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Stories of Parents who lost Children in the War: How Grenades interrupted Children’s Play

From 1992 to 1995, 1.601 children were killed in Sarajevo. The locations where they died were different, but one detail is identical – everyone’s lives were interrupted in the middle of children’s play. These are the stories of parents who keep memories of toddlers who are no longer with us every day.

The story of the murdered children of Sarajevo is one of those that is told and written with a dumpling in the throat. Every year, May 5th, the Day of the Killed Children of Sarajevo, reminds us of the painful fact that 1.601 children were killed in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) during the siege.

Recently, the “White Room” was opened in Sarajevo, which is a kind of museum where the toys of children who are no longer among us are placed. It is located in Dzidzikovac, not far from the monument that was opened in 2009 in honor of the killed children.

The credit for all these memorials goes to the Association of Parents of Murdered Children in Sarajevo, headed by President Fikret Grabovica – the man whose eleven-year-old daughter Irma was killed 28 years ago.

“March 20th, 1993. Sunny day. My Irma came out in front of the building hallway to play with her friends. Their game was interrupted by a grenade, and Irma’s artery was cut by the shrapnel. She was immediately transported to the hospital, but could not survive. Almost 30 years have passed since then, but the pain does not stop. Shortly after her death, Irma’s younger sister Lejla got two more sisters – Nejra and Nudzejma. Although there is no cure for Irma’s loss, our three daughters heal our wounds in some way, ” said Grabovica emotionally.

Talking to parents who have lost children is extremely difficult. They speak in a trembling voice and with tears in their eyes, they often pause through conversation and remember their little ones with a lot of love. Memories are extremely painful, but everyone agrees that these are stories that are important to share in order for their children to be remembered. Because the world needs to know that they lived, played, had dreams, desires, and plans.

“March 21st, 1993. The first day of spring. Mirza, like many other children, loved playing in the street. Shortly after he went out that morning, a grenade fell on the street, and he was killed by shrapnel. It was the end of my life. Everything collapsed. I had no reason to move on. I was unconscious for a long time after that event, I had a hard time dealing with that loss. Our children were killed only because they were residents of Sarajevo. Because of the war, he could not think of ordinary, children’s things – sweets, about which cartoon to choose on TV… At the time of his death, he was five years old. He enjoyed going to football training, during the war he played regularly with marbles. His idols were Darko Pancev and Robert Prosinecki. After his death we got two daughters who now know everything about Mirza, even though they never met him – they remember him as a wonderful and playful child. The pain cannot pass, it seems to be greater day by day. We think of our children every day, and on anniversaries it is very difficult to talk about them. But we have to move on, ” told association member Zlatka Imamovic.

The burden of pain is a little lighter when we have someone to share it with. The interlocutors stress that this thesis is especially confirmed by the activities of the association, as well as their gatherings that take place even outside of important anniversaries and dates. According to them – this environment functions as a small family.

“September 1993. There was a truce that day, and few people from the local community took the opportunity to make a play for the children from the street. They wanted to cheer them up and have fun because they were locked in houses for a long time. But, the children as they were, after a while, wanted to go outside and the organizers let them in. At that moment, the Civil Protection was fetching water, so there were more people on the street. As it usually happened, as soon as two or three people gather in one place – a grenade falls on that place. And then it fell. My son Eldin and his friend Aida were killed. Eldin’s twin sister Jasna was nearby, but she and the other children managed to take a few steps backward, so the shrapnel did not touch them. At the time he died, he was nine years old. We keep his photographs even today, we donated some of his objects to museums. The loss of our children is a collective tragedy and it is easier when we can share our grief with each other, within the association, ” said Zdravka Gvozdar, a member of the association.

Sometimes it is impossible to fully understand the scale of the tragedy and the consequences it can have on one’s life, family, and city. In almost four years of the war, Sarajevo lost an entire generation of children. And the stories of their lives through their parents reach different parts of the world, Klix.ba writes.

E.Dz.

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