Papo Laura - Bohoreta

Language of Description
1927 - 1942
Level of Description
  • Ladino
  • Serbo-Croatian
  • Latin

Extent and Medium

1 box

Biographical History

Laura Papo Bohoreta was born in Sarajevo on 15 March 1891, into the poor Jewish family of Juda and Esther Levi, the first of their seven children. Juda Levi was a trader, but as he did not have success in Sarajevo, he relocated to Istanbul in 1900 with his family. In Turkey, they changed the name of Luna into a more modern and international one - Laura. For eight years in Istanbul, Laura attended the International French School for Jews "Alliance Israélite Française". After eight years, Levi's family returned to Sarajevo, just as poor as before, only with more children. In order to help her family, Laura gave lessons in French, Latin, German and piano. With Laura's help, her sisters Nina, Klara and Blanka (the mother of the famous writer Gordana Kuić) opened a salon "Chapeau Chic Parisien" in Sarajevo. Immediately upon returning to Sarajevo, at the age of 17, Laura realized that the fire of the Sephardi tradition and folklore had begin to extinguish, and she began to collect romances, poems, stories and Sephardic proverbs. In addition, she translated and adapted the works of French authors: Jules Verne "Captain Grant's Children" and Emile de Girardin's "Joy of Fears" ("La joie fait peur – Alegria espanta"). A milestone in her social engagement was the article "South Slav women in politics" ("Die Südslawische Frau in der Politik"), published in 1916 in the "Bosnische Post", a Bosnian-Herzegovinian newspapers printed in German language , where Jelica Belović-Bernadzikowska dedicated a chapter to Sephardic women in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this article, the Sephardic woman was described as a nun, a tradition of a loyal woman who faithfully preserves patriarchal values. This angered Laura, and she published the answer "Die Spanolische" the same day a week later in the same newspaper, with the intention of a more realistic presentation of the Sephardic woman, her role in the family, her virtues and defects. During the 1930s, Laura wrote seven drama: the single-act "Sometimes" (Avia de ser), "Patience of the Couples Worth" (La pasjensija vale mučo), "Past times" (Tjempos pasados), the drama in three acts "My Eyes" (Ožos mios), and three drama of social content in three acts "The Mother and the Blind of Good" (Esterka, Shuegra ni de baro buena) and "The Brotherhood of the stepmother, the name speaks enough "(Hermandat Madrasta el nombre le abasta).

Laura Papo wrote in Ladino at a time when there was a significant decrease in the use of such language. She renewed and adapted expressions to the spirit of the time and succeeded in her writings to instill the connection between the young people of the community and the language in which their forefathers spoke. Papo collaborated with the youth theater group of the Sarajevo community Matathias, which performed her plays. In this, she argued, she was struggling with "linguistic assimilation." Her writings were written in three spelling methods. In general, her publications, articles, and plays for the local audience were in Serbo-Croatian with elements of Castilian, which helped to spread her works. In her personal writings not to the general public, she writes mixedly in Castilian and Serbo-Croatian, and in her formal writings that are not for the local audience, she emphasizes Castilian.

At the very beginning of the Second World War and the Holocaust, in 1941, both her sons were taken by the Ustasha to the concentration camp Jasenovac. Broken with sorrow and worry, Laura fell ill and died in 1942 at the Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Sarajevo. She did not know that her sons had been killed by the Ustasha on the way to Jasenovac.


Purchased from the sister of Laura Papo in 1961.

Scope and Content

The fond contains original manuscripts and related documents of Laura Papo - Bohoreta. The Archive of Sarajevo considers this fond one of its most important and relevant collections among those of families/public figures, since Laura Papo was one of key figures in Sephardic community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She died in 1942, and lost members of her family due to Holocaust.

Conditions Governing Access

Records are available. Digital copies (scans) of high quality also available.

Finding Aids

  • Detailed inventory available.

Archivist Note

The description was made by Adnan Tinjic.

Rules and Conventions

EHRI Guidelines for Description v.1.0