In the early 1990s, with the collapse of Communism, Yugoslavia began to break apart as ethnic and religious groups sought to create their states in the territory. The war that ensued over Sarajevo, a city that exemplified the former country’s multi-ethnic culture and identity, was emblematic of the region’s descent into civil war.
Bosnian Serbs, seeking to form a stronger Serbian nation, attacked Bosnia and began a policy of ethnic cleansing. In the following months, Serb forces raided Muslim and Croat homes. Many of the men, interred in prison camps and tortured and killed. Forced into detention centers, women endured repeated rape and brutality.
Bosnian Serb forces blockaded Sarajevo, cutting residents off from water, food, electricity, medicine and other supplies. The situation in Sarajevo was dire.
Survival in Sarajevo: La Benevolencija tells the story of the Jewish humanitarian organization that provided critical relief at the height of the conflict. Led by Holocaust survivors and their children, La Benevolencija housed itself in Sarajevo’s Jewish community center and provided medicine, food and community to Sarajevans trapped in the city. The agency’s pharmacy, mail service, and soup kitchen served all comers, regardless of their religious belief or ethnic background.
The siege of Sarajevo by Serb forces was the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare. La Benevolencija helped ease conditions for the besieged through its efforts and built community during some of Sarajevo’s darkest hours.
Based on the book by journalist and photographer Edward Serotta, Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Bosnia and the Lessons of the Past, this exhibition covers the history of the Jews in the Balkans from 1492 to 1941 before turning to the Bosnian War of the 1990s and the story of La Benevolencija.
Survival in Sarajevo: La Benevolencija will be available to view at the Museum until September 18, 2016.
Film Screening – Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave
In connection with our special gallery exhibit, the Museum will screen the film Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave, which provides a detailed visual documentation of the Bosnian-Serbian conflict on Thursday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Museum Theater. The BBC documentary Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave examines the massacre in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina and its aftermath.
Srebrenica, the world’s first United Nations Safe Area, was the site of the worst genocide in Europe since World War II. In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb army occupied the intimate spa town and took over the surrounding region. Muslim residents were forcibly separated from their neighbors and families. Over a five-day period, more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were systematically murdered by the Bosnian Serb soldiers in schools, fields, and warehouses.
Narrated by Bill Moyers, Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave provides first-hand accounts told by survivors and witnesses of the 1995 Bosnian massacre as well as interviews with UN soldiers and government officials.
Warning: Due to some graphic content, this film may not be suitable for younger viewers.
RSVP required. Please visit Eventbrite to reserve your seat. For more information go to www.DallasHolocaustMuseum.com.
Sponsor: Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport