Exhibition on Jewish community in Serbia before Holocaust

The exhibition Portraits and Memories - The Jewish Community in Serbia before the Holocaust is currently being presented at Staro Sajmiste.

Source: B92

The exhibition at the former-German pavilion presents over 1000 pre-Holocaust era photographs, collected from the family albums of Holocaust survivors and the archive of the Jewish Historical Museum in Belgrade.

The photographs have been collected as part of an initiative by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia to create a digital archive of pre-Holocaust era photographs and testimonies of Holocaust survivors. The digital archive, which currently contains 2,500 period photographs, will be made available to the public online later in 2015.

In 1941 the Jewish community in Serbia had a population of nearly 34,000 people. In the course of the Holocaust, over 27,000 Serbian Jews were murdered. One of the main Holocaust sites in Serbia was the Semlin Judenlager at the Belgrade Fairgrounds –Staro Sajmiste.

In December 1941 a concentration camp was established at Sajmište by the German occupying forces. The camp was one of the first established in Europe by the Nazis specifically for the detention of Jews. Approximately 7,000 Jews –mostly women, children and elderly– were imprisoned at the camp. Between March and May 1942 the camp’s inmates were systematically murdered using a mobile ‘gas van’ and their bodies buried in mass graves at Jajinci on the outskirts of Belgrade. On May 10, 1942, 74 years ago, the last of the camp’s inmates were killed.

The former-German Pavilion was built in 1938 by Nazi Germany as part of the Belgrade Fair development. It is extremely unusual that a complex built by the Nazis outside of Germany before the Second World War was later used as a concentration camp. Since 1948 the building has been used by the company Auto Kuca Rade Koncar.

The site of the exhibition is therefore very important for the Jewish Community. They hope that in the near future the former-German pavilion will be developed into a Holocaust commemoration and education center.

The exhibition opened on May 10, marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in Belgrade, and is open to the public through Sunday May 17.

Society

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