November 1992

Zlatko Dizdarevic

‘On the 17th of November 1992 a group from Hollywood came to Sarajevo. At the time, we were very excited about their arrival. Because it appeared to us that they brought with them some hope of peace. Later we realized that these types of guests were much more abundant than hopes of peace and an end to the war. Sarajevo turned out to be the destination point for a great safari. They were coming because of themselves, not because of us. But we were not aware of this at the time.’



• In order for Sarajevans to join organized convoys that after a long delay have begun to leave the city, one needs to receive consent from the Sarajevo police, UN approval and consent from the Bosnian Serbs.
• Stjepan Kljujic, the BiH Presidency’s Croat member is forced to resign at the request of the HDZ, in favor of Miro Lasic, their new candidate.
• Sefer Halilovic, commander of the BiH Armed Forces, prohibits the departure of the convoy, but Pero Butigan, director of the Red Cross, insists that they are required to transport citizens. In the end, both convoys, one headed for Split and the other for Belgrade, manage to leave.
• Director Paul Masic makes the animated film "Coffee".
• "Sipad holding,” a factory for processing wood and producing furniture, possesses stores of wood that could be used for heating, but the question remains how it can be brought into Sarajevo. Wood shipments are stalled in Fojnica, Tarcin, Konjic ... all cities surrounding Sarajevo.
• Geneva, November 7th, 1992. In Geneva, during a conference on Bosnia, Radovan Karadzic, says that due to pressure from the international community for now he will abandon the request for a separate state, but he still holds requirements for great autonomy and the division of BiH into five areas. Haris Silajdzic demands the opening of a road corridor from Ploce - Mostar - Sarajevo
• A convoy of Sarajevo Slovenes, organized by the Association of Slovenes and the Slovenian government, leaves Sarajevo for Slovenia.
• UNPROFOR and the utility company 'Rad' undertake cleaning and the removal of a huge number of damaged vehicles from the street.
• The wounded wait to leave the city.
• A Hollywood team visits the editorial office of "Oslobodjenje," which operates in the basements of their completely destroyed headquarters situated on the front line of the city
• UNPROFOR receives a decision of the UN from Geneva stating that the official political and economic delegations from Sarajevo can use transport aircraft used to deliver humanitarian aid.
• The UNHCR advises Sarajevans to eat packed lunches from humanitarian aid every 6-7 days.
• The Post Office reconnects 30,000 phone lines just for priority cases, and only for local communication, as the connections to outside countries have been cut.

• The District Military Prosecutor's Office conducts an investigation of former UNPROFOR commander Louis Mackenzie

• In the city, banks are being established.


The only papers you can buy during the siege are OSLOBODJENJE and VECERNJE NOVINE Once upon a time, OSLOBODJENJE had a format like the Times or Frankfurter Allgemeine. It had thirty-two, twenty- four or sixteen pages. Since June of 1991, its size started to diminish. Now it is of a mini-format, with eight or, more often, four pages. People who sell it are the journalists themselves - between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m. Due to the shortage of paper, editions came down to 10,000 copies. After November 1992, they came down to 5,000, which makes the time of distribution no longer then twenty minutes. Stronger readers seem to be winning. Radio Bosnia and Herzegovina, Studio Sarajevo, is broadcasting 24 hours a day. When there is electricity, one listens to more than just news. The news is broadcast every hour and everyone is waiting for it. Television today is no more than a few informative broadcasts, live programs and a press-conference held daily in the International Press Center.


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).

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”

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.

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?

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?

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.


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.