Subjects: Rogatica, low crime rate, nostalgia
Subjects: mourning the death of Tito, grandparents' influence
Hyperlink: Josip Broz Tito
Subjects: father as a machinist, Republics within Yugoslavia, Croatia, oil fields in Libya, economy worsening, working, desire to speak English, writing short stories
Hyperlink: State divisions in Yugoslavia
Hyperlink: Breakup of Yugoslavia
Hyperlink: Bosnian War roots
Subjects: Serbs, city of Visěgrad
Subjects: mass graves, Libya, Croatia, fear, Yugoslavian national army
Hyperlink: River Drina
Subjects: bombings, grenades, Yugoslavian army, planes, lack of food, United Nations
Subjects: airplane bombings, market goods, travelling, the Yugoslavian army, radio broadcasting
Subjects: Serbia, Macedonia, travelling in a group, River Drina
Subjects: interrogation, border patrol, machine guns, transportation in trucks, Sljivovica
Subjects: conditions in the camp, isolation, Red Cross, beatings, interrogation
Hyperlink: Sljivovica Camp
Subjects: Red Cross, speaking English, Australia, United Staes, Canada, hope, deception, freedom, Belgrade, Athens
SLOAN: This is Stephen Sloan. The date is June 21, 2016. I'm with HajrudinJusupovic, or Dino, and we're in his home doing an interview for the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission's Survivors of Genocide Project. Nathan Roberts and Melissa Sloan are with me as well doing this interview. We're in Dino's home in Frisco--not Frisco, Plano. I'm sorry. It's hard. They run into each other. Now Dino, please say your name again, because I know I said it wrong. Say your name again for me.
JUSUPOVIC: Hajrudin Jusupovic.
SLOAN: Jusupovic, okay.
JUSUPOVIC: Dino, is my nickname.
SLOAN: All right, great. All right, thank you. As I talked about earlier, we'regoing to spend some time gathering some of your background. I know you were born in Bosnia, and we're going to talk about your experiences in the nineties in 1:00Bosnia in particular. One of the things that you were sharing earlier, before we started recording, is people want to go back. People want to go back to the way it was, and as you said, what made it the way it was were the people that were there, and the life that was there, and how all that's changed in the last twenty years. What you could help us understand a little bit is what growing up in the community that you had there, what life was like. Can you give us a little bit of a picture of what Bosnia was like before the war?
JUSUPOVIC: Um-hm. Of course, I can share that from my viewpoint from the littletown that I lived. It was probably different in the bigger cities like Sarajevo. Basically, in Rogatica, where I lived before the war, I was in high school. It 2:00was a really, how can I say, like, a good life. There was no crime, as far as I remember. People usually lived in houses. There were some apartments, too, but usually there were like open fields nearby. For kids to grow up was really, you know, you go out in the morning and you pretty much play all day long. Just get home to eat and then you're off again. (laughs) It was really a good place to live, and after the war, everybody's kind of nostalgic about those times. I mean it really was good.
SLOAN: You know, as I was thinking through some of the things that you wouldremember when you were younger, one of the things that I know that was really big was the death of Tito [Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito]. I asked you 3:00earlier if you remembered that, and you said yes, you remembered that. Can you tell me your memories of that, maybe how your family reacted, and what it meant?
JUSUPOVIC: I remember that I was seven years old, and I was at my grandparents'house. I was there also during the war, the same place. I visited my grandparents a lot, and I remember that they just said that Tito died. Of course, everybody started crying. That's how it was back then, like people were so sad and everybody. Of course, being seven years old, I didn't understand it fully, what it meant. But, I do remember it because of all of their gloomy faces around. (laughs)
SLOAN: Yeah, there was a real reaction, right?
SLOAN: What do you think that sadness was about on your family's part?4:00
JUSUPOVIC: Well, it was, I guess, first because it was a leader of a country.All these, how would I say, countries as Yugoslavia, there was one unquestionable leader, and people had some sorrow probably that he died, but also there was some unquestionable authority there. I don't know how those emotions were probably mixed, because it was like automatic respect for it. Maybe people were also afraid of what's going to happen after that. You know, is the country going to function as it was, or are we going to run into some troubles, which later we did.
SLOAN: Yeah. What sort of work did your father do when you were growing up?
JUSUPOVIC: He was a machinist. Several years before the war started, he was5:00trying to find some work first at different republics within Yugoslavia, then trying to go outside of Yugoslavia, to find some work to make a better living for our family. He actually went to Croatia, worked there for a few years, and then he went to some oil fields in Libya and worked there.
SLOAN: Did you feel that at home, that times were getting a little bit harder onthe family as far as his ability to provide, that the economy was getting worse?
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, yeah. The economy's getting worse. I was young, but I rememberthat inflation was very high. You just started adding zeros on the money. I do remember that. Also, the way it was back then, you wouldn't get paid. When he 6:00was working for this Croatian firm, sometimes he wouldn't get paid for a year, and then he was trying to collect later. So yeah, definitely, it was felt.
SLOAN: How big was your family?
JUSUPOVIC: My father was, of course, working in Libya, but I was with my motherand my sister.
SLOAN: Okay, you have a sister.
SLOAN: Was there a certain age where you were expected to begin working orcontributing to the family?
JUSUPOVIC: Well, it is kind of a different setup. I knew that some guys my agewere working, maybe like one or two out of a hundred. It was more like there was not enough work. What would you do, you know? Even before the war and after the war, people would go to college, and they wouldn't even think about working. 7:00Even now, they're finishing college, and some of them start working at thirty. That happens, you know. They live with their parents. At that time, I was eighteen. I wasn't really thinking about working, trying to provide.
SLOAN: Well, as you said, there weren't a lot of opportunities, right?
JUSUPOVIC: No, no, not at all.
SLOAN: There weren't the jobs available.
SLOAN: Of course, I'm talking to you now, and you're in Texas. There's a longstory before we end up at that point, but had you ever thought about emigrating? Even at that age, did you think you might end up in another country, or you may go to another place?
JUSUPOVIC: Before the war, I'm not sure if I was. All I remember is that I wasthinking, even when I was very young, I wanted to learn English. That was something that--now people speak English over there a lot. Before the war it wasn't very common, but for some reason, I wanted to, maybe because of the movies that I watched. That was before the war. During the war, I used to write 8:00some short stories. There was a few of us that made some kind of club and did that. I remember, I did a story where I said--I didn't have any idea if I was going to come here or anywhere in a different country, but I said at the end of the story--it was something about how the United Nations tried to protect the place, but it was kind of deteriorating and everything's going downhill. At the end of the story, I said, "I heard that the earth is round and it's spinning, so, I want to climb on a tree, jump, and then wait in the air. When the USA comes, I will jump in." Why would I do that, I don't know, but that was the end of my story. (laughs)
SLOAN: Wow. Well, in many ways, that's what ends up happening, yeah. You'retransplanted in a very different place.
JUSUPOVIC: Also, I was telling my wife--back then my girlfriend, we were dating.9:00I remember telling her--she was afraid of course. It was like daily bombing all over the place. I said, "Don't worry, one day we'll go to USA and to Hawaii." I don't know how I came up with that. (laughs)
SLOAN: And, very soon, you're going where?
JUSUPOVIC: We are going to Maui. (laughs)
SLOAN: (laughs) You kept your promise.
SLOAN: One of the questions I was wondering about is, I know you're very youngin the seventies, but in the late eighties and the early nineties, you become much more aware of what's going on around you. You've got to see how things are becoming less secure and a little less safe.
SLOAN: Can you explain that to us, like how you noticed that or what changed, orchanges that were taking place?
JUSUPOVIC: First, safety, in my mind, back then before the war, wasn't really a10:00big issue, because basically people would go anywhere and kids [had] no supervision. I remember just going far from [the] house and playing, and there was no [supervision]. But, in the years before the war, the first thing we noticed was that something started in these different republics of Yugoslavia. For example, there was a war in Croatia, and we knew that some people from Bosnia would go over there to fight. I didn't fully realize what it meant. I was probably sixteen or seventeen. I knew that they were going and coming back, some of them wounded, too. That's when it started, safety-wise. Later, [immediately 11:00before the war], people started making these barricades on the roads. Also, people were keeping watch in the neighborhoods. That's how it started being less and less safe. Still, I didn't fully get the danger of everything.
SLOAN: Yeah, yeah. Another point which you may have a clear memory was whenindependence came to Bosnia.
SLOAN: Can you tell us a little bit about that, about the reaction, how peoplefelt, and how you felt?
JUSUPOVIC: There was a referendum, of course, and they voted, but to tell youthe truth, at that age, we were so consumed about doing our teenage stuff. 12:00
SLOAN: I know what you mean, yeah.
JUSUPOVIC: Really, I didn't pay attention. I knew [Bosia] became independent. Ofcourse, Serbs were so against it that lived in [Bosnia]. Serbia foremost tried to keep Yugoslavia together. I guess that's why. In Bosnia, the other side felt like we were being choked in that country together, so the referendum basically decided that it was independent. Of course, it started right after that, but I was doing some other things. I was trying to think just now [whether or not] I understood everything. It was more like I didn't get what was about to happen.
SLOAN: Yeah, you were a teenager. You were doing typical teenager things.
JUSUPOVIC: Um-hm, yeah.
SLOAN: That's going to dramatically shift, so let's move now into when the war13:00starts, and how the war begins to affect your family, and began to affect your community.
JUSUPOVIC: Okay, so I was in twelfth grade. Over there, you have eight years ofelementary and then four years of high school. That's how it's a little different, but it's equivalent to twelfth year here in high school. We were about to finish that year, and of course the classes were mixed. The three major nationalities were Muslims, Serbs, and Croatians. Serbs would take excuse from the class to go get guns and uniforms. We were like twelfth grade of high school. Half of the class would just leave, and we would still be in class. Now, when I look at that, it was ridiculous. That was happening in the last days of 14:00school. School stopped because it started being dangerous. We were about to go to a field trip, because we were finishing high school. That all stopped and started something, like I said earlier, a neighborhood watch. If there was a predominantly Muslim or Serb neighborhood, people would keep watch around the houses. My best friend was a Serbian guy. We were together non-stop, doing our stuff, and playing, and everything. This is what I remember. The neighbors, two or three, were keeping watch, and I would go through our watch and then theirs to get to his house. I called him, and he got out. I was like, "Let's go." Like out--like in the city, which you couldn't, but that's how much I knew what was going to happen. He's like, "No." He said, "Let me give you these bullets." I 15:00was like, "What bullets?" He goes like, "Well, we got a truck-full last night of guns, and ammunition, and uniforms, and everything. I know you don't have anything, so you take these and sell it to somebody on your side, so [we can] go play the video poker games or something." I was like, "Okay." (laughs) So, he gave me some of that.
SLOAN: Wow. It's hard for us to understand, but had you felt this difference?Obviously, your close friend is Serbian, but where half the class is leaving and going and doing military things, and half the class is staying. Had you felt this difference? Was that part of your life, or were you all just kids going to school together? What ways did you feel the difference?
JUSUPOVIC: I personally didn't feel much of a difference before. That's the way16:00we grew up, and I just didn't feel any difference even when the war started. I'll tell you an example of this city in Bosnia, Visěgrad, where everything was kind of the Yugoslavian national army. It turns out later, they actually occupied everything, because the Serbs were in the major position. In Visěgrad, the war started, and people ran out, the entire city. They took the city, and they said, "Oh, let's everybody come back. We're not going to touch anybody." The entire city came back, and they killed a major number of the people that came back. Those were adults. I was teenager back then. People just didn't know any better. I guess the war started, and they didn't fully grasp what's 17:00happening, or they believed in this army. I think that's why. It was trusted through the years that they'd protect [us], so [the citizens of Visěgrad] just came back right in their hands. As I said, I didn't see much difference, especially before it all started. I just couldn't see. Maybe some people my age did, but I know I didn't.
SLOAN: This Serbian friend, y'all were able to still go out? Did you go outtogether after this lockdown started, when people were patrolling the neighborhoods?
JUSUPOVIC: Probably not after that.
SLOAN: Were you able to stay in contact with him?
JUSUPOVIC: Somebody called me when I came here, I think his father. We tried tostay in touch, but we didn't. Just last year, I went back, and there was this other Serb guy that moved to Serbia, in Belgrade, which I was friends with. 18:00Because I was flying to Belgrade, we arranged a meeting in Belgrade. I saw this guy, and then he had the phone number of my friend, [who] was one of my best friends there, so we actually spoke over the phone.
SLOAN: Yeah, okay, that's great.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, for the first time after.
SLOAN: Yeah, so when was that? You said you had this interaction where you wentover to his house. He tried to give you bullets to sell the bullets, so y'all could have fun with the money.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, exactly.
SLOAN: There's obviously a point at which things began to be much morecontrolled than that. Take us from there, and say how things began to change.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, it was right after that. I didn't see him anymore, and it justhappened. After that, it started being more and more dangerous, the people keeping watch. Right after that, I actually moved from that city where I lived 19:00to the village where my grandparents lived. That was about twenty-five to thirty miles from there. It's surrounded by mountains. It's really a steep decent to that place down. That's where my grandparents live. We moved with the last bus. We were the last that left from that town. The buses were going daily, but this was the last one. It was probably dangerous, because we got stopped at several places, and I was of that age that they could take us out of the bus, but they didn't. We made it there and that was the last bus. After that, I heard that that was probably a good move, because my entire neighborhood got taken out. A few years ago they discovered some mass graves where they found people from my 20:00neighborhood. I guess, for my family, it was a good move.
SLOAN: When was this?
JUSUPOVIC: This was April 1992, and I'm not sure if it is the beginning or endof April. Probably the beginning of April, because on April 6 it started in Sarajevo.
SLOAN: Was your father with your family, or was he out of the country at that time?
JUSUPOVIC: He was out of the country the entire time.
SLOAN: Okay. Did he stay out of the country?
JUSUPOVIC: Yes. He said he tried, at some point in the middle of the war, to getback, but it was really difficult, so he didn't. He was part of the time in Libya, and then, later, in Croatia during the war.
SLOAN: You see this situation that's going on in your town, and then you go toyour grandparents. What was the situation like when you got there?
JUSUPOVIC: I remember some people saying to my mother that maybe we'll be safer.21:00They wouldn't be interested so much, [because] it was a smaller place, which turned out to be wrong. Basically, the idea was that we would be safer there, so we just moved there.
SLOAN: It's more isolated, it sounds like.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, it is. It's more isolated. What happened there is when we [had]just come, maybe for the first month or so, it was kind of peaceful. There was not a lot happening. In the days after that, from [where I was at my grandfather's village near the river Drina], I saw [across the river] this entire place burn down--the village just going down in flames. I remember that 22:00as my first sense of real fear. As I said earlier, I couldn't fully grasp it. Even leaving the place where I lived, I didn't see much, you know. Going on that cliff on the other side of this River Drina and watching that village burn, then it hit me, what it is, the real danger there.
SLOAN: I know you're not going to school then. I mean, you didn't re-enroll in school.
JUSUPOVIC: No, oh no.
SLOAN: What are you doing with that fear? What can you do to prepare yourself?You're the man of the--your father's not there, so you're looking out also for your sister and for your mother.
JUSUPOVIC: Yes, and we got lucky, because we were at my grandfather's place. Hehad some supplies and food. We were there, but the place got attacked--Žepa, 23:00that's the name of the place. It got attacked later. I heard that later, because I didn't even know it at the time. Each place, each little town in Yugoslavia before, they had these reserves of guns for civil guards to have some reserves. That's how it was called, like territorial defense in Bosnia. When the Yugoslavian National Army surrounded everything, they took everything from these towns. They took every single gun, they kept saying, again, to protect everybody.
SLOAN: That's what they're saying.
JUSUPOVIC: Everybody trusted it, yes. Of course, I heard about that later. This24:00place where I was, Žepa, is kind of in a steep descent; it's kind of in the valley. On the other side, one day we heard gun fights and grenades. We were not sure what's happening and later realized that they were trying to--there was some kind of base on one of these hills, like from the Yugoslavian National Army, and they were trying to get there. They had thirty to fifty vehicles, armored, and tanks, going there to that place. Even then, they were saying, "We are not going to do anything. This is just [an] exercise [for the] Yugoslavian National Army." They were passing by, passing by. It kind of curves around. When they were out of that village, the last house, the tanks [just started] 25:00destroying the houses at the end. I guess some people tried to stop them, and they were able to stop them in the most unusual way. They cut this huge pine tree, which was really, really big in diameter. That pine tree fell, instead of across the road, by mistake alongside the road--like on the road. The first tank tried to go over it. It got on [the fallen pine tree] and started balancing there, and the tank fell on its side on the road. That's how that column stopped. They got back, and I guess there was some fight there. That was the first real fight for that place. Later, there was more. It wasn't like 26:00full-front attacks; it was more around the edges of the place. It was always a struggle, because there was, practically, no guns in this place. Nobody had any.
SLOAN: You didn't have any weapons.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, nothing there.
SLOAN: Was your family involved in the fighting at all, or were you near the fighting?
JUSUPOVIC: That time, no. No, we were not near. We were not involved, because mygrandparents are older and--
JUSUPOVIC: I was probably at that age, but there was not any weapons oranything. Nothing was organized at the beginning.
SLOAN: About how big is Žepa?
JUSUPOVIC: Uh, I think it had with the surrounding villages, like severalthousand people or something like that.
SLOAN: Fairly small.
SLOAN: There are these attempts to take it. There's some defense being mounted.So this goes on for a little while, some resistance, some attacks, and then things shift again?
JUSUPOVIC: At some point, there were artillery all around Žepa, so every day itwas daily bombing and sending the grenades down there. One day, we remember counting like six hundred [explosions], and it's a small place. I remember sometimes it would wake us up at 5:00 a.m. It would just start, and you just heard the sound of it. People tried to go in the basement. Sometimes, I remember, I wouldn't even bother. I would just sleep, because you'd hear them just going above the house. I remember, they probably had those weapons set at different places. Sometimes, I would go somewhere [away for our house]. You're 28:00trying to run where they hit, and when you pass that place, you kind of sit and relax. You see them grenading and bombing. It's not too far from you, but you know that they're not going to hit there, because (laughs) they've got it set.
SLOAN: Now you're talking about this like it's normal, which it's not normal.
SLOAN: This shouldn't be normal life at all, but you learn the patterns of wherethey're bombing and where they're attacking.
JUSUPOVIC: Yes, exactly.
SLOAN: You begin to kind of adapt, because you've got to go on living, right?
SLOAN: So you begin to adapt your life around them, right?
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah. I remember what I used to do. A few times they sent likeRussian--I don't know if they were Russian-made. Whatever kind of airplanes they had, the Yugoslavian army, they sent a couple planes, also. This was one of the scariest things, because we hadn't heard it before. The sound of that plane 29:00bombing and shooting at the place was really scary. Since this in a valley, the sound was like an echo through all the mountains around. It was just really scary. That's one thing I remember. Also, a few times, they sent these little like--you know how they use in agriculture, those little planes to like spread--
SLOAN: Oh, a crop duster?
JUSUPOVIC: Crop duster--yeah, those. They would send those. Once, they had whatlooked like a water heater hanging on it from a chain. It was full of some kind of tank mines--their armaments or something else related. They would just drop that. I remember once, they dropped that. I was kind on the road, and they 30:00dropped it down maybe fifteen, twenty feet in the valley. I remember laying down and jumping a foot [into the air]; that's how powerful that was when it hit the road. It shook everything around.
SLOAN: Did it seem like they were targeting the resistance or just the population?
JUSUPOVIC: I think it was kind of weird for them to get in there, because maybethey were afraid. It's a lot of mountains and a lot of cliffs, so they probably wouldn't even bother attacking with soldiers. I don't know. Maybe they didn't have enough manpower or something. It seemed, at some point, that they were just satisfied with those daily bombings and trying to psychologically wear people down. 31:00
SLOAN: Yeah. Now did you have bombs hit where you were staying with your grandparents?
JUSUPOVIC: Yes. Yeah, a few times. There was once, which I remember mostly, thatmultiple rocket launcher. They look like a square, maybe like eight times four, these squares where they can fire multiple rockets. That's what they said it was. We knew where the place was where they fired those. It was above, on this mountain. You would hear these sounds like [makes noise of rockets firing]--several. Then it's like two or three planes together flying. You just heard this sound like [makes noise of droning plane] which was really scary. 32:00That's [the sound of all the rockets] flying together. They just started hitting one by one, maybe fifteen or twenty of those just shaking everything around. I remember, I was standing, and one fell like twenty to thirty feet [away from me]. What was weird is that there was a little girl on the side [of the blast], further [away] than I was. She got hurt really bad, and some people on this side. I later realized that the blow would go this way and forward, because there was a house forward that got totally destroyed. Back where I was standing, I didn't really get hurt. I remember just not seeing anything--all blacked out--and fire--I don't even know. I just stood there, and then I ran in the basement, after that.
SLOAN: So during these bombings, y'all would try to get down into the basementto have some sort of cover?
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, and these houses where I used to live, they were concrete. They33:00were really good protection, even from [the bombings], but these houses, [in my grandparents' village] were different materials. It was not a lot of concrete. It was mostly wood. People would go to the basement, but I'm not sure how much protection that would offer.
SLOAN: Was any of your family injured during these bombings?
JUSUPOVIC: Some cousins, yes. Immediate family, no. Like my mother and sister,we all survived, and my grandfather and grandmother, so in that household, nobody got hurt.
SLOAN: But, you did have a lot of extended family that were in this village?
JUSUPOVIC: Yes, um-hm.
SLOAN: So, this goes on and on, right? How long of a period are you dealing withthese daily bombings?
JUSUPOVIC: It seemed like forever. It was a really long time. People startedrunning out of food and started pleading for help to the government and to the 34:00United Nations. I remember that there was some food in Srebrenica, which is another city. We all know that the biggest genocide in Bosnia happened there. I remember, I went there once. People used to go there weekly to get some food, because, at that point, there was more food down there. I remember one trip, getting up at four in the morning and going there. It was maybe fifty, sixty kilometers, which would be like thirty-five, forty miles, I guess, just walking over the mountains and cliffs and going there. I remember, a lot of people got killed going there, because they would get ambushed, but I wasn't thinking. 35:00There were two older guys with me, and we just went to get some food--pick up some grains, and get back. That was it. So, we went there. I remember my boots, when I got there, were so wet, I couldn't take them off. That's what I remember. I just couldn't take them off my feet. (laughs) We slept there, and we got back. On our way back, the snow was so big that we just couldn't move. Over this mountain, snow gets so big that it was at some places higher than we are, and I'm pretty tall. (laughs)
SLOAN: Yeah, six-four. Yeah, you're very tall. So, you couldn't get your bootsoff because your feet were so swollen?
JUSUPOVIC: Swollen, and they were wet.
SLOAN: They were wet.
JUSUPOVIC: The snow was melted a little bit along the way. It got so wet, and[the boots were made from] leather, so it kind of--
SLOAN: Yeah, so it constricted, tightened up.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, that's something I remember.36:00
SLOAN: What was the situation like in Srebrenica when you got there?
JUSUPOVIC: I remember when we just got there, there was one of these stupidplanes, again they use for crops, the small planes, and it dropped some bombs. I remember getting to Srebrenica, and first thing running to somebody's house, opening the door and getting in--people just looking at me like I'm crazy, because that plane was right above there. I just didn't know what to do. I just ran inside the first house. We spent the night, then we got back, but as far as I understood, it was much worse in Srebrenica. There was more people, and it was dense. A lot of people were right in the city, and [it] just couldn't support thousands and thousands of people in this small space. Of course, that would make more casualties after. 37:00
SLOAN: Were you able to get some food there?
JUSUPOVIC: Yes, we were able to get something. Couldn't get any tobacco for oneof my cousins, and that was like a major--I don't know if he was expecting that more than grain, but I just couldn't get any.
SLOAN: You really would have been a hero if you would have gotten the tobacco.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, but it was tough.
SLOAN: Is this on the black market where you're getting--
JUSUPOVIC: Some kind of market open market there where people would sell stuff.Salt was very expensive. For example, two pounds of salt, which is a kilogram, would go for [$]100, $200.
JUSUPOVIC: Equivalent, you know what I mean.
SLOAN: Yeah, yeah, sure. That's unusual. Were you usually allowed to travel? Wasthere danger? Were you able to get out of the city all right and travel without 38:00being harassed?
JUSUPOVIC: Well, the deal is, when the Yugoslavian army took the entire [countryof] Bosnia, they surrounded each single place, each city. They were all surrounded, so all these travels that I'm [talking about], that I went to one place or some different places, it was all risking being killed, because [everything] was surrounded. For example, in Sarajevo, I don't know if you heard, they dug a tunnel under the airport. It's really famous now; it's a museum. They would get in one side and again at another side. It was really hard to dig that and to make it, but that was the only way to get out of the city. It was five, six hundred thousand people that lived there, but you couldn't find a place to get out except digging that tunnel to go under. That's pretty much how it was in all these places. You would just have to try to do it at night to get 39:00that first line to go to a different place.
SLOAN: I would imagine while the war is going on, you can't travel freely.You're not getting great information on what's going on. Did you have much information on what was going on in other parts of Bosnia or in the world?
JUSUPOVIC: We listened to the radio.
SLOAN: You were able to get radio broadcasts?
JUSUPOVIC: Yes. There was no electric power, but people were really buildingthese different things that was really amazing. You would have a river running maybe half a mile or a mile down in the cliffs. They would make some kind of generator. They would get power lines from the old power lines, and get from there around a mile and make these little generators and get power to the house, 40:00which was absolutely amazing. As I said, we listened to the radio. They would make these things where you have to turn something. There were these things that were used to make some kind of cloth, but it was round. I don't really understand much about the electronics and all that, but they would make something to where you have to turn that and listen to the radio. Sometimes the faster you turn, the sound is better. It gets louder. Then you slow and it kind of gets distorted. People tried to make those things like that.
SLOAN: Yeah. People are really coming together to work to try to survive.
SLOAN: Yeah, and have a livable a life, it sounds like.
JUSUPOVIC: Yes. Of course, at the most difficult time, I've seen people getting41:00some kind of flower to make bread out of it. That was most extreme and difficult, where the entire place ran out of food. There was absolutely nothing. That's when these pleadings for help started. That's how the second part of this life at this place started, where, gradually, the place got protected under United Nations protection.
SLOAN: When did you first become aware that there was going to be some outside assistance?
JUSUPOVIC: Well, there was a contact, and we heard from people who were trying.Actually, later, since I knew a little bit about computers, I was on some kind of computer station. That was my role, to send the messages and get connections. 42:00The second part of the war, I was actually getting good information there, because I was right where everything was happening.
SLOAN: You were working with the UN to help transmit messages?
JUSUPOVIC: This was more like [for the] Bosnian army.
SLOAN: I see.
JUSUPOVIC: You know, as much as it could get--
SLOAN: As much as there was a Bosnian army.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, yeah.
SLOAN: When did the UN come in? Can you talk about that? How did that change the situation?
JUSUPOVIC: I think the UN--I can't remember exactly. It was--the war started inApril '92, so this was '93 sometime, maybe spring, I would say, of '93. That's when we got first help and food. There were several trucks that got in with the flour and some other food. That was March of '93, maybe. I may be wrong, but yeah. 43:00
SLOAN: Okay. They began to bring in some trucks that had some flour and otherthings like that?
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, and they would distribute to people. After that, Žepa gotunder United Nations protection. It was, until the end, when it fell.
SLOAN: When it's under UN protection, can you talk a little bit about this partof the war and how it's different than the first?
JUSUPOVIC: Well, the most difficult thing was just thinking that [the Serb army]will get in. They'll get in, and they'll kill everybody. That was always on your mind. You hear the guns somewhere, and you think they'll just get in and kill everybody, because there was not a lot of protection. It would be hard to stop them. When the United Nations came, of course, it was a little easier. People 44:00started almost living as normal as could be. We even had some parties later, after that. Young people would gather and have this party and music when it was protected. Still it was always, especially toward the end, it was always lingering above our heads. We knew that something will happen. It's not going to last, because East Bosnia, where we were, it's so kind of isolated over there, close to Serbia. They started these rumors that they would exchange it, which probably happened later, for some other place, some kind of agreement.
SLOAN: Did you have much interaction with anyone from the UN?
JUSUPOVIC: Yes, actually, there were these soldiers, I think they wereUkrainian. We used to go there, and I know people would exchange different 45:00things with them, like some food that they have, some lunch boxes, or whatever military-like meals they had. I remember cigarettes and stuff like that. So, yeah, people would go there. There were usually these posts with maybe four or five people in there, spread around.
SLOAN: I guess the frequency of the attacks--did the attacks stop altogether, ordid the frequency slow down, of the bombings and other things?
JUSUPOVIC: The bombings stopped, but there was still some peripheral on thesemountains--there was still some. You would hear gun fights or weapons fire. There was still--it was protected, but it didn't feel safe. 46:00
SLOAN: People aren't rebuilding or anything like that. It still feels like a warzone.
SLOAN: We know what's going to happen is the city's going to fall. This periodwhere there's relative peace, where you're having parties and things are beginning to--maybe you start to imagine what it might be normally. That's going to change.
SLOAN: Take us through when that begins to change, if you would.
JUSUPOVIC: First, I think we heard that Srebrenica fell. There was some peopleescaping from there. That was really scary, hearing all the stories, what they survived. That was horrible, people coming in. It didn't take long after that. They just started attacking with full force. What we heard is that the United 47:00Nations just escaped from their place, and they just left everything. Some of them even left their weapons and everything. They just went away. We knew that it's going to happen. Of course, there was a resistance, but there was just not enough power to stop them.
SLOAN: So, Srebrenica fell and then refugees from there came to Žepa?
JUSUPOVIC: They did. I don't think there was a lot of them, because a lot ofpeople went in the woods, maybe trying to go a different direction toward Tuzla, over there to the Bosnian government territory, to that side. Already, people knew that Žepa would fall sooner or later. But, yeah, we did get some people there. 48:00
SLOAN: But, it became obvious when you heard that Žepa wasn't going to bedefended by the United Nations.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah. People were very skeptical. Until the last day, they weresaying that something will happen. They'll get us out, and they'll protect, but it was just delaying, delaying until it was over. I remember, when they attacked at the end, they took first one side of the place called Brezevo Ravan. They attacked there, and they took that place. That was the first breach of our defense. There was this really tall hill, almost like a mountain. It wasn't, maybe, a real mountain, but there was a plateau on the top of that, and the 49:00people escaped there, almost the entire place. Everybody was there, civilians first and then our station where we had computers for the Bosnian army. The people [were] trying to defend different places, but as one side fell they would pull back. At the same time, they were negotiating, actually. They called the main guy, Mladić [Ratko Mladić, Bosnian Serb Military Leader]. He's in the Hague now. He called the main people from Žepa, and they had all these negotiations. That resulted in saving civilians--women and children, because they wouldn't let anybody else go, of course. They just allowed them to leave to buses and go. Everybody, all the males--I don't know what age, but probably like 50:00fifteen, sixteen, and up--were still on this mountaintop plateau. I was there on top, and I saw the entire place burning. They would just go from house to house and just burn the entire place. The last I remember is them climbing the mountain in a big line, one next to each other with the guns. We're looking--I was looking from the top of this mountain. It was just surrounded and going up. I remember that feeling, too, that it's the end, basically.
At that point, some people tried to hide in the woods and stayed there maybe acouple of weeks. I know some people stayed for a month or two, and everything was quiet. Later they escaped, the larger group. I was with maybe five or six 51:00people, and we got this idea to go to Serbia, to cross the river, and to go and try to escape to Macedonia or somewhere. We started going that direction, but we realized that there was a lot of people coming the same direction. Somehow, the Bosnian government directed and told people to go there, that they will try to negotiate something with Serbia. Suddenly, everybody was going there. There was about eight hundred people who got across this river to the other side. What I remember is going down these cliffs to the river. It was raining like crazy. We had this raft, where maybe it could take like four people. One would be in the 52:00middle, and that guy would have to take it back. It could transport four people at a time, and it would take an hour. It was a really long time, and there was a bunch of people, and raining and everything. I remember just getting in my underwear and swimming across. I think I was the only one that swam across. I don't know why nobody else [did]. I mean, it was maybe five, six hundred feet, like two hundred meters, something like that. I swam across to the other side.
We started gathering there--raining, you know. I remember when we got there, itwas night. It's like this steep. You had these trees. I remember sleeping, trying to get some support, my feet like that and sleeping like this, almost in a standing-up direction. That's how steep it was. We spent the night there. The 53:00next day, I was with a group of several guys, but there were some other people coming up, and you'd hear them. We got up to this mountain and started going toward Serbia, because that was Drina. The River Drina is the border, so it was Serbia. We got already on the other side. We stopped to take a break. I remember that, and there was this Serbian soldier right above us looking and said, "Are you coming or not?" (laughs) That was a weird feeling. I was first there. I looked at him, and I was like, "Yeah." I was like, "Come on, let's go."
SLOAN: He was up above you on the mountain?
JUSUPOVIC: No, it was very close. He was like ten feet.
SLOAN: Oh, okay. (laughs)
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, he was right there, like the border patrol or something. I54:00don't know. I was like, "Yeah, we are coming." There was, I think, twenty-eight of us. They got us at this plateau on the top and started asking these different questions. I remember one of them saying, "Are we going to do it now?" He said "Yes." They got this big machine gun. They put it in front of us, and I was like, "Yeah, that's it." You know, say your prayers. I don't know if that was like something just to scare us. That wasn't it. They put the gun there, they talked more, they asked questions, and they started escorting us with a few of the German shepherd dogs on the side, and it was dark. It was probably like 10:00 p.m. or something.
SLOAN: What sort of questions were they asking you? What are they wanting toknow from you?
JUSUPOVIC: Do you have any guns? They had found some uniforms or something,different camouflage somewhere, and said, "Is this yours?" Holding that, and 55:00stuff like that. Yeah, different things.
SLOAN: Trying to figure out if you're armed or in the military.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, exactly. They started escorting us up this mountain. In themiddle of the night, they just stopped, and they say, "Are we going to do it here?" I remember all this tall grass around and everything, and they go, "Yeah." They line us up, and they stand in front of us. Again, I'm like, "Okay, that's where they're going to kill us." They stopped for a cigarette break. They say, "Okay, I'll give them cigarettes." So, I don't know, that was probably on purpose. It was just like every time, like okay, that's it. (laughs) After that, we got to a school or something, school grounds, and there was a playground. I remember it was concrete. That was where they tried to process us, like, see 56:00what you have when you get all your belongings and everything. That took all night. We probably got there at midnight. I remember, I was one of the few last people, so it was 5:00, 6:00 a.m. We spent the night there. They loaded us in trucks there and, believe it or not, I fell asleep. That's how dangerous what--I just couldn't--because I don't think I was sleeping for two nights or something. All I remember, there was about fifty people in that truck that could take maybe twenty. I remember, we were like sardines, you know, like all tangled. You just couldn't move at all. It was so difficult.
SLOAN: Did you know at this point where you were going or where they were taking you?
JUSUPOVIC: No, still you hear like the same, "We'll take you back to Bosnia to57:00be the human shield on the front." Like where you go and get killed. You don't know. You're trying to look out of the truck to see the traffic signs, a direction where we're going, like, are we going back? After that truck ride they took us to someplace for maybe an hour, I don't even know--just from these different places, from place to place, and at the end, to this camp where we were, Sljivovica. I remember getting out there, asking to go to the restroom. They wouldn't let us all night, so that was kind of a painful memory. (laughs)
SLOAN: Yes, I would imagine. Now, Sljivovica--describe the camp to me. When yougot to the camp, what was it like?
JUSUPOVIC: It looked like some kind of barracks where people lived, some kind of58:00construction site, maybe like where the concrete was mixed. It was this fenced-in thing with several buildings, where I assume the workers would probably live there and do concrete work. I think I remember some kind of mixer there. I'm not sure but--
SLOAN: They had converted it from that to a place for detainees. What were theconditions like in the camp?
JUSUPOVIC: I remember, the first few days we used to go out. They would try toget us to work on some rocks, but later, for eighteen days we were in total 59:00isolation. I remember in my room, there were like thirteen people in there. We just couldn't get out or anything. We would get a piece of bread for the entire day, a little piece. I guess it was the part between where we came there and until the Red Cross came, which they did after eighteen days, probably. [During] that part, they tried to question everybody. I remember, once I got woken up at 4:00 a.m., just yanked from where I was and dropped in the room. There was six, seven guys in there, probably like special forces or something, really big. A few of them started hitting me, asking me, because I was in the station, if I knew any information. I didn't know a lot. Whatever they wanted, I don't know. I 60:00guess they tried to process everybody, to question to see what they can get. As I said at the beginning, this place, Žepa, was kind of isolated. There was not much for them to find. They were trying to find if there was somebody that did some crimes against them, but they just couldn't find anybody, because that's how it was.
SLOAN: You didn't have any of that information where you were.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah. We had one prisoner--I don't know how it ended up that he gotcaptured. All I remember [is] that people were taking food to him every day and feeding him. At the end, when the place fell, when they were in negotiation and everything, they just took him back, and he was in perfect condition. People are saying later that that partially saved Žepa. There were fights there but there 61:00was--how would I say that--can't say "fair," no. But--
SLOAN: It wasn't Srebrenica. It didn't--what happened there didn't happen inŽepa, the same thing.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, it didn't happen. They didn't get in there and start killing everybody.
SLOAN: But, these eighteen days in this isolation, that had to be a horribleexperience, especially after this journey that you took to get to isolation.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, there were beatings and then questionings. At some point, theywould just give you several pieces of blank paper and say, "Write everything you know." I remember I would write, "I was born here and I did this." It's like you 62:00don't know, and they just came back and say, "Write more." It was just pointless. They were trying to get some kind of information that didn't exist. I don't know what they wanted.
SLOAN: Yeah, so you're in isolation. These are all men, I guess. These are allmen that had--
SLOAN: Yeah. Did your grandfather stay with the group?
JUSUPOVIC: He was close to seventy, so he got evacuated with the women andchildren. They let the older ones go.
SLOAN: Oh, I see, okay, okay. That's good, but you said the Red Cross comes inand that changes, so talk about that.
JUSUPOVIC: I remember that, because they came into the building, and they weregoing from room to room. There were several rooms. They signed up everybody, all 63:00the names and everything, and said, "Okay, we are leaving. That's it." They didn't even get to our room, and the door was closed. [The Red Cross] said, "Is there anybody else there?" [The guards] said, "No. That's it." People are saying, "They're going to kill us if they leave. Why wouldn't they?" I remember getting up. I wanted to open the door. I don't care what happens, because they are there already. I was at the door and somebody said, "Yeah, open it." The guards are outside the door. I remember when they said, "Is there anybody else?" [The guards] said, "No, you can go." Somebody from the other room, from our guys, said, "There's one more room behind you." They said, "Where?" and they opened the door. I was like (sigh of relief). (laughs) That's when they got in. The first thing I remember asking them is, "Do you have a cigarette?" of course. They gave us a pack of Camels--cigarettes. I remember that, too, smoking those 64:00cigarettes. It just knocked me down, because you didn't have them for so long. We were so happy that they got in, and they got our names and information.
SLOAN: So, they got all your information. I'm assuming you got some food, atthat point, from the Red Cross?
JUSUPOVIC: From that point on, yes. Actually, they started bringing food, butfor money. You have to pay for it. I'm trying to think if this was in the first eighteen days, but I know that we had to buy it. Whoever had money could get food.
SLOAN: Is this from the Serbians or is this from the Red Cross?
JUSUPOVIC: From the Serbians.
SLOAN: I see.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah. Some guards would bring it. They would say like, "Hey, I can65:00get you this and that for that much."
SLOAN: They were making a little money off of it.
JUSUPOVIC: When I said earlier, at this school where they processed us, they didtake some money off some people, but I guess other people got to keep some belongings. They went through it, but you got to keep it. If you had a backpack with some bread or something, you could keep that.
SLOAN: I see, yeah. At the camp, after the Red Cross comes in and takes over,I'm assuming things change. What was the camp like after that point?
JUSUPOVIC: The food got better. From that point we had meals. We'd get a pieceof bread or something else two times a day or three times a day. It was getting 66:00better at that point. We would get Red Cross messages. You could write your family.
SLOAN: I see. Were you able at that point to get in touch with your family?
JUSUPOVIC: I did. I had a little money on me. I knew it was my girlfriend'sbirthday, so I gave the money to the guy in my room. He didn't have any. In return, his daughter would buy a birthday present for my girlfriend. She got her something, and she told her that it was from me when I was in concentration camp, so it was a huge surprise. How did you manage to get a present? I remember doing that. (laughs)
SLOAN: Very much the romantic, even while you're in a concentration camp.
JUSUPOVIC: I was trying. (laughs) She was worth it.
SLOAN: The interrogations stopped after that point, I'm assuming, or did they continue?67:00
JUSUPOVIC: It probably continued for some people. I don't remember anybodyasking me. I know that some people got beaten a lot. They say one guy couldn't move his hands. They just hit him so much that it was useless. They just broke him down and several other guys. They split us. They sent half of the people to different places from there, at some point.
SLOAN: How long were you in that camp?
JUSUPOVIC: Six months.
SLOAN: Okay. Now, when you say your girlfriend, is that your wife now?
SLOAN: You were able to keep in touch with her. How long had you known her?
JUSUPOVIC: We met at the beginning of the war, so three-and-a-half to four68:00years, something like that.
SLOAN: I see. So she was from Žepa?
SLOAN: The six months in the camp, can you tell me a little bit more about that?As you lived in the camp a while, you're getting messages out, you're getting more information back in. Do you begin to think about what's next or what possibilities may be next?
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, there was hope. You know, after the messages started, theystarted talking about moving us somewhere else to different countries. There was hope. Of course, a guard would sometimes say, "There's nothing. It's just a rumor. You're going to stay here, or we're going to send you back." There was always, kind of--we were not sure what was going to happen next, but there was some kind of hope that we had after that, that they'll send people to different 69:00places. At some point, the Red Cross would make these visits asking if we had anybody in Europe or somewhere else. I remember just saying, "I don't know anybody. I don't have any family. I don't care." Later, I realized that they sent those people to either US, Canada, or Australia, if they said they didn't have anybody. For people who said that they had somebody in Europe, maybe they were trying to connect or something. It turned out it was much harder to get to Europe. Some people, at the end, got sent back to Bosnia. They couldn't move them.
SLOAN: You had said earlier you had always wanted to speak English.
SLOAN: Did you speak any English at this point?
JUSUPOVIC: Just a few words here and there, but no, not a lot.
SLOAN: A few words. Okay. I just wondered if you had the ability to speak some70:00English, if that would shape where they might send you or where they may not send you.
JUSUPOVIC: Oh, okay. Probably not.
SLOAN: As you began to think of hope and what might be next, I know you'rethinking about your girlfriend, but did you also imagine what you would like to do or where you would like to go? I know you didn't want to go back to where you had come from. Did you have thoughts of where you hoped you would end up?
JUSUPOVIC: No, as long as you get out of there. I mean, it was--being in Žepafor so long, you couldn't get out of there. Now, this smaller, tighter place where you are again captured, I remember I just wanted to get out of there, just to be free, so it really didn't matter where.
SLOAN: When did it become real, the hope that you were going to get to gosomewhere else? When did it become real rather than just a rumor or a possibility? 71:00
JUSUPOVIC: They started saying that Australia is [the] first [country wherepeople would be sent]. That was for several days, and then the bus came and loaded people for Australia. They started saying the USA is next. I'm not sure if I knew. I'm not sure if I knew if my name was on the list, or if they just called us when the bus came. I'm not sure if we knew in advance. (laughs)
SLOAN: Now, are you getting on the bus with full confidence that you're going tothe USA? I mean, because you've been on buses, and you don't know where you're going, and you've been tricked and lied to.
JUSUPOVIC: No, it still doesn't feel like you're free even when we got on theplane. We were flying to the USA. I don't know why, maybe from being so long there, we were thinking we were going to get some kind of camp here. That's what I was thinking, like for refugees or something, to get confined. I don't know. I 72:00remember that bus went to Belgrade from [Sljivovica]. We bused to Belgrade, then to Greece, to Athens, then [flew to] New York. Since I knew a little English, I realized that all these plane tickets are going to different places. From New York, for example, only four of us came here to Dallas. I started telling people, but still they didn't believe me. They said, "No, we're going all to one place. They'll keep us together." That's how--I don't know how to express that--psychologically beaten down we were, that it was really hard to envision your freedom.
SLOAN: Yeah, you'd lived in danger for so long.
SLOAN: You had had some exposure to Western culture. I know you had the movies,73:00TV shows, and things like that you had been interested in, but what were your thoughts about coming to the United States? What impressions did you have about what the United States was like, or did you have any kind of understanding of what it might be like?
JUSUPOVIC: I don't remember thinking about it a lot, at all. I just desired toget free, and when we got here, I remember, we stayed at some motel. I think it was La Quinta on [Interstate 75] for a night. There was a girl that worked for Catholic Charities that put us there, and we thought we were staying there. We were like, this is nice, you know, because we didn't know. We didn't have a vision that we were going to get to an apartment and start your life. Still, you 74:00don't believe, you're kind of, I don't know, it was--and even like living here for some time, it was so hard beginning to just get adjusted, that you can continue your life. (laughs)
SLOAN: Yeah, it's a complete adjustment, right? Yeah. So talk a little bit aboutthat adjustment, how you made that adjustment to this new place and new life.
JUSUPOVIC: It was really hard at the beginning. Sometimes, it was even harderthan being back in war, you know. But, I always liked it, I remember that. A lot of people came here, and they were saying all kinds of excuses. They had to work too much, or this, or that. I just remember, I always liked it here. A lot of 75:00people tried to go back to Bosnia, of course, and stayed. Some of my friends went back, tried to live there, and came back here, several of them that I know. For some reason, I always knew that I'm going to stay. Of course, I'm going to go visit and everything, but as I said, you should be a citizen of the world. I know you like that place where you were born, but when, as was the case with my city, it got all--our houses destroyed, my grandfather's place burned. I am nostalgic, but when a lot of people are not there, then it really doesn't have that feel, especially the city where I lived. Žepa is now recovering. Some 76:00people are going back and you can go back and visit, but Rogatica, where I lived before the war, is still very clean of anybody else but Serbs. Of course, after the war started, maybe one person would get back or a few. There's a community there, I'm sure, but from being a 70 percent majority to having a few houses, is a big difference.
SLOAN: Yeah. This group of four that came to Dallas, did y'all stay together?Did you know these other men?
JUSUPOVIC: I didn't know them before. We just got randomly sent here together.We stayed in an apartment for six months together, the four of us. That's how it was arranged. We got an apartment that was paid for, for four months, I believe. 77:00They found us a job later. We started working and didn't stop since then. (laughs)
SLOAN: What was your first job?
JUSUPOVIC: First job, it was where they make Drano, the liquid for sinks when itstops up.
SLOAN: Oh yeah, like Drano to unclog the sink?
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah. So I went there. For four days we worked there. I didn't wantto go back, because the guy that worked with me got a nose bleed. It was something there. It was really bad. I remember saying, "I don't want any chemicals, okay? I'll work hard, but no chemicals." I just didn't go back. They called for us, for me and another guy. They wanted us, because we did a good job. They said, "Hey, get back." I was like, "No." This girl found us, after those first four days, she found us a place at a pasta factory. I worked there 78:00for a year. I worked really hard mixing twenty tons a day for eighteen hours a day of this pasta, different dough for different pastas. There was a crew of Bosnians and Mexicans, maybe like fifteen people. I was working hard, but it was okay. It was good. I remember just trying to succeed, to make something. After the first year there, I heard about this--when my parents came, actually. They came pretty fast, like six months after I did, with my girlfriend. We got married here. I was still at that pasta factory. I always wanted to get some kind of classes, something just to try. I signed up for a place called Interactive Learning Systems, somewhere on [Interstate 35] here. I got there. I 79:00didn't know English at all, a little bit. They gave me a test, fifty questions. You have to get like fifteen [questions correct]. I did all math questions correctly (laughs), no English. I passed there, I finished, and I got some kind of diploma. My friends were making jokes with me. My Mexican friends at [the pasta factory, they are like "Oh, secretary, you're never going to make it." I wanted to work in an office or something, to get rid of the mixing pasta every day.
SLOAN: Uh-huh. (laughs)
JUSUPOVIC: I found a job for two weeks through Accountemps. I remember my wifebeing scared, because it was only two weeks, they said. I was like, I don't care. I'll try to find something after that, and I did. I found this job at 80:00Tenet Health Care. I worked there for a year. Then, my wife got a job there, and she still works there. (laughs) That was all happening in the first few years here. In '99, I started with the company that I work with now, and it's been a long time.
SLOAN: That's very quick that your parents were able to come, and your girlfriend.
SLOAN: How was that able to happen so quickly?
JUSUPOVIC: I guess that's how it was back then. It was '96. United Statesimmigration [was easier]. was, If you had family, you just sent the paperwork, filled it in. They would get an interview over there with the US embassy. It was really very quick, six months.
SLOAN: You hadn't seen them since that mountaintop in Žepa, right?81:00
SLOAN: What was that reunion like?
JUSUPOVIC: Oh, it was insane at the airport. They found my father, too, inCroatia, because the interview at the US embassy was in Croatia. Since he worked in Croatia, they met him there, and my girlfriend. They just all came together here.
SLOAN: You hadn't seen your father in years.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, very long time.
SLOAN: How has it been for them, do you think, that transition to the UnitedStates? Of course, you had a head start, so you could help them, I guess, a little bit.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, sure. We lived together for the first six months, then I gotthe separate apartment. We used to live close, in the same apartment complex. 82:00[While] my kids [were] growing up, my mother would take care of them. It was really easy for me, I have to admit, because in the morning, we would leave for work, and she would just come from her apartment, like just a few steps. It was next door. (laughs)
SLOAN: That's very nice. (laughs)
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah. No daycare. (laughs) That was easy.
SLOAN: You also said you've had the opportunity to go back some, and you've hadthe opportunity to take your kids back. What's it been like for you to be able to go back and see your extended family?
JUSUPOVIC: It was really exciting to reunite, especially [for] my wife. Thefirst time we visited was almost four years after [she came here]. It was hard for her parents to just send her like that [to the United States].
JUSUPOVIC: It's far. Even now, it takes a long time to get there. You switch83:00three or four different planes to get there. It was really good to see everybody again, but my parents and my wife were here so that's a big chunk of my people. (laughs)
SLOAN: Yeah, that's very fortunate, because we talk to a lot of folks that haveimmigrated, and they don't have that experience. Yeah, that is amazing.
JUSUPOVIC: Well as I mentioned earlier, Nathan Roberts and Melissa Sloan arewith me, and I always give Nathan a chance to ask some questions, if Nathan has any.
ROBERTS: I do, I do have a few questions. Thank you so much for having us Dino,and for being so hospitable, for letting us into your house, and for being willing to speak with us.
ROBERTS: [There are] a few things that I am curious about. One is the computerwork that you did while you were in Žepa. Can you describe the computer you 84:00were working on, and what sort of information you were dealing with that was coming in?
JUSUPOVIC: Since Žepa, Srebrenica, and Gorazde--that was a third city--wereisolated deep toward the Serbian border, that's East Bosnia, it was really hard to establish any kind of connection with our government. At some point, several guys--I don't know how many, ten, fifteen--they were able to go all the way from Žepa to Sarajevo, all through the mountains. I don't know how they made it. They went there, and they brought back some computers to be able to send the messages. The messages were civilian and military matters, maybe some orders 85:00from the government for Žepa's defense, for example. I was there instead of being fighting where some other people are. That was my duty there. I'm not sure how they call that in the US, like in the army, that position.
ROBERTS: What was the format for the messaging? Was this like--I mean, I guess I'm--
JUSUPOVIC: It was like typing. Something would be typed like in Word, forexample. I don't know what it was. It was something X, those computers. I can't remember what it is, but you type something, you save it, and it goes by encryption. You're sending it to somebody, and you hear these sounds like it's going through, and you know when it went through. I don't know what system it 86:00was now.
SLOAN: On the phone lines? It's using the phone lines to communicate?
JUSUPOVIC: There was no phone connection.
ROBERTS: Yeah, so that's--
JUSUPOVIC: I'm not sure how it all worked. I know that you would type something,encrypt it, and then we'd send it.
ROBERTS: When you left Žepa, and you went across the river, you said you hadmoney, when you were in the camp that you made it to. What all did you take with you, and how did you make those decisions? I mean, what did you have with you when you left the mountaintop?
JUSUPOVIC: Well, before the mountain, I was at my grandfather's house. Usually,when you're leaving like that, and you see that something's going to happen, everybody would have a little backpack with a few shirts and some food. I remember particularly having some honey, some dried plums, some bread, stuff 87:00like that that you could survive on for some period of time.
ROBERTS: Your family knew that you were leaving, so you had, kind of, a goodbye there?
JUSUPOVIC: Yes. They were on top of this mountain, and I remember saying goodbyeto my mother, sister, and my girlfriend, everybody, because they were staying. They were going to get evacuated, so they had to descend down this mountain and get in the center of the town to get evacuated.
ROBERTS: You were escaping on foot, and they were going to go down and getevacuated themselves.
JUSUPOVIC: It was arranged.
ROBERTS: It was arranged.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, it was arranged between all these negotiations. Serbian side,the Bosnian government, UN. They sent all these buses to evacuate people.
ROBERTS: Interesting. Okay, well, one more question. You have children now.88:00You've taken them to Bosnia. You also agreed to do this and tell your story. What made you want to do that, to tell your story to us and share?
JUSUPOVIC: Why not? The very good reason is if you say somebody will use thisfor oral history classes and teaching, that's good. Of course, we probably all like to tell our story. Whatever happened to us, we would like to tell somebody. Especially if it's unusual or something you survived, you'd like to tell people. I remember, when we were in school, you read something from history, you read a couple of pages, you learn, and you have a test, and that's it. But, do you 89:00really understand what happened to those people, what they've been through, the feeling and everything? Maybe an interview like this will get closer to somebody to feel what it meant actually.
ROBERTS: I think you've done a fantastic job, and we've really enjoyed listeningto your story. That's all the questions I've got. Thank you.
JUSUPOVIC: Thank you.
SLOAN: As I think about the promises that you've made, I'm glad that you'remaking good on your promise to take your wife to Hawaii.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah. Actually, we've been there.
SLOAN: Oh, you've already been? This is not the first trip.
JUSUPOVIC: Yeah, '99, but not with kids. This is with kids.
SLOAN: You made good on that promise years ago.
SLOAN: Well, is there anything else that you'd like to share that we haven'tasked you about or haven't had a chance to ask you about?
JUSUPOVIC: I don't really know. I mean, it's kind of hard. Maybe you remembersomething later that you don't know. Maybe an anecdote. When the war started and 90:00my brother-in-law said, "It was funny, you know, everybody said war got them at the wrong time." I was like, "How?" He was like, "I finished high school, and I was about to start my life, go to college, and the war started. My father said, 'My kids were all grown up, and I was about to get my quiet and peaceful life, and the war started.' My grandfather said, 'I had all my family and grandchildren. I was really enjoying my life, and the war started.'" We were laughing, but I'm like, "Is there any right time for war, like ever?" (laughs)
SLOAN: I think the answer is no.
JUSUPOVIC: Of course not. (laughs)
SLOAN: Thank you again, Dino, for sitting down with us and sharing with us.
JUSUPOVIC: Thank you.
end of interview