The Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina is working to establish a Jewish history museum in the country.
They are currently collecting an archive of Balkan Jewish history, including documents, photographs, artifacts and genealogies for the future museum space and preserve forever the story of Bosnian Jews.
Today, at most 900 Jews live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, around 500 in the capital Sarajevo. But before the Holocaust, Sarajevo was about 20% Jewish and known lovingly as “little Jerusalem” for its variety of synagogues, mosques and churches — both Catholic and Orthodox — all in close proximity.
Sephardic Jews first arrived in the region during the time of the Ottoman Empire, after fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Ashkenazi Jews followed suit when the area fell under Austro-Hungarian rule in the 1870s.
The Holocaust, which in western Yugoslavia was implemented by Ustaše — a brutal Nazi puppet regime — decimated Bosnia’s Jewish community. Less than 40 years later, the Bosnian War, another genocidal conflict which broke out during the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, caused many of those who remained to emigrate to Israel and beyond.