Serbs in Sarajevo

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The Serbs of Sarajevo numbered 157,526 according to the 1991 census, making up more than 30% of the Sarajevo Metropolitan area (10 pre-war municipalities; Centar, Stari Grad, Novo Sarajevo, Novi Grad, Ilidza, Ilijas, Vogosca, Hadzici, Trnovo, and Pale. Today, following the Bosnian War, few Serbs remain in central areas of Sarajevo; however, many parts of the pre-war metropolitan area are now forming the city of East Sarajevo in Republika Srpska; namely, Pale RS, East Ilidza, East Novo Sarajevo, Trnovo RS, and East Stari Grad. Most have either moved abroad, to Serbia or other countries, or moved to a new settlement on the outskirts of Sarajevo, located in the Republika Srpska, known as East Sarajevo (previously Srpsko Sarajevo - Serbian Sarajevo).


World War IEdit

After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, Anti-Serb rioting took place in Sarajevo on 28 and 29 June 1914, incited by Austro-Hungarian authorities.[1][2] Two Serbs, Pero Prijavić and Nikola Nožičić, died some days later as a result of the injuries they sustained after they were beaten and a total of fifty people were treated at Sarajevo hospitals following the two-day rioting.[3] Whole stocks of goods as well as monies from Serb shops and homes were gone due to the plundering. The devastation left a profound impact on Serb-owned business and industry given the minority Sarajevo Serb population's prominence in those areas.[3]

World War IIEdit

During WWII, Serbs living in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a German-installed puppet state, were subjected to genocide by the Croatian fascist Ustaše regime. In the summer of 1941, Ustaše militia periodically interned and executed groups of Sarajevo Serbs. In August 1941, they arrested about one hundred Serbs suspected of ties to the resistance armies, mostly church officials and members of the intelligentsia, and executed them or deported them to concentration camps.[4] The Ustaše killed at least 323 people in the Villa Luburić, a slaughter house and place for torturing and imprisoning Serbs, Jews and political dissidents.[5]

Bosnian warEdit

On 1 March 1992, a Bosnian Serb wedding procession in Sarajevo's Baščaršija quarters was attacked, resulting in the shooting death of the father of the groom, Nikola Gardović, and the wounding of a Serbian Orthodox priest. The attack took place on the last day of a controversial referendum on Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence from Yugoslavia, in the early stages of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Wars.[6] Gardović, an ethnic Serb, is often regarded as the first casualty of the Bosnian war.[7]

During the siege of Sarajevo, Bosniak paramilitary leader Mušan Topalović and his forces abducted and killed mostly Serbs living in and around Sarajevo before Bosnian police killed Topalović in October 1993.[8] A pit on the outskirts of the city was used as an execution site and a mass grave for Serbs who were rounded up, beaten and killed, sometimes by having their throats slit and decapitated.[9][10] The total number of victims killed is not known, with estimates ranging from a few dozen to some hundreds.[11] The actions of paramilitary units led many thousands of Serbs to flee the city, particularly in the summer of 1992.[12] By war's end, the number of Serbs in Sarajevo was estimated to be in the low tens of thousands, fewer than 20% of those who had lived in the city in 1991.[12]

After the signing of the Dayton accords, a mass exodus of Sarajevo Serbs took place in early 1996 numbering an estimated 62,000.[13]


There are three main Serbian Orthodox places of worship in Sarajevo: the Old Orthodox Church (Serbian: Стара православна црква or Stara pravoslavna crkva), dating back to the 16th century,[14] the Cathedral Church (Саборна црква or Saborna crkva), which was erected in the 1860s, and the Church of Sveto Preobraženje in Novo Sarajevo.

Notable peopleEdit

Share of Serbs in Sarajevo by settlements in 1991 (left) and 2013 (right)
Serb Muslims in Sarajevo, 1913
Sima Milutinović Sarajlija, a poet, hajduk, translator and historian
Momo Kapor, a novelist and painter
Goran Bregović, a musician
Emir Kusturica, a filmmaker, actor and musician
Predrag Danilović, a basketball executive and former player

Notable Serbs who were born in or lived in Sarajevo include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Robert J. Donia (2006). Sarajevo: A Biography. p. 123. ISBN 9780472115570.
  2. ^ Bennett, Christopher (1997). Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse: Causes, Course and Consequences. New York University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-81471-288-7. In the aftermath of Franz Ferdinand's assassination, anti-Serb sentiment ran high throughout the Habsburg empire and in Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina, it boiled over into anti-Serb pogroms. Though these pogroms were clearly incited by the Habsburg authorities..
  3. ^ a b Lyon, James (2015). Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914: The Outbreak of the Great War. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-1-47258-005-4.
  4. ^ Balić, Emily Greble (2009). "When Croatia Needes Serbs: Nationalism and Genocide in Sarajevo, 1941-1942". Slavic Review. 68 (1): 116–138. doi:10.2307/20453271. JSTOR 20453271.
  5. ^ Yeomans, Rory (2015). The Utopia of Terror: Life and Death in Wartime Croatia. Boydell & Brewer. p. 124. ISBN 9781580465458.
  6. ^ Morrison, Kenneth (2016). Sarajevo's Holiday Inn on the Frontline of Politics and War. Springer. pp. 87–88. ISBN 9781137577184.
  7. ^ Carmichael, Cathie (2015). A Concise History of Bosnia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-10701-615-6.
  8. ^ Hedges, Chris (12 November 1997). "Postscript to Sarajevo's Anguish: Muslim Killings of Serbs Detailed". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Wilkinson, Tracy (28 November 1997). "New Confessions of Barbarity Surface in Sarajevo". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ Evangelista, Matthew; Tannenwald, Nina (2017). Do the Geneva Conventions Matter?. Oxford University Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-19937-979-8.
  11. ^ "Les victimes serbes oubliées de Sarajevo" [Forgotten Serb victims in Sarajevo]. (in French). Agence France-Presse. 8 July 2016.
  12. ^ a b Donia, Robert J. (2006). Sarajevo: A Biography. University of Michigan Press. p. 323. ISBN 978-0-47211-557-0.
  13. ^ Bollens, Scott A. (2007). Cities, Nationalism and Democratization. Routledge. p. 97. ISBN 9781134111831.
  14. ^ Old Serbian Orthodox Church Sarajevo, Official Website Archived 2009-11-14 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit