // 06. 1992.
ZLATKO DIZDAREVIC // JOURNALIST – ‘OSLOBODJENJE’
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

June 1992

Zlatko Dizdarevic
Journalist-Oslobodjenje
OSLOBODJENJE BUILDING ON FIRE

‘You see, probably just about everybody thought that the newspaper Oslobodjenje was ended, and that it would never be printed again. It was only logical to think so as they watched those huge billows of smoke pouring out of our building, which was located on the edge of town. But Oslobodjenje came out the next day after all. We distributed it on the streets, and the residents of Sarajevo cried.’

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JUNE 1992


• A home for the blind becomes a perch for armed Serb paramilitary troops.
• The JNA leaves the largest barracks, “Marsal Tito,” in the city center.
• Telephone connection cut: Sarajevo – the World.


• The citizens, shut in their apartment blocks and basements because of the unending shelling, begin organizing block events.
• The city faces severe food shortages. The local community creates a mini farm at Buljakov stream to survive.


• When the aggressor attacks Aerodromsko naselje citizens turn their radios up to the song, “Don’t give up, Bosnia!”


• The UN leads negotiations on reclaiming the airport, which is under the control of the JNA and Serb terrorists.
• Sarajevan psychiatrists give advice to citizens on how to mentally survive: establish as many contacts as possible, avoid isolation, show solidarity, share everything with others, and do as much as possible – invent tasks rather than sit with folded arms.
• Methadone runs out, a treatment for narcotics addicts.
• The electrical power system in BiH is divided up.
• The Presidency of BiH proclaims a state of war and general mobilization.
• Louis Mackenzie, UNPROFOR Commander, brokers a two day truce as a condition for opening the airport.
• The building of the "Oslobodjenje" newspaper burns, under heavy artillery attacks.
• JNA planes target the TV transmitter in Mostre near Visoko, in the vicinity of Sarajevo.
• Serb paramilitary troop expel Muslim and Croat citizens from the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza.


• The President of the Presidency of BiH announces that he will leave for a conference in Strasbourg on April 25 if the airport is opened and if UNPROFOR secures the road to the airport.
• Before the conference in Strasbourg, special units of MUP petition against a cantonized and divided Bosnia.
• The Public Prosecutor’s Office of BiH in Sarajevo issues a ban on the SDS. The proceedings are initiated by the Center for Antiwar Activities and the Prosecutor’s office makes the ruling.
• SDS barricades halt BiH Olympians on their way to the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
• "Gras" tram conductors transport Sarajevans, and a fifth column inquires as to the departure times of trams which are then told to SDS terrorists so that they can fire upon them fro the hills.
• Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister, feels helpless rage and falls into a deep depression over the inability of the international community to help Bosnia and Sarajevo.
• Strasbourg, June 25, 1992. A summit on BiH begins in Strasbourg. Presiding over the summit is Lord Carrington. Participants: Haris Silajdzic, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman.
• Waiting for a ceasefire before opening the airport, Louis Mackenzie: the BiH government has an effective military in the city, while the Serbs state they will not fire at civilian targets, meaning they can fire at military targets.
• Sarajevans, being heavy smokers, smoke a variety of types of cigarettes in the besieged city; the healthiest are the KOKTEL cigarettes.
• MUP issues guidelines for safe movement in the city amid shelling and sniper fire.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Alipasino polje, B block, a chess competition is held.


• The peace conference in Strasbourg collapses.
• Abandoned house pets roam the city because their owners have fled.
• Sarajevo′s “Velepekara” (mass bakery) no longer produces bread, the staple food of Sarajevo, because it lacks yeast.
• Table tennis players from Sarajevo go to Crkvenica to prepare for a European tournament.
• French President François Mitterand, makes a completely unannounced landing at the closed Sarajevo airport, and later goes on a tour of the besieged city. He visits the State and Military Hospitals, and on this visit resolves the crisis over the delivery of humanitarian aid, just as he later blocks eventual air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions.
• The Presidency decides to implement work quotas for all civilians.
• The blue UN flag flaps over the runway of Sarajevo airport, three minutes before the UN Security Council convenes at the deadline of the ultimatum given the Bosnian Serbs. The first planes carrying humanitarian aid arrive in Sarajevo.
• All contact with the outside world is cut off.
• New York, June 30, 1992. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 761 which authorizes the Secretary General to employ UNPROFOR to establish the security and functioning of Sarajevo airport. Article 2 of the Resolution urges all parties to maintain an absolute and unconditional ceasefire.

Newspapers

The daily OSLOBODJENJE which is published in a completely destroyed building. When there is no sufficient paper it is published in small edition and the news vendors stick the sheets onto the facades. Also available are RATNI DANI and BLIC, the magazine TENNIS, the magazine of the Architects’ Association. Travelers also bring into the city old issues of the dailies and weeklies from the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere. These papers circulate from house to house.

News

The building housing „Oslobođenje“, which published a daily newspaper of the same name, is today a heap of rubble. However, the daily Oslobođenje is still published. Its size, printing run, the colour of its paper and print depend on the circumstances. It is produced, as before, in the basement, under the rubble, and it is sold by its journalists.
Oslobođenje has won numerous international press prizes this year including the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.
There is also a privately owned paper Ratni dani (Wartimes Days) and this fall there has appeared another independent, privately owned weekly – Blic (Flash).
Some other, more specialized, papers are also published in the city: Ljiljan (The Lily), Muslimanski glas (The Moslem Voice), the Jewish community paper, and there is even Tennis for the lovers of the sport.

Zlatko Dizdarevic
He was born in Sarajevo. He is journalist and editor in daily “Oslobodjenje”. Before the war, he was correspondent from the Middle East (Cairo, Beirut).

THE SIEGE
He was the first editor of the “Oslobodjenje” - war editorial. He published the books: “The War Diary”, “The Portraits”, “Silence and Nothing Else”. The awards: “Annual award 1992” - Reporteurs sans frontiers, “Bruno Krajski” - award for human rights - Vienna 1993, “Premio capri” - Italy; annual literary award, 1994. He is corespondent for “Time”; “La Republica”; “Frankfurter rundschau”.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
Again like a human. As Zlatko Dizdarevic, with little more cleverness, if possible.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
As being a resident of “that”
Sarajevo.

What is you biggest loss?
The life I lived before the war.

What is your biggest gain?
The preservation of personal freedom.

When and where were you happiest?
When I was convinced that my sons have definitely accepted the Sarajevo system of values and the Sarajevo point of view.

What are your lost illusions?
I don’t have lost illusions, I may only feel a bit sorry for the people whom I believed in, and who ended up as poor individuals.

Describe your day at work.
Survival, writing, the pub.

Sarajevo?
It is a privilege that we have had it.

What words don’t you use anymore?
There are no such words.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Of course it is.

Where would you like to live?
In “that” Sarajevo, or in Sinai.

How have you survived?
With the belief that I can and will survive.

What are you afraid of?
Loneliness.

Does the past exist for you?
Of course it does, I love the past.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
Miserable.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
There is no recipe, you have to believe in your own abilities, and you must not bend your spine, nobody is worth it.

How would you like to die?
I don’t know, I guess without pain.

Do you need hope to live?
It is good to have, but not something outside that should be given to us.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
We were foolish, then disappointed, and finally, realistic and strong.

How would you call this period of your life?
Dramatic and brutal.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
To the world: You are miserable, you have no balls, and that is why you will die alone and sad. I feel sorry for you.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I have no idea what it is, but I love it, I guess because others do not rule it.

“OSLOBODJENJE”

In the summer of 1992 the great skyscraper of the “Oslobodjenje” newspaper publishing house was hit by tens of inflammable shells and it started to burn. The building was being systematically destroyed by everyday shelling. In spite of that, even during fires and the worst shelling, the printing shop plant located in the basement of the building produced newspapers on a daily basis. The journalists were getting in and out under the burning building carrying bundles of newspapers which they distributed throughout the city.

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