The Holiday Inn
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SIEGE the Yugoslav National Army and the Serbian militants deployed their snipers in tall buildings and in the barracks to shoot at citizens. Even when they were removed from the city, the distance between the city streets and the tall buildings on the hills in the occupied territory was sufficient to allow sniping by semi-automatic guns produced by the Yugoslav army. According to the data gathered in 1995, the snipers, shooting from small holes made in the walls of the buildings or from the buses, had wounded 1030 and killed 225 persons, 60 of whom were children.
In some European newspapers one could read reports about the "war tourism" which included sniping the citizens of Sarajevo. The Russian avant-garde writer Limonov was caught on camera indulging in this "enjoyable sport."
EVERY AREA OF THE CITY was a dangerous zone. At every moment, from all the places in the mountains surrounding the city, the snipers could hit every target in the city. Therefor, the most dangerous zones were those directly in the line of fire. Bridges, crossroads, and streets exposed to the mountains. Those were the places where the possibility of getting shot was somewhat lessened if one was a fast runner. Such places also seemed less terrifying than other parts of town where one was never sure whether one should walk fast or slow. Would the shell land where you are or in front of you?
The signs Dangerous Zone, or Watch Out, Sniper, as well as the signs showing the direction of traffic were written in oil-based paint on pieces of UNHCR plastic sheets, or on pieces of cardboard, wooden board or simply written with chalk on the wall.
The Holiday Inn
BEFORE THE SIEGE the Sarajevo hotel capacity was 49,000 beds. But during the long siege the Holiday Inn was the only hotel functioning in the city. The hotel was built during the Winter Olympic Games. On April 6, 1992, it was the location of the Serbian militants who were shooting at the Sarajevo citizens gathered in front of the Parliament. As foreign journalists were staying at the hotel, it was less frequently shelled than the surrounding buildings.
Nevertheless, a great number of rooms were burnt or destroyed. It was one of the few hotels in which the most prized rooms were those without a view. A view of the mountains meant a view of a snipers' nest. During the siege the rule was: If you see him, he sees you. The hotel took in guests all through the siege.
Armed with an AK-47 automatic rifle, Gaga took up position in a strategically critical apartment tower accross the river from the Holiday Inn hotel, which was my base throughout the war. The gunfire I dodged constantly may have been from Gaga's weapon.
Map and graphics copyright All rights reserved by FAMA, Sarajevo. Sponsored by: Donia, Open Society Fund Sarajevo, and UNESCO. Used by permission.
Produced by FAMA, Sarajevo; Suada Kapic, author, Ozren Pavlovic, graphic designer/illustrator; Drago Resner, photographer; Nihad Kresevljakovic, text; Emir Kasumagic, layout; Vanja Matkovic, translator.
3 (War Begins)
3b (Snipers' Nest)