Sarajevo History

This page contains a summary of Sarajevo history from ancient times, through the 1900’s and then Independence Movements 1991-1996.

Sarajevo Area History
Year Ancient Events
200BC Romans conquer Balkans
700 AD Slavs arrive in Balkans
1189 Kulin Ban, ruler of Bosnia, allows Dubrovnik Republic to trade freely with Bosnian Republic
1200 Orthodox church arrives in Bosnia
1290 Franciscans arrive in Bosnia
1448 Stephan Herceg establishes State of Herzegovina
1463 Ottoman Empire conquers Bosnia
1482 Ottoman Empire conquers Herzegovina
1539 Serbian Orthodox church in Sarajevo
1565 First Jews arrive
1581 First Jewish synagogue in Sarajevo
1697 Eugene of Savoy destroys most of Sarajevo
1878 End of Ottoman rule, Congress of Berlin grants Bosnia & Herzegovina to Austro-Hungarian empire
1879 First BiH census (69% Muslim, 17% Serb, 9.5% Jewish, 3.5% Croat)
1906 BiH general strike led by Serbs
1907 Austo-Hungry annexes BiH
1910 BiH census (36% Muslim, 35% Croat, 17% Serb, 4% Jewish)
1914 June 28, Serb member of Young Bosnia assassinates Archduke Ferdinand and wife Sophia which sets stage for WWI
1914 July 28, WWI begins
1918 November 11, WWI ends. Austro-Hungry, Russian, Ottoman and German empires destroyed & 37 million people are dead.
1918 Dec 12, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats & Slovenes established (including previously independent Macedonia and Montenegro).
1919 Communist Party is founded
1929 Kingdom of SC&S changed to Yugoslavia (Yugo=South) and King establishes a dictatorship.
1939 Sept 1, Hitler invades Poland & WWII begins
1941 Kingdom of Yugoslavia joins Axis (Germany, Japan & Italy) & protests breakout.
1941 German & Italian forces overrun Yugoslavia. Resistance split between Chetniks (mostly Serbs of the Kingdom) and Partisans (Communists led by Tito).
1941 April 18, Yugoslavian Army captulates, King Peter II flees to London.
1943 Tito’s Partisans form provisional government in liberated area after ruthless civil war with the Chetniks, while the two groups are fighting the Axis occupiers.
1944 Soviet Army enters Belgrade
1945 May 9, WWII ends
1946 Communist-controlled elections, Soviet style constitution establishes federation of 6 republics, and Tito becomes Prime Minister.
1948 Tito & Stalin split
1950 Tito establishes first system of social ownership (worker self-management).
1953 Tito becomes President (until his death in 1980)
1955 Relations with Moscow normalized after Stalin’s death
1971 Tito establishes collective leadership system with rotating posts in hopes of uniting the diverse nationalities and to prevent careerism.
1972 Croatian immigrants from Australia kill Serbs near Krajina. Army capture and kill rebels. Serbs blame Croatia as a nation; tensions between groups rise.
1974 Constitution amended to allow Republics to withdraw from Yugoslavia if majority in Republic vote to do so. Serbs oppose the amendment.
1979 Rotating leadership system extended to Communist Party leadership.
1980 Tito dies. Government restructured into eight-member presidency.
1981 Kosovo Albanians agitate to withdraw from Yugoslavia
1984 Sarajevo hosts XIV Olympic Winter Games.
1988 Milosevic, Serbian Communist Party chief move to authority over autonomous Serbian province of Kosovo.
1988 Milosevic forces retirement of all non-Serb army officers in Belgrade headquarters.
1990 Bitterly divided party congress renounces its constitutionally guaranteed leadership role and calls for a multiparty system. First post-Tito democratic elections held.

Independence Movements 1991-1996

One week war of independence by Slovenia.
June Croatia’s war of independence begins.
December Germany recognizes Croatia & Slovenia.
UN sends 14,000 peacekeeper troops to Croatia.
February BiH hold referendum on independence from Yugoslavia (64% vote for independence). Tensions and rallies mount. Bosnian Serbs proclaim separate state.
March SDS party setup barricades in Sarajevo.
April 5 Bosnian Serb gunners begin siege.
April 6 EU recognizes Bosnia (US on April 7th).
April 6 First victims; two innocent girls killed at a rally by a Serb sniper. Opposition to independence, by Yugoslavian troops and radicals, begins (civil war).
May 5 Yugoslavian army relinquishes its command to create a 10,000 troop Bosnian Serb army.
May 27 Bread line mortar attack kills 18.
May 30 UN sanctions against Yugoslavia for fomenting war in Bosnia and Croatia.
June 29 UN takes control of airport after Serbs leave.
July 3 International airlift begins.
Sept 19 UN drops Yugoslavia from General Assembly
Nov 16 UN authorizes navel blockade of Serbia & Montenegro.
Feb 22
UN sets up War Crimes tribunal.
March Bosnian Croats & Muslims begin fighting over 30% of Bosnia not seized by Bosnian Serbs.
April 12 NATO jets enforce no-fly zone over Bosnia.
April 26 Tighter trade sanctions.
May Following Serb assault on Srebrenica, UN declares six “safe areas” for Bosnian Muslims.
May 31 Yugoslav Parliament ousts Cosic and places Milosevic as President. Demonstrations and clashes in Belgrade streets.
Nov 9 Croats shell and destroy bridge at Mostar, symbol of past ethnic unity.
Feb 5
68 people killed and 196 wounded when a mortar shell hits Sarajevo downtown market.
Feb 17 Serbs agree to remove guns from around Sarajevo if Russian troops (historical Serb Ally) join peacekeepers.
Feb 20 Russian peacekeepers arrive & heavy guns begin to move.
March 18 Bosnia’s Muslims & Croats sign US-brokered accord to end the yearlong war. Now war is between Bosnian Muslim/Croats against Serbs.
Apr 22 NATO air strikes on Serbs advancing on Gorazde and new ultimatums delivered.
Nov 25 Serbs detain up to 400 peacekeepers as hostages.
Apr 8
US aid plane hit by gunfire and aid flights to Sarajevo cancelled.
May 1 UN cease-fire expires and Croatia launches invasion blitz to recapture land from rebel Serbs.
May 24 UN orders Serb heavy weapons to UN control and removed around Sarajevo. Order ignored so UN attacks Serb ammunition depot, so Serbs shell UN safe-areas (71 killed, 150 injured).
May 26 NATO jets attack more Serb ammunition depots. Serbs take 370 UN peacekeepers hostage.
June 2 Serbs shoot down US F-16 and release 121 UN hostages.
June 3 NATO creates a Rapid Reaction Force to bolster UN Peacekeepers in Bosnia.
June 15 Government launches offensive to break Sarajevo siege. Offensive stalls, Serbs begin shelling Sarajevo & other safe-areas.
June 18 Last UN hostage released.
June 30 Germany approves deployment of fighter jets to the UN Rapid Reaction Froce (RRF).
July 2 French peacekeepers begin using 120mm mortars against Serbs.
July 11 Serbs overrun Srebrenica safe area in spite of UN air strikes.
July 13 20,000 Muslim women, children & elderly expelled to Tuzla, bringing tales of atrocities and ethnic cleansing.
July 17 4,000 Muslim men marched through Serb-held land to reach Tuzla. 12,000 are reported missing.
July 25 Serb troops take Zepa, sending thousands of civilians fleeing. War crimes tribunal indicts Karadzic & Mladic for genocide.
August 1 NATO threatens air strikes.
August 3 Serbs shell Dubrovnik, Croatia.
August 4 Croatia launches massive assault on rebel Serbs in Knin, shelling UN peacekeepers and civilians alike.
August 8 Croats recapture most of rebel Serb held land.
August 10 US calls for war crimes tribunal to investigate spy photos showing mass graves of executed Bosnian Muslims.
August 22 Serbs shell Sarajevo killing 6 and wounding 38.
August 28 Bosnian shell hits market and kills 43, wounds 145.
August 30 NATO planes support UN RRF ground troops & air strikes to silence Serb guns around Sarajevo. Serbs shell city in response.
Sept 14 NATO suspends attacks. Yugoslavian Milosevic pledges that Bosnian Serbs will withdraw guns from Sarajevo. Red Cross says 8,000 Muslims from Srebrenica are missing.
Sept 15 Serbs let Sarajevo airport reopen after five months.
Sept 29 EU accuses Croatian army of murder, mass looting and arson.
Nov 16 Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic and Gen Mladic, his military commander, indicted for war crimes against humanity.
Nov 21 Balkan leaders agree to peace accord, granting 51% of Bosnian territory to Muslim-Croat federation and remaining 49% to Serbs.
Dec 1 NATO authorizes 60,000 troops to Bosnia.
Dec 14 Presidents of warring parties sign peace accord.
Dec 15 UN transfers peacekeeping to NATO troops.
Dec 20 NATO takes control of Bosnia.
Dec 22 Thousands of Serbs flee Sarajevo suburbs.
Dec 27 Government rebel Serb troops pull back from around Sarajevo and fragile peace begins.


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