So it was a cruel irony of history that made her a battleground just as freedom arrived. Stoked by ultra-nationalists and opportunist politicians, differences among Bosnia's ethnic communities flamed into open warfare. A capital that for 500 years had been among Europe's most cosmopolitan was divided and under siege. And in the countryside, recrimination escalated into an orgy of destruction not seen in Europe for fifty years.
After four years of struggle, Bosnians emerged from their bunkers to discover that much of their patrimony had been destroyed. Shops and homes had been riddled with rocket fire or torched outright. Fields were sown with mines. Potable water was scarce, and sewage treatment was dangerously lacking. Road, rails, communications--all the things that facilitate the trade once synonymous with Bosnia--were now a shambles. And the population facing reconstruction had been decimated by death, disease, disappearance and diaspora.
But Bosnia has begun to dig out from the rubble. Once again there are shops open in the ancient markets. Cottage industries spin out the traditional crafts of local artisans, while skilled laborers make do with what the rockets left them and hope for the major infusion of foreign capital long promised by the industrial powers of the West.
A cash economy has taken hold. The starvation diet is a thing of the past. A dollar or a D-mark will find ripe fruit and vegetables, if a dollar or D-mark can be found. Another irony: the war finished off state socialism, along with the good things it killed.
Once again Sarajevans are free to venture into the streets of their beautiful city without fear of becoming targets of sniper and mortar fire.
Artists and musicians entertain a resurgent cafe and club scene, though with musings perhaps a shade darker than before. But Sarajevo has survived. Young people still stroll the Miljacka River promenade, holding hands, falling in love, ensuring that a new generation will rise to take the place of those fallen.
A Letter from the Founder
The Newsletter, Winter 1995
The Newsletter, Spring 1995
The Newsletter, Fall 95 / Winter 96
The Newsletter, Fall 1996
A Prayer for the Balkans
A Note from Sarajevo
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