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    In 1992, the images of well - dressed civilians sprinting across intersections in Sarajevo to avoid sniper fire, and the wounded or dead lying on the streets there dominated the media and caught my attention. Little did I know in the following year, 1993, I would spend two months in Sarajevo and in the coming five years return nine more times. I went as a peace witness - an ordinary person moved to live in solidarity with civilians suffering under the siege. I was not sure how I could help, but I was certain an inner voice called me to go. My efforts to help Sarajevo grew into a project called The Sarajevo Project, which was eventually adopted by the St. Petersburg Friends (Quaker) Meeting.
    The first indication war might come to Sarajevo was on March 3, 1992, when masked gunmen, Serb nationalists, blockaded part of the city. Sarajevans poured out into the streets, standing up to the gunmen, who by the end of the day backed down and removed the barricades. Bosnia had recently voted on a referendum, declaring its independence from Yugoslavia and ethnic Serbs had boycotted the vote.
    On April 6, the gunmen returned and again partitioned the city. Thousands of Sarajevans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds gathered near the Parliament, to demonstrate for peace and unity. This time the gunmen did not back down. They shot into the crowd, killing twenty - one - year - old Suada Dilberovic, a medical student from Dubrovnik. Sarajevans soon realized nationalistic Bosnian Serbs, with the support of Serbs from Serbia, had quietly dug in heavy weapons on the mountains surrounding Sarajevo, cutting the city off from the rest of Bosnia and the world. The Serbs had control of the weapons from what had been Yugoslavia, which boasted the fourth - largest army in Europe. Bosnia had police, but no army, much less army uniforms. Faced with the first winter in the war, they sewed uniforms from wool blankets.
    Bosnians hold Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (since indicted as a war criminal, but not captured) responsible for masterminding and inflicting three and a half years of terror and assault on Sarajevo. Karadzic, originally from Montenegro, came to Sarajevo as a student and eventually became a psychiatrist there. He is charged with crimes against humanity. During the siege, more than 10,615 Sarajevans, including 1,061 children, died from snipers bullets or exploding shells. By the end of the war, 200,000 Bosnians were dead and two million displaced or refugees.
    War Cake documents the daily life of the people I met in Sarajevo during this madness, and my efforts to help them. For most people living under the siege, the concerns were the same: shelter, food, water, electricity, and the return of peace. I discovered war often brings an exhilarating rush of adrenaline, but for the most part, it is grueling and tedious: 300,000 people endured forty - three months of hunger, thirst, cold, and uncertainty.
    Sarajevans caught in the siege were victims. In the initial shock of the madness, they could not believe war had come to their former Olympic City - host to the Winter Olympics in 1984. They were certain the international community, especially their neighbors in other parts of Europe, would intervene to save them. But when help did not arrive, they refused to behave as victims. During the siege, their determination to survive by maintaining the routine of their daily lives became their shield against the enemy.
    In spite of daily sniper and mortar fire Sarajevans got out of bed, dressed, visited friends, and went to work, although they received no salary. Without running water, electricity, or telephone, they fell in love, got married, had babies, and educated their children. Without the promise of a tomorrow, they played the piano, danced ballet, created sculpture from broken glass, published a daily newspaper, and produced plays. Without medications or medical supplies they cared for the sick and wounded. Finally, risking their own lives, they mourned and buried their dead - when possible, in the cemeteries that dot the hills and the valley of Sarajevo, but sometimes, because of sniper fire or heavy shelling, in the yard closest to their back door.
    These daring and defiant people, who resisted the guns that surrounded and molested Sarajevo, taught me to live in the present. Their resolve, persistence, and boldness in resisting the enemy inspired me to forget the limited and helpless person I thought I was.
My intention in writing this book is to document the crime of the siege of Sarajevo and to testify that ordinary people there, through the routine of their daily lives, rose above horrendous circumstances not only to survive, but to also retain their dignity and humanity.
(I have changed some names and places at the request of some of the people whose experiences are documented in this book.)

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