Stories of Courage

Stories of Courage

Danilo Nikolić

Rescuer from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Danilo Nikoli, who is featured in PROOF's "Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers" exhibition. Photo: Paul Lowe. 

“The Jewish community began organizing convoys from Sarajevo to Croatia. We called them Jewish convoys, yet only one of every five passengers was a Jew, while the rest were other citizens of Sarajevo. One day a Croatian soldier came onto the bus and gathered a list of passengers. He asked: “Are there any Serbs here?” and I felt the atmosphere change. No one was breathing. He said, “For example, this Bošković!”

Bošković was an older Serbian gentleman, around eighty, who was married to a Jewish woman. He was wearing a safari hat and carrying a cane. Bošković stood up, acting as if the soldier hadn’t just spoken about him. He put his cane on the seat and, searching for something in his pocket, pulled out the few Croatian dinars that he possessed. On the bill, there was a picture of Ruđer Bošković, a very famous physicist from Dubrovnik. Our Bošković took the Dinar and asked, “Sir, how dare you? When every day you look at the face of my great grandfather!” In that moment, realizing that the man shared the same last name as the famous Croatian physicist, he said, “Sorry, sorry, you can go!”

When I stepped back onto the bus, everyone began to laugh at the way the man had reacted, but everyone knew that if the Croat soldier had realized this man was a Serb, he would have been taken, and no one would have been able to stop it.

With our convoys, 5,000 people were able to get out of Sarajevo without getting hurt.”