In April 1992, war broke out in Sarajevo. As the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo exemplified the country’s multi-ethnic culture and identity, on the brink of collapse following the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Bosnian Serbs, seeking to form a stronger Serbian nation, attacked Bosnia and began a policy of ethnic cleansing.
Survival in Sarajevo: La Benevolencija tells the story of the Jewish humanitarian organization that provided critical relief at the height of the Bosnian-Serbian conflict. Led by Holocaust survivors and their children, La Benevolencija housed itself in Sarajevo’s Jewish community center and provided medicine, food and community to Catholic Croats, Muslims and Orthodox Serbs caught in the horror of the siege. The agency’s pharmacy, mail service, and soup kitchen served all comers, regardless of their religious belief or ethnic background.
The exhibit is based on photojournalist Edward Serotta’s book Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Bosnia, and the Lessons of the Past. The exhibition project created by Centropa, a non-profit historical organization founded by Serotta, is dedicated to preserving 20th-century Jewish family photographs and stories from Central and Eastern Europe.