NO YEAST // 06. 1992.
KEMAL MESAK // CITY BAKERY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

June 1992

Kemal Mesak
City Bakery
NO YEAST

‘All we found in our plant Sarko was about 3 tons of bicarbonate of soda so we used it to make round flat cakes. We added very small amounts of bicarbonate of soda to the flour, and we got flat cakes that were of relatively good quality. There was rather a lot of crust, but we made about 30 thousand every day for about 7-8 days. So that we could satisfy the needs of our customers at least partially. When representatives from various humanitarian organizations came to us, we asked them to at least send us some yeast for the beginning. So that, for example, when the French President Mitterand came, he brought a plastic bag with about 2-3 kg of yeast, and he promised the French who were in Sarajevo at that time that France would send larger amounts of dry yeast as soon as possible. About 7 days after his arrival the first amounts of fresh dry yeast came to Sarajevo, and after that we were regularly supplied through various humanitarian organizations and there were no greater problems with yeast any more.’

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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.

Shopping

Stores have been broken into, shelled, deserted. This situation lasted for months and then, in October, a few brave owners reopened some of them. There you can find toothpaste, soap, toilet-paper (rarely), light-bulbs and foil for preserving food - remnants from the pre-war rich Sarajevo. Supermarkets are gone. Some, completely ravaged, since December are selling just the one and only kind of bread. People got food stamps sometime in June, but they never served their purpose - you could never buy anything with them. Only one card works, the one that appeared in December, for bread. If you manage to wait in a line, you can get 233 grams per person daily. Single men and women are forming trios, so that each of them gets a whole bread every third day. Business hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but most places close at noon. At the end of a working day, merchandise is hidden in the basements, well protected and locked with seven locks.

THE BAKERY

The city bakery which was the citizens’ only source of bread was continually shelled and a part of its equipment was destroyed. Besides being shelled it also lacked electricity and gas and besides energy supply it often lacked flour, yeast and water. The distribution of bread was also made difficult by the shelling and a lack of fuel for the trucks. In spite of the difficulties December 27, 1995 marked the day when the Bakery produced its one millionth loaf of bread for the citizens of the besieged city.

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