Victims of WW2 fascist raids remembered in Novi Sad
Novi Sad on Wednesday marked 71 years since occupying fascist Hungarian forces murdered at least 1,300 of the town's residents.Izvor: Beta, Tanjug
The massacre, known as the Novi Sad Raid, targeted mostly the local Serb and Jewish population.
The gathering today at a memorial on the bank of the Danube - a location from which the bodies of the victims were thrown into the river - was attended by Serbian First Deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić, Hungarian Deputy PM Tibor Navracsics, Novi Sad Mayor Miloš Vučević, and religious dignitaries, including SPC Bishop Irinej Bulović and Chief Rabbi of Serbia Isak Asiel.
Vučić addressed the gathering to say that he was convinced that members of all religious communities in Serbia can build a different relationship in the future, and that he was proud that the anniversary of the crime was marked with a message of peace, hope and love.
The minister also thanked religious dignitaries and ambassadors of Israel and Hungary, as well as the Hungarian deputy PM, for attending.
"I think this is the first time that we have marked this today together in Novi Sad, and that shows that we have learned a lot from our mistakes, convinced that we can build different relations in the future," Vučić said after the wreath-placing ceremony.
Mayor Miloš Vučević noted that entire generations of Novi Sad residents disappeared in 1942 and that "an entire town was thrown under the ice of the Danube". For this reason, the official noted, the crime must be remembered, "because peaceful coexistence is the only barrier against such events".
Serbian Orthodox Church and Jewish community representatives warned that even seven decades after the massacre, "we live in a world where horrible crimes could be perpetrated any day".
Bishop of Bačka Irinej stated in his address that our world was one of "disturbed values, were executioners are victimized, and victims criminalized".
SPC representative in Novi Sad Vladan Simić said he was pleased to see "a joint approach and similar positions once again marking the anniversary", and thanked the mayor for entrusting the organization of the event to the Eparchy of Bačka, "which is the most deserving guarding of the memory of the Raid victims".
Chief Rabbi Isak Asiel also addressed those gathered to say that during the Second World War, Jews, "living in the history of faith" - survived through to the end of the history of force.
Jewish Community President Goran Levi said it was important to place remembrance of the victims above politics:
"The marking of the Novi Sad Raid serves the purpose of warning about what happened 71 years ago, and what can happen to innocent citizens. Only a constant reminder of what can happen is a guarantee that this greatest suffering in the history of Novi Sad will never be repeated."
The ceremony today honored some 1,300 residents of the town, rounded up and executed on January 21, 22, and 23, by the Hungarian occupation forces. More raids were conducted in the region and some data suggest that up to 4,000 innocent people died in the space of several days - mostly Serbs and Jews.