APPEAL BY THE NATIONAL AND UNIVERSITY LIBRARY: ‘DON’T HEAT ON THE BOOKS!’ // 11. 1994.
ENES KUJUNDZIC // DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL AND UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

November 1994

Enes Kujundzic
Director of the National and University Library
APPEAL BY THE NATIONAL AND UNIVERSITY LIBRARY: ‘DON’T HEAT ON THE BOOKS!’

‘It is well known that the National Library of BH was destroyed by artillery fire on August 25, 1992 and because of that we took even more pain to preserve what was left of this heritage. Namely, during the siege of Sarajevo which was among the worst sieges in the history of mankind, the people had to burn everything they could lay their hands on, including books, in order to survive. In order to prevent it in some way we pointed out that books were the guardians of memory and that they should be saved and that they were friends who didn’t demand favors in return. Of course we are not able to judge what response our appeal had but it is certain that it was part of an effort to keep Sarajevo spiritually alive at a time when human life was in danger every day. Books meant support for all of us in Sarajevo. In the besieged Sarajevo to our knowledge people read much more that in peacetime because they could in some way separates them from the cruel reality in which they lived. Reading some novel or poem or remembrances of some other people of some other wars or the past they were looking for answers regarding the situation we had found ourselves in. I hope that at least a part of our appeal was effective and that I had a positive effect on the preservation of the Sarajevo literary treasure.’

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NOVEMBER 1994


• The Army of BiH liberates the mountains of Bjelasnica and Treskavica, near Sarajevo. United States rejects the idea of General Rose to strike the ARBiH.


• Kupres is liberated with the combined forces of the HVO and ARBiH.
• From Osmica on Igman buses travel to Zagreb, Split and Zenica.
• New York, November 5th, 1994 a new resolution on Bosnia adopted in which the UN General Assembly urges the Security Council to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia, if over the next six months the Bosnian Serbs do not sign a peace treaty. 97 countries vote in favor of the resolution, while 61 countries in the General Assembly refrain. No country votes against.


• The ARBiH counters the renewed attack on Sarajevo. NATO planes fly low, and fighting ceases.
• The average wage in the city is 2 DM; for a family approximately a 350 DM salary is needed.


• The financier and philanthropist, and founder of the "Open Society Foundation", George Soros accuses UNPROFOR Commander General Michael Rose, for being pro-Serb. "UNPROFOR has become the kapo of a concentration camp."


• U.S. will no longer oversee the arms embargo on the Government of BiH. The command is issued to the U.S. Navy to no longer intercept ships carrying weapons for the Government of BiH.


• "Miss World" pageant held in South Africa. President Nelson Mandela is surrounded by 87 beauties.


• In a speech at the Royal Geographical Society in London, Lord Owen says: "Humanitarian intervention was a fatal mistake. Without humanitarian aid, the war would have already finished."


• Radovan Karadzic’s message to Croatia, "I will bomb Zagreb if you continue to support the Muslims around Bihac."
• Secretary General of NATO, Willy Claes: "The time has come for action."


• NATO bombs the airport in Udbina. 30 planes fly in the mission. All planned objectives are hit: the runway is destroyed, while the aircraft are intact. SAM 7 missiles are fired at NATO planes. The aim of the operation: prevention of future attacks by the Serb army on Bihac. It was at the time biggest action undertaken by NATO in its history.


• William Perry: "If they again carry out a bomb attack, we will return and destroy their planes." Michael Rose: "We are here to help deliver humanitarian aid and maintain the survival of the surrounding areas, and in addition we are here to support the legitimate government of this country. Because of this, unfortunately, from time to time we need to use force in self-defense, and to support the territorial exclusion zone." Akashi notifies the Bosnian Serb about the attack, and then travels to Pale to apologize for the attack.


• An even fiercer attack by the Bosnian Serb Army on Bihac follows. Buzim and civilian targets are bombed.
• Throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian Serbs block UN arms checkpoins and block UN movement.
• A tram is hit: one passenger killed, 6 wounded.


• NATO has offered the UN a number of solutions: for example, successive air strikes. The UN refuses. It turns out that the world's military potential will be employed in a rescue operation of the UN in Bosnia, not of Bosnia itself. The UN resolution on the “safe areas” and the ban on flights are violated.


• In the wartime cinema "Apollo" a festival is held: "Days of Swiss Film."
• Airport: Negotiations on a cease-fire. General Rose is the mediator in the negotiations. A ceasefire is agreed upon for the entire country. 2,000 U.S. Marines head to Bosnia to rescue the UN and to give support to NATO.


• Meeting: Willy Claes, Andrei Kozyrev, Haris Silajdzic. Kozyrev discusses Russian opposition to further punitive action.
• Vatican: Vinko Puljic appointed Cardinal.
• Sarajevo shelled.


• The Fifth Corps of the ARBiH manages to repel attacks in Bihac's Krajina. The UN fails to protect the Bihac "safe area". The UN: "We have only words, not the means."
• The U.S. Congress, Newt Gingrich: "If we want to break the will of the Serbs, then NATO should lead an action to break down the will of the Serbs. Occasional tactical strikes are extremely ineffective in intimidating the enemy, which is a lesson from Vietnam. "
• The Bosnian Serbs blocked 495 UN personnel throughout Bosnia.
• The Queen of England wins $17.70 in the lottery, which divided between 18 members of her court.


• The French Library opens in Sarajevo.

Heating

Cold weather and the arrival of winter brought about new arrangements in the apartments. Chimney outlets were opened even in houses with central heating. From the basements and from the attics, from friends are acquaintances, old stoves were brought. Boiler-rooms are not working. In the absence of chimneys, people fix extra flues and stick them out of their windows. Flues are lurking on streets, smoking. Cooking still continues on the balconies, among empty flower-pots, housewives stirring the fire with newspapers. The basic stove is a tin one - furuna, made by craftsmen on Bascarsija or even by self-taught masters. Material and imagination define the form, size and the purpose (for coffee, cooking, or heating). Furuna are being sold on several markets, but only for DMs. But the major problem is fuel. You cannot buy wood or coal.
During the first summer, all dry benches, trees and wooden material were collected. This fall, parks, alleys, courtyard and cemetery trees started to fall birches, poplars, ash-trees, plane-trees, plum- trees, apple-trees, cherry-trees, pear-trees, all the way down to brushwood. Wooden backs of benches in parks were taken away, frames and doors of ruined apartments, handrails from the hallways, shelves from abandoned stores and kiosks, wooden stools and bars from restaurants, even the crosses and pyramids from the cemeteries. All bombed houses and barracks were dismantled with enviable speed. But fuel is still scarce. Those who were wise took scrap wood from their garages early in the summer. Now paper versions are being manufactured. Plastic bags, a part of US lunch packages - a leftover from the Persian Gulf War - can heat five liters of water... UNHCR supplied the city with a numerous but not sufficient thermal foils for windows. On every window, from the outside, one can read their name: UNHCR - they are the owners of our lives. November temperatures were very nice. Meteorologists have informed us they were very high, by comparison with times no one remembers any more: about 9 degrees C (Centigrade) in the apartment. It was warmer to take a walk then to sit inside. Fortunately, everyone can get warm while searching for water and wood.

THE CITY HALL

The monumental City Hall was built during the period of the Austro-Hungarian rule in 1894. It was built in a pseudo-Moorish style with many decorative elements on its facade, in its central hall, on the staircase and in the ceremonial halls. In 1945 the building regarded by many as the most beautiful building in Sarajevo, was turned into the National Library which contained more than 1 million books, a great number of domestic and foreign periodicals and a collection of rare books. On August 25, 1992, exactly one hundred years after its building had begun, the shelling of the City Hall stared from the Trebevic and other mountains. It was hit by 50 shells and it started to burn a short time before midnight. The uncontainable fire destroyed the whole building, including most of the books. The Sarajevans remember the day by the ashes of books flying above the city. The destroyed City Hall building, the symbol of the besieged city and the barbarity of the aggressor, became the place where concerts and art exhibitions by local and foreign artists were held. The City Hall building is also the place where foreign cameramen keep bumping into each other and where they always start by shooting the glass construction of the City Hall roof turning beneath it in circles.

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POLLS
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MAPA SIEGE OF SARAJEVO