War Zone....Sarajevo

Trip Start May 16, 2006
Trip End Aug 15, 2006

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Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina  ,
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sarajevo is a nice city and the people are wonderful. Sarajevo is situated in a valley ringed by mountains. I can see why is was chosen as the site of the 84 Olympics. It was a grand city at one time and will be again.

The unfortunate thing is how badly the city was damaged during the war. It was a bit depressing. The Serbs surrounded the city on the mountain ridges and bombed the city for 4 years. It has been 10 years since the war and the evidence of war is everywhere. There is gun, mortar, & bomb damage all over. However,there is also reconstruction happening all over. The Parliment Building has been gutted and is being rebuilt. Two of the business towers have completed their repairs. The streets and sidewalks are also undergoing lots of repairs. The National Library was hit by an incendiary bomb and the interior was completely destroyed. Austria paid for a new dome which appears complete, but they are awaiting funds to complete the interior. The windows are still boarded up. I saw several buildings, bridges, buses, etc. that had rebuilt and paid for by Greece, Japan, Portugal and other countries.

I took a hostel sponsored tour that lasted about 2.5 hours- The first stop on the tour was the Tunnel Museum. If you will recall during the war the citizens of Sarajevo built a tunnel under the airport to an area controlled by the Bosnians. The home where the tunnel was located on the Sarajevo side of the airport is owned by the Kolar family. They own and operate the museum. The son gave the tour. There was very sobering 20 minute video. No voice, only film of the bombings and footage of people bringing supplies through the tunnel. They could move 20 tons of supplies through a day. There was also phone and electrical lines in the tunnel.

Another thing I learned is that the Bosnians have a lot of dislike for the United Nations. They feel like the UN let them down during the war. It was not until the tragedy at Srebernica when the Serbs executed a huge number of Muslims that the UN allowed any type of intervention. They feared something similar could happen in Sarajevo. Also when someone was able to escape the siege the UN would send them back into the city. 11000 people died in Sarajevo.

The tour guide said that today there are still a few Serbs in the city and she had Serbs as friends with but could not discuss the war.

The next stop on the tour was the Jewish Cemetary that the Serbs controlled and used that position to operate the snipers that killed so many people. The cemetery is heavily damaged. The tombstones were either knocked over or had bullet damage. She said they are still awaiting money to make repairs.

The last stop was atop a mountain overlooking the city. I imagine on a clear day it is a spectacular site. 400,000 people live in the city but it seems much larger than that.

I finished out the day walking the city and watched some more World Cup. The next morning I caught the bus back to Zagreb.

Despite my previous apprehensions I am glad I made the trip to Bosnia. It was quite and eye-opening experience. We in the states sometimes take for granted what we have. Never again for me.
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bobw on

I just adore reading your words and thoughts- very
very much. You have a keen eye and a thoughtful insight.

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