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Demonstrations in front of the parliament, Ljubljana, March 23 1993. Photo: Tone Stojko. © Muzej za novejšo zgodovino Slovenije [National Museum of Contemporary History], collection Tone Stojko, inv. n. TS19932303_22.

In July, Jelena Seferović conducted research work at the Archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Sarajevo. She analyzed the official documentation related to “Station for Persons with Mental Disorders”, established in the Vakuf’s Hospital building. The purpose of this research work was to discover details of its activity, starting from the year of it’s establishment in 1894 to 1909, when it was closed. Ultimately, the intention was to rethink the roots of organized psychiatric care in Austro-Hungary and in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Nadmlini street, the street one walked through to get to the Halibašić street, where the Vakuf’s Hospital was located. Both streets are in the center of the town.
Halibašića street.

“Station for Persons with Mental Disorders” was the first specialized institution to accommodate individuals with mental disorders in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was located in Halibašić street, in the center of Sarajevo city. It started to operate after the patients from the Vakuf’s hospital were moved to a new building, a newly-built general hospital in one of Sarajevo’s settlements, named Koševo.  It was closed after a decade and a half of activity, namely because a new psychiatric department was built within the Koševo hospital.

Photo shows the ruins of the Vakuf Hospital, the so-called Hastahana, the oldest hospital in Bosnia and Herzegovina, first opened in 1866. In 1894, the “Station for the people with mental disorders” began to work at its premises. In 1909 it was closed because a General Hospital in Sarajevo, named Koševo, got their own psychiatric department. The hospital building was declared a national monument of BiH in 2007.

Department had a capacity of about 30 beds, which was too small for this part of Austro Hungary, therefore the patients were moved to a nearby psychiatric hospital. For now, the collected data indicate that this institution cooperated with the Croatian psychiatric hospital in Stenjevac and the psychiatric department of the general hospital in Pakrac. Exploring the “Stations” activity is important because it explains the beginning of cooperation between the psychiatric institutions in the Monarchy area, which continued in an even more intensive form during both world wars and in the interwar period.

The ruins of the hospital.

Since the “Station” was operating on the premises of the first hospital in BiH, the building was declared a national monument in 2007. However, due to the war destruction in Sarajevo during the 1990s and the lack of maintenance of the former Vakuf’s hospitals, so-called Hastahana, her ruins are waiting to be removed.

The ruins of the hospital.

Further research will involve an analysis of the rest of the archival material related to the “Station”, stored in the Archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will also include exploring of archival material related to the activity of this institution in the Sarajevo Historical Archives and the Zemaljski muzej in Sarajevo. The results of this research will be presented at a scientific conference, held at the end of this year, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Institute of History in Sarajevo.

The ruins of the hospital.

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