Five centuries of Bosnian history lost in fire, smoke, and water

Some of Bosnia’s most treasured archival documents appear to have been destroyed amid civil unrest in the country six months ago, Balkan Insight reports.

In addition, other documents damaged when the country’s national archive was firebombed in February cannot be restored because of a shortage of funds, the website reports.

Among the items destroyed was a collection of official orders by sultans from the Ottoman period and “illuminated manuscripts and philosophical works from the 17th and 18th centuries,” while valuable records from the era when Austria-Hungary ruled Bosnia “were also charred.”

The unrest in February was the worst since the war in the mid-1990s and involved the torching of government buildings by protesters angry over corruption, unemployment, and poor living conditions. The building of the presidency, which houses the state archives, was hit by a Molotov cocktail, according to Balkan Insight.

“Tomes seized by the flames contained letters, government orders, and historical accounts from centuries of history. Some are burned to pieces; others are still legible,” Balkan Insight reports.

To make matters worse, many of the documents were soaked by the water used to put out the blaze, Balkan Insight reports.

A team of 19 people is now working to preserve what can be saved of the documents, but the pleas of the archivists for help from the government and the international community have largely gone unheeded, Balkan Insight reports, which means that they have little choice but to improvise.

This article was originally published on TOL. Homepage image by Damir Misic/Wikimedia Commons. 


Share this Post