One of the greatest Bosnians: 131 Years since the Birth of Isak Samokovlija


On this day 131 years ago was born one of the biggest Bosnian writers, Isak Samokovlija, author of the Bosnian-Jewish topics.

He was a doctor by profession. He lived in Gorazde, Fojnica, and Sarajevo. Isak Samokovlija was born in Gorazde, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire back then, on September 3, 1889, in the family of Sephardic (Spanish) Jews.

His first short story “Rafina Avlija” was published in 1927, and two years later, the first collection of stories “From spring to spring”, was published by the Group of Sarajevo Authors.

He waited for the start of the World War II at the Hospital Kosevo in Sarajevo, where he was head of one department. He was fired soon and forced to wear a yellow band with David’s star, with which the Nazis marked all Jewish people. After the proclamation of NDH, he was captured and imprisoned by Ustashas, and later transferred to a refugee camp at Alipasin Bridge in Sarajevo.

In the spring of 1945, he managed to escape from Ustashas and he was hiding until the liberation of the country. At the end of World War II, he held various positions in the Bosnian and Yugoslav literary circles.

He was the editor of the literary magazine “Brazda” from 1948 to 1951, and he was the editor of the publishing company “Svjetlost” until his death. His literary work was influenced by his childhood that he spent next to the Drina River in Gorazde.

Ivo Andric said that he is one of the best writers from BiH, and Mesa Selimovic said that Samokovlija, besides Andric, is the best BH narrator after Kocic.

Isak Samokovlija died on January 15, 1955, in Sarajevo. He was buried in an old Jewish cemetery on the steep slope of Trebevic Mountain.


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