MONEY GETS TO DOBRINJA // 01. 1993.
ENVERA KARKIN // BANK CLERK
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1993

Envera Karkin
Bank Clerk
MONEY GETS TO DOBRINJA

‘Somebody had to go to the city to exchange the old money for the new BH dinar, which had been printed. At the exit from Dobrinja in Nedjarici there were big barricades and it was very risky to go by car and even more risky on foot. One couldn’t go on foot at all. I volunteered to take the money out. I didn’t think of any fear or panic. I asked my superior officer, Ismet Hadzic, to get me a good car and a good driver. It took some days to get it, to prepare everything and our first exit was on August 14, 1992 at 7 a.m. Hadzic gave me the best driver in Dobrinja, our well-known Dobrinja resident, Persa. And I also asked whether we could have somebody with us, so he took his helper Celo. We packed, went to the bank, took the money and started toward the city. It is interesting to mention that first trip to the city. We had a Golf, bulletproof vests, helmets and the car was protected with metal plates. When we got in the car somebody had to slide in those metal plates, then the doors were closed and at the fastest speed possible we had to drive through the barricade and get to the Television building. There the people from the Television relieved us, so to say, of those plates, so that we could go on. The first time through the barricade, I remember as if in a dream. When I got in the car I felt fear. And when we started I remember Persa saying: Envera, put your head down. The chetniks are on the other side in the Health Center. Put your head down, they might shoot. Fortunately they didn’t shoot, we got through without any trouble. When we got into the city my colleagues welcomed us, they knew I’d come. It was an incredible encounter. They looked at me. Envera, is it possible that you’ve come? How did you get out? What’s it like in Dobrinja, how do you manage? Would you like to go around the city a bit to see what it’s like? Do you need anything? I tell them, sorry, but I don’t dare walk about the city, I feel safer in Dobrinja than in the city. They were surprised. How can you be safer in Dobrinja? They knew what it was like in Dobrinja. I said, I know every corner in Dobrinja, where I can go and where I cannot. From which roof they could shoot, from which hill. And in the city I don’t know nor dare to move around.’

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JANUARY 1993


• UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali arrives in Sarajevo. Sarajevans protest the Presidency over UN policies in Bosnia.
• MUP begins issuing new identification cards. The expiration dates of the ID cards are dependent on the course of the war. They are printed in BiH. To obtain an identification card one needs two witnesses if during the war documents attesting to your identity had been destroyed.


• In 1992, the average Sarajevan survived on bread. To compare, the average European in a single year eats 55kg of bread; an average Sarajevan in 1992 ate 180kg of bread.
• Geneva, January 2, 1993. In Geneva a peace conference is held on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Participants at the conference include: Mate Boban, Alija Izetbegovic, and Radovan Karadzic, as well as military leaders Sefer Halilovic, Milivoj Petkovic and Ratko Mladic. Also present at the meeting are Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and President of the SR Yugoslavia Dobrica Cosic.


• UNPROFOR publishes figures on Sarajevans crossing the airport runway in order to flee the occupied city: in November 1992 there were 3,879 attempts; in December 1992, 6,653 attempts, on New Year’s Day 1993, 339 attempts; and on January 2, 1993, 346 attempts.
• At the Sarajevo maternity ward, deliveries are performed by candlelight. No one comes for them; no one helps them.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Dobrinja branches of a “Credit Bank” operate. Envera Karkin, a bank clerk, says: “You do whatever you can not to fall into a depression, it‘s all a defense mechanism. With a driver I broke through the barricade between Dobrinja and the city and I came back to barricaded Dobrinja. It was the first shipment of money that made it past the blockade in Dobrinja. I feel safer in Dobrinja than in the city because I know every corner.”
• The residents of Dobrinja print issues of the newspapers “Vecernje novine” and “Oslobodjenje” themselves – and preserve copies for the museum. These are faxed copies of the 20/30 issues received from papers in the cities.
• Weather forecast: COLD.
• Geneva, January 4, 1993. Peace negotiations in Geneva: the president of Yugoslavia, Dobrica Cosić, together with the president of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, commit to a BH confederation composed of three parts. The President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, and the leader of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic, negotiate for three hours with mediators, but without progress. Alija Izetbegovic announces: “I want you to know that we never advocated for the principle of ethnic division.”


• Personal deliveries of Politika arrive from Belgrade. At the "Partizan" theatre, lists are posted of their recipients.
• The Soros Foundation donates $50,000,000 in humanitarian aid for assistance to BiH.
• Meanwhile the names of the city’s streets are changed.
• The UNHCR releases a report on the extent to which Bosnian Serbs have themselves taken from every humanitarian convoy that has arrived in Sarajevo.
• A promotion is held for the conceptual designs of the first BH postage stamps.


• Celebration of Orthodox Christmas.
• Daily report by the UNHCR on crossings over the airport runway: 558 attempts, with some people attempting to cross every night.
• The weather turns cold. Trees are felled in Sarajevo for firewood.
• Sarajevo neighborhood councils carry out the rationing of humanitarian aid in cycles. For example: In order to close as soon as possible cycle IX and move on to cycle X, communities take lesser set amounts of food to distribute and in doing so harm the citizens, because they’re not compensated in the next cycles of aid.


• The President of the BiH government Hakija Turajlic is killed on the road to the Sarajevo airport in a UN vehicle. He is killed by Bosnian Serb troops. The Presidency holds UNPROFOR responsible because President Turajlic was under their protection. UN Colonel Sartre, who was in the vehicle behind, is not made available to MUP in Sarajevo for their investigation.
• The Peace Center receives a “Direct Action” team who hand out aid directly to the citizens, without mediators, leaving them on poor terms with the UNHCR. Mobility is their greatest quality.
• Exhibition by the painter Affan Ramic: “War documents '92”. The painter in his own works incarnates the burning of the Post Office, City Hall, Olympic Museum, and the “Oslobodjenje” headquarters.
• Pensions increase by 32.3%, with payments depending on (the availability of) electricity or oil, so that clerks are able to process them.

• Geneva, January 15th 1993. At the peace negotiations in Geneva, the Bosnian Serbs are given a deadline of six days to accept the peace plan.


• Bosnian Serbs fire shells at a line waiting for water at the “Sarajevo Brewery.” World TV stations release only sound, but no video of this terrible massacre.
• A vote is held for the song that will represent BiH in the “Eurovision '93” contest. The jury listens to demos.
• A water pump is set up in Novo Sarajevo.
• On their 32nd anniversary, the “Bosna” chess club holds a fast chess tournament.


• French philosopher Henri Bernard Lévy and French humanitarian official Bernard Kouchner are presented with honorary doctorates from the University of Sarajevo for their help and commitment to BiH.


• The General Staff of Croat units in BiH, the HVO, decide to implement the Geneva agreements, creating imaginary lines for provincial borders. Through these measures the Army of BiH becomes an enemy. The OSBiH issues guidelines on conduct in response.
• “Oslobodjenje” is published in French, as support to the extraordinary efforts to have the paper printed daily in the besieged city.


• Croat leaders and all Croat officials in government agencies leave the city over night. This decision is based on their interpretation of the implementation of the Geneva negotiations.


• Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic church in BiH, calls on the Pope to come to Sarajevo.


• The Bosnian Serb Assembly accepts the Geneva agreement.
• Bill Clinton becomes the new president of the USA.
• Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran seek cooperation with the West on the situation in Bosnia.
• A convoy is halted in Ilidza.
• An exhibition of paintings opens.
• Dire conditions at the oncology clinic in Sarajevo.
• Director Nedzad Begovic prepares the animated film “Cupavac”. He creates his hero by drawing him on foil leaning against his window.


• The delegation of HDZ BiH arrives in Sarajevo, with international mediators Robert Owen and Cyrus Vance, to sign a ceasefire between Croat forces and the Army of BiH.
• The Prosecutor’s Office in Sarajevo requests that immunity be dropped for Louis Mackenzie, former UNPROFOR commander.


• Juka Prazina is on Igman, harassing the OSBiH forces, before going on the run. A warrant is issued for his arrest.


• A letter from the “PEN center” BiH to the world “PEN center” seeking assistance through writing articles or visiting Sarajevo.


• Prices at the Sarajevo marketplace:
One month’s pension = 2 eggs
OSBiH fighters are paid 20,000 dinars = 4 coffees at a cafe or a box of cigarettes
1 kg of beef = 50 DEM.
• Damage to the “Heating” and “Waterworks” centers.


• The parents of fighters in the special units of Juka Prazina protest in front of the Presidency, asking: “Where are our sons?” They had been arrested and detained in the OSBiH barracks in Tarcin.
• Ceasefire between the HVO - ABiH
• UNPROFOR transfers the Franciscan Slovenian archive from 1357 to Ljubljana, with numerous difficulties and hazards. The archive had been part of an exhibition at the Franciscan Monastery before the city was besieged.


• Juka Prazina, with a HVO militia, sets up barricades in Jablanica and Konjic.
• Geneva, January 31, 1993. Negotiations in Geneva: Mate Boban, president of so-called Herzeg-Bosnia, signs all three proposed maps. The state delegation of BiH does not sign on to the maps dividing the Republic of BiH into 10 provinces and the military agreement. The Bosnian Serbs sign nothing.

Money and prices

Yugoslav money was in official circulation until April 1992. The same one, only with the seal of the People’s Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina functioned until December, for the country was without both paper and money. Since the new money for the Bosnian government printed in England cannot reach Sarajevo safely, bonds were printed in size of two tram tickets: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 Dinars, all in different colors. The first four bank notes, when used alone, are worth nothing. The lowest prices are those of bread and newspapers.
One Deutsche Mark, which is the basic value for anything that is worth anything, officially counted for 550 Dinars of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the same time, and on the black market, its value was 1200-1300 Dinars. The rest of the currency is measured against the DM, but is worth much less. The dollar is despised, and can barely be exchanged. Exchange functions only between the citizens of Sarajevo. Foreigners don’t need to deal with it, for everything for them is paid. The biggest problem is how to change a bank note of 100 DM. You should have change - that you can use in the Holiday Inn, in the Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on the black market.
There is something new on the market of values. Papers: letters of guarantee, accreditation, military approval for leave of absence, a doctor’s receipt that one is deadly ill, false documents of all kinds... Prices of these papers are between 100 and 300 DM, which is merely a matter of agreement. By now the poor DM is quite inflated.

Price list

200 DM for 1 cubic mater of wood, but you have to pay 50 DM more for the delivery.
170 DM for a bottle of whiskey, or of French cognac.
120 DM for a kilo of garlic.
100 DM for a hare (white, weighing about 3 kilos), or 1 kilo of dried meat.
40 DM - for this you can get 10 packs of cigarettes, or 1 liter of oil, or 1 kilo of beans, or
children’s bicycle, or 1 can of fish and 1 can of pate, or 1 lunch package, or half a kilo of tobacco.
30 DM for a wool sweater (hand made) or 1 jar of fat.
20 DM for 1 kilo of onions, or 2 kilos of cabbage, or a big pumpkin.
10 DM is the price of four batteries of 1,5 V, or of 5 liters of water - at all times except the summer.
Then the price of 5 liters of water raises to 30 DM.
3 DM for a chocolate bar, or a bunch of parsley. A circular saw is worth as much as seven kilos onions. One liter of milk is between 2,5 and 5 DM, but can be gotten for a pack of cigarettes. This is the best exchange between babies and smokers known in history.
What functions best is bartering. For two kilos of raw coffee, you can get a propane gas bottle of 12 kilos. A package of antibiotics is worth two local phone-calls. For a liter of cooking oil you can get a carton of cigarettes and a liter of cheap liquor, or three liters of cherry-syrup. For two liters of oil you can wear almost new Reeboks. A used male winter jacket costs 3 kilos of onions. A once-standard package of 18 kilos of paint is being exchanged for any kind and amount of food. 10 liters of oil, the amount which supplies energy for the two-hour shooting of a TV broadcast about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is exchanged for 12 cans which supply energy for your private survival.
In handwritten ads on Tito’s street, one finds supply and demand ranging from gas stoves, jackets, shoes to messages such is this: “I am looking for a woman to help me survive the winter.”

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