The D-B Tunnel Memorial Complex in Sarajevo, was the only lifeline for the transport of food, weapons and medical equipment to the besieged city during the war. After being closed due to protection measures imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, as of June 3 has been reopened for visitors, Fena news agency reports.
As one of the most famous tourist locations in the region, the Salvation Tunnel has been visited a lot in the past, mostly by foreign guests who wanted to see, “a miracle of salvation in war, and a memory in time of peace”, Sarajevo Canton Memorial Fund spokesman Irfan Gazdic told Fena.
“If the technical conditions are met, we will open for the visitors an additional 100 meters of the tunnel,” said Gazdic.
In terms of novelties, the tunnel now has improved visualization of museum exhibits, they are more accessible, readable, simpler and clearer.
The museum also has on display a photo exhibition depicting the city of Sarajevo during the war, from the City Hall to the Salvation Tunnel.
“Everyone who visits the complex can see a set of seven photos entitled “1435”, chronologically arranged from the City Hall to the Salvation Tunnel, and speaks about the realities of life in Sarajevo during the siege from 1992 to 1995,” said Gazdic.
The complex has been expanded with a hall that is multipurpose one, open or semi-open type, suitable for presentations, cultural events.
Construction of the tunnel began in secret on 1 March 1993 under the codename “Objekt BD”. The tunnel was to link Butmir and Dobrinja, two Bosnia-held neighborhoods; one inside Serbian siege lines and the other outside. Nedžad Branković, a Bosnian civil engineer, created the plans for the tunnel’s construction underneath the Sarajevo airport runway. However, because of the urgency of the construction, full costing and technical specifications were never made.
The construction was assigned to the First Corps Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina under the supervision of deputy commander General Rašid Zorlak. Beginning the project was difficult as there was a lack of skilled manpower, tools, and materials to complete the task. Consequently, the tunnel was dug by hand, with shovels and picks, and wheelbarrows were used to carry 1,200 cubic meters of detritus away. The tunnel was dug 24-hours a day, with workers working in 8-hour shifts digging from opposite ends. Its construction was financed by the State, the Army, and the City of Sarajevo. The workers were paid with one packet of cigarettes per day, an item that was in high demand and a prized bartering possession.
One source states that a total of 2,800 cubic meters of soil was removed and 170 cubic meters of wood and 45 tons of steel were used in the construction of the tunnel. The biggest technical problem was the underground water, which had to be frequently thrown out manually. Because of the permanent shelling, the tunnel was installed with a pipeline that was used for the delivery of oil for the town. Communication lines and electric cables donated by Germany were also installed so that Sarajevo had electricity and telephone lines connecting it with the world.
The construction of the tunnel was completed on 30 June 1993, when the two tunnels met in the middle. Use of the tunnel began the following day on 1 July 1993.