Saving Bosnia’s past from the ashes

The interior of Sarajevo’s Presidency building would make any historian wince. Not the decor itself – but the charred papers, piled against the walls. This display of damaged documents stretches away down the ground floor corridors of the building, leaving dark smears on the white paint, leading to a heap of burned books, boxes and manuscripts in a stairwell. These scorched remains were part of one of Bosnia’s most important historical archives. They had somehow survived not only two world wars but also the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s – only to be destroyed in an afternoon of rioting during anti-government protests last February.

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