Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo Siege

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I’m not a big fan of museums and I hardly ever visit them. I prefer to spend that time soaking up the atmosphere of the city instead of dully looking and yet another exhibition. But there’re some museum that are so interesting I simply can’t miss them. And one of these museums was the History Museum in Sarajevo, an amazing testimony of Sarajevo siege.

Located in the damaged building, very close from the train and bus station and at the beginning of the (in)famous Sniper Alley the museum hides a very interesting and extremely moving exhibition about the life in Sarajevo under its siege between 1992 and 1995.


How I remember Sarajevo siege

I hardly remember the siege, it happened in my childhood and I knew something like that took place in Former Yugoslavia but I couldn’t say why. I remember one scene from the siege very clearly: I was maybe 9 years old and we got a brand new color TV. My whole family was glued to the tv as a new toy and there, in the news, were pictures from the Markale massacre. I remember the scenes with dead people and blood marks on the snow… I just couldn’t understand why someone would do such thing and for all these years I was sure it was an accident, the bullets shouldn’t have reached the market place full of people shopping for food to survive the hard times…


Learning about Sarajevo siege

But the visit in this museum changed my thinking about the events in Sarajevo once and for all. I spent a good hour walking around the small room full of memorabilia from the siege, reading carefully every description and learning really a lot about the siege. The museum is full of exhibits, from weapons to homemade stoves, from newspapers’ front pages to drawings made by children living in these hard times. It shows a sample kitchen (or better to say room) that served as the living space for an average Bosnian family back then or the sample market stand where people could ge things that weren’t officially available (i.e. taken from the aid packages).


This small place made a really huge impression on me. I’m a tough girl, it’s not easy to make me cry but after few minutes there I had tears in my eyes and a big stone in my throat. There were maybe 5 more people visiting the museum at the same time and I could see that they all were in the similar state to mine. I just couldn’t understand how such awful things could happen only 20 years ago. And I couldn’t stop thinking how fortunate I was to be born in Poland and not these few hundred kilometers south, that it wasn’t my childhood. Here kids only played a war, there it was their everyday reality…


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The museum also holds an exhibition about the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina through centuries but I just couldn’t focus on it, my mind was still busy with proceeding what I’d just seen  on the newest history of the city. When I left the building I just couldn’t look at people passing me by. I was walking with tears in my eyes thinking what these people had to go through not such a long time ago. The city seems to recover from the massive destruction of the siege but there’re still marks visible here and there. When walking around it’s easy to stand on one of the Sarajevo roses (I’ve seen four of them). And every time I looked around the surrounding hills I could see couple of cemeteries full of graves of people of all ages, wall of whom died between 1992 and 1995…


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