“The days of life in Sarajevo were days of love, respect and appreciation.”
I first met Jovan Divjak in 2012 at the premiere of my sister’s film “Tomato”. After the premiere, I was with my family and sister, he came up to us and thanked Sabina for the film. We talked a little before he left the theater with his wife. There I was amazed by his charismatic spirit.
In 2014 I visited the Jewish cemetery in Sarajevo for the first time. I saw him from behind with a group of young people. He speaks to them in French. I would love to go to him to say hello to this great man. But who am I to approach him? As the group moves towards the exit, I take all my courage and walk towards him. I haven’t seen him for two years. Does he even still know me? I greet him kindly and respectfully. He looks at me and says, “We know each other. We met at the premiere of the film” Tomato”. He takes my hand and kisses it like a gentleman.
He tells me that as a guide he wants to bring the history of Sarajevos closer to the young French. I ask him if he would give me an interview for my blog Balkanblogger. “Write down your phone number and email address for me.” I sent him questions and he answered them promptly!
We wanted to meet this February and talk about his organisation. But there was no time again … On April 8th, Jovan Divjak closed his eyes forever.
He will be remembered as a citizen of Sarajevo and a gentleman of the old school, who loved the city from the bottom of his soul, surrendered to it and did not move aside in its most difficult times.
For Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jovan Divjak is a symbol of humanity and justice, who invested all his energy to build a multicultural and peaceful future for the present and future generations. In 1994, during the Balkan War, he founded the organization “Obrazivanje gradi BiH”, which takes care of children of war of all ethnic groups from difficult living conditions and enables them to get an education.
Divjak was the first Bosnian-Herzegovinian to receive the highest award from the French Legion of Honor. He is an honorary citizen of the cities of Grenoble, Villerest, Saumur and Padova.
It is a pity that people from Bosnia like Jovan Divjak are rarely reported in Germany. His work serves not only to regain belief in humanity in the country, but also outside the country’s borders.
In memory of Jovan Divjak, General of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the official memorial service, his grandson Gregor read a letter that this honorable officer and great humanist wrote to the citizens of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina after he learned that he was sick.
Thank you for coming to lead me to a better life, as the tradition of a nation says. For me this was pleasant, happy and rich. I know you broke the sadness of parting as I did during writing this. I have attended hundreds of funerals at which selected people spoke only the best about the deceased. All the best for the deceased, as is the custom among the people.
I think it is natural for me, Jovan Divjak, to talk about myself and some of my close friends will read it who will be brave to read this emotionally without shedding a single tear.
At funerals, the address began with “He was a good man”. Those who are here know what I was like. Either way, but I’m sure that I was a moral and honest man in the true sense of the word. Natural and humble.
This is how I was brought up by the family of my mother Emilia and my father Dušan. And so my wife Vera and I raised our sons Zelimir and Vladimir. I reached the high point of my life when my grandson Gregor wrote to me: “Grandpa, I am proud of you”.
I was born in 1937 in a Belgrade hospital and my life with my parents took me from the village of Šuvajići to the Danube bank near Smederevo, from the village of Jablanjac to Bosanska Krupa, where my father worked as a teacher and my sister Nada was born in 1940.
From 1941 to 1944 my father served in Romania in Bela Crkva and in the Bosnian Krajina, where I started primary school. I took my final exams in Zrenjanin from 1950 to 1959.
It was very difficult for my brave mother to support a family of three. She sent me to the Military Academy in Belgrade because she couldn’t pay for my studies.
I served in Titograd and Belgrade, studied in Paris for years and served in Sarajevo from 1966. I graduated from war school and while doing my duty I also did the duty of a tactics instructor and was the head of the tactics department in Marshal Tito’s barracks in Sarajevo.
From 1984 to 1989 I was the commander of the Territorial Defense of the Mostar District and from 1989 to 1991 I was the commander of the Sarajevo District. To brag, I received a high grade for completing these assignments.
From April 8, 1992, I held the position of Deputy Commander of Territorial Defense RBiH and until March 1, 1997 I held various positions in the headquarters of the armed forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dear members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
It’s up to you to judge what I’ve been like as a soldier, professional, man, and fellow soldier. So remember me and tell your loved ones. It is the most honorable time in my professional life. Valued members of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, be proud of your contribution to the defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina within its historical borders and to the preservation of civil and secular communities. Educate your families on this basis
We haven’t taken anything away from anyone or prevented anyone from owning their own.
The most valuable thing we have achieved in the last 27 years is to help with the education of children and young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina through scholarships, trips to 18 countries, facilitating summer vacations, excursions for children with disabilities, special entities, victims of the war, and young people from Republic of Srpska. 7,300 of them received scholarships and over 4,500 spent winter and summer holidays.
Many thanks to all members of the association who have adopted knowledge from Mersiha, Meliha, Meha, Eda and me from a quarter of a century.
A young, well-educatedand well-mannered man can be useful to himself, his family, and the community. Take what you have learned and received in the house of love and discard what you do not think is good. Many thanks to young people who have become independent, familiar and successful.
Dear citizens of Sarajevo, I was among you for half a century.
Neighbors, hairdressers, tailors, sellers in the markets, newspaper sellers and you who work in institutions for culture, art and sport – thank you very much.
I was one of you on sunny and rainy days. There are no better people than those my wife Vera and I had warm conversations with.
The days of life in Sarajevo were days of love, respect and appreciation.
I dropped a tear before closing my eyes. Now drop yours.
May the Bosnian land be happy with the love I have for myself.