ROME (May. 5)
More than a third of the Jewish population has been evacuated from Sarajevo, capital of the embattled republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has been the scene of intense fighting in recent weeks.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned by telephone from the head of the Croatian Jewish community, Srdjan Matic, that 70 Jews were airlifted Friday from Sarajevo to Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital.
Matic has been reporting regularly to the JTA on the situation of Yugoslavia’s 5,000-6,000 Jews. His calls are from Zagreb, the Croatian capital, which has been relatively quiet since a Serbian-led Yugoslavian army bombarded it last year.
Now Sarajevo, where the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914 triggered the events leading to World War I, has become the battleground of Bosnia’s war for independence.
More than 1,000 Jews lived there before the recent fighting.
“About 410 to 420 have left Sarajevo in three airlifts” to Belgrade, Matic reported.
He said as far as he knew, about 80 of them have gone on to Israel, “but most went on a temporary basis, not aliyah,” he said.
He said that contrary to what was reported last week, none of the evacuees sought refuge in Hungary or Bulgaria. But about 20 Jews have come to Croatia and a dozen went to Slovenia.
Matic said he has not spoken to any of the new arrivals from Sarajevo and added that all telephone links with that city were cut on Saturday.
He said the Zagreb Jewish community marked Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, last Thursday at the Holocaust memorial in the Jewish cemetery.
“The ceremony was very well attended,” he said. Guests included the prime minister of Croatia, the Catholic bishop of Zagreb, and the heads of its Moslem and Serbian Orthodox Christian communities.
In a broadcast from Sarajevo last weekend, the BBC correspondent reported that many people took refuge from the gunfire in the Jewish community center in the center of town.
According to the correspondent, the director of the center appealed for safe conduct for the refugees to enable them to return to their homes.
Jewish historic sites in and around Srajevo include a restored 16th-century synagogue housing a Jewish museum and a huge Morrish-style synagogue built in 1902, which is still used.