Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Love and War

A New Year's party

New Year's Eve, 1984. Earlier that year, Sarajevo (then in Yugoslavia, in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina) had hosted the Winter Olympics, the first to be held in a Slavic country. The year may have been ending, but for Boško Brkić and Admira Ismić, two high school students, this was the start of something new.

Yugoslavia

After numerous wars in the early 1900s, especially the Balkan Wars and World War I, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920 produced many important things: the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations), and most important to our story, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. As the name suggests, it was made up of the former kingdoms of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, as well as Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia (then part of Serbia), and parts of Austria and Hungary. For a long time, the new nation was divided politically, and King Alexander I declaring a royal dictatorship in 1929 didn't help either. He didn't stick around for very long after that as World War II started and the Axis powers took over the country in 1941, but the name he gave it, Yugoslavia, meaning "Land of the Southern Slavs", did.

A few years later, in 1946, Josip Broz Tito and the Partisans (an awesome name for a band!) freed the country from German control. A new Yugoslavia was born, but instead of being a united country, it was a federation of several smaller countries: Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. A new government was established, and a constitution that was modelled after the Soviet Union. At some point they realised they didn't want to be like the Soviets, and so they changed their constitution a few times, which understandably led to a lot of political instability in the country. After Tito, who had been declared president for life in 1974, only to pass away 6 years later, the presidency was also transferred to a rotating collective of representatives. This type of chaos inherent in the system eventually led to the end of the second Yugoslavia.

And finally, we arrive to 1993. Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia had all declared they didn't want to be part of Yugoslavia in 1991, with the Bosniaks voting to do the same in 1992. Civil war raged throughout the country, including the Siege of Sarajevo from 1992 to 1996.

A different romantic tragedy

Boško and Admira's love happened at a quite unfortunate time. The couple, who had been together for almost 8 years, found themselves on opposite sides of the Siege of Sarajevo, with Boško being a Christian Serb, and Admira being a Bosniak Muslim. Despite the parallels to a famous romantic tragedy, this love story was a little different. Unlike the Montagues and Capulets, the lovers' families had no animosity for each other, only respect.

Our hero was a brave one. Boško's father had died, and the rest of his family had escaped to safety in Serbia. He could have left, but instead he chose to stay in Sarajevo with Admira for as long as they could. After a year of being under siege, life in Sarajevo became intolerable, and the couple made the decision to try to run away to Boško's family. They saved up money and bought passage out of the city through Grbavica. Part of their journey led them through Vrbanja Bridge.

Vrbanja Bridge

Vrbanja Bridge in Sarajevo was the site of one of the first victims of the Yugoslav civil wars. On 5 April 1992, during an anti-war protest, Suada Dilberović and Olga Sučić were shot and killed by snipers. They were the first victims of the war, and the bridge was renamed to the Suada and Olga Bridge in their honor.

Suada was a 23 year old medical student, and Olga was a 34 year old civil servant in the Assembly of the Republic of BiH, and a mother to two children. They were part of a crowd of tens of thousands who were protesting the war because they didn't want to see the destruction of their beloved city and country. Unfortunately for them, they didn't even get to see the end of the day.

Crossing the bridge

Both sides had agreed to hold their fire as the young couple crossed the bridge at 5pm. Boško and Admira were optimistic. All they had to do was get across the bridge and they could live the rest of their lives happily ever after. They would be free.

19 May 1993, 17:00 hours.

A young man and woman are seen approaching the bridge. They appear to be in good spirits as they make their way to the foot of the bridge.

Boom. A bullet is heard and the man falls to the ground.

Boom. Another bullet, this time the woman falls too.

Admira slowly and painfully makes her way over to the unmoving Boško. She embraces him. Nearby lies the dead body of a man shot nearly 5 months ago. Approximately 15 minutes later, both the man and woman appear to be dead. They died in each other's arms.

Epilogue

Admira's and Boško's bodies were left on the bridge for the next 7 days. Admira's parents didn't even know about their deaths until 2 days after it happened. No one knows who fired the shots, but no one wanted to risk going out into the open to retrieve their bodies, until the Serb army forced Bosnian prisoners of war to recover them 8 days after the fact. They were buried in Lukavica, and moved to the Lav cemetery in Sarajevo after the war ended in 1996, at the request of Admira's parents.

Love took them to their deaths. That’s proof this is not a war between Serbs and Moslems. It’s a war between crazy people, between monsters. That’s why their bodies are still out there.

Sources