|How to act||
Amsterdam, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Netherlands, Sarajevo
A letter after 28 years
Upon his return to Amsterdam in August 1993, Gerard Spekman spoke to his friends and family about the experience he had during the Mir Sada peace march and the impossible circumstances under which the inhabitants of besieged Sarajevo lived. Gerard stayed in Sarajevo for two days, the first night at the Holiday Inn Hotel and the second at the Sijarić family home. Of all things, he was most impressed by the hospitality and human warmth that Sabina Sijarić and her family gave him, despite the terrible reality of the war. Despite the poverty and modest menu, because food was a rarity in Sarajevo in 1993, the Sijarić family offered him that night and everything they had. In the diary he kept on the Mir Sada peace march, about a night spent with the Sijarić family, Gerard wrote that it was very difficult for him, because he knew that people in Sarajevo were hungry, but he could not refuse them because it would insult their dignity. He told his somewhat angry grandchildren, whose vacation was canceled that summer of 1993, about two girls, Sabina’s grandchildren, who were not allowed to leave their homes due to shelling and who were deprived of a normal childhood.
On September 9, 1993, Gerard wrote and sent a letter to Sabina Sijarić, but which came back to his address in Amsterdam due to the total blockade of Sarajevo and the impossibility of entering the city. Gerard Spekman died in 2002, as did Sabina Sijarić. Among his other personal belongings, the family kept the returned and unopened letter, hoping to find their way to Sarajevo one day. And it finally did, 28 years later. Gerard’s youngest granddaughter, during a visit to Sarajevo in early 2022 with the help of the History Museum of BiH, managed to find the Sijarić family and hand over the letter to Sabina’s daughter. In this way, peace activist Gerard Speckman even posthumously expressed his solidarity with Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens.