In November 1991 Zlata Filipovic, not quite eleven years old, started to write a diary. She lived with her parents in Sarajevo, Bosnia, part of the old Yugoslavia, and her life was quite ordinary. Her father was a lawyer and her mother a chemist so the family lived a comfortable life. Zlata wrote about herself, her friends, her holidays, parties and all the little things that made up her life – until 5 April 1992 when her life was turned upside down. The war that had started over the break up of Yugoslavia spread to Sarajevo and for Zlata “That was the day that time stood still”. Her diary changed dramatically as she began to record the horrors of war – the fear during bombing, hiding in the cellar, the gradual disintegration of life in a city without food, electricity or water and worst of all, the death of her best friend in a bomb attack. Just before Christmas 1993, Zlata was airlifted to safety in Paris where she began to study at the International School. Her diary has ensured that the children of Sarajevo will not be forgotten. It was originally published in Croat but has now been translated into over twenty languages and published across the world.
Zlata embarked with her parents on a world tour, speaking and promoting peace. She was interviewed by leading newspapers and television stations in Europe, UK, Canada, USA and Australia. She was also awarded the Special Child of Courage Award by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (an organisation that looks for war criminals, especially those involved in the Nazi anti-Jewish campaigns of World War II, and seeks justice). Zlata and her family used the proceeds of her book to launch a charity to help victims, particularly children, of the Bosnian War.