NO ELECTRICITY, WATER, SALT… // 12. 1993.
KEMAL MESAK // CITY BAKERY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

December 1993

Kemal Mesak
The City Bakery
NO ELECTRICITY, WATER, SALT…

‘In December we didn’t bake anything for several days, we didn’t work at all. I remember that period; it was really hard for bakers. We all came to work regularly. We just sat around; this was difficult for us. We were either waiting for electricity to come, or naphtha, or gas. So that sometimes we really celebrated when one of the kinds of fuel came because we knew that these were hard days for the citizens of Sarajevo. That only we could keep them alive, if we produced regularly, if we regularly supplied them, so we tried to produce as much as we could during every moment when there was electricity or gas. We even worked above our technical capacities. We made rather a lot of innovations in production to produce as much bread as we could. The mill was shelled on 17 October ’92. And thanks perhaps to the enthusiasm of our people, it was repaired very quickly, spare parts were acquired so that it could work again at the end of ’93.’

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DECEMBER 1993


• Peace negotiations in Geneva: negotiations on maps and percentages of territory. The BiH delegation requests: access to the sea, to the Sava and to a harbor.


• Yasushi Akashi appointed Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the former Yugoslavia.


• UNICEF helps establish a radio-school. Classes are held over this medium.


• Rounds of humanitarian aid to the citizens of Sarajevo include: a liter of cooking oil, 300 grams of beans, 200 grams of sugar, 400 grams of mackarel, 200 grams of detergent, and 2 candles per household.


• “Opresa” opens a small store in the city with the slogan “Life is about the small things”.
• The Soros Foundation donates a piano to the organization “Nasa djeca”.


• Mate Boban, President of “Herzeg-Bosnia”, promises to close camps holding Muslims.


• Founding of counseling for psychological help: “Staying Sane in Bosnia”.


• The theft of electricity in the city goes on in different ways: setting up of illegal connections, underground cables, connecting to prioritized sources and transformers.
• The Soros Foundation finances the production of 10 tons of rat poison. The active toxin is “Sanofarm”, but because the poison is not registered by law it cannot be distributed.


• “Oslobodjenje” receives the “Sakharov” award. Zlatko Dizdarevic, journalist and editor, receives the award at the European Parliament.
• The fairytale “A Dragon in Love” is shown in one of the apartment blocks in Alipasino polje.


• The bobsled team trains for the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, but do not know how to leave Sarajevo. They train every day, lift weights and run, depending on the shelling. On average they lose 5 kg of weight. The team must borrow a bobsled because theirs is burnt.


• The Russians reveal their own peace plan. Foreign Minister Vitali Churkin travels extensively in major European cities.


• Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, present a plan on the division of BiH. 33.33% would go to the Muslims and 17.5% to the Croats. Lord Owen must convey this plan to the President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic.


• The Sarajevo Tobacco Factory wraps cigarettes in book pages. “Toward the History of BiH Literature” is next in line”.


• In Sarajevo Cathedral a ceremonial Christmas concert is held.
• On the occasion of Catholic Christmas, the Pope sends a message: “Let light shine on upon the suffering peoples.”


• The city lacks electricity, water and salt for bread.


• The Festival “Sarajevo Winter” organizes screening of cartoons for children.
• A kitchen opened for people working in the public and culture sectors. UNPROFOR gives them food.

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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