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Surviving at the Edge - Notes from Bosnia

 Welcome to HellJune1, 2014 | by Steve McCurdy

From 1992 and 1995, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Hertzogovina were involved in a bloody war against Serbia and Croatia. By some estimates 200,000 people died in that war, and as many as 150,000 were civilians.

A civilian Bosnian survivor made a recording of his terrifying experiences and what he learned from them during one year of the war. His French recording was later translated by two Russian survivalists who knew the man, and the translation has been excerpted in a small number of US publications, including Casey Research, which is our source.


The lessons from this man’s experience are instructive for us all. The man’s direct quotes below are in parentheses enclosed by quotation marks.

“For one year I lived and survived in a city of 6,000 people, without water, electricity,gasoline, medical help, civil defense, retail distribution service, or centralized rule. Our city was blockaded by the army. We had no police, and no army. All we had was armed groups, armed to protect their homes and families.” 

“When it started some were better prepared than others. Most had enough food for only a few days. Some had pistols and a few had AK-47s. The Americans dropped MREs every 10 days to blockaded cities, but this was never enough. After a month or two gangs started operating, destroying everything.”

foraging for survival food“Men became monsters. It was disgusting. We drank rainwater, and we ate pigeons and even rats. The things that became essentials were guns, ammunition, candles, lighters, antibiotics, gasoline, batteries and of course food. We fought for these things like animals. Many died from diseases, especially from the water.”

The man goes on to describe almost stone-age conditions based entirely on the concept of survival of the fittest. His observations on what items had the most value, and on how he would prepare if he had it to do over again are priceless and should be filed away by all of us for future reference. They should definitely comprise our bug out bag.The following, in a question and answer format, are some of his most noteworthy thoughts from the interview:

What would you stockpile?:

“First and foremost are guns and ammo. Everything else is second. If you forget anything there will always be someone to trade with for it, but if you forget guns and ammo you will have no access to trading. I now have four guns with 2,000 rounds for each one.”
“You should obviously have food, but hygiene items like disinfectants, detergents, bleach, soaps, gloves, and masks, first aid equipment including antibiotics are actually more important to me than food, because you can always find some food.”
“Many people died from insufficient hygiene, and you need great amounts of simple items like garbage bags, toilet paper, and paper plates and cups.” 
“I would also have a supply of little trading items, things like knives, lighters, flints,and soap. And small bottles of whiskey are great for trading.”

Were gold and silver useful?

“Yes, I personally traded all the gold I had for ammunition. Sometimes we got our hands on money, but this was rare and prices were astronomical – like for a can of beans. Most paper money becomes worthless, and you get  what you need primarily by trading.”

homeless bosnian survivor
On the street with all her worldly possessions

What about your personal knowledge and skills?

“The ability to fix things, including people, is more important than gold, and will keep you fed. I had a container of cooking gas, but I didn’t use it for heat. I attached a nozzle to it and used it to fill lighters. Lighters were precious. When a man brought me an empty lighter I would refill it for a tin of food or a candle.”
“I sometimes acted as a paramedic, and my neighbor knew how to make kerosene for lamps. He was never hungry.”

Our Bosnian attributes his survival to the fact that he was part of a close-knit group of fifteen family members and very close friends who always acted in concert and who each day planned together for every contingency. Only two members of the group perished during the year-long ordeal, both from disease and not from violence. The Bosnian survivor remains anonymous by his own wish.
It is unlikely that things in the United States and the West will deteriorate to anywhere near the extent they did in Bosnia. However, understanding what can happen when chaos and anarchy overtake a civil society cannot help but benefit us as we face what lies ahead. We are once again reminded of the old dictum “Those who prepare for the worst will  never be disappointed.”

Go here to get some great ideas that will help in your preparations.


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