Witness History: Sarajevo’s Haven of Peace

After the collapse of former Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serb forces laid siege to the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in 1992. More than a quarter of a million people lived under almost constant bombardment and sniper fire for more than four years. Over 10,000 were killed.

Hunger and destitution took hold quickly. So a small Jewish charity stepped in to provide essential food and medicine and evacuate elderly people and children from all sides of the conflict. In peace time, Sarajevo’s Jewish community had maintained good relations with Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats. This enabled them to provide a haven of peace for everyone.

In this programme, Jacky Rowland hears from Jakob Finci, who was the vice president of the Jewish community at the time. Part of their motivation, he says, was that many Jews in Sarajevo had been sheltered by Bosnian Muslims during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s.

Listen now:


A super programme.

Tom Bigwood, commissioning editor, Witness History
BBC World Service, 9th August 2023
Presenter: Jacky Rowland
Producers: Kristine Pommert and Ewan Newbigging-Lister
Executive Producer: Kristine Pommert