Oslobođenje was founded on 30 August 1943 in Donja Trnova near Ugljevik, as an anti-Nazi newspaper. During the Bosnian war and the Siege of Sarajevo, the Oslobođenje staff operated out of a makeshift newsroom in a bomb shelter after its 10-story office building had been destroyed. The war left five staff members dead and 25 wounded.
In 1993, it was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The editors of Oslobođenje, Kemal Kurspahić and Gordana Knezević, were named International Editors of the Year for 1993 by the World Press Review for their "bravery, tenacity, and dedication to the principles of journalism." Immediately after the war ended in 1995, editor-in-chief, Mehmed Halilovic accepted the University of Missouri [Mizzou] Honor Medal from the School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri for continuous publication of the daily newspaper throughout the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo. During the war, its staff, consisting of Bosniaks, Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Croats, managed to print the paper every day except for one.