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Valter Defends Sarajevo

Vladimir Perić (1919-45) Vladimir Perić (1919-45) - Copyright © by Tim Judah Vladimir Perić (1919-45) - Copyright © by Tim Judah

One of the key figures in the Partisan resistance in Bosnia and Sarajevo was the youthful Vladimir Perić, codenamed Valter (1919-45). Towards the end of he war he "revitalized the KP's [Communist Party] urban-rural link with Partisan forces and reconstructed the KP to resume its support of the Partisan movement with personnel, supplies and intelligence." He was to die in the last hours of the war in Sarajevo, on 6 April 1945. Today, his bust stands in a forlorn corner, close to the Skenderija Bridge.

In an apocryphal scene from the 1972 film Valter brani Sarajevo (Valter defends Sarajevo), a German officer, having been relived of his command for failing to capture the elusive Partisan resistance leader Valter, voices his grudging admiration for the city. "Now that I must leave Sarajevo, I finally know who Valter is," he states. Another German officer orders him, "Then tell me his name right now!" Sweeping his hand across the vista of the city, the first officer answers, "You see this city? Das ist Valter!" His last three words have been etched in the consciousness of Sarajevans ever since. Resistance to tyranny is the very essence of the city, according to this cinematic history lesson eagerly embraced by Sarajevans as accurately portraying their fundamental ideals. Valter has frequently been resurrected to personify various causes, most notably during the antinationalist and anti-war demonstrations in March of 1992.

[p.238]

Sarajevo: A Biography. 2005. Robert Donia [C. Hurst & Co]

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