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Children of War

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Zlata’s Diary
Excerpts from Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo
(Zlata Filipovic. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.)

Sunday, April 12, 1992

“I keep thinking about the march I joined today. It’s bigger and stronger than war. That’s why it will win. The people must be the ones to win, not the war, because war has nothing to do with humanity. War is something inhuman.”

Monday, June 29, 1992

“That’s my life! The life of an innocent eleven-year-old schoolgirl!! A schoolgirl without school, without the fun and excitement of school. A child without games, without friends, without the sun, without birds, without nature, without fruit, without chocolate or sweets, with just a little powdered milk. In short, a child without a childhood. A wartime child. I now realize that I am really living through a war, I am witnessing an ugly, disgusting war. I and thousands of other children in this town that is being destroyed, that is crying, weeping, seeking help, but getting none. God, will this ever stop, will I ever be a schoolgirl again, will I ever enjoy my childhood again? I once heard that childhood is the most wonderful time of your life. And it is. I loved it, and now an ugly war is taking it all away from me.”

Monday, March 15, 1993

“There are no trees to blossom and no birds, because the war has destroyed them as well. There is no sound of birds twittering in springtime. There aren’t even any pigeons—the symbol of Sarajevo. No noisy children, no games. Even the children no longer seem like children. They’ve had their childhood taken from them, and without that they can’t be children. It’s as if Sarajevo is slowly dying, disappearing. Life is disappearing. So how can I feel spring, when spring is something that awakens life, and here there is no life, here everything seems to have died.”

Thursday, November 19, 1992

“I keep wanting to explain these stupid politics to myself, because it seems to me that politics caused this war, making it our everyday reality. War has crossed out the day and replaced it with horror, and now horrors are unfolding instead of days. It looks to me as though these politics mean Serbs, Croats and Muslims. But they are all people. They are all the same. They look like people, there’s no difference. They all have arms, legs and heads, they walk and talk, but now there’s ‘something’ that wants to make them different.”

Saturday, July 17, 1993

“Suddenly, unexpectedly, someone is using the ugly powers of war, which horrify me, to try to pull and drag me away from the shores of peace, from the happiness of wonderful friendships, playing and love. I feel like a swimmer who was made to enter the cold water, against her will. I feel shocked, sad, unhappy and frightened and I wonder where they are forcing me to go, I wonder why they have taken away my peaceful and lovely shores of my childhood. I used to rejoice at each new day, because each was beautiful in its own way. I used to rejoice at the sun, at playing, at songs. In short, I enjoyed my childhood. I had no need of a better one. I have less and less strength to keep swimming in these cold waters. So take me back to the shores of my childhood, where I was warm, happy and content, like all the children whose childhood and the right to enjoy it are now being destroyed.”

Monday, December 28, 1992

“...I look over at Mommy and Daddy. ... Somehow they look even sadder to me in the light of the oil lamp. ... God, what is this war doing to my parents? They don’t look like my old Mommy and Daddy anymore. Will this ever stop? Will our suffering stop so that my parents can be what they used to be—cheerful, smiling, nice-looking?”

Saturday, July 10, 1993

“I’m sitting in my room. Cici is with me. She’s enjoying herself on the armchair—sleeping. As for me, I’m reading through my letters. Letters are all I’ve got left of my friends. I read them and they take me back to my friends.”

Monday, August 2, 1993

“Some people compare me with Anne Frank. That frightens me, Mimmy. I don’t want to suffer her fate.”

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