Survival in Sarajevo:
the story of la benevolencija
Jews, Muslims, Croats & serbs working together during the bosnian war, 1992-1995

The Bosnian-Serb siege of Sarajevo, from spring 1992 until late 1995, was the longest in modern history. With electricity, water and food supplies cut off and only sporadically supplied, with 11,541 citizens shot by snipers or killed by mortars, Sarajevans had to depend on each other.

In a faded, turn-of-the-century synagogue, a group of Holocaust survivors and their offspring created La Benevolencija, the Jewish humanitarian aid agency. Who worked there? Jews and Muslims, Serbian Orthodox and Catholic Croats--all those who never believed one ethnic group was superior to another.

After all, Jews had lived alongside all their neighbors since they were welcomed in Sarajevo in the 16th century. This is the story of how they paid their neighbors back.

This project is based on the book by Edward Serotta, Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Bosnia, and the Lessons of the Past, published in 1994 and now out of print but available through  The exhibition from this project has been created by Centropa, and has been underwritten by JDC (the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and The Milton and Rosyln Wolf Foundation.

Please contact us if you are interested in hosting this exhibition, photos of which can be found on this site, under the exhibition.

In this european war, Jews were not the victims. In this war, Jews, Muslims and Christians joined forces to stand against hate
Tzitzko, the community cook, had three stoves to use--one for electricity (when it was running) one for gas (when he had a cannister) and one for wood