Kurt Schork, an American reporter and war correspondent shares an unusual connection with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sarajevo in particular.
Originally from Washington D.C. Schork worked in many professions before devoting his career fully to journalism. He reported extensively on conflicts around the world including the Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Chechnya.
Many foreign war correspondents were reporting from Bosnia during the war, but Kurt’s writings made a difference as they brought the world’s attention to the plight of Bosnian people. One of his texts marked not only his career but also immortalized the story of a young couple from Sarajevo which stressed the human tragedy in the war, which is so often lost in the statistical reports.
The story is about Admira Ismić and Boško Brkić, today known globally as Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo. In the city surrounded by canons and almost successfully divided along ethnic lines they defied the monstrosity by showing that love knows no bounds.
Admira was a Bosniak girl from Sarajevo and Boško was a Serb, which means they belonged to the two opposite sides that were fighting each other, but they were deeply in love and continued to be so even during the bombing of their city. Their love ended tragically and Kurt Schork was the first one to write about it.
After the article was published the story became known worldwide which inspired music bands and film directors alike to devote their work to this most unusual human tragedy. Boško and Admira became Romeo and Juliet of surrounded Sarajevo.
The siege of Sarajevo was lifted in early 1996 and Kurt Schork continued to report from other war torn areas. In one of his assignments in Sierra Leone he got caught up in an ambush together with cameraman Miguel Gil Moreno de Mora of Spain, who worked for Associated Press Television, the outcome was fatal. In the attack in which Schork died two other Reuters journalists, South African cameraman Mark Chisholm and Greek photographer Yannis Behrakis suffered injuries.
According to his own wishes one half of Kurt’s ashes was brought to Sarajevo and lay buried next to the grave of Admira an Boško while the other half stays in Washington D.C., his hometown. He has been memorialized posthumously, namely in Sarajevo one street is named after him and he has been granted the citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At Jamestown College, his alma mater, one newsroom has been dedicated to him.
His friends and colleagues remember him as a modest and selfless man. He famously ran to help a wounded woman who got shot during an attack on a funeral in Sarajevo in August 1992. Reuters Editor-in-chief Geert Linnebank had this to say about him: “Kurt the pragmatist knew that if his by-line did not gain fame with the broad public, it really did register with those of influence and power. And, as an idealist, Kurt sensed that if his reporting of the dark forgotten places that attracted him like a magnet that that reporting could help shape events and actions too, that it would on occasion dispel lethargy and strengthen resolve, and lighten the burden of those without power or voice.”
To find out more about the Bosnian War and to see many places relevant to the Siege of Sarajevo such as the bridge which divided the city, the one next to which two famous lovers had died we suggest you join us on our Fall of Yugoslavia Tour that starts every day from our office.
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