June 11, 1996 |
The dome of the Orthodox Cathedral is to be plated with gold, rising 120 feet high. A national theater with a revolving stage also is envisioned, along with a medical center, university and spacious, tree-lined boulevards. Nothing is spared in the fantastic dream of the Bosnian Serbs to build a capital city of their own - one that will enshrine President Radovan Karadzic's spirit of separatism. It is the Bosnian Serbs' own Zion, as its planners describe it. A more apt analogy might be Bonn - transformed from a university town into the West German capital after the post-World War II division of Germany.
June 5, 1996 |
About 9 p.m. last Thursday, Gojko Pondurovic was visited by a group of unknown men, who asked him to accompany them to a municipal office. Instead, they took the 64-year-old Serb to an isolated park, beat him unconscious and broke his jaw. Yesterday afternoon - not quite five days later - a Muslim refugee was in the process of moving into Pondurovic's three-story house. It looks like a textbook case of ethnic cleansing - the same story that was reenacted thousands of times in the course of the Bosnian war. The twist is that it happened in Sarajevo, a city that touted itself as the last bastion of multiethnicity left after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
April 17, 1996 |
One psychiatrist-cum-war criminal turned this city into hell. Now Sarajevo's other psychiatrists are exorcising the consequences. For almost four years, as his soldiers were shelling the town where he once lived and worked, Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader and accused war criminal, used his keen understanding of the trauma brought by terror to destroy the minds of Sarajevans, old, young and very young. Today, there is no war here - at least not in the military sense. Children can play outside without fear of mortars, soldiers are demobilized, and families are reunited as refugees timidly return.
April 5, 1996 |
For the first time in four years, Jews here could attend a Passover seder this week without risking their lives. On Wednesday night, about 300 Jews and their guests gathered at the synagogue to celebrate the feast that symbolizes hope and to hear the Israeli guest rabbi's message of the triumph of life over the forces of destruction. The guests - including many Holocaust survivors - joked about the lack of kosher chicken as they got ready to dine on fried matzo sandwiches with cheese, mushrooms or spinach.
April 4, 1996 |
The rabbi had just finished Passover services in which he extolled the hope for Bosnia's future, and hundreds of guests were about to enjoy a seder dinner yesterday, when Sven Alkalaj got word of the plane crash. For Alkalaj, Bosnian ambassador to the United States and a key organizer of the trade mission of U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown, it was as though the curse hanging over Bosnia these last four years had yet to be lifted. "It was possibly the most significant visit of American commerce to the region and certainly to Bosnia," Alkalaj mumbled as he and other guests filtered into a back room at Sarajevo's Jewish Community Center to watch the television news.
April 3, 1996 |
As Jewish families the world over gather around dining tables to celebrate Passover tonight, they will recount the story of the exodus from Egypt by reading from the ages-old book that tells this tale: the Haggadah. Millions of Haggadahs exist, from freshly printed paperbacks to elaborate editions dating back decades, even centuries. But the most famous Haggadah in the world, worth more than $10 million, lies hidden in a secret location in the war-ravaged city of Sarajevo. How it got there and why it remains is a story that combines the best elements of the Maltese Falcon and Indiana Jones, only this is not fiction; it is much too strange.
March 30, 1996 |
The first thaw of spring is revealing macabre secrets in the ground below the Sarajevo suburbs. Armin Hrnjic peered into the underbrush by a railroad track. He could see a skull with two apparent bullet holes, the bones of a leg, a pair of black shoes, one white sock and a fleecy blanket. He shook his head with bewilderment. It was a man, certainly - you could tell by the size of the shoes and the long femur - but otherwise, the remains were yielding few clues. "I don't recognize the shoes, but it is hard to remember after four years have passed," Hrnjic, 26, said as he walked off with disappointment.
March 22, 1996 |
The toilet is in Serb territory. The kitchen is within the domain of Muslim and Croat authorities. As for the living room, the boundary runs across the carpet between the television set and sofa. A slip of a mapmaker's pen in Dayton, Ohio, has translated on the ground into a nightmare for newlyweds Mladen and Vesna Rundic. The couple thought they finally had a chance to put together their lives postwar when they moved earlier this month into Sarajevo's Dobrinja neighborhood.
March 20, 1996 |
Grozdanka Donovic had squirreled away her last bottle of brandy for the homecoming of her Muslim neighbors. "A votre sante!" the retired French teacher exclaimed as she raised her crystal shot glass to Hajrudin and Zimeta Pesto, who had fled their apartment four flights up to escape the Serb occupiers. No matter that Donovic also is a Serb. The return of the Muslims to the Sarajevo district of Grbavica yesterday - the final step in the reunification of Bosnia's capital - was a moment of catharsis, a release from nearly four years of terror.
March 18, 1996 |
At dusk, the flames were still licking away at the roof of a mustard-colored apartment building in the suburban neighborhood of Grbavica. The fire broke out at 8 a.m. Saturday, almost certainly set by an arsonist, and attracted voyeurs throughout the day. Italian and French NATO soldiers cruised by in their armored personnel carriers, while Spanish police from the U.N. task force discussed the fire over their walkie-talkies. Nobody made the slightest effort to put it out. The neighborhood's able-bodied men were too busy darting into the burning building to strip away the doors, plumbing fixtures and parquet floors.