Resources: The War in Bosnia

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Books

 

Demick, Barbara.  Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood (Spiegel and Grau, 2012).

Logavina Street was a microcosm of Sarajevo, a six-block-long history lesson. For four centuries, it existed as a quiet residential area in a charming city long known for its ethnic and religious tolerance. On this street of 240 families, Muslims and Christians, Serbs and Croats lived easily together, unified by their common identity as Sarajevans. Then the war tore it all apart.
 
As she did in her groundbreaking work about North Korea, Nothing to Envy, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick tells the story of the Bosnian War and the brutal and devastating three-and-a-half-year siege of Sarajevo through the lives of ordinary citizens, who struggle with hunger, poverty, sniper fire, and shellings.
 
Logavina Street paints this misunderstood war and its effects in vivid strokes—at once epic and intimate—revealing the heroism, sorrow, resilience, and uncommon faith of its people.

 

Cohen, Roger.  Hearts Grown Brutal (Random House, 1998).

The 73-year life span of Yugoslavia roughly coincides with what historians have called "the short 20th century," from the onset of World War I to the end of the cold war. It was always a tenuously constructed nation, and when it finally collapsed, Roger Cohen was there, dutifully filing reports for the New York Times. In Hearts Grown Brutal, he adds depth and personal drama to the stories of civil war and ethnicide, and he points an accusing finger at the Western nations who put the lie to any notion of a "new world order" by offering only half-hearted challenges to Serbian aggression until nearly 250,000 innocents had died and 2.7 million civilians had been driven from their homes.

Cohen, like many Western analysts, observes that the clash between Muslim Bosnians, Catholic Croats, and Orthodox Serbs had been in the making for hundreds of years. But he locates the origins of the recent "collective madness"--as one Serbian leader called it--in World War II, when Croatia sided with the Nazis and when Serbia took the opportunity of the German invasion to settle old scores against Croats, Muslims, Jews, and Gypsies. Ordinary men and women of Yugoslavia committed extraordinary acts of inhumanity against one another during the war against Hitler. Post-Communist civil war gave them license to hate one another anew: when Serbia struck out at Bosnia and Croatia, all three nations fell into a frenzy of slaughter whose repercussions will be felt for generations to come. Hearts Grown Brutal is a somber, horrifying indictment of all involved that stands as an essential work of contemporary history. --Gregory McNamee

 

Hearts Grown Brutal-- Excerpt. © All rights reserved.

Chapter 1, My Father's War

Sead Mehmedovic grew up believing that his father was dead, one of the more than one million Yugoslav victims of World War II. Where he had died, nobody knew, there was no grave, there was nothing, but Alija Mehmedovic's death was a fact of Sead's childhood. So when Sead learned that this might not be true--that his father might be living outside Yugoslavia under an assumed name--the quest to find him naturally became an obsession. For years the search was fruitless, leading only to new riddles, but finally on December 15, 1970, Sead sat down in Belgrade to write to the father he had never known. With an address for his father at last in his possession, Sead could scarcely contain a tremulous excitement.

As he sat down to compose a letter, Sead confronted again the fact that he knew almost nothing of the dashing, dark-haired young man who appeared in the few surviving photographs of his father. Alija Mehmedovic remained a shadowy figure. He had worked at the Belgrade daily newspaper Politika; had abandoned Sead's mother, Gaby, on the eve of World War II; had remarried in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital; and had, it was long believed, been killed somewhere in his native Bosnia or in Croatia. This was the story on which Sead was raised. Such fragments, the shards of past conflict, were his inheritance.

Sead, like countless Yugoslavs, was a child of war. The Second World War took his father. The conflict had left him with confused memories. Certain images were always vivid, imbued with the particular luminosity of childhood. Others had faded. Of Hitler's bombardment of Belgrade, starting on April 6, 1941, when Sead was not quite three years old, he recalled only a dim sense of terror. He had found shelter in cellars as the Luftwaffe pounded the Yugoslav capital. Fear, the most instantly communicable of viruses, spread in a city that only days earlier had been full of defiant demonstrations against the Nazis that displayed a typical Serb bravura.

The crowds had poured into the streets to protest the Yugoslav prince regent Pavle's decision to enter into the Axis Pact with Hitler. "Better war than the pact" ("Bolje rat nego pakt") and "Better the grave than a slave" ("Bolje grob nego rob"), the people of Belgrade chanted. A Serb officer, General Dusan Simovib, who led a coup that ousted the regent, gave a rousing speech of defiance to Hitler in which he recalled the bones of Serbian military heroes and the Serbs' epic struggle, over many centuries, against the Turks.

Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, was delighted. "Yugoslavia," he declared, "has found its soul." But Hitler was enraged. By April 10, 1941, wide swaths of Belgrade had been leveled. The defiant crowds were silenced; the Yugoslav army crumbled; the Nazis quickly installed General Milan Nedib, a soldier who did the Nazis' bidding in Serbia as assiduously as Marshal Philippe Petain's Vichy regime in France, and Yugoslavia disintegrated with the proclamation in Zagreb of an independent, puppet-Nazi Croatian state.

Belgrade was transformed by days of bombing. There were bodies piled in the streets and many dead and stray animals. A bomb hit the Belgrade Zoo, and Sead recalled animals roaming through the burning city. As if in a child's bedtime story, a polar bear made its way down to the River Sava.

A devastating conflict began on the fragmented Yugoslav lands, a conflict that was at once resistance battle against the Germans, revolutionary communist struggle aimed ultimately at the overthrow of the Serbian establishment that had ruled Yugoslavia, and civil war--violence laid layer upon layer.

Sead remembered the second bombardment of Belgrade with much greater clarity. In 1944, on the Orthodox Easter, the Anglo-American Balkan Air Force embarked on a campaign of heavy bombing against the Nazi occupiers of Belgrade. Once again there were scenes of mayhem. Sead, by now six years old, watched from what was then Kosmayaska Street as the Allied planes came swooping in. When the bombing started, he hid under the bed, until he was dragged down to the cellar by his mother. The Allies were doing to Belgrade what their Nazi enemies had done three years before.

Six months later, in October, Belgrade was again engulfed in fighting as the communist Partisan forces led by Josip Broz Tito and the Soviet army closed in on the Yugoslav capital. Sead saw the shabby, ragtag Yugoslav Partisans, rifles slung over their shoulders, red stars on their hats, moving up Kosovska Street in the center of the capital as a platoon of German troops--perhaps the last Germans in the city--took up a commanding position on the top of the central Albanija Building. The Germans were well stocked in two essential commodities for a last stand: ammunition and alcohol. They shot everything that moved on the square where Sead used to play. When the German snipers were finally silenced, Sead emerged from hiding to find his square littered with corpses and the bodies of dogs and cats. It was October 20, 1944, a beautiful, sunny day. He could not take his eyes off the small, splayed animals or shake from his nostrils the sweet, emetic smell of death. Some of the German corpses, still in uniform, had newspapers over their faces. Their boots had been removed by the scavenging Soviet forces and the equally deprived local population. After the mighty armored cars of the Germans, it was amazing to see Soviet soldiers sleeping on straw in the back of horse-drawn carts. This ramshackle army--through its mass, its momentum, and its morale--had triumphed over the Nazi war machine. He looked for a friend who used to sell tobacco on the square--his wooden leg, big mustache, and booming voice deeply impressed the young boy--but could not find him in the chaos.

The city still echoed to the intermittent crash of shells fired by the German troops retreating northward, and the cacophony of rifles, tommy guns, and--loudest and strangest of all--the Soviet Katyusha multiple-rocket launchers. Whether these were the sounds of battle, or of celebration of Tito's victory, was not always clear. The Germans had retreated to Zemun, on the other side of the Sava, the river whose confluence with the Danube provides Belgrade with the splendor of its setting. From Zemun they shelled the capital. Thirty years earlier, in 1914, and from the same positions, Austro-Hungarian troops in Zemun had fired the first salvos of World War I after the defiant Serbs rejected a demand from Vienna that Austro-Hungarian police be allowed into Serbia. The Austro-Hungarian government had demanded that the police be admitted to investigate the assassination by a Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, of the Habsburg heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife in Sarajevo.

Belgrade was liberated, Sead free in the smoldering streets of the white and devastated city. Tito's forces took control amid the mixture of euphoria and terror that accompanies any revolution. It was not unusual to see a young man, denounced as an informer, being dragged off and summarily shot.

So it was that Sead, born on April 25, 1938, into a young country ruled by a conservative Serbian monarchy, found himself, at the age of seven, growing up a communist. A deeply wounded Yugoslav state was reconstituted under the unlikely banner of communism. Sead embraced this new religion, but he could not come to terms with the war that had led to its victory.

Sead was unable to walk through Belgrade without remembering that time. The wartime city and the modern city shared very little. Most street names had been changed several times and most of the town rebuilt after the war. But in Sead's mind they were superimposed on each other, like a house and its reflection in water. He lived in time present and in time past, trying, it seemed, to understand something that had escaped him.

Churchill's response to Tito's communist victory was laconic. On January 18, 1945, he told the House of Commons, "We have no special interest in the political regime which prevails in Yugoslavia. Few people, in Britain, I imagine, are going to be more cheerful or more downcast because of the future constitution of Yugoslavia." Freedom for the Yugoslavs and the "Yugoslav soul," extolled by Churchill in 1941, had ceased to interest him greatly by 1945, when realpolitik and the exploits of Stalin's Red Army had come to dictate a carving-up of Europe.

For Western governments, the way the war in Yugoslavia was perceived was ultimately a question of interests. But for Sead it was an affair of the heart. The mystery, for Sead, centered on the disappearance of his father. Repeated attempts by his mother to discover where, and in what circumstances, Alija had died proved fruitless. As Sead grew older, the phantom of his father began to haunt him. Clues emerged that Alija Mehmedovic a Bosnian Muslim, had survived the war, fled Yugoslavia, and started a new life under a new identity in Turkey.

The fact that, by an odd coincidence, Sead had, like his father, found work at the newspaper Politika, as a graphic artist in the advertising department, had only intensified his curiosity. Increasingly, the search to find his father seemed to Sead to hold the key to unlocking his own uprooted life, a life that struck Sead as eternally unresolved, a puzzle in which the pieces would not fit together.

"My dear old man," Sead began the letter in December 1970, "I have been writing to you for several days now and have not found time to finish the letter. I come to my office very early in the morning, between five and six o'clock, although my working hours begin at seven. (Every time I get up, I move the alarm hand on the clock so that my wife does not notice how early I wake up--she would scold me.)

"This is the only time when I am alone. It is still dark and there are no people around. That is when I write you a letter. But later, during the day, when I am bombarded by everyday life....

 


Filipovic, Zlata.  Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo (Penguin, Revised Edition, 2006).

From September 1991 through October 1993, young Zlata Filipovic kept a diary. When she began it, she was 11 years old, concerned mostly with friends, school, piano lessons, MTV, and Madonna. As the diary ends, she has become used to constant bombing and snipers; severe shortages of food, water, and gas; and the end of a privileged adolescence in her native Sarajevo. Zlata has been described as the new Anne Frank. While the circumstances are somewhat similar, and Zlata is intelligent and observant, this diary lacks the compelling style and mature preceptions that gave Anne Frank's account such universality. The entire situation in the former Yugoslavia, however, is of such currency and concern that any first-person account, especially one such as this that speaks so directly to adolescents, is important and necessary. While not great literature, the narrative provides a vivid description of the ravages of war and its effect upon one young woman, and, as such, is valuable for today's Young Adults. Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA

 

Galloway, Steven.  The Cellist of Sarajevo (Riverhead Trade, reprint edition, 2009).

Inspired by Vedran Smailovic, the cellist who, in 1992, played in a bombed-out Sarajevo square for 22 days in memory of the 22 people who were killed by a mortar attack, this is a novel about four people trying to maintain a semblance of their humanity in the besieged city. Kenan trudges across the city to collect water from the brewery for his family; on his way to buy bread, Dragan meets an old friend who reminds him of life before the war; Arrow, a sniper fighting against the occupation, is charged with keeping the cellist alive; and the cellist himself, in his simple act of performing, courageously brings a touch of life back to the citizens. Although Galloway’s characters weigh the value of their lives against the choices they must make, he effectively creates a fifth character in the city itself, capturing the details among the rubble and destruction that give added weight to his memorable novel. --Elliot Mandel


The Cellist--Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

It screamed downward, splitting air and sky without effort. A target expanded in size, brought into focus by time and velocity. There was a moment before impact that was the last instant of things as they were. Then the visible world exploded.

In 1945, an Italian musicologist found four bars of a sonata’s bass line in the remnants of the firebombed Dresden Music Library. He believed these notes were the work of the seventeenth-century Venetian composer Tomaso Albinoni, and spent the next twelve years reconstructing a larger piece from the charred manuscript fragment. The resulting composition, known as Albinoni’s Adagio, bears little resemblance to most of Albinoni’s work and is considered fraudulent by most scholars. But even those who doubt its authenticity have difficulty denying the Adagio’s beauty.

Nearly half a century later, it’s this contradiction that appeals to the cellist. That something could be almost erased from existence in the landscape of a ruined city, and then rebuilt until it is new and worthwhile, gives him hope. A hope that, now, is one of a limited number of things remaining for the besieged citizens of Sarajevo and that, for many, dwindles each day.

And so today, like every other day in recent memory, the cellist sits beside the window of his second-floor apartment and plays until he feels his hope return. He rarely plays the Adagio. Most days he’s able to feel the music rejuvenate him as simply as if he were filling a car with gasoline. But some days this isn’t the case. If, after several hours, this hope doesn’t return, he will pause to gather himself, and then he and his cello will coax Albinoni’s Adagio out of the firebombed husk of Dresden and into the mortar-pocked, sniper-infested streets of Sarajevo. By the time the last few notes fade, his hope will be restored, but each time he’s forced to resort to the Adagio it becomes harder, and he knows its effect is finite. There are only a certain number of Adagios left in him, and he will not recklessly spend this precious currency.

It wasn’t always like this. Not long ago the promise of a happy life seemed almost inviolable. Five years ago at his sister’s wedding, he’d posed for a family photograph, his father’s arm slung behind his neck, fingers grasping his shoulder. It was a firm grip, and to some it would have been painful, but to the cellist it was the opposite. The fingers on his flesh told him that he was loved, that he had always been loved, and that the world was a place where above all else the things that were good would find a way to burrow into you. Though he knew all of this then, he would give up nearly anything to be able to go back in time and slow down that moment, if only so he could more clearly recall it now. He would very much like to feel his father’s hand on his shoulder again.

He can tell today won’t be an Adagio day. It has been only a half-hour since he sat down beside the window, but already he feels a little bit better. Outside, a line of people wait to buy bread. It’s been over a week since the market’s had any bread to buy, and he considers whether he might join them. Many of his friends and neighbours are in line. He decides against it, for now. There’s still work to do.

It screamed downward, splitting air and sky without effort. A target expanded in size, brought into focus by time and velocity. There was a moment before impact that was the last instant of things as they were. Then the visible world exploded.

When the mortars destroyed the Sarajevo Opera Hall, the cellist felt as if he were inside the building, as if the bricks and glass that once bound the structure together became projectiles that sliced and pounded into him, shredding him beyond recognition. He was the principal cellist of the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra. That was what he knew how to be. He made the idea of music an actuality. When he stepped on stage in his tuxedo he was transformed into an instrument of deliverance. He gave to the people who came to listen what he loved most in the world. He was as solid as the vice of his father’s hand.

Now he doesn’t care whether anyone hears him play or not. His tuxedo hangs in the closet, untouched. The guns perched on the hills surrounding Sarajevo have dismantled him just as they have the opera hall, just as they have his family home in the night while his father and mother slept, just as they will, eventually, everything.

The geography of the siege is simple. Sarajevo is a long ribbon of flat land surrounded on all sides by hills. The men on the hills control all the high ground and one peninsula of level ground in the middle of the city, Grbavica. They fire bullets and mortars and tank shells and grenades into the rest of the city, which is being defended by one tank and small hand-held weapons. The city is being destroyed.

The cellist doesn’t know what is about to happen. Initially the impact of the shell won’t even register. For a long time he’ll stand at his window and stare. Through the carnage and confusion he’ll notice a woman’s handbag, soaked in blood and sparkled with broken glass. He won’t be able to tell whom it belongs to. Then he’ll look down and see he has dropped his bow on the floor, and somehow it will seem to him that there’s a great connection between these two objects. He won’t understand what the connection is, but the feeling that it exists will compel him to undress, walk to the closet and pull the dry cleaner’s plastic from his tuxedo.

He will stand at the window all night and all through the next day. Then, at four o’clock in the afternoon, twenty-four hours after the mortar fell on his friends and neighbours while they waited to buy bread, he will bend down and pick up his bow. He will carry his cello and stool down the narrow flight of stairs to the empty street. The war will go on around him as he sits in the small crater left at the mortar’s point of impact. He’ll play Albinoni’s Adagio. He’ll do this every day for twenty-two days, a day for each person killed. Or at least he’ll try. He won’t be sure he will survive. He won’t be sure he has enough Adagios left.

The cellist doesn’t know any of this now, as he sits at his window in the sun and plays. He isn’t yet aware. But it’s already on its way. It screams downward, splitting air and sky without effort. A target expands in size, brought into focus by time and velocity. There is a moment before impact that is the last instant of things as they are. Then the visible world explodes.

 

Greble, Emily. Sarajevo, 1941-1945: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Hitler's Europe (Cornell University Press, 2011).

On April 15, 1941, Sarajevo fell to Germany's 16th Motorized Infantry Division. The city, along with the rest of Bosnia, was incorporated into the Independent State of Croatia, one of the most brutal of Nazi satellite states run by the ultranationalist Croat Ustasha regime. The occupation posed an extraordinary set of challenges to Sarajevo's famously cosmopolitan culture and its civic consciousness; these challenges included humanitarian and political crises and tensions of national identity. As detailed for the first time in Emily Greble's book, the city's complex mosaic of confessions (Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish) and ethnicities (Croat, Serb, Jew, Bosnian Muslim, Roma, and various other national minorities) began to fracture under the Ustasha regime's violent assault on "Serbs, Jews, and Roma"-contested categories of identity in this multiconfessional space-tearing at the city's most basic traditions. Nor was there unanimity within the various ethnic and confessional groups: some Catholic Croats detested the Ustasha regime while others rode to power within it; Muslims quarreled about how best to position themselves for the postwar world, and some cast their lot with Hitler and joined the ill-fated Muslim Waffen SS. In time, these centripetal forces were complicated by the Yugoslav civil war, a multisided civil conflict fought among Communist Partisans, Chetniks (Serb nationalists), Ustashas, and a host of other smaller groups. The absence of military conflict in Sarajevo allows Greble to explore the different sides of civil conflict, shedding light on the ways that humanitarian crises contributed to civil tensions and the ways that marginalized groups sought political power within the shifting political system. There is much drama in these pages: In the late days of the war, the Ustasha leaders, realizing that their game was up, turned the city into a slaughterhouse before fleeing abroad. The arrival of the Communist Partisans in April 1945 ushered in a new revolutionary era, one met with caution by the townspeople. Greble tells this complex story with remarkable clarity. Throughout, she emphasizes the measures that the city's leaders took to preserve against staggering odds the cultural and religious pluralism that had long enabled the city's diverse populations to thrive together.

 

Macek, Ivana.  Sarajevo Under Siege: Anthropology in Wartime (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Sarajevo Under Siege offers a richly detailed account of the lived experiences of ordinary people in this multicultural city between 1992 and 1996, during the war in the former Yugoslavia. Moving beyond the shelling, snipers, and shortages, it documents the coping strategies people adopted and the creativity with which they responded to desperate circumstances.

Ivana Macek, an anthropologist who grew up in the former Yugoslavia, argues that the division of Bosnians into antagonistic ethnonational groups was the result rather than the cause of the war, a view that was not only generally assumed by Americans and Western Europeans but also deliberately promoted by Serb, Croat, and Muslim nationalist politicians. Nationalist political leaders appealed to ethnoreligious loyalties and sowed mistrust between people who had previously coexisted peacefully in Sarajevo. Normality dissolved and relationships were reconstructed as individuals tried to ascertain who could be trusted.

Over time, this ethnography shows, Sarajevans shifted from the shock they felt as civilians in a city under siege into a "soldier" way of thinking, siding with one group and blaming others for the war. Eventually, they became disillusioned with these simple rationales for suffering and adopted a "deserter" stance, trying to take moral responsibility for their own choices in spite of their powerless position. The coexistence of these contradictory views reflects the confusion Sarajevans felt in the midst of a chaotic war.

Macek respects the subjectivity of her informants and gives Sarajevans' own words a dignity that is not always accorded the viewpoints of ordinary citizens. Combining scholarship on political violence with firsthand observation and telling insights, this book is of vital importance to people who seek to understand the dynamics of armed conflict along ethnonational lines both within and beyond Europe.

 

Reid, Akta and Hana Schofield.  Goodbye Sarajevo (Bloomsbury USA, 2012).

This is an extraordinary story of sisters, war, and new beginnings. In 1992 in Sarajevo, a 21-year-old Bosnian woman, the oldest of ten siblings, was trying to help her brothers and sisters survive a city under siege. They were surrounded by endless violence.

An escape bus became available, with a UN convoy, but there were only two spare seats. Two of the siblings, girls aged 12 and 15, were chosen. An account of what happened next is told in a book written by Atka, who was the 21-year-old, and Hana, who was the 12-year-old.

Atka Reid and Hana Schofield now live in New Zealand, where Atka has been a graphic designer, and Hana a lawyer.

 

 

Films

No Man's Land (2001), Director: Danis Tanovic; Running time: 98 minutes.

Between war and peace, humor and hate, capture and surrender, life and death lies No Man's Land. Set in the unforgiving trenches of the Bosnian-Serb conflict, this "astonishing" (Chicago Tribune) film follows the story of three soldiers caught between two fighting lines. Hailed as "one of the best films of 2001,"* No Man's Land is a "powerful, harrowing, shockingly entertaining" (Movieline) exploration of the absurdity of war. Fleeing enemy fire, an injuredBosnian soldier named Čiki retreats to a trench, where he finds himself trapped with a woundedcomrade and worse a Serbian! With no way to escape and with his fellow soldier lying on a spring-loaded bomb set to explode if he moves, Čiki realizes he must do the unthinkabletrust his enemyIf he wants to survive. *Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Daily News, New York Post.

 

Shot Through the Heart (1998), Director: David Attwood; Running time: 112 minutes.

Two friends, each champion marksmen, are on opposite sides in war. One turns sniper for the enemy. One remains their town's last line of defense. In a terrible battle for power, two best friends must pull the trigger. Only one will feel the bullet - but both will feel the pain.

 


Welcome to Sarajevo (1997), Director: Michael Winterbottom; Running time: 103 minutes.

Nothing that British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom made before Welcome to Sarajevo (including Butterfly Kiss and Jude) suggested the clarifying rage of this 1997 film, which is based on the experiences of British journalist Michael Nicholson while on assignment in Bosnia. Made emotionally numb by the savagery and insanity of Serbian aggression on Sarajevo and surrounding towns and countryside, reporter Michael Henderson (Stephen Dillane in a remarkable performance) awakens to the plight of one orphanage and particularly to that of a girl whom he promises to rescue. Henderson's efforts lead to a harrowing bus journey to (temporary) protection for some of the kids (others, quite shockingly, are carried off en route by Serb marauders), and then a second, even more dangerous good deed to finish what he started. The film's dimensions go well beyond that story line, however, as Winterbottom re-creates the gallows-humor culture of international correspondents in a blighted region, as well as the nightmare of the Sarajevo siege. Most savage of all, however, is the director's use of news clips in a pointed attack on the West's refusal to deal with the slaughter and outrages in Bosnia at their peak. The supporting cast might look like a bunch of famous names (Kerry Fox, Marisa Tomei) used decorously to attract attention to the film, but in fact everyone is very good, especially Woody Harrelson as an American journalist whose entrance in the story is one of the most memorable in recent history. --Tom Keogh

 

Music 

Bono Vox and Luciano Pavorati 

"Miss Sarajevo" is the only single from the 1995 album Original Soundtracks 1 by U2 and Brian Eno, under the pseudonym  Passengers. Luciano Pavarotti makes a guest vocal appearance, singing the opera solo. It also appears on U2's compilation, The Best of 1990-2000, and was covered by George Michael on his album, Songs from the Last Century. While the song did not reach the Billboard Hot 100, it reached #6 on the UK Singles Chart and was a top-ten hit in many other European countries. Bono cites "Miss Sarajevo" as his favourite U2 song.

American journalist Bill Carter suggested to Bono an idea to film a documentary based on Sarajevo's underground resistance movement. Not only did Bono produce the film, he also provided the funds needed to support the project. Taken from the sleeves notes to Original Soundtracks

“The camera follows the organizers through the tunnels and cellars of the city, giving a unique insight into life during a modern war, where civilians are the targets. The film captures the dark humour of the besieged Sarajevans, their stubborn refusal to be demoralized and suggests that surrealism and Dadaism are the appropriate responses to fanaticism.”
-Bono

 

Joan Baez in Sarajevo, 1993

Joan Baez in Sarajevo, April 1993. Real footage. The song played is "Stones in the Road". The cellist playing in the street, towards the end of the video, is Vedran Smailovic, "the cellist of Sarajevo". (For further reference:http://www.appleseedrec.com/sarajevo/vedran/ )

 

Joan Baez, Sarajevo Ljubavi Moja

Joan Baez singing "Sarajevo ljubavi moja" in April 14, 1993, in Sarajevo...
Amir Beso - Lazy, Srdjan Jevdjevic, Boris Bacvic, Paul Pesco, Dragana Ilic, Igor Zerajic, Samir Ceramida

 

John McCutchon, The Streets of Sarajevo

"Vedran Smajlović (b. Nov 11, 1956), the 'Cellist of Sarajevo', is a musician from Bosnia & Herzegovina, & a former cellist in the Sarajevo String Quartet.

"He played in the Sarajevo Opera, the Sarajevo Phil Orch, The Symphony Orch RTV Sarajevo, & The National Theatre of Sarajevo...

"In 1992, Smajlović played Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor on his cello at various times during the day to honour the 22 people who had been killed while queuing for bread at 10:00am."  Wikipedia


Tommy Sands, Joan Baez, Vedran Smailov, Ode to Sarajevo



Built on the common experience of tragedy, Tommy Sands (from Northern Ireland) and cellist Vedran Smailovic (from Sarajevo) have been performing together for a few years, culminating in this album. While the theme is tragedy and the recovery from it in both regions of discord, the focus is pretty clearly on the atrocities in Sarajevo. Smailovic is the primary composer of pieces here, though there are numbers from Sands, Pete Seeger, and various traditional and classical works as well. The tone is largely a mournful one, as one would expect, though there are notes of hope built in now and then. The album opens on "Ode to Sarajevo," a chorus piece (which includes Joan Baez); "Bembasa" is built from an old Sephardic work; and Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" closes out the opening trio. A waltz that was once played before Archduke Ferdinand's assassination in Sarajevo (opening World War I) returns the focus to Sarejevo, followed by an Albinoni piece played by Smailovic after the bread-line massacre of 1992. Seeger joins in on Music of Healing (surprisingly, not on "Where Have All the Flowers Gone"), working well in combination with Sands. Bosfor is an old Bosnian tune, "Child of 2000" was an early collaboration between the two stars of the album, and "Dilber" returns to the Bosnian theme again. The album finishes on the duo of "Buskers" (written by Sands' brother in tribute to Smailovic before any meetings) and "Laganside," an old Irish love march. The two cultures rarely combine within the structure of a single song here, but instead the styles can change from one to the other relatively seamlessly as tracks switch. The performers are all worth hearing here, and the music is properly nostalgic and heartfelt. The only dry spots involve the use of an electric cello in a couple attempts to update the music a bit for contemporary audiences. Luckily those are rather rare, and the bulk of the album is a wonderful tribute to those lost in civilian attacks and to hope for the future. This is musically excellent and culturally relevant.