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Introduction

In this diary, eleven-year-old Zlata Filipović describes her life in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. barricade
    a barrier to impede the advance of an enemy
    I found out that Zlata was a thirteen-year-old girl, living with her parents, who had been keeping a diary since September 1991, a few months before the first barricades went up in the city and the heavy shelling began.
  2. elegant
    refined and tasteful in appearance, behavior, or style
    Her family was comfortably well-off, the apartment in which her parents had lived for twenty years was spacious and elegant with a view of the river, and they had neighbors, relatives and friends nearby who were constantly dropping in.
  3. artillery
    large but transportable armament
    Within a couple of months of Zlata’s first diary entry, Serbian artillery positions were set up on the hills directly above her house and the family had to move all their possessions into the front room, which was protected from shrapnel by sandbags.
  4. shrapnel
    shell containing lead pellets that explodes in flight
    Within a couple of months of Zlata’s first diary entry, Serbian artillery positions were set up on the hills directly above her house and the family had to move all their possessions into the front room, which was protected from shrapnel by sandbags.
  5. rubble
    the remains of something that has been destroyed
    At that point, Bosnians who could leave the city fled; others refused to go, not really believing that their city would be reduced to rubble.
  6. desperately
    with great urgency
    Zlata watched with disbelief as her friends and relatives tried desperately to flee before it was too late.
  7. comprehend
    get the meaning of something
    She could not comprehend the issues that had become all-important: ethnic cleansing, the Geneva talks, Lord Owen and the division of Bosnia.
  8. despair
    a state in which all hope is lost or absent
    Her mother, a chemist, began to slip into a state of gloom and despair as the family spent day after day cowering in the cellar while heavy artillery ravaged Sarajevo.
  9. cower
    show submission or fear
    Her mother, a chemist, began to slip into a state of gloom and despair as the family spent day after day cowering in the cellar while heavy artillery ravaged Sarajevo.
  10. ravage
    cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly
    Her mother, a chemist, began to slip into a state of gloom and despair as the family spent day after day cowering in the cellar while heavy artillery ravaged Sarajevo.
  11. diligent
    quietly and steadily persevering in detail or exactness
    Before the war, she had been a diligent student studying English, music, math and literature, but because the Serbs often targeted schools and playgrounds, school was stopped—it was too dangerous to walk the few blocks to attend classes.
  12. flinch
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    We sat on a wall and when a shell fell I noticed that she did not flinch.
  13. resign
    accept as inevitable
    I thought then that she seemed more adult, more resigned and stoical, than most of the adults I knew.
  14. stoic
    seeming unaffected by pleasure or pain; impassive
    I thought then that she seemed more adult, more resigned and stoical, than most of the adults I knew.
  15. notorious
    known widely and usually unfavorably
    But the area was deep in the territory of a warlord who was notorious for stealing cars and flak jackets and for dragging Bosnians out of their cars and forcing them to dig trenches.
  16. flak
    artillery designed to shoot upward at airplanes
    But the area was deep in the territory of a warlord who was notorious for stealing cars and flak jackets and for dragging Bosnians out of their cars and forcing them to dig trenches.
    A flak jacket is designed to protect the wearer from fragments and shrapnel from anti-aircraft and other artillery.
  17. pathetic
    deserving or inciting pity
    I used my Deutsche Marks to buy all I could find on the black market: the selection was pathetic, but I knew that Zlata and her parents would welcome anything.
  18. wilt
    become limp
    So I climbed the stairs to their apartment with a few bags of wilted vegetables, a few cans of Coke, some chocolate, a few cans of meat, some candles.
  19. reminisce
    recall the past
    When I talked to Zlata later about food, she reminisced about all the wonderful things that she used to eat, and then laughing, said, “Stop! That’s enough!”
  20. inspire
    serve as the inciting cause of
    Perhaps it was the confidence inspired by her family life that gave her the will to endure the horrors that were taking place on her doorstep.
  21. traumatize
    inflict an emotional wound or shock upon
    All of them were traumatized and shell-shocked.
  22. syndrome
    a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease
    I spoke to psychiatrists who talked of post-traumatic stress syndrome and the effect of the war on all these children.
  23. detached
    showing lack of emotional involvement
    Zlata was different: she was suffering, but because she was recording the events taking place around her, she tended to see the world from a slightly detached viewpoint.
  24. besiege
    cause to feel distressed or worried
    There are hundreds of thousands like her in Bosnia: besieged, frightened, their short lives suddenly ground to a halt.
  25. contingent
    a gathering of persons representative of some larger group
    However, on December 23, 1993, Zlata and her parents were transported from their home in the Skenderija district of old Sarajevo in two armored vehicles of the French UNPROFOR contingent and taken through government and Serb checkpoints at the airport.
Created on October 18, 2018 (updated October 19, 2018)

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