There were tears and laughter at the launch of a book compiling the memories of more than 1,000 young people who grew up in Sarajevo during wartime.“Even though this is a book about the war, I believe it is an anti-war book,” said Jasminko Halilovic, the 24-year-old editor of ‘Childhood in War’, at the launch event in Sarajevo on Tuesday.
The book contains drawings, photographs and extracts from diaries as well as around 1,100 brief childhood memories including Halilovic’s own personal recollections of growing up during the siege from 1992-95.
The event on Tuesday began with readings of some of the stories.
“Childhood in war is when your mum is bathing you… in the living room… from a metal coffee-pot… with water from the kitchen range,” read one of them.
“Childhood in powder: milk in powder; eggs in powder; a house next to ours in dust,” read another.
Some of the stories featured children fantasising about eating chocolate and sweets or admiring mothers who managed to conjure up meals seemingly out of nothing.
Other memories that recurred throughout the book were about being wounded or losing a friend or a parent.
Halilovic said that many of the contributors, now adults, had left Bosnia during or after the conflict, and that he had received contributions from 38 countries.
Some of them sent video messages that were screened at the launch, including Oggi Tomic, a film-maker now living in the British city of Cambridge who spoke about his memories in a Sarajevo orphanage during the war, and Filip Andronik, a comedian who sent his video from Zagreb.
Halilovic said that a girl called Ivana, who was wounded during the war and moved to Croatia, had returned to the Bosnian capital for the first time for the event.
“I am glad that I am the one to say this to you on behalf of all of us: dear Ivana, welcome to your Sarajevo,” he said.
The project to compile the childhood memories took two and a half years and was supported by a Bosnian youth group called Urban.