In besieged Sarajevo, hope was 700 meters long.
The city was almost completely surrounded.
On three sides, the Serbian army threw grenades from the mountains; the Olympic bobsled track had become a shelter for the military, while snipers hiding in the nearby hills were dead every day.
The fourth side of that ideal rectangle was closed by the runway of Sarajevo airport. A runway where only UNITED Nations aircraft and a few flights of humanitarian aid landed by now.
Beyond the track was the Free Republic of Bosnia, of which Sarajevo was the capital and outpost stretched out into Serbian territory.
Nedzan Brankovic, an engineer who later became Prime Minister of Bosnia, had an idea as risky as it was effective: to build a tunnel under the airport runway.
The tunnel would have exited into the fields of free territory, beyond the siege line.
Work began in March 1993. The Bosnian army guarded the entrance and began digging.
We needed people to dig.
As many people as possible.
Trusted people: useful to the cause, but above all trust me. Grenades fell everywhere and didn’t spare even children. Let alone a house that would have been an escape route, but above all a supply route to Sarajevo.
The Tunnel of Hope was finished on June 30, 1993 and was immediately used.
“Tunel Spasa”, they called it: “The Tunnel of Hope”.
At full capacity that narrow tunnel saw about 3 thousand people pass through each day in both directions and several tons of goods.
From there passed the survival of Sarajevo.