Igor Blaževič

* 1963  

  • “In reality, in the most extreme situations that the history makes, you meet incredibly inspiring people with whom, just because it's a lot, you create a very strong human relationship, they become your friends. They are really beautiful people and you need to stand behind them. As hard and terrible as things are, life is sometimes stronger than death. Human creativity and the stubbornness of human existence is stronger than destruction. You will never lose completely. You go through difficult, tragic situations, you lose someone you knew, but the whole of human existence prevails over the crisis. You will understand that it is important to stand, not to be broken, not to lose your spine. Many will lose it, but some will not. And one knows why it's important to society, and he's glad to be part of a group that holds the backbone of the nation to go through a crisis."

  • "As a foreigner in the Czech Republic, I was several times in a situation where I thought, 'God, why are these people doing this?' It happened to me that I was in a car with really very young people from the Czech Republic on Mount Igman. Along the way, humanitarian aid let themselves down to Sarajevo. And Serbian troops shot to that road. One didn't know if he would get down. As a native of Sarajevo, I had private reasons why I wanted to get to Sarajevo. My family was there and I wanted to bring help to them. But why did a group of young people risk their lives? Part of some tourism, it's a lot of adrenaline, it was there. But at the same time, when you find yourself in those extreme situations, the question arises: 'Why are you doing this?' It wasn't worth the money. It was out of authentic motivation. They did so because they felt they had a deeper collective responsibility. Many of those people had someone in their family who was a political prisoner persecuted by the communist regime. They felt they needed to use their current freedom to help someone else.”

  • "I remember when I first got to Sarajevo. I flew by plane, not with People in Need, but with another organization. At that time, I was still a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I did not yet have a Croatian passport, but an old Yugoslav passport. I was a so-called war party, so I couldn't get on a plane. You needed a UN card for that, I didn't have one. I organized a visit by a foreign delegation. There were five people there. For three months, I was preparing for the visit, and in all the faxes I sent, I put my name on the passenger list everywhere as an organizer. I had papers with stamps that the delegation could be there. There were five names. So, I was smuggled there. I slipped through the paper to Sarajevo. I didn't tell my parents and sister that I was coming. I didn't want them to panic. It wasn't until I was in Sarajevo that I called from one phone number that I would be home in five minutes. I came home. My sister ran to me and jumped into my arms. As I caught her, she had no weight. They were hungry, they completely lost weight. I was holding a living being, my sister, and I was shocked to be holding a living being that had no weight. Šel jsem nahoru a táta seděl vedle ohně, který udělal doma, protože neměli topení. Dělaly se improvizované ohně. Jak zhubnul, vypadal jako želva. Pamatuju si... toho tátu, který vypadá jako želva, a sestru, která nic nevážila.”

  • "I haven't had any news of my family for six months. There were no mobile phones, no internet, sometimes someone had the internet, but the city was cut off, without electricity, without water, in full siege. No matter what I did, I didn't really know for six months if they were alive, dead. Every day there was a sentence in Czech and world news: 'Attack on Sarajevo peaked today.' Today, and tomorrow again: 'Attack on Sarajevo peaked today.' Six months, every day. Every day you had a picture of dead people on the street in the paper. I used a magnifying glass to identify their faces to see if I know the people or they are any of my relatives. One day the news came saying that Bajič was dead. I didn't know which Bajic. I knew two. One was a neighbor, very close. The other was my sister's boyfriend. I didn't know which one, then it turned out he was my sister's boyfriend."

  • "We were a little specific in Sarajevo. Sarajevo is truly a mixed city. Traditionally, not only under socialism, Muslims, Croats, Jews, Serbs lived there. A strange, delicate, nice neighborhood culture was cultivated there. We lived well as neighbors. We were different, but we were close, we visited each other, had some food, celebrated holidays. We were connected. The parents had a cottage in the mountains, in a traditional Serbian village. When I was in that village, the boys were drinking Rakija brandy there at night saying, 'During World War II - we were here and they were there.' 'We' meant the gendarmes, and 'they' meant anyone else. So different narratives, different traditions, persisted in other parts of Bosnia and throughout the former Yugoslavia. We didn't experienced it in Sarajevo and we didn't believe it could happen."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 15.02.2021

    (audio)
    duration: 01:21:36
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 12.07.2021

    (audio)
    duration: 01:12:29
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

When they attacked Sarajevo, I realized that this was also my war

Igor Blaževič in 2021
Igor Blaževič in 2021
photo: Post Bellum filming

Igor Blaževič was born on February 3, 1963 in Trebinje, Bosnia, into the family of a Croatian civil engineer. In 1968, his family settled in ethnically diverse Sarajevo, where Igor graduated from a high school. After graduating from the high school and serving in the military, he spent half a year in a left-wing community in West Germany, which contributed to his intellectual formation. After returning home, he left the university in Sarajevo and began studying philosophy and literature in Zagreb. At the end of the 1980s, he was often coming to Prague, where his future wife Jasmina studied at FAMU (Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague). In 1991, when the war broke out in Croatia, he lived in Prague and initially tried to cut himself off from the events in the former Yugoslavia. However, when the blockade of Sarajevo began in the spring of 1992, he became personally involved. He went to various humanitarian institutions and asked for help. He found the greatest response from Šimon Pánek and Jaromír Štětina from the Lidové noviny Foundation. In cooperation with them, he initiated a public collection for Bosnia and supplied food and other necessities to besieged Sarajevo. It continued in cooperation with the Lidové noviny Foundation even after it was transformed into the People in Need Foundation under the auspices of Czech Television. After the war in the former Yugoslavia, he devoted himself to other humanitarian missions, such as Chechnya, Cambodia, and Burma. He also made documentaries in these countries. He founded the One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival and served as its director until 2010. He is the holder of the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Human Rights Award and the František Kriegl Award.