THE CARDINAL KUHARIC VISITS THE CHAMBER THEATER 55 // 01. 1994.
IVO TOMASEVIC // VRHBOSNA ORDER
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1994

Ivo Tomasevic
Vrhbosna order
THE CARDINAL KUHARIC VISITS THE CHAMBER THEATER 55

‘At the beginning, or to be precise, on the 11th of December 1994 Cardinal Vinko Puljic, then the Archbishop of Vrhbosnia, sent a request to the UN mission in Geneva, in which he requested that a delegation be flown into Sarajevo by the international forces. That request was forwarded to the Department of Defense of the United States of America, which was also flying in food, and they didn't answer until the 4th of January 1994. That morning we were told that it would be possible to let a delegation into Sarajevo. However, during the course of the day we contacted General Bricquemont, who was commander of UNPROFOR at the time. And he told us that the United States had refused to transport our delegation. The cardinal immediately contacted the Holy See, and the state secretariat reacted after that. The cardinal even made a personal call to the nunciature in Switzerland to intervene. We also requested intervention from France through the French ambassador, Jean Kolen and finally the go-ahead came at 7:15 p.m. that they had to be in Zagreb at 8:30 am to be taken to Sarajevo. Bishop Sudar was then on the island of Brac. Since there were no more ferries, so it was negotiated that Split send a special police boat to pick them up. But the boat from Split wasn't running, so Bishop Barisic arranged for the boat from Hvar to pick up the others. They arrived at Split at half past one in the morning. With the help of Bishop Barisic, they managed to get on the first plane for Zagreb, which left for Zagreb before 6 in the morning. And so they made it to Zagreb. When they made it to Zagreb, there was a special procedure to go through. Cardinal Kuharic and the rest of them had to wear helmets and protective vests. In spite of many problems, and after signing that they agreed to travel at their own risk, they let them on the plane. Upon their arrival in Sarajevo, no one at the Airport was there to greet them because it was under the control of the international forces and it was also a checkpoint of the Bosnian Serb forces. Sarajevo was in an extremely bad state at the time. That was the last plane to arrive in Sarajevo, and only after four days did the next one come. If I might just mention that on the 3rd of January alone, 28 people were killed, three whole families were killed, because shells hit their apartments. When the delegation came after the reception in the archbishop's residence, we went to the Chamber Theater 55, where the indefatigable Mr. Gojer had prepared an exhibition of paintings by Gabrijel Jurkic, painter. Then at 3 p.m. there was a concert in the cathedral. During the concert the mortar fire was even more frequent, and some shells fell quite close. One fell extremely near, and during the concert we were told that it had hit our theological seminary, where all of the guests were to have dinner. It fell on the roof of the kitchen, where there were five people. Luckily, only one person was lightly injured, but the seminary was very badly damaged. After that, since most of them were staying in the seminary, they could understand what it was like to live in Sarajevo. The mess was cleaned up, and there was a dinner. Cardinal Kuharic dined with Archbishop Puljic. Unfortunately, the archbishop's residence as well, half of the roof was blown away, so that we had to cover it with plastic. And the next day, the 6th of January, they had an ordination in the Cathedral at which Cardinal Kuharic also took part. The Ordination of Bishop Sudar. And again, shells were falling during the mass, during the ordination. Cardinal Kuharic gave the new assistant bishop a figure, which they called Wounded Jesus. A figure of Jesus that had been shot somewhere in Croatia. I remember that Cardinal Kuharic said to the assistant bishop something like, I'm paraphrasing his words: Here, let this figure of Jesus remind you of the wounded Vrhbosnian archdiocese, let it remind you of the time when man was killing man. After that, we managed to prepare a meal for two hundred people, which was an extremely difficult job.They came to show us their solidarity with the suffering, to show their solidarity and care for all people who suffer, just as the Holy Father the Pope wanted to do and would have done had it been only up to him and had the international forces allowed him to come. They said it would be his fault if he or other people were killed during the mass, for which about 25 thousand people were supposed to gather in the out of doors.’

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JANUARY 1994


• Barbara Hendrix, opera diva, holds a New Year's concert in Sarajevo, as a gesture of solidarity with the sufferings of the city.


• Massacres of civilians from artillery attacks by Bosnian Serb positions in all parts of the city.
• Massimo Schuster, puppeteer-director from France, directs a play at the Sarajevo Youth Theatre: "I'm here because I am a citizen of Europe. This play is a means of spiritual support to this city. "
• In Belgium, the body of the Sarajevo guerrilla Juka Prazina is found in a car in a parking lot.


• Illegal connections to electricity removed in sweep as well as revocation of electrical cables used for stealing electricity from priority cases.


• UNPROFOR's General Bricquemont withdraws from office. He no longer reads UN resolutions because conditions are unfavorable to implement them on the ground.
• In Vienna, meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Croatia and BiH, Mate Granic and Haris Silajdzic. They agree on the need to devise a plan for the permanent cessation of hostilities between Bosnian Croats and Muslims.
• Bosnian Serb forces carry out the false executions of 11 Canadian UN troops just before Christmas.


• UNPROFOR's General Jean Cote says of the Bosnian Serbs: "They are cowards, bastards who shoot children, women and the elderly. We will set up an anti-sniper system so they think twice before they shoot. "
• Croatian Cardinal Franjo Kuharic visits Sarajevo to attend a concert, along with the 'concert' offered by falling shells. His message: "The inner spiritual resistance to evil is eternal and always triumphant over the forces of darkness." At a dinner at Kamerni teatar 55 in honor of the Kuharic’s visit, actor Vladimir Jokanovic recites the verses of Pope John Paul II.
• During the siege of the city, Kamerni tetar performs 652 multimedia projects, an average of two a day.


• French President François Mitterrand sends a New Year’s message: "Our policy must be brave and wise. There will be innovations in our policy toward Bosnia in 1994”.
• UNPROFOR's report reads: Problems with electricity in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina are a vicious circle. The Bosnian Serbs refuse to repair the Vogosca-Velesici lines. The system at the thermal power plant in Kakanj broke down; it has been repaired, but the Muslims won‘t connect it, asking for the Serbs to first repair the Vogosca-Velesici lines. The Croats requested that the Muslims switch on electricity from the power plant in Kakanj (TE Kakanj) so that people in Kiseljak can have electricity. This has not been done, so in the end, near Kiseljak, the Jablanica-Kakanj lines were cut, leaving the Muslims without electricity. As a result of all of this, BiH largely remains without electricity.
• The curfew in Sarajevo is repealed for the celebrateon of Orthodox Christmas: Orthodox priest Avakum Rosic sends Christmas greetings.


• Crisis in Srebrenica; Canadian UN troops are surrounded by the Bosnian Serbs. French General Jean Cote asks for air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali refuses. The UN chain of command is established so that the commanders in the field cannot issue an order. Commands can be issued only by the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Yasushi Akashi.
• Sarajevo airport has already been closed for a long period. President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, does not travel to Bonn for a meeting with Tudjman due to the suspension of flights at the Sarajevo airport. Departure from Sarajevo is impossible.
• In Belgrade, the capital of the new Yugoslavia, the inflation rate is 1 million%.


• U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on possible air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs: "Air strikes could threaten the delivery of humanitarian aid. If requested by the alliance, whose units are on the ground, we will take part in the strikes."
• NATO develops a project for enlargement in Eastern Europe called "Partnership for Peace."


• At a NATO meeting the decision is made to support the Franco-British proposal for fast-action in the release of Canadian UN troops in Srebrenica, and the opening of the airport in Tuzla. The prevailing opinion is that negotiations, rather than battlefield agreements, will resolve the conflict. On this occasion the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Yasushi Akashi, states: "The Bosnian Serbs are for a multicultural Bosnia, and will stop all hostilities. It's best not to bother the Serbs during their holiday. This is why the ton of oil for the Sarajevo hospital will have to wait till the end of Serb New Year celebrations. "
• Vatican: "The lack of collective action is the most shameful cowardice."
• The Office for Relocation announces that new documents are required for those who want to leave the city in convoys.
• Pensioners will receive flour, instead of their pensions.
• The Soros Foundation builds an alternative water system.


• Boutros Boutros-Ghali requests from Akashi a preliminary study about the situation on the ground: the Bosnian side from the center of the city fire shells at the positions of the Bosnian Serbs, who fiercely counter by shelling civilian targets in Sarajevo. Foreign journalists located in the city are angered by the report, believing it an attempt to prevent intervention.
• The British are against attacking because their troops are on the ground.
• The city alternates between massacres from the shelling and cultural events.


• Lord Owen thinks that Bosnia should be divided. He accuses the Muslims of prolonging the war.
• French snipers assigned to the establishment of an anti-sniper team are on their way to Sarajevo.


• Islamic countries renew their request for air strikes and announce the possibility of oil sanctions against those countries that support the division of Bosnia.


• Akashi is against NATO operations for the release of Canadian UN troops in Srebrenica and the opening of Tuzla airport.
• Susan Sontag arrives in Sarajevo. She and David Riff, a writer from New York, bring a donation for Sarajevo writers that was gathered as a sign of support at a literary evening in New York.


• The burial of a Sarajevan: You need to have Deustch Marks or oil, otherwise you must arrange everything yourself. Someone brings the body in a handcart to the mortuary. Burials cost 60 DM. In the city there is no oil. On the black market oil costs between 25-30 DM. People acquire planks for coffins and gravestones from smugglers. There are no tools. In order to made a coffin school desks and cabinets are used.
• Establishment of a cultural corridor from France to Sarajevo.


• Children are massacred as they go sledding at the C block of Alipasino polje.
• British General Michael Rose takes over as Commander of UNPROFOR from General Bricquemont, who resigns. Bricquemont said that he felt personally humiliated in Bosnia, where on his arrival at a checkpoint, boys between 18 and 20 years old drunkenly held him at riflepoint.


• The UN issues a statement implicating UNPROFOR in the smuggling of cigarettes, coffee, alcohol, fuel, people and drugs, as well as prostitution.


• The new UNPROFOR commander, General Michael Rose, arriving to his office announces he is not afraid of the challanges that face him in Bosnia.
• Through a decisive MUP operation the “rat canals” which ran from downtown to the occupied territory of Grbavica held by the Bosnian Serbs is cut off. Seven fugitives arrested. The group includes five doctors and one nurse. The Bosnian Serbs react sharply with a threat of blackmail: "We will not treat the Muslims in our territory and we will not let medicines come into the city."


• Marathon runner Islam Dzugum is on Mount Igman as a ARBiH soldier. He runs between 16-22 km daily. He is satisfied with the quality of training on Igman, "And now I just need the chance to race somewhere. In the world in 1994 there will be a number of sporting events. "


• U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher dismisses claims that the United States have been standing aside and watching idly the bloodshed in Bosnia.


• At a meeting the Government of BiH ascertain that the Croatian Armed Forces are conducting open aggression against BiH.


• The Commander of UNPROFOR, General Michael Rose: "Sarajevo is not under siege."

Cultural survival

The besieged city defends itself by culture and thus survives. Groups and individuals create whatever they used to create before the siege In impossible circumstances they produce films, write books, publish newspapers, produce radio programs, design postcards, stage exhibitions, performances, make blueprints for rebuilding the city, found new banks, organize fashion shows, shoot photographs, celebrate holidays, put on make up... Sarajevo is the city of the future and of the life in the post-cataclysm. In it on the ruins of the old civilization a new one is sprouting, an alternative one, composed of remains of urban elements Sarajevo lives a life of futuristic comics and science fiction movies.

Kamerni teatar 55

In the period from January 1 to the fall 1993 „Kamerni teatar 55“ was a host to 431 events ranging from theatre performances to musicals and rock concerts. Although the building has been hit several times during the war, the Sarajevans claim that it is one of the safest places in the city. Twice a week Hair is performed, but some pre-war Shakespeare plays can also be seen. The performances start at 1 p.m. due to curfew.
„Kamerni teatar“ is also a venue for the presentation of new firms, banks and political parties, exhibitions of the „conceptual“ art, photographs, local celebrations, and one can also stumble into a cocktail – made up of the humanitarian aid.
The director of the theatre is Nermin Tulić, an actor whose both legs were shot off in a shelling.

PLACES OF WORSHIP

Built in stone in the Neo-gothic style, with two spires of 43 meters each, the Cathedral represents one of the 4 places of different religious worship situated within 100 meters from each other. On its left side are the Jewish temple and the mosque and on its right the Orthodox church. Some 50 meters further to the right is St. Vincent, and to the right the old Orthodox church and the well-known Gazi Husrev-bey mosque. Throughout the war religious ceremonies were held in all places of worship. Concerts were held in the Cathedral and the “midnight mass” in 1992 stared exactly at noon.

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