Text by Sophia and Amina
Two weeks ago, the 10YOC went on a field trip to the Bosnian History Museum and the Tunnel of Life. These are some of the things we learned about the Siege of Sarajevo.
On April 5th, 1992 the Siege of Sarajevo began. It all started on the 1st of March when Bosnia and Herzegovina declared itself independent from Yugoslavia. But the Serbs did not agree with Bosnia and Herzegovina being independent so they declared war on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Imagine living in a half-broken house with no electricity, no running water, and a limited supply of food for 1,035 days. Well that’s how the Sarajevans lived during the siege. The balconies that once had red roses growing out of them were transformed into vegetable gardens. All the glass in every window was totally smashed. To solve that problem, civilians put up special foil over the windows that prevented wind and cold air to come inside the house. During the night people hung blankets over their windows so that the Serbian army could not see the dull candlelight in the rooms, from the mountains towering over the city.
Outside, on the streets, snipers aimed at any sighted person. Blankets were strung up between buildings so that snipers could not aim at people. There were signs all over the town saying “Pazi Snajper” (Beware of Snipers). The main street got nicknamed Sniper Alley. A common sight on the streets was people running; no one ever walked.
During the first year of the siege, all the schools were closed. In the second year the schools re-opened; this time in cellars. A teacher from the neighborhood would come to the cellar to teach. Students would get A’s by doing simple tasks like walking to the other side of the room with a book on their head. To get food and water citizens would line up for hours to get a small monthly food package from the UN and a gallon of water from one of the city wells.
In 1993, 150 people from Sarajevo gathered together to build a tunnel under the airport. The tunnel took four months and four days to build. It was 800m long, 1m wide and 160cm tall. Inside the tunnel it was extremely dark. The only source of light was lamps set 5 meters apart. The tunnel was not a fun place to go through. In the tunnel there were millions of rats, the smell of drains, and a lot of murky water. Many adults accidently hit their heads on metal supporters. One time the Austrian and Swedish Ambassadors wanted to go through the tunnel. The workers offered the Ambassadors a safe ride in a chair. They refused and ended up in the hospital with stitches. The Swedish Ambassador got five stitches and the Austrian Ambassador got three stitches on the head.
The tunnel was mostly used to bring in weapons, medicines, and fresh foods. In one day approximately 3,000 people went through the tunnel from one side and the other side. As much as it may seem the tunnel was not a secret. The Serbs knew about it and had tried to bomb it many times, unsuccessfully. The siege finally ended on November 21st, 1995. It had killed about 11,514 people from Sarajevo.
An amazing group of young learners, the 11YO class of QSI International School of Ljubljana.
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