Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina)-- Charred fragment of an Ottoman document, retrieved from the ashes of the archive of the Oriental Institute in Sarajevo after it was set ablaze by Serb nationalist bombardment on May 17, 1992.
(photograph by Oriental Institute in Sarajevo)
|THREE YEARS have passed since the beginning of the war in Bosnia. Amidst the reports of human suffering and atrocities, another tragic loss has gone largely unnoted the destruction of the written record of Bosnias past. On 25 August 1992, Bosnias National and University Library, a handsome Moorish-revival building built in the 1890s on the Sarajevo riverfront, was shelled and burned. Before the fire, the library held 1.5 million volumes, including over 155,000 rare books and manuscripts; the country's national archives; deposit copies of newspapers, periodicals and books published in Bosnia; and the collections of the University of Sarajevo. Bombarded with incendiary grenades from Serbian nationalist positions across the river, the library burned for three days; it was reduced to ashes with most of its contents. |