August 1994

Senada Kreso

‘At 18 August ’94 I was no longer a member of the First Bosnian Alpine Team that were trying to scale a peak over 8,000 m, because in the base camp I’d already been affected by the height. In fact I’d had to go very quickly, though not evacuated because that would have been too expensive for the Bosnian team. We didn’t even have enough money for oxygen. So that I had to return to Islamabad and wait for them to let me know that they’d managed it that they’d arrived. And I remember that I went to an old retired radio amateur, a Pakistani, to be in touch with the team. It was very difficult and worrying, it was I really think it was a heroic, and very unusual thing to try. Unusual as an idea and with a metaphorical meaning for what was happening in Bosnia. They didn’t get to the top, they had to turn back because one member of the team, probably the strongest but also the least experienced, had a stroke. I was continually haunted by the symbolism of that event.’



• A common scene on the streets of Sarajevo: in the tram stand passengers reading newspapers, while a sniper on the hill shoots all over Marijn Dvor. All wait for the shooting to stop. Passengers entering the tram choose the "best" place in the tram, where one has "the least chance of being shot" - Sarajevo Roulette.

• The usual sight at UN checkpoints where they should provide control of Bosnian Serb weapons: the Serbs arrive at checkpoints, take weapons by force from UN soldiers, then engage in talks over restoring the weapons under control.

• Foreign Minister of Russia, Andrei Koziryev: "I will no longer talk with Radovan Karadzic."
• At the airport negotiations on the cessation of sniper shootings.
• Because of the refusal to sign the proposed plan of the Contact Group and their referendum vote, the Serbian government sends a letter to the Bosnian Serbs: "Do not hide yourselves behind the referendum."

• The Government of Yugoslavia decides to break off political and economic relations with the Bosnian Serbs and the leadership in Pale. Borders are closed, transportation stopped and ban passed prohibiting political leaders and members of Parliament to step on Yugoslav soil.

• Bosnian Serbs seize a tank, 2 APC′s from a UN checkpoint. NATO aircraft warn their headquarters, and then act. UN Commander Michael Rose: "We warned the Serbian side to take shelter, because we did not want to kill soldiers." The green light for attacks comes from Washington, after consultation with Moscow and Brussels. "
• Passengers injured in a tram. The trams stops working.

• After the NATO air strikes, the Serbs return the tank, 2 APC′s and 2 anti-aircraft weapons. Admiral Leighton Smith, on the occasion of the NATO actions: "The point of the attack was to warn the Serbs so that they don’t even think of doing this again."

• Since the closure of the "blue routes" prices in the markets have soared by 100%.

• Momcilo Krajisnik, president of the Bosnian Serb Assembly, sends a request to the Contact Group to change the maps and give the Serbs their own state, otherwise they will be responsible for the escalation of the war in Bosnia.

• "Krug 99" launches a campaign: Declaration on a unified Sarajevo.
• Thousandth performance of "Moving Theatre."

• Swimming in the rivers of Sarajevo is forbidden due to contaminated water and the increasing occurrence of jaundice.
• Manfred Woerner, Secretary General of NATO, passes away.

• At Sarajevo airport an agreement is signed on snipers.

• Issues surround the commissioning of a new water supply - wait for a unit for water treatment.
• A BiH expedition stops its climb on the Himalayas due to the illness of one of the climbers.

• Vatican works on plans for the Pope's visit to Sarajevo. The Vatican gives consideration to the warning from Radovan Karadzic that the Pope will be shot by Muslims who in turn will blame the Serbs for the assassination.

• UN observers monitor Igman road with cameras, as Bosnian Serbs are firing on it.
• Sarajevo tram: UN troops will be passengers on the tram in order to ensure the safety of the passengers.

• The ARBiH liberates the city Velika Kladusa. The Army issues a proclamation for citizens to have confidence in it.

• General Michael Rose rides on the Sarajevo tram with specially designed tram tickets designed just for him and his symbolic ride.

• President of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic refuses to appoint observers at the border. Kozyrev travels to Belgrade.

• A fashion show with pieces made from clay and yeast is held; the designer is Snjezana Hufnagl.

• Everthing is prepared for the Pope's arrival. An altar is being constructed.

• Russian Foreign Minister Andre Kozyrev says after his visit to Belgrade, "We must strengthen sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs and ease sanctions against Belgrade."

• A statement from Radovan Karadzic, on the occasion of a possible lifting of the arms embargo for the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina: "If the international community lifts the embargo, we will detain all foreigners, shoot down all planes, and kidnap UN observers."

• Andrei Kozyrev in Sarajevo.

• After discussions with Koziryev, Slobodan Milosevic agrees to place observers on the border.


Everyone is in sports clothes, for they are warmer, more comfortable and enable you to run quicker. Most of the members of the Bosnian Armed Forces wear deep white sneakers with the logo Yugosport. Their uniform, at the beginning, consisted of jeans, masking parts, ingenious improvisations made of bright colors. Bulletproof jackets are very rare They can be found at the price of 200 DM. Citizens renew wear and footwear by moving into abandoned apartments.

Six kilometers a day-that is the average for those who don’t need to go far. Some believe it helps you to keep in good shape.

That is the favorite sport, practiced by everyone in Sarajevo. All cross-roads are run through as are all the dangerous neighborhoods. One runs with stolen wood, to the line where others are standing. Something is on sale, and you will know it only when you join the line.

Urban rock-climbing is a compulsory sports discipline. Instead of adequate ropes, one uses sheets. Climbers are solving distances between balconies, from higher to the lower ones which are not yet reached by fire.

Often played with soldiers of UNPROFOR. On the other side - Bosnian Armed Forces, police and professional city players who are still here. Games take place in the hall of the burned Skenderija. The game is hard, masculine, with lots of injuries. Foreigners lose here, as they always did.

Played on staircases, in basements and in shelters. Sometimes even in the chess club Bosna, which has a good and very expensive buffet.

An entirely new city discipline. Tools for this sport are an electric saw and axes, small and big. One gets trained by cutting, trimming, splitting and piling the wood on the balcony or in the room, where they don’t suffer so much humidity. Wood is stacked in the bedroom, hall, living room, in the next apartment whose owners have left of disappeared.

Senada Kreso
She was born in March 1951 in Mostar. She studied English language and literature in Sarajevo, worked for Sarajevo television and radio. She translated stories, poetry, essays, and did journalistic work occasionally. She traveled when it was possible.

Since the seventh day of the attack against Sarajevo until recently she worked for the Bosnian Information Ministry. For almost a year she has been the deputy minister. She always tried to help foreign journalists report about the impossible hell of the siege. She recently started working for UNESCO. “Work, lots of work, and from time to time, laughter or attempts to laugh, so we would set aside the bitterness of the survived and the things we lived through”.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
In the same.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
Something like that does not exist.

What is you biggest loss?
People around me lost a lot, it would be cynical to speak about me.

What is your biggest gain?

When and where were you happiest?
Happiness has various shapes, and it cannot be measured.

What are your lost illusions?
By losing some I learned, by losing others I was frustrated.

Describe your day at work.
It would not be too interesting for you.

A miracle city.

What words don’t you use anymore?
None, but some have lost their meaning.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes, it still is.

Where would you like to live?
Here, but I would like to travel to, let’s say, New York or Barcelona.

How have you survived?
With irony and skepticism.

What are you afraid of?
Of fear that I could not overcome.

Does the past exist for you?
Yes, as an experience.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
The one that is about to end, which is so absurd, does not give me any worthy answers to this question.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
Ironic distance - especially towards oneself.

How would you like to die?
While dreaming.

Do you need hope to live?
Of course.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
Shocking. Difficult. Sickening. Brueghel and Chagal at the same time.

How would you call this period of your life?
A period of comprehension.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
A message to whom? To those who have stayed, or those who are leaving. I am afraid that neither have an ear to hear the message.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
There is not enough room for answering this question.