Organized by the Bosnian-American Library of Chicago
“One of the most important ways to remember the genocide in Srebrenica is to commemorate the atrocities every July 11th,” said Mr. Samuel Harris, Holocaust survivor and president of Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
“Today I am in this room with beautiful Bosnian and Herzegovinian people who have also experienced genocide in their country. We must say to the world – NEVER AGAIN,” he added.
The program Day of Remembrance of Srebrenica Genocide is given in memory of, and with deep respect to, the more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim (Bosniaks) men and boys, from 14 to 70 years old, who were killed by order of Bosnian Serb, General Ratko Mladic and the 25,000 women, children, and elderly who were deported from the city of Srebrenica. This was the most heinous war crime in Europe since the Second World War, and we wish to help create a thorough knowledge of what happened in Srebrenica, so it may be incorporated into our historical remembrance. In calling the public’s attention to the events of July 11, 1995 in Srebrenica, we can no longer passively accept that genocide is – in any way – humane! It is also a warning to future generations that this crime should never happen again to any group of people, anywhere or anytime. The possibility for greater understanding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the world depends upon our realization that truth and justice are the first steps towards reconciliation.
In the video presentation of testimonies of Srebrenica genocide survivors, Zuhra Osmanovic, stated, “On July 11th I tried to go into a truck with my kids. However, when I was trying to cross the dividing line that the Dutch soldiers posted, one Serbian soldier came to me and took my son from my hands. He asked me how old was he. Mirnes said that he was 15 but I said 13. I lied because I wanted them to let him go. I told him that he was wounded and the soldier asked who hurt him. I was afraid and I said that I didn’t know. I was fighting to hold on to my son but obviously the soldier was stronger than me and took Mirnes from my hands and took him on the left side of dividing line and after that somewhere, I don’t know where…… At that same moment the Chetniks put Memlo Osmanovic, Hasan Halic and Orhan to the left side of the tracks. They didn’t care how old they were. Memlo was around 25, my son was only 14, Orhan was 14, and Hassan 50. They took all generations of men. That’s why we can never forget the genocide that the Serbs did, especially in Srebrenica. …….And again I would like to repeat that we need to write, talk, and broadcast on the radio, TV, and newspapers the events in Srebrenica….. So that it is not repeated and does not happen again.” Zuhra Osmanovic sent her powerful message to the audience, and the world.
“And I still don’t know anything about my son. For Azem, my husband, they have already identified his bones. We had a funeral for him on July 11, 2006 . I had been hoping that he would come back but now I have no hope for him. …Now I’m living with my daughter in Chicago, Mersa. She’s married and has a beautiful child. My grandson’s name is Dino. In my Dino, my Sanja (interviewer), I see my Mirnes’ eyes. I look and look at Dino looking for Mirnes’ mouth, his eyes, his ears, but only his eyes are the same as Mirnes. I could cry and cry, but I still live in hope that I will find out news about my son whether he is alive or dead or if they can find his bones like other people from Srebrenica. And then he could rest in peace. There are many thousands and thousands of people from Srebrenica that are dead. He could rest in peace in the black soil.”
Zehra Spiodic, maiden name Omerovic, also a Srebrenica genocide survivor, said “I would never forget my father Sulejman Omerovic. He had a nice face, black hair and blue eyes. He was a peaceful man. Chetnics took him with them on July 11 1995 when he was trying to go into a truck with his family. I have never seen him again since then.
He was unarmed like all other men. United Nations Peace Keeping Troops and NATO took our weapons and the world promise to save us. It did not happened.10, 000 unarmed men were killed in Srebrenica “.
“Srebrenica in America”, the exhibition prepared by Ismet Ramic and Sanja Seferovic Drnovsek complimented these testimonies.( Chronology of Srebrenica Genocide, Information about Genocides that took place in 20 the century including Darfur today, Zuhra and Zehra Stories with pictures of their families, Samuel Harris and My Mom, Letters to Senators , Petitions)
A director of Holocaust Museum, our honored guest, Mr. Samuel Harris, talked about” The Power of Testimony”. I paraphrased a part of his speech notes.
“In 1905 George Santayana wrote :’those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.’
One of the most important ways to remember the genocide in Srebrenica is to commemorate the atrocities every July 11th .
The reason I am here today is because I was asked to share my memories in Emin’s school of gifted students at Taft Public School. The sharing of my memories in Emin’s class compelled him to write a magnificent article for the newspapers. We do not have to worry about our future because we have Emin, such a bright young man. His mom Sanja and aunt Selena, who prepared this program of Day of Remembrance of Genocide in Srebrenica, and I are doing the same things- spreading the word about Holocaust and genocide.
In Emin’s school I shared my memories as a child under Hitler in Poland to the students.
Emin remembers when we discussed the ghettos, the starvation, the beatings and the deaths. I told his class how the Jews were rounded up, beaten or shot if they did not move fast enough. That line of thousands would proceed to the cattle cars waiting at the train station.
I, at the age of about six was in that line. My father pushed me out and told me to run toward the pile of bricks nearby. My sister Sara was already there. Together we were hiding and watched the people march towards those cattle cars that carried them to the Treblinka gas chambers. That was the last time I saw my parents, 2 brothers, 2 sisters, many cousins and neighbors. ………
I wrote my book, Sammy, Child Survivor of the Holocaust, to share with the people what a bully like Hitler can do to human beings. He killed 6,000,000 Jews of which 1,500,000 were children. He killed many others as well. It was a Holocaust.
Two weeks ago, Paul Rusesabagina came to visit the Holocaust museum in Skokie. Paul was the manager of Hotel Rwanda. He saved 1,268 people. He visited for a long time as he saw the atrocities of the Holocaust. The newspaper wrote about us the next day: “ Born, nearly 20 years apart and in different parts of the world, they bonded when they met. They felt connected having experienced what no other human being should experience. This experience left each of them with the urgent need to proclaim now and forever and to all who would listen….NEVER AGAIN.’
Today I am in this room with beautiful Bosnian and Herzegovinian people who have also experienced genocide in their country. We must say to the world – NEVER AGAIN.
Bystanders must wake up and listen to the words of the German Pastor Martin Niemoeller quote:
‘First they came for communists
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me-
And there was no one left to speak out for me.
We must all speak out with our testimonies for they have the power to change or there will be no one left to speak out for us.’ “. With this powerful massage Samuel Harris finished his presentation.
Jonathan Moore, a deputy head of Mission, US Embassy in Sarajevo, was another respectful guest at the Bosnian American Library. The library was completely full of Bosnian and American people who gave respect to the victims of Srebrenica genocide. He spoke about the importance of his new job which he would start in August 2009 and invited everyone to visit him in the American Embassy in Sarajevo.
Muhammad Abdelrahman., a director of Darfur organization in Illinois, was again our guest speaker and he talked about a genocide that is taking place in Darfur, Sudan, today in front of our eyes.
“The most powerful and emotional moments were,”said Selena Seferovic, a director of Bosnian American Library, “many people told me today, when they heard Mensud Basic, vocal, and Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Phil Simons (American Music Festival) and their music and words from the poem God is One Sheidi, Dzemaludin Latic, arr. Breton/Nuhanovic/Simmons Dzemaludin Latic, arr. LLya Levenson.”
They brought us very close to shehids, victims of Srebrenica Genocide. Many of us in the audience cried.
Phil Simon and American Music Festival, Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra were partners with Bosnian American Library in our mission and organization for this event.
I wish you could hear their music while you are reading this poem! (English translation@2009 by Philip Simmons and Samir Hadzalic)
Shehids, you Loved Ones, where are you now?
Beside the fountain, lies knitted towel
And carafe, from which we were created.
Shehids, you Saints, where are you now?
In dust, the trace of naked feet.
Who prays now, on green carpets?
Hey, you Saints, where are you now?
Shehids, you of the Purest Scent, where are you now?
Near the villages, are your castles all over Bosnia!
Like the flowers in the garden, you are cheerful!
Like a string of beads, flickering as stars!
Shehids, like the Angels, where are you now?
Like swallows, going south, you are cheerful.
I am very proud to announce that each July 11th; Srebrenica genocide will be commemorated at the City of Chicago officially. At the City Council, on the 29th of July, the Aldermen Mary Ann Smith will present and sponsor the request of the citizens from Bosnian and Herzegovina who live in Chicago and who signed the petition on April 25 in the Bosnian American Library, which I initiated at the same event/Genocide Prevention .
We would remember Srebrenica Genocide forever!
Special thanks to Edin Seferovic who worked for the Aldermen and used his personal and professional influence on the city politicians and Haris Alibasic for sharing with me the language of Grand Rapids Resolution which passed this year in his city.
The Video presentation of two testimonies is produced by Sanja and Emin Seferovic Drnovsek and special thanks to Ferid Sefer for his help in editing.
Special thanks to Ismet Ramic for the cooperation on the exhibition , Samija Hardarevic Diab for wonderful Bosnian deserts, the Bosnian media that promoted this event: www. chicagoraja.net, www.bosniak.org, http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com, bosnjaci.net, radio “Danas”, “Hajat” TV, bosnianlibrarychicago.com and to everyone who attended this important event.
Photo: Serbian fascist Milan Nedic, the prime minister of a Nazi-backed puppet government in Serbia during World War II, shakes hands with Adolf Hitler.
Ouster of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000 did not lead to a complete break with the legacy of his regime. Aside from a continuing formal-legal framework and mechanism of power, the persisting legacy is mirrored in non-relinquishment of the (defeated) Greater Serbia Project, nationalism, denial of recent crimes and atrocities, and reluctance to face up to recent wartime responsibility.
Absence of repression, as the last defence line of the former regime (it was practically the only important change on the domestic plane) encouraged far-right organisations (notably still unidentified “Orao”), groups and individuals to step up their public activities. Ideological profile of current authorities, self-styled “democratic nationalism” is just a cover for makeover of ethnic nationalism and slide of society into clericalism, traditionalism, anti-globalisation, xenophobia.
In the political and social arena, which failed to articulate options and forces bent on fundamental reformation of society and re-definition of general social goals in direction of modernisation and acceptance of existing European and international civilisational standards, criteria, old ideas are again gaining an upper hand. In such a general context, escalating anti-Semitism is more than an accompanying phenomenon, and merits special attention.
PHOTO: Adolf Hitler and Serbian Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (aka: Knez Pavle Karadjordjevic).
Period between the two wars and the WW2
In the territory of the newly-emerged Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes there were several hundred Jewish communities, while in 1919 the Alliance of Religious Communities was set up. Those Jewish communities are still operational.
Lazar Prokic writes that “among Serbs an autochthonous anti-Semitic movement emerged, which Jews, before 6 April 1941, sometimes by diplomatic and sometimes by forcible means repressed, as thanks to the their financial might they were able to influence governments as much as they wanted. That anti-Semitism was not related to the German occupation. Jews were guilty of that original Serb anti-Semitism. Serbs do not want to feel solidarity for Jews, for the latter declined to show solidarity for the former in 1804, 1862 and 1875.”
Anti-Semitism as the official policy of Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Anti-Semitism in the publishing activity
3 Founder of Nasa Borba is Dimitrije Ljotic. The paper was modelled on Mein Campf.
4 In line with principles of conspiracy theory.
5 Obnova and Nasa Borba
Serb Orthodox Church
Patriarch (Petar Rosic) Varnava in 1937 showed “live interest in Hitler and his policy which serves the whole mankind.” In May 1937 the SOC in its official publication indicated that “Jews are a force hiding behind the Free Masonry, Capitalism and Communism, the three biggest evils of the world.”7
Jews, representatives of Free Masonry, Jews, representatives of capitalism, and Jews, representatives of proletariat revolution have all similar view on the world. They are just Jews and nothing else…Therefore enemy is as sly as a snake and appears in several shapes. That is why it is dangerous.”8
On 22 November 1941 a major anti-Masonic exhibition was opened. It was widely promoted by the media. Exhibition was funded by city authorities, at proposal of DJordje Peric, Head of Nesic’s state propaganda, while its directors, Lazar Prokic and Lazar Kljujic, also members of the state propaganda department, were firebrands of Zbor. Representatives of German authorities attended the opening ceremony.
According to first information exhibit was seen by 10,000 Serbs and General Nedic. The press hyped up the message of the exhibit: “Jews deserved their fate, for interests of the Jewish internationalists never coincided with those of Serbs.” 9 In early 1942 a series of stamps …
6 Milorad Mojic, Secretary of Zbor, 1941, page 40
7 Foreign Review; “Patriarch Varnava urges fight against Communism,” Gazette of the SOC Patriarchy, Belgrade, 1 and 2 February 1937.
8 Through the church press; Three spectres, Gazette of the SOC, 12 May 1937
9 Major anti-Masonic exhibit. Obnova, 27 November 1941
… promoted that exhibit.
World War 2
Serbia was the first area in Europe which according to proud German claims in summer 1942, was “Judenrein” (cleansed of Jews) Milan Nedic and his national salvation army10, Ljotic Movement members, gendermerie, and special police helped Germans and volksdeutchers effect that cleansing. 11 But some Jews were killed by the Chetnik Movement of Draza Mihajlovic.
First repressive measures against Jews were implemented in Serbia and Banat: arrests, looting, harassment, passing of anti-Semitic decrees, forcible contributions, desecration and demolition of cemeteries, sinagogues and other Jewish institutions. On 19 April 1941 all Jews were ordered to wear a yellow armband and to register. Several hostages had been shot down before October 1941 when mass liquidations of Jews began.12 Jews were taken to Toposka suma detention centre in Belgrade, and kept as hostages there. Imprisoned Jews (and Romany) were used to fill up quotas for the German policy of retaliation, that is, killing of 100 persons for one assassinated German soldier. By the end of 1941 most male Jews were shot down by Vermacht firing squads. In November 1941 German authorities ordered construction of a detention centre Sajmiste (Fair grounds) for remaining Jewish women and children. Over 5,000 Jews were transported to Sajmiste in December 1941 and in the following months most of them died of hunger and cold.
In the WW2 four fifths of Jews in Yugoslavia were killed. Among the survivors were those who had fled to the Italian-occupied territory, those who had joined the Partisan units, or had gone into hiding. Of 59 Jewish municipalities in the pre-war period, only 15 with small memberships resumed their activities after 1945.
11 According to historical sources even a military part of Zbor renowned as the Serbian Voluntary Guard acted as a reliable ally of Gestapo in elimination of Jews. They searched flats, kept in custody detained communists and Jews and fought against partisans.
12 On 27 July 1941 in retaliation for attempted torching of a German vehicle by a Jewish boy, 122 persons were shot down by firing squads.
The post-WW2 period
In the post-WW2 period new wave of assimilation of Jews began. 13 The number of Jews declaring themselves as members of that nation and participating in the work of Jewish communities dwindled.
Creation of the state of Israel created a new dilemma of the stay- or- emigrate kind for many Jews. Under a decree of the Yugoslav authorities Jews who opted for emigration were allowed to take with them only movable possessions, while they had to renounce their real estate to the benefit of the state. Property of big Jewish landowners and capitalists (owners of plants) was nationalised or impounded through agrarian reform. In 1948-1951 period about 9,000, almost half of survivors, emigrated.
In the pre-WW2 period Jews fostered their identity and traditions within the family fold. Membership of the Jewish community played a central role in their life too. Large communities had a sinagogue, and rabbi, other priests and a teacher were involved in religious education classes imparted in sinagogues and Jewish communities. In the post -WW2 period that role was taken on by municipalities, which also organised cultural activities. Jewish communities also kept in touch with Israel and international Jewish organisations.
Anti-Semitic incidents have gradually increased since 1967, after severance of diplomatic ties between the SFRY and Israel. But then they were only a marginal phenomenon 14, for the state decried them. “Anti-Israeli publications bore all the hallmarks of the Communist, political authoritarianism, but in a stark contrast to similar incidents Europe-wide, anti-Semitism was consciously avoided. Very small number of anti-Semitic texts and critical reactions to them, attests to the aforementioned. 15
In the Seventies anti-Semitic texts came out occasionally. Their linchpin was the book Protocols of Zion Elders. In 1971 a Titograd-based literary magazine Ovjde ran a text by Aleksandar Loncar which inter alia16 alleged a high documentary value of facts presented in the Protocols of Zion Elders. In a literary magazine Delo, Dragos Kalajic made a similar claim, that is, maintained that Protocols was an authentic, documentary source for making judgement about the character of the Jewish religion. 17 Milo Glavurtic paraphrased Protocols in his private edition Satan in 1978.
Alliance of Jewish Communities filed a lawsuit against Glavurtic, but did not win the case. Ilustrovana Politika ran a feature of Mihailo Popovski Secret World of Masonry which included excerpts from Protocol. After several political interventions the magazine stopped running the feature. The book with the same title was published in 1984 by Nova Knjiga.
13 In that period the party membership and not national descent counted most. Religion was not an important factor. A larger number of war veterans were not demobilised after the war. Mixed marriages were commonplace.
14 Laslo Sekelj, Vreme bescasca, Belgrade, 1995
15 Idem, page 76
16 The same author wrote in the same text about “power of Jews” as a cause of “a sad fate of two major authors, Celine and Ezra Pound.”
17 Dragos Kalajic, Delo, 1970, page 677
Despite the ban the Macedonian version came out in 1985, and in the late Eighties it again appeared in Belgrade bookstores.
Beginning of the SFRY disintegration
According to the data of the Jewish community of Belgrade, 177 Jews, mostly from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia emigrated since the beginning of the Yugoslav crisis. “The figures speak of a small-scale emigration,” said Jasa Almuli, the then President of the Belgrade Jewish Community. 18 But according to the official data, 1,800 Jews left Yugoslavia, from 1991-1998. Those data can be considered controversial, unless one takes into account the fact that many Jews declared themselves as members of other ethnic nations. Hence it is difficult to establish the exact number of emigrants.
Jewish organisations in Croatia and Slovenia followed in the footsteps of their ‘domicile’ countries. Vice President of the Jewish Community in Croatia, Srdjan Matic, thus commented their move: “We obviously regret our breakaway move, but it was imposed by clashing realities in Yugoslavia….We are disappointed by conduct of national (Jewish) Federation in Belgrade…It has not condemned the bombing of Dubrovnik during which the old sinagogue was also damaged. Furthermore it also declined to take part in the meeting of religious communities in Sarajevo several months ago, which compelled us to stay away from the meeting too”19 Matic also criticised the Jewish Federation in Belgrade for a mild response to a bomb-planting in downtown area and in the Jewish cemetery in Zagreb, on 19 August 1992.
David Albahari, writer and President of the Jewish Community in Belgrade, who tried to save the Jewish Federation, regrets the rift, but admits its inevitability: “Before the joint meeting in Sarajevo, Jewish communities in Slovenia and Croatia declared unilateral secession. We thought that it was done under the pressure of their governments.” Albahari rejected allegations that the Belgrade seat of the Jewish Federation did not condemn the bombing of Dubrovnik sinagogue. “Sinanogue was not shelled. One shell fell in its proximity, and several windows were broken. Under such circumstances one could easily condemn the Serb government, as our brothers in Croatia demanded.”20.
In a bid to explain different stands of Jewish communities on developments in the former Yugoslavia and underscore manipulation of Jews by political actions, David Albahari says: “Initially Jewish communities reacted as they were told, by accepting incoming information at face-value. Despite our demands that the Jewish communities should stay away from the conflict, some moves were made without considering objective picture of developments. It took us almost a year to persuade them that our best …
18 Almuli, Intervju, 7 February 1992
19 Vecernje Novosti, 19 April 1992
position as an organised grouping was to continue to sit on the fence, in political terms. 21
Jews in Serbia
3,000 strong Jewish community, composed mostly of Sephardic Jews lives in Serbia (first Sephardic Jews fled from the Spanish Inquisition and settled in the Ottoman Empire countries, including Serbia.)
The principal generator of anti-Semitism in Serbia is the new Serbian Right, made of so-called left-wing and right wing parties in the political scene of Serbia, parts of the Serbian Orthodox Church and intellectual elite, or all those who advocate the idea of the international conspiracy against Serbia and oppose the new world order. Misa Levi, President of the Jewish Community in Belgrade draws attention to escalating anti-Semitism and ties between Serbia and Russia, both on the state and church level. Added to that quite a number of public media and prominent public figures constantly espouses the thesis of existence of the unique Jewish opinion in the world, decisive influence of Jews on creation of the US policy, and anti-Serb stance of the international Jewish institutions and renowned Jewish intellectuals. Publicist and analyst of religion Mirko DJordjevic says that the current wave of anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews: “It is a very belated historical response of certain circles to all things foreign and different.”
Anti-Semitism Monitoring Commission of the FJCY, in qualifying anti-Semitism, often resorts to euphemisms: “it is a contained, low-level anti-Semitism. Hence we did not suggest special measures to the Executive Board of the FJCY, barring our complaints and protests in writing to certain religious and political factors.” 23 The Jewish community stressed that it was always sensitive to equalisation of religion and nation, and even more so to identification between the majority nation and the state. The FJCY communique stresses: “It is not disputable that Jews in Serbia are under the law equal to other nations. But is it so in practice? Does this state, in every public discussion observe the fact that all its nationals are equal, irrespective of nationality, religion and other features of identity?”
At the same time ambivalent position on Jews is expressed through another extreme-equalisation of tragic fates of the two peoples.
For example, writer Vuk Draskovic, in 1985 described Serbs as Jews of the late Twentieth Century: “Each inch of Kosovo is Jerusalem for Serbs: there is no difference between suffering of Serbs and Jews. Serbs are the thirteenth lost and most unfortunate tribe of Israel.” In the first years of war, Jews were not seen as opponents. On the contrary the authorities tried to win them over for the “Serb cause.” Frequent were comparisons between “identical, tragic fates of Jews and Serbs as heavenly and innocent peoples, victims of genocide.” In that period Serbian authorities were “inclined” to Jews-…
21 Borba, 8 December 1993
22 Radio B92, 20 February 2001
23 Jewish Review, Bulletin of Federation of the Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia (FJCY), January 2000
… the media ran information about their activities, texts and features on friendly relations between Serbs and Jews, and evenings of Jewish poetry were organised.24 Federation of Jewish Municipalities was promised that it would be given back one of the most beautiful sinagogues in Serbia, the one in Nis (but that promise has never been fulfilled). At the same time the media increasingly reported on desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Serbia, notably in Zemun and Pancevo, 25 and decried those incidents.
Society of the Serb-Jewish Friendship was registered on 21 November 1988, while the founding assembly was held on 4 March 1989. According to the proclamation the society was tasked with bringing together the two peoples, “frequently accused of being different.”26 Soon the Society’s branch office was set up in Kosovo, and later another thirty branch offices emerged Serbia-wide. Abortive attempts to set up such a society were registered even in the former Yugoslavia, during the one-party system. 27
Founding of the said Society, obviously tasked with abusing Jews for political purposes, was criticised and disapproved of by many Jewish intellectuals. Writer Filip David stated that at the founding meeting he notice “many wise heads, members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences, several prominent Serbian nationalists, and several elderly Jews, self-styled ‘Serbs of Moses faith.’ The idea of the founders was to help Serbia by enlisting our Jews to shore up support for the Serbian cause in the United States, through their, allegedly important connections. Early on I tried to say that the story about a conspiratorial world Jewish centre, dictating the entire world policy, was a sheer nonsense, and that the idea originated from the notorious Protocols of Zion Elders.” David went on to note: “This type of association was nonsensical, for there was not need for Jews, as Serbian citizens, to set up the Society of the Serb-Jewish Friendship.”28 Filip David realised that behind the project were indeed “nationalistic hot-heads” after his meeting with Ljubomir Tadic. Namely David, after the founding meeting, in his letter to Tadic, requested a meeting with him and expressed his negative opinion of the very Society.
At the first convention of the Society, in May 1990, the SJSF Secretary Klara Mandic stated that “the Society must persist in making public the names of all Serbs, victims of genocide, for their names are absent from the genocide-related books. Another …
24 Politika, 7 July 1991
25 Vecernje Novosti, 25 April 1991
26 Politika, 3 July 1990
27 Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia was against formation of the said Society on the following grounds: “There is no need to establish any association resting on close national or nationalities ties, in the SFRY territory.” Later Jews also opposed the existence of such a society, and maintained that it was legitimate to forge closer ties only between Serbia and Israel.”
28 Interview with Filip David.
… important task of the society was “sending of pertinent publications to 15,000 influential people and politicians in Europe, America and Canada.”29 FJCY repeatedly protested against some communiques of the Society and distanced itself from the latter’s actions.
But the leading Serbian politicians started emulating the society by propagating identical historical fate of Jews and Serbs, and preservation of friendly relations between the two peoples ( according to the Society, Serbs stood more to gain from the latter). Author Brana Crncevic said that “only friendship with Jews can save Serbhood,” 30 while Enriko Josif argued that “Serbs and Jews are very old friends, and shall remain friends, for they have not betrayed the most glorious pillars of their history-Kosovo and Jerusalem.” Dobrica Cosic stressed “the historical fate, which made Serbs and Jews very similar” and ” Jews are European people from whom Serbs can learn most.”
In 1991 Captain Dragan, later a leader of the Serb paramilitary units, wore the Star of David around his neck during a Studio B interview. At the same time members of the Serb-Jewish society, including the leading Serb nationalists, reiterated “Our fate is similar to the fate of Jews.”
In 1993 the Federation of Jewish Communities set up an Anti-Semitism Monitoring Committee, and its President Aca Singer warned: “Whenever and wherever there are turmoils in the world Jews are affected by them.” 31 An ever-increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents were condemned by a narrow circle of liberal public figures, and also by the regime’s satellites. The authorities tried to minimise the effects of anti-Semitic incidents by not responding to protests and complaints lodged by the Jewish Municipality of Belgrade and the Jewish Federation. But those incidents increased the fear or feeling of insecurity among the Jews and non-Serbs. On the other hand they were adroitly used by the authorities as a form of “soft ethnic-cleansing.”
The world was outraged by wars in the territories of former Yugoslavia, and condemned actions of Bosnian Serbs. Those condemnations became increasingly sharp and both “domestic” and foreign Jews joined in the chorus of international protests. This placed domestic Jews in a very delicate position. Hence the following statement of Jasa Almuli: “anyone may exercise his democratic right to criticise the regime in place, but such criticism should be voiced as a purely personal opinion. Jewish community would appreciate very much if some individuals stopped using its name in political showdowns, and stopped making up stories about emigration.” It was a response to objections of official Belgrade that Jews were siding with “the Serb enemies”, namely criticism of international Jews who condemned aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are no precise data on the kind and number of anti-Semitic incidents in Serbia. In the past decade many were glossed over by the authorities, and even the Jewish …
29 Politika, 3 April 1992
30 Politika, 25 May 1990
31 Politika, 12 August 1994, page 13
… community. State bodies have by and large failed to react to protests and complaints of the Jewish Federation. Even when the latter sporadically reacted, 32, there was no follow-up, that is, criminal investigations were not launched.
The Jewish Federation filed a lawsuit against statements made by President of the Serbian Royalist Movement, Sinisa Vucic, in a radio B92 program Intervju dana. It considered that his words (“we shall seize property of rich Jews and Communists to help alleviate the suffering of our people,”) were tantamount to “instigation of religious and national hatred.” Although hard evidence was submitted, namely the tape of interview, the Republican Public Prosecutor’s office transferred the case to the District Public Prosecutor’s Office (after repeated interventions of the Jewish Community), which, however failed to act on the case. That interview marked the start of a series of similar statements of Vucinic made to the most influential print media 33, ran under the following headlines: Serbian Hawks Become Terrorists, We Threaten UNPROFOR, We Shall Seize Property of Rich Jews and Communists to Help our Long-Suffering People. Jewish Community again reacted to Vucinic’s hate speech on 27 May 1993 by inquiring about the course of investigation. After a new anti-Semitic statement of Vucinic on 13 June 1993, 34 the Federation on 24 August 1993 again inquired about the course of investigation by the District Public Prosecutor’s Office. The Federation filed new charges after an anti-Semitic interview with Sinisa Vucinic was ran by magazine Svet.
In June 1994, the Prijepolje Bulletin of the Serbian Popular Renewal (a party closely affiliated with the Belgrade regime) ran a text headlined The Jewish Ball of Vampires (by-line was -Luka Sarkotic). In the text Jews were accused of crimes against the Holy Church of Christ, that is, the SOC and practising Christians, murder of God, the French Bourgeoisie Revolution, uprisings in Russia, the 1917 October Revolution, assassination of the two Russian Tzars, poisoning of Stalin, creation and implementation of the “Perestroika” project, destruction of the Soviet and Russian “empires”, the Chernobil nuclear plant catastrophe, future war between Kiev and Moscow (over Krimea), collusion and alliances with Muslims and Protestants, arming of “Green Berets” in B&H, causing the plague epidemics in the world, poisoning of wells, ritual slaughter of children, creation of Jasenovac concentration camp through the Croatian state leadership, and production of AIDS virus. The Jewish Federation immediately informed of the said publication Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, the SOC Patriarch Pavle, the Montenegrin Mitropolite Amfilohije, Backa Episcope Irinej Bulovic, Federal Human Rights Minister, Margit Savovic and Federal Information Minister Slobodan Ignjatovic. Their response would later serve as a model for all future reactions to anti-Semitic incidents: protests were acknowledged, incidents were verbally condemned, but not a single concrete action against perpetrators was taken. The Serbian Popular Renewal then …
32 In an indirect way, through statements of some influential, public figures
33 Borba, 13 May 1993
34 Svet, 13 June 1993
… issued a communique: “there is too much unnecessary buzz about the text. We are very surprised by reaction of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia to a desperate cry of a Serbian patriot, abandoned by the whole world. We wonder how would the Jewish people react if all 48 Jewish Senators in the US Senate voted against the Serb people.” But after condemnatory reactions of the liberal public strata in Serbia and Montenegro, Slavko Fustic, editor of the Bulletin, wrote an apologetic letter because of “publishing a scandalous text, with a very low- quality contents.” He moreover stated: “I would like to give to you and the entire Jewish people my assurances that we don’t hate the Jewish people…”Independent media, who have followed the whole case, also reacted: journalist of weekly Vreme wondered about the prosecutor’s real intentions, as the latter first had told the weekly’s journalist that he was still undecided about his next investigating action, and then -went on holiday. Klara Mandic, secretary of the Society of Jewish-Serb Friendship, also protested against the text run by Bulletin in Politika. Vreme commented her protest in the following way: “the problem with the Jew-bashing pamphlet is that it was designed in the circles in which Mandic has an influential role.”
New edition of Ljotic’s paper Nova Iskra (October 1994), titled U ime istine carried a text penned by S. Hadzic Hilendarski in which prominent domestic and foreign public figures of Jewish descent were criticised for their stands on the Bosnian war, namely: Elie Wiesel, Madeleine Albright, Daniel Schieffer, Klara Mandic, Israel Kellman, Enriko Josif, David Albahari, George Soros, Simon Viesenthal, Cheslav Milos, Warren Zimmerman, Zbiegnev Brezhinski, Bernard Henri- Levy, Allen Finkelcraut, Henri Glucksman, Loraine Fabius, Slobodanka Gruden, Jasa Almuli, Predrag Finci, Ladoslav Kadelburg. David Kalef, etc.
In July 1994 Glas Srpski 35 carried an interview with Dr. Radmilo Marojevic, professor of Philological Faculty in Belgrade. In the interview headlined, Cultural Treason is National Treason, Marojevic pointed out that: “in the Serbian culture and science very active is the fifth column of the Judeo-Masonic Project.” In another interview carried by the Belgrade magazine Duga under the headline Dream about New Hazar Land, Marojevic repeated his thesis about the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy in -Russia.
Serb Orthodox Church
A publicist and analyst of religion Mirko DJordjevic in a host of studies indicates that anti-Semitism is not related to Orthodox religion, but rather to ethnicfiletism very influential among the SOC. Some SOC circles, notably those under the influence of Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, joined in the anti-Semitic campaign. Velimirovic suddenly became a martyr. Mitropolite Montenegrin banned any kind of criticism or re-appraisal of work and ideas of Priest Nikolaj, although he has never been canonised.
“That legendary martyrdom is used for glossing over unpleasant pages of a repressed history-during the Nazi occupation some members of the SOC episcopate joined Nedic, and took strident anti-Semitic positions,” writes DJordjevic. He adds: ” Priest …
35 Glas srpski from Republika Srpska is distributed in Serbia too.
… Nikolaj was close to Nedic and Ljotic, he did not oppose totalitarian political systems, but in fact favoured them. Therefore it is not clear how his body of work can be a treasure trove of spiritual inspiration and a veritable golden mine of spirituality and Orthodox faith, as Radovan Bigovic qualified it in his doctoral thesis (his mentor was Amfilohije Radovic.)”
Book of Priest Artemije New Golden-Mouth, published in Belgrade in 1986, is one of many books which glorified Priest Nikolaj: “he is the only Serb who can be considered an intellectual and spiritual peer of St. John the Golden-Mouth, hence his nickname-the Serbian Golden-Mouth. Mirko DJordjevic writes that “the Serbian contemporary historians failed to notice a conspicuous similarity between St. John the Golden Mouth and the Zica orator, Priest Nikolaj: namely St. John’s body of work also contains 8 holimies “against Judea.”
Logos 36, a magazine of students of Theological Faculty in Belgrade in 1994 ran a text Jewish Games behind the International Stage, penned by Predrag Milosevic and Boban Milenkovic. That text abounds in accusations against Jews, for example, ” there is a planetary Jewish conspiracy against the Christian Orthodox faith, and notably against the Serb people and Russia,” corroborated by citations from old documents of Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic related to his defence of Protocols of Zion Elders.” “All modern phenomena in Europe were masterminded by Jews, who crucified Jesus, that is,: democracy, strikes, socialism, atheism, tolerance of all denominations, universal revolution, capitalism and communism. They were all inventions of Jews, that is, of their father, the Devil.” 37
In July 1994 magazine Kruna carried two texts headlined How to Read Protocols of Zion Elders, and Book of Notions. The first text praised the said book, while the second, vilified Jews, as people, through criticism of Mosa Pijade, the pre-war communist, Partisan, and member of the post-war establishment.
Publishing activity played a major role in anti-Semitic campaign. Publishing companies, Velvet and Ihtus-Hriscanske knjige published several reprints of books of Dimitrije Ljotic, Milan Nedic, Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, and some other books dealing with alleged Masonic-Jewish conspiracies. According to sociologist Laslo Sekelj, in 1990-95 12 different editions of Protocols of Zion Elders were published, and in 1995-2001 another-eight. 38 Vladimir Maksimovic, one of publishers of Protocols of Zion Elders, part of distribution of which was impounded in 1994, in defending himself from accusations of anti-Semitism, says that “the only problem with this book is the fact that the publishing activity was taken over by the Soros Foundation, whose founder is a Jew. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia on 22 March 1994 condemned publication of Protocols of Zion Elders, and filed charges against Publishing House
36 Logos, 1-4/1994
37 Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic in his documents written in defence of Protocols of Zion Elders.
38 NIN 2640, 2 August 2001, Zabrana i krivica, page 32
Velvet and responsible editor Vladimir Maksimovic. Three days later the FJCY got a letter from owner and director of the publishing house Sfairos in which he decried the appeal to ban publishing and distributing the book, and termed it “an undemocratic demand.” He suggested to the Federation joint publishing of the book with “an expert commentary,” and future collaboration involving publishing of works dedicated to study of literary, historical and linguistic heritage of the Jewish people and its identity.” In response to accusations by the Jewish Federation, newspaper issued by the Serbian Radical Party, Velika Srbija, in May 1994, ran a text, “Who burns down books, shall burn down people too,” along with a commentary ” let readers, Serbs, assess what is true and what is false in Protocols of Zion Elders.”
(Deputy District Prosecutor Milija Milovanovic in July 2001 dropped charges against publishers of Protocol due to “the lack of evidence for further legal proceedings.”)
In December 1994 Club of National Books Velvet in its catalogue listed its new anti-Semitic books: Protocols of Politart Seers or Counter-initiation (Isidora Bjelica and Nebojsa Pajkic write about ‘plagues’ of modern society, including Judaism and advise how to fight against them); Drama of Contemporary Mankind, Dimitrije Ljotic, -On the Semitic danger and breaking of the Serbian backbone in WW2; Jews in Serbia, Dr. Lazar Prokic; Why have Jews always been against Serbs? Who are they-an anti-Semitic guide, Dr. Lazar Prokic; Jewish Conspiracy, Marcus Elie Ravadge; Serb People in Claws of Jews, Milorad Mojic; The Jewish Issue, F.M. Dostoevsky; Under the Star of David-Judaism and Free Masonry in the Past and Present, Georgije Pavolovic; Religious and legal study of Talmud or an essay on Jewish honesty, Vasa Pelagic. The aforementioned catalogue listed also other titles: Jews in mirror of the Bible by theologian Zivojin Savic; Evil and Damned: Torturers of Contemporary Mankind, translation of Charles Weismann book.
Valjevo-based Glas crkve in 1996 published a book Selected Works of Priest Nikolaj in Ten Volumes. Book VII- Through a Prison Window includes a series of negative commentaries on life, customs and role of Jews.
On 16 December in one of premises of the Philosophical Faculty in Belgrade an anti-Semitic pamphlet titled A complete report-Jews and Jewry was found. An unidentified person distributed it to students. Teaching council of the faculty in its communique, issued in the paper Protest-Three Uprisings in 1996, qualified the pamphlet as anti-Semitic, and condemned its author and the like-minded intellectuals.
Publisher Ratibor DJurdjevic spearheaded the anti-Semitic campaign through reprints and new editions. Promotions of his books usually started with a blessing and prayer of retired priest and notorious anti-Semite Zarko Gavrilovic. Whenever he uttered the word “Jews,” the audience booed. In the study Syndrome of Fear of Judeans in America DJurdjevic says that behind-the-scenes masters of the US policy intentionally nominate week presidential candidates to control them easily.
According to him “such candidates are aplenty, as the US public and private morals are weak and lax. A man of integrity and strong sense of morals, namely Pat Buchanan, a Christian and renowned anti-Semite, could not succeed in unprincipled US “democracy.” 39 In the book Zionism, Communism and the “New” World Order, DJurdjevic stated: “it is very important that Christians understand that Communism-that major ill of Western societies-was spawned by Jewish institutions and circles…it was guided, channelled and evolved by official Israeli secret councils.” 40
After DJurdjevic’s book Lies and Shortcomings of US Democracy came out (publisher was Ihtus-Hriscanks knjiga, Beograd), the Jewish Federation on 16 October sent a protest letter, describing the nature and contents of the book, to Information Minister Ratomir Vico, Human Rights Minister, Margit Savovic, Mayor of Belgrade, Nebojsa Covic, Minister Zoran Bingulac, Minister of Religions Dragan Dragojlovic, the SOC Patriarchate, Irinej Bulovic, members of the Society of Serb-Jewish Friendship, and the media. It moreover informed the Serbian Justice Minister that charges were filed against Publishing House Ihtus and its editor Zarko Gavrilovic. The media responded differently to the Jewish Federation’s protest. Daily Politika on 18 October ran a text Who Fuels Anti-Semitism penned by Rade Rankovic, and later an interview with Aca Singer President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia (Anti-Semitic Incidents Should Not Be Glossed Over) about dire effects of anti-Semitism both on those who propagate it and those who close a blind eye to it. Nasa Borba on 18 October 1995 carried a text State Bodies Keep Silent, which focused on “non-reactions of the state bodies to anti-Semitic incidents.”
Contrary to Politika and Nasa Borba, Politika Ekspres on 7 October 1995 ran a text Conspiracy against Christianity in which the author Visnja Vukotic quoted excerpts from Lies and Shortcomings of US Democracy, and backed all allegations and ideas contained therein. The same paper on 8 October carried a text headlined A man who knew too much ends in a lunatic asylum, full of quotations from the aforementioned book. On 23 October 1995 Vecernje Novosti carried an article by Dejan Lucic, Who are instigators of hatred? in which Lucic tried to justify positions espoused by DJurdjevic in Lies and Shortcomings of US Democracy. Politika Ekspres on 23 October 1995 ran a reaction of President of the Society of Serb-Jewish Friendship, Ljubomir Tadic, to DJurdjevic’s book. Namely Tadic challenged and criticised some of positions disclosed in the book.
Holy Synod of SOC on 24 October 1995 informed the Jewish Federation that it “regrets publication of the anti-Semitic book” and “shall do its utmost to prevent publishing of similar books.” Saint Sava Youth and Students’ Movement followed suit by condemning activities of Ratibor DJurdjevic, one of its principal ‘donors’ and Zarko Gavrilovic, assessing them as “retirees who only acted as counsellors to the Movement” and stressing that “Anti-Semitism has always been contrary to the spirit of Saint Sava Movement.” Despite the SOC condemnation of DJurdjevic’s book and assurances that its circles did not disseminate anti-Semitism, in April 1997 the very book appeared in the …
39 Dr. Ratibor DJurdjevic, Five bloody revolutions of Jewish bankers and of their Judeo-Masonry, Ihtus, Belgrade
40 Idem, page 196
… SOC’s bookstore Zadruga pravoslavnog svestenstva. In its 11 April 1997 letter to the
SOC Patriarchy the Jewish Federation expressed its concern over appearance of DJurdjevic’s book in the said bookstore. In their replies the official SOC spokesman and the Patriarchy Cabinet regretted the event, and informed that the bookstore’s manage was instructed to immediately stop selling the book.
At the promotion of the book Kuril Manuscripts by author Hugo Karamata, held in the Association of Writers of Serbia on 25 January 1996, DJurdjevic stated: “Judeans are the worst world evil….they bankroll all national and international Masonic activities and pull the strings of the world conspiracy.” 41
In autumn 1996 DJurdjevic’s new book, On Absurdity of Anti-Semitism (publisher was again Ihtus-Hriscanska knjiga) came out. Federation of the Jewish Communities on 30 October 1996 inquired with the District Prosecutor’s Office about actions taken regarding its complaint of 16 December 1995, and simultaneously informed it that the same author published a new book. In its reply of 22 November 1996 the Public Prosecutor’s office quoted all criminal proceedings taken against Sinisa Vucinic, Publishing House Velvet from Belgrade, editor Vladimir Maksimovic, and publishing house Ihtus and Zarko Gavrilovic.
In its letter of 28 November 2000 to the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Jewish Federation indicated growing anti-Semitism: “Among those who spread hate of Jews excels Dr. Ratibor Rajko DJurdjevic, founder of Ihtus-Hriscanska knjiga and author of the bulk of 50 books published by that house. Since his return from emigration in 1992 DJurdjevic launched an anti-Semitic campaign. He remained undeterred in his intentions even in the face of an express condemnation of his activities by the Holy Synod of SOC, of 24 October 1995. The very name of his publishing house (Ichtus-Christian Books) suggests his links to the Orthodox Christian faith and church. Moreover all the books bear the symbol of cross on the covers.”
In the Serbian Academy of Sciences bookstore in October 1995 the book New World Order and Free Masonry (reprint of the Belgrade edition from 1939) appeared. The book accused Jews of an anti-global conspiracy. On 27 November the Jewish Federation informed the District Public Prosecutor in Belgrade of the aforementioned.
Reprint of the 1943 anti-Semitic book Under the Star of David and Free Masonry in the Past and Present by Georgije Pavlovic came out in 1995. Author of introduction was Dimitrije Ljotic, and publishers were Koloseum Beograd, Velvet Beograd, Sloga Novo Sarajevo and Slobodna knjiga Beograd. In 1995 Planeta Beograd published a reprint of anti-Semitic book Jews and the Serbian Issue by Jasa Tomic. Some recent reprints with markedly anti-Semitic contents had been published first during the Nazi occupation: Serbian People in Claws of Jews by Milorad Mojic, Secretary General of pre-war “Zbor,” Legal and Religious Teachings about Talmud or an Essay on Jewish Honesty by Vasa Pelagic. Reprint of Pro-Ljotic paper Nova iskra was also published.
41 Documentation of the Jewish Federation
Patriotic Movement “Obraz”
The far-right organisation, Patriotic Movement “Obraz”, founded in 1993 to back and disseminate ideas espoused by the name-sake magazine, in late 2000 and early 2001 became very active and evolved into a political organisation. Graffiti with symbols of this organisation, cross, alpha and beta, with slogans “Only unity can save Serbs,” “Let’s fight with dignity for Serbhood,” “Let’s defend our dignity,” are drawn on many private and public buildings.
Public at large first learnt about existence of that organisation after the incident at the Assembly of Association of Writers of Serbia, in November 2000. Namely then a group of writers clashed with management, demanded its dismissal and establishment of new, democratic, relations within the association. 42 Security agents, members of “Obraz” reportedly removed the ‘disobedient’ from the conference hall.
“Obraz” is not registered as a political party for its followers “don’t believe in pluralism of interest of the Serbian people, but they believe in their ability to gather together and to accept a unique set of values and fate for all Serbs.” They also think that “no Serb victim was useless, as our existence proves…We are Serbs of these evil times.” They are convinced that efforts of “Obraz” and all other honourable Serb contemporaries shall be a lasting mainstay for future generations of Serbs who “shall fully complete the oath.” “Let us make concerted efforts to more successfully and easily, with God’s assistance, attain our patriotic goals and carry out our statehood-making tasks,” is the principal message of the movement. Web-site of “Obraz” is rife with texts denying democratic achievements, espousing a strident anti-Americanism, and glorifying Serbhood. After the NATO intervention, the following communique was placed on the web-site: “During the last war waged by NATO Satanists against the Serb people from 24 March to 10 June 1999, “Obraz” was the only organisation which indicated “black magic, and occult nature of that war.”
During the bombardment “Obraz” issued two communiques, “Why are Serbs Invincible?” and “NATO-Satanism in the Name of Democracy,” which the media refused to run. 43 Nebojsa Krstic, President of “Obraz” maintained that “the Serb people are most threatened now,”44 and urged a national state, a society of sound Serbs, an economically rich and strong Serbia, instead of a state of citizens and an open society.” Wording of texts indicates that at work is a Neo-Ljotic group, whose size cannot be easily estimated. “Obraz” stated that it had stepped up its activities in late 2000 for “then the time was ripe for advent of Serbian nationalism. Then the Serb people were most threatened.” The following statement coincided with the political changeover in Serbia: “We are nationalists, and not fascists. Our slogan is: Loyal to God and to Serb people.” When asked if he backed Ljotic’s policy, Krstic responded: “We appreciate and love all Serb nationalists, Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, and Serb martyrs Draza Mihajlovic, Milan Nedic, and Dimitrije Ljotic. We fight against everything …
42 Republika, 16-31 December 2000
43 Knjizevne novine, “Obraz”, 28 November 2000
44 Glas javnosti, 12 February 2002 “Nationalists, and not Chauvinists”
… that separates us from the Serb tradition, that is, against globalisation, atheism, secularism and abuses of human rights and liberties.” He added that the organisation was several thousand strong, and that branch offices were set up in Vrsac, Odzaci. Novi Sad, Jagodina, Velika Plana, and in America, Canada, and Europe.” According to Krstic the organisation has about 30.000 members. According to some sources active, but secret followers of “Obraz” are Dragos Kalajic and Dragoslav Bokan,45 former contributors to magazine “Nasa ideja,” and magazine Duga.
March 2001 incident is linked to “Obraz.” Graffiti “Korac-Jewish Conspiracy-“Otpor” and “Kostunica-DJindjic Cheated Us,” were painted on the building of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. According to Korac, Vice Prime Minister of Serbia, and the faculty’s professor, those scandalous messages “are very similar to ones placed on the “Obraz” web-site.” Students of the faculty confirmed that “Obraz” was behind the incident. Police did not issue any communique, but the media reported that several policemen visited the building. 46 Ratibor Trivunac, member of the Students’ Union of Faculty of Philosophy, stated: “We are no longer a spawning ground of liberal ideas, but rather the one of conservative and fascist ideas.” He added: “Majority of our students believe that a group of History Department students and professors, who even at lectures propagate far-right, nationalistic ideas, are behind the graffiti incident.” Trivunac also said that majority of students saw the similarity between the graffiti messages and the web-site ones.”
TV Palma and its owner Miki Vujovic, aired a large number of political programs focusing on the international Judeo-Masonic conspiracy. This largely contributed to spreading of anti-Semitism in early months of 2001.
Jews were accused of being “murderers and criminals,” “the biggest evil of the world history,” and “instigators of all failures of modern history, starting from the October Revolution, WW1 and WW2, to bombardment of Yugoslavia. According to TV Palma Jews should apologise for actions taken by US Administration against Yugoslavia. Many guests and Vujovic himself frequently mentioned “Jewish conspiracy” against Serbs or entire mankind, negative character traits and mind-set of Jews, and their hate of Serbs. Such messages were intended for Jews living abroad, notably in the US. ‘Domestic’ Jews were criticised for not having persuaded their fellow-nationals to change their stance on Serbs, for not having done anything to eliminate negative image of Serbs. Unfortunately other TVs also disseminated similar, Jew-bashing propaganda. Similar messages were voiced on other channels, notably Radio Television Serbia, which occasionally re-broadcast the old, wartime, programs about the international, and Jewish world conspiracy against Serbs.
45 Interview with Helsinki Committee
46 “Borba”, “Obraz” Manipulated by Remote Control, 20 March 2001
47 “Politika,” “Obraz” Fights ‘Enemies of Serbhood”, 22 March 2001
In a program of Radio Yugoslav Airlines on 17 May 2000 Dejan Lucic accused Jews of having staged a military and state coup on 27 March 1941, when the Trilateral Pact was rejected, and later a military uprising in Montenegro. Lucic also held them accountable for attacks on Belgrade and attempts to revive civil war. According to Lucic “they are assisted in their endeavours by the British and US intelligence services.” He divided Jews into “two subversive groups, Jews and Khazars…they are quite similar, but still different: Jews shall do their utmost to help Israel, and Khazars to amass -money.”
Anti-Semitic slogan Death to Jews with Nazi swastikas was drawn twice on the central building of Belgrade University in September 1995. The same slogan was written on the wall of the hall of the Jewish Municipality building in Belgrade on 22 October 1995.
On 27 October 1995 the Jewish Community sent a memo on incident to the Stari Grad police and requested it to launch a pertinent investigation. Three days later, on 30 October a police patrol scouted the building, and later slogans were removed.
On 24 October 1995 the Assembly of Belgrade sharply condemned the graffiti on the building of the Philological Faculty. Only after repeated interventions of the Jewish Federation, the Republican Public Prosecutor on 19 December 1995 informed the Federation that the graffiti case would be handled by the District Public Prosecutor in Belgrade.
On the fence of the Jewish Cemetery on 21 and 22 January three graffiti appeared: Out with Masonic-Jewish Serb-Haters, We don’t want the Dayton Pax Judaica. Jews, You are a Minority in Serbia. The Jewish Federation on 25 January informed Slobodan Pavlovic, Vice President of the Belgrade Assembly and the police of the incident and asked them to intervene. It also filed charges against unknown perpetrators on 16 February 1996.
Graffiti Death to Filthy Jews, Skinheads, White Power, the Racist Movement of Belgrade, crosses and slogan Serbia to Serbs were drawn in the hall of the building housing the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community of Belgrade and the Jewish Historical Museum on 11 February 1997.
On 26 September 1996 leaflets with the scull and slogan “Jewish lethal vaccine kills Muslim children” were distributed in Novi Pazar. In the text parents were told to boycott vaccine against children’s paralysis….”for it aims to impair health of Muslim children…”
On two occasions, in December 2000 and January 2001 Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans in English, notably “Jews Hate Your Freedom of Speech,” were drawn on all Jewish institutions in Belgrade, the sinagogue, Jewish cemetery, the Jewish Municipality building.
Desecration of monuments and religious institutions
Plaque with inscription was removed from the monument “Menorah in Flames” by Nandor Glid in the 15th -21st May week . Glid’s monument in Belgrade has been on repeated occasions the target of vandals (several days after wreaths had been laid on the monument in 1999 they were torn and thrown around). Police never found perpetrators of that vandal act, nor the ones who drew graffiti on Jewish institutions and cemetery and threw Molotov cocktails into the yard of sinagogues in Belgrade and Novi Sad.
In recent years singagogues have been frequently targeted by anti-Semites. The Zemun sinagogue, a protected municipal institution, was converted into a restaurant by the Radical Party-led municipal authorities in the face of the city authorities ban and protests of the Jewish Community. The then President of the Municipal Assembly and the Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj and director of the Business Space Tomislav Nikolic met with the Federation’s delegation on 7 March 1997 and promised not to lease that institution. Just a months later, on 30 March, the sinagogue was leased and converted into a restaurant.
“That sinagogue is very important for us, but we did not want to hype up the case and make a too vocal demand,” said Aca Singer. He added: “It is very important for Jews as in that sinagogue Rabbi Alkalai was the first to mention the return of Jews to their Holy Land. He had done it before Theodore Herzl, who is considered the founder of a modern Zionist Movement.” Singer then went on to explain the long history of the embattled Zemun sinagogue: “Until 1962 the Jewish Community was compelled to lease the sinagogue due to lack of upkeep funds and an ever-dwindling number of Jews. After that the sinagogue was forcibly sold to the then authorities for a negligible amount of money. The money we got from the lease was given to socially vulnerable categories of Jews. We had a deal with the previous Socialist authorities. Namely the sinagogue was to be used for cultural purposes only. But when the Radical Party took the municipal reins in 1997 the deal fell through. That sinagogue had been built in 1850 on foundations of the old, Eightieth Century sinagagoue, which was badly ruined after the WW2. It bears stressing that it has served many purposes, but was never used as restaurant. It is very important institution for us, because it was saved by miracle from destructive hands of Ustashi in the WW2.”
Subotica sinagogue met with a different fate. Story about Subotica Jews is a specific one, and it marked Subotica history from the mid 18th century. Before the opening of central sinagogue rites were officiated in the Sremska street sinagogue. But when the Subotica Jews became economically strong 48 they decided to erect “the temple of temples.” New sinagogue had a tent-like dome. It was possessed of a unique beauty in terms of design and construction. “It is owned by the city and under the World Heritage Fund document it is protected as one of the 100 key world sinagogues.” 49 In Mid-Eighties theatre director Ljubisa Ristic 50 came to work in Subotica in order to “shake up a sleepy milieu.” In late Eighties Ristic staged big spectacles with his numerous ensemble in the singagoue. In a play a horse and a horseman both peed in the sinagogue. Restored …
48 30 Jews counted among 184 richest residents of Subotica in early 20th century.
49 Jozef Kasa, Mayor of Subotica
50 In Milosevic era Ristic was one of the most influential leaders of the AYL, the SPS coalition partner.
… dome was also again badly impaired by fumes from stoves, while the lawn around the sinagogue was trampled upon by buses ferrying spectators to performances.
Although the Jewish Community in Serbia is very small, anti-Semitism tenaciously persists as a part of a specific social phenomenology. Under the current circumstances it relies on ideological roots of the Serbian conservative, right-wing factions (Priest Nikolaj Velimirovic, Dimitrije Ljotic) and feeds itself on social and economic frustration stemming from a defeated Greater Serbia idea. Anti-Semitism in Serbia also draws on belief that the influential, international Jewish community, notably (its prominent representatives Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Wesley Clark and Robert Gelbrand) has contributed to misfortune of Serbs, notably after the NATO air strikes. In parallel many intellectuals espoused the idea of identical fates of Serbs and Jews in the past decade. Within the context of the syndrome of victim, cherished in Serbia, Serbs are equalised with Jews (Vuk Draskovic: Kosovo is our Jerusalem). One should take into consideration that ambivalent position on the Jewish ethnic community in any future (and necessary) public debate on Anti-Semitism.
SOURCE: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
Short Intro: Jasa Almuli claimed that the Banjica concentration camp housed “only 455” Jews. Furthermore, he claimed that Serbian collaborationist fascists and their Nazi puppet government never harmed any Jews. He is also on record for claiming that there was no evidence of Serbian war crimes, “It’s NATO propaganda.”
Slobodan Milosevic retained Jasa Almuli to “rehabilitate” Serbian war crimes in the Balkans. Almuli actively participated in sending protest letters in the media, defending Serbia’s war crimes, and presenting himself as a single voice of the Jewish community in Serbia (later, local Jewish people forced him to resign and stop misrepresenting their cause in Serbia).
Like Milosevic’s close assistant, Smilja Avramov, Almuli was a Holocaust revisionist who – at the expense of Jewish victims – attempted to dissolve Serbian Nazi fascists from being accomplices to the Holocaust in World War II.
He used his close relationship with Milosevic and his credentials, as a local Jewish ‘leader,’ to campaign on behalf of the Serb nationalist cause – going as far as minimizing the Holocaust of Jews in Serbia.He claimed that Serbia’s quisling Nazi government and Serbia’s fascist puppet state, under the leadership of Milan Nedic, never passed any “anti – Jewish legislation,” never established or run any death camps for Jews, and “virtually no killing perpetrated.” He shamelessly claimed that the Serbian-operated concentration camp Banjica in Belgrade (background) imprisoned “only” 455 Jews.
However, historical facts tell a different story. In her book ‘Until the final solution: The Jews in Belgrade 1521-1942,’ historian Jennie Lebel (Zeni Lebl) writes:
“The decision [to establish the Banjica camp] was taken in the staff of the German military commander for Serbia on 22 June 1941, and the same day the chief of the administrative staff Dr Turner informed the first person of the Commissars’ Administration [Serbian quisling government] Milan Acimovic of it. As it was a question of a joint, Nazi-collaborationist camp, the carrying out of the order was entrusted to the administrator of the city of Belgrade, Dragi Jovanovic, i.e. to the Administration of the city of Belgrade, the Belgrade municipality and the Gestapo. Dragi Jovanovic appointed on 5 July Svetozar M. Vujkovic as the first manager of that first concentration camp in Belgrade; and for his assistant, Djordje Kosmajac. They maintained daily close contact with the Special Police and with them decided the question of life or death for tens of thousands of prisoners in the camp. The security of the camp was exercised by a special detachment of the gendarmerie of the city of Belgrade, under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and with the special engagement of the Department of the Special Police. The German part of the camp was under the administration of the Gestapo. The camp building had to be very quickly repaired and organised to suit its new purpose. According to the model of German concentration camps, metal walls, iron doors and bars were put up at Banjica, and grates were put on the windows. The first prisoners were brought to the newly formed camp already on 9 July, while the adaptation of the building was still in progress, even before the building of the high camp walls. The bringing of prisoners, Serbs, Jews and Gypsies, was carried out at a fast tempo, as were their daily executions.”
“Larger groups of Jews reached the camp at Banjica on 14, 15 and 16 September 1941. Among them appear the surnames of well known Belgrade Jewish families: Albano, Gris, Finci, Pijade, Konfino, Sabitaj, Demojorovic, Mandilovic, Ruso, Gozes, Solomon, Almulzino, Amar, Demajo, Benvenisti, Janjatovic, Frajdenfeld, Isakovic, Zonensajn, Nisim, Altarac, Singer, Adanja, Melamed, Karic, Masic, Kon, Nahimijas, Kabiljo, Naftali, Grinberger, Anaf, Mor, Razencvajg, Munk, Blau, Hercog, Gutman and others. From the Banat group there were in the Banjica camp four Jews, doctors by profession: Djordje Farago from Petrovgrad (Zrenjanin), Franjo Loza from Srpska Crnja, Pavle Miler from Kovino, and Branko Auspic from Vrsac. In those three days alone 202 Jews were brought to the camp at Banjica. All of these were transferred, as recorded in the first register of the Banjica camp, to a different camp on 17 September 1941. Because the camp at the Old Fairground still was not completely finished, this was probably a matter of transfer to the camp at Topovske supe. It is a still more likely assumption that they were then, or a little later, executed at the village of Jabuka in the Banat, where the first executions were carried out both of Banjica prisoners and of Jews imprisoned at Topovske supe…. It is not easy or straightforward to determine the number of Jews who resided at the camp at Banjica and from it taken to the execution site. Judging by the Banjica registers, that number just exceeded 900 individuals. However, not all Jews were recorded in the registers of the Banjica prisoners.”
Hoare continues, “The guard was kept by Nedic’s gendarmes, who were inhuman and, to show their loyalty to the Germans, often worse than the latter. They prohibited them things that the Germans sometimes permitted. At the entrance there were not many guards, and even on the occasion of the transport of the prisoners to work there was not a particularly prominent guard. But it was made clear to them that every attempt at escape would be punished most strictly. They were soon convinced of this: when some nevertheless attempted to escape and were caught, in front of all the prisoners they were hanged in the camp courtyard.”
Hoare quotes Serbian historian, Olivera Milosavljevic (Potisnuta istina: Kolaboracija u Srbiji 1941-1944, 2006), as exposing Milan Nedic’s anti-semitism. She wrote:
“The principle of a ‘clean’ nation encompassed all spheres of social life in [Milan] Nedic’s Serbia, in which state officials, professors, pupils and students had to demonstrate that they were Serbs. The ‘Aryan paragraph’ entered the official documents of Nedic’s goverment which, on the occasion of employment in state service, required that candidates provide evidence that they were of Serb nationality and ‘Aryan origin’ and that their families did not have ‘Jewish or Gypsy blood’. Confirmations were provided by the municipal authorities.”
“Although Serbian historians contend that the persecution of the Jews of Serbia was entirely the responsibility of Germans and began only with the German occupation, this is self- serving fiction. Fully six months before the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia, Serbia had issued legislation restricting Jewish participation in the economy and university enrolment. One year later on 22 October 1941, the rabidly antisemitic ‘Grand Anti-Masonic Exhibit’ opened in occupied Belgrade, funded by the city of Belgrade. The central theme was an alleged Jewish- Communist-Masonic plot for world domination. Newspapers such as Obnova (Renewal) and Nasa Borba (Our Struggle) praised this exhibit, proclaiming that Jews were the ancient enemies of the Serbian people and that Serbs should not wait for the Germans to begin the extermination of the Jews. A few months later, Serbian authorities issued postage stamps commemorating the opening of this popular exhibit. These stamps, which juxtaposed Jewish and Serbian symbols (but did not contain Nazi symbols), portrayed Judaism as the source of world evil and advocated the humiliation and violent subjugation of Jews. Serbia as well as neighboring Croatia was under Axis occupation during the Second World War. Although the efficient destruction of Serbian Jewry in the first two years of German occupation has been well documented by respected sources, the extent to which Serbia actively collaborated in that destruction has been less recognized. The Serbian government under General Milan Nedic worked closely with local Naziofficials in making Belgrade the first ‘Judenfrei’ city of Europe. As late as 19 September 1943, Nedic made an official visit to Adolf Hitler, Serbs in Berlin advanced the idea that the Serbs were the ‘Ubermenchen’ (master race) of the Slavs.”
“I have said, that the Christian nations have become so blind, that they see danger in every imperialism – except the most dangerous imperialism: the Jewish’; ‘Only the Jew could on the one hand be the creator and user of capitalism, and on the other create Marxism and lead revolutions, supposedly against capitalism’; ‘And to the Jews it must be clear that for the forseeable future the realisation of their dream of world revolution is ended’; ‘You will only then, with the fall of red Bolshevik Moscow, see what wrong toward the Russian nation and toward you, Serbian tribe, has been committed by those renegades, who convinced you that that Jewish-Unrussian creation is – your Slavic Russia.”
Jasa Almuli is also known for attacking Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Belgrade, because the Helsinki Committee’s 2006 report stated historical fact, namely that:
“During the course of the Second World War, the Jews in Serbia perished at a high rate, not only at the hands of the German occupation authorities, but at the hands of the Government of National Salvation of Milan Nedic, the Ljoticites [Serbian fascists], gendarmes and Special Police, whose effective work contributed to the fact that, already in August 1942, Belgrade, as the first European capital city, was proclaimed a city cleansed of Jews (Judenrein).”
On April 29, 2009 at William Howard Taft High School, Samuel R. Harris came as a guest speaker. He spoke to the 7th grade Academic Center students during their 6th period class. Mr. Harris was invited to talk about the Holocaust. The 7th grade language arts teacher Mrs. Asvos has been having us reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel which is about the Holocaust. Ms. Asvos worked hard and got Mr. Harris to come to our school.
Samuel R. Harris is the current president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. At the opening of his Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Bill Clinton (Former President) gave a speech along with Elie Wiesel and other speakers too. Samuel R. Harris lives with his wife Dede in the suburbs of Chicago. Samuel Harris started off telling us about his childhood. He told us that when he was born his Polish name was Szlamek Rzeznik. He lived in Deblin, Poland. Sammy had two sisters and one brother. His dad was a scribe. Harris had polio caritits which made him almost completely blind. His mom put eye drops in his eyes that helped them heal and he recovered.
When he was about four and a half years he witnessed a Polish airplane get destroyed by a Nazi airplane. Ever since then, the situation got worse in Poland. He told us how he remembered that one day the Nazis came into Deblin. They stormed and were yelling, they beat the Jewish men. As Harris said, “I don’t say the Germans I say the Nazis because not all Germans are bad.”
The Nazis made a ghetto; they closed the town down with a barbwire fence. The Nazis would come and take the Jews and put them in train carts in which they were sent to the concentration camps. Harris had hardly anything to eat; the whole town barely had anything to eat. They were being starved.
The day came when the Nazis came in and told the Jews to line up outside. His family hurried and got outside. There were many gunshots. Many men were whipped or beaten. There Harris stood with his family right next to his father. His father told Harris to run into a bundle of sticks that was near by and to hide there and not move. Harris quickly and quietly ran to the bundle of sticks and hid behind them. When he came there his sister was there too. There they watched the Jews get sent into the train carts. From that moment on he never saw his mother or father ever again. He had to run and hide for a couple of years. Harris faced death many times when he was little. This was all going on for him while he was only 4, 5, 6, 7 years of age. Samuel went through concentration camps, near death experiences, and seeing hundreds of dead bodies.
Harris is very thankful to be alive. He and his two sisters survived. One of his sisters lives in Austria and the other sister lives in Buffalo Grove, IL. After he gave his story about his life, he answered questions.
Ms. Asvos asked me to explain about what my mom Sanja Seferovic Drnovsek and aunt Selena do for the Bosnian Community to Mr. Harris. I told Mr. Harris , “My mom held a educational meeting at Sulzer Library in Chicago. The theme was about Genocide Prevention. She invited a professor Michael Sells from the University of Chicago who wrote a book about a genocide in Bosnia. She also got a representative for the Darfur Genocide who explained what was going on in Darfur and how the International community could help to stop genocide. There were the editors of Bosnian magazines and TV.
Two Bosnian women gave the testimonies about genocide in Srebrenica, my mom wrote stories about them because they were too emotional to talk about their sons, husbands and fathers who were killed . They were in the library. We read those stories and looked at their photos. The point of the gathering was to prevent genocide from happening again. She talked about the holocaust too. She’s been working really hard to spread the word about the Srebrenica Genocide.
Harris said, right after I finished, “Give great thanks to your mom, she is doing a great thing. The point of me coming here and giving speeches is to spread the word, the same purpose that your mom had on that event about genocide prevention. We have to stop bullies. Hitler was a bully. [Radovan] Karadzic was also a bully. We have to stop bullies so the Holocaust and genocides won’t happen again.”
Furthermore, he stated how the president of Iran said that the holocaust didn’t happen, that people are saying that the holocaust didn’t happen. That’s an example of why we should talk about holocaust and genocides. How could they it’s say a lie?
Harris finished answering other students’ questions. When he finished he came right to me and shook my hand. I told him that my grandfather, Mensur Seferovic, fought in World War II and fought with the allies. He also was captured by the Italians and was in a concentration camp. My grandfather wrote 23 books about the war and life.
”I hope to follow my mother’s path and become a part of genocide prevention and spread the word. My aunt had, as well , an interview with Elie Wiesel.”
Mr. Harris was very pleased. He congratulated me and my family. He told me that Elie Wiesel is his friend and that he spoke with him when they had the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Skokie.
At the end, Mr. Harris was selling his book SAMMY: Child Survivor of the Holocaust, for $10. He gave me one for free and signed it on the inside cover of the book because I knew and he knew that my mom would love to read his book. I shook his hand again for the last time and thanked him for coming to our school.
Mindstream: A Monthly Jewish Review November 1992. Volume XXXVIII No.8.
PHOTO: Banjica concentration camp near Belgrade was primarily staffed by Serbs who wore NAZI uniforms. Photo shows Jews executed by Serbian Chetniks (Nazi collaborators) in October 1941 in Serbia.
By: Dr. Philip J. Cohen
PHOTO: Adolf Hitler and Serbian Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (aka: Knez Pavle Karadjordjevic).
During four centuries of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, the Jewish communities of Serbia enjoyed religious tolerance, internal autonomy, and equality before the law, that ended with the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of the Serbian state. Soon after a Serbian insurrection against Turkish rule in 1804, Jews were expelled from the interior of Serbia and prohibited from residing outside of Belgrade. In 1856 and 1861, Jews were further prohibited from travel for the purpose of trade. In official correspondence from the late 19th century, British diplomats detailed the cruel treatment of the Jews of Serbia, which they attributed to religious fanaticism, commercial rivalries, and the belief that Jews were the secret agents of the Turks. Article 23 of the Serbian constitution granted equality to every citizen but Article 132 forbade Jews the right of domicile. The Treaty of Berlin 1878, which formally established the Serbian state, accorded political and civil equality to the Jews of Serbia, but the Serbian Parliament resisted abolishing restrictive decrees for another 11 years. Although the legal status of the Jewish community subsequently improved, the view of Jews as an alien presence persisted.
PHOTO: Serbian Chetnik Milan Nedic, the president of a Nazi-backed puppet government in Serbia during World War II, and Adolf Hitler meeting, September 19 1943.
Although Serbian historians contend that the persecution of the Jews of Serbia was entirely the responsibility of Germans and began only with the German occupation, this is self- serving fiction. Fully six months before the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia, Serbia had issued legislation restricting Jewish participation in the economy and university enrolment. One year later on 22 October 1941, the rabidly antisemitic “Grand Anti-Masonic Exhibit” opened in occupied Belgrade, funded by the city of Belgrade. The central theme was an alleged Jewish- Communist-Masonic plot for world domination. Newspapers such as Obnova (Renewal) and Nasa Borba (Our Struggle) praised this exhibit, proclaiming that Jews were the ancient enemies of the Serbian people and that Serbs should not wait for the Germans to begin the extermination of the Jews. A few months later, Serbian authorities issued postage stamps commemorating the opening of this popular exhibit. These stamps, which juxtaposed Jewish and Serbian symbols (but did not contain Nazi symbols), portrayed Judaism as the source of world evil and advocated the humiliation and violent subjugation of Jews.
PHOTO: Draza Mihailovic’s commanders collaborated with German Nazi Fascists. On this photo, Draza Mihailovic’s commanders with the invader (from left to right): (1) Colonel Lucic, (2) Major Dangic, formerly of the Yugoslav Army, Chetnik commander, co-operators with the Germans and Milan Nedic’s men, (3) Ilija Trifunovic-Bircanin, Mihailovic’s commander for Dalmatia, (4) Milorad Ljanovski, (5) Daka Tesanovic, Chetnik commander, and (6) Lieutenant Ignjatovic, a German Nazi officer is shown by a cross.
Serbia as well as neighboring Croatia was under Axis occupation during the Second World War. Although the efficient destruction of Serbian Jewry in the first two years of German occupation has been well documented by respected sources, the extent to which Serbia actively collaborated in that destruction has been less recognized. The Serbian government under General Milan Nedic worked closely with local Naziofficials in making Belgrade the first “Judenfrei” city of Europe. As late as 19 September 1943, Nedic made an official visit to Adolf Hitler, Serbs in Berlin advanced the idea that the Serbs were the “Ubermenchen” (master race) of the Slavs.
Although the Serbian version of history portrays wartime Serbia as a helpless, occupied territory, Serbian newspapers of the period offer a portrait of intensive collaboration. In November 1941, Mihajlo Olcan, a minister in Nedic’s government boasted that “Serbia has been allowed what no other occupied country has been allowed and that is to establish law and order with its own armed forces”. Indeed, with Nazi blessings, Nedic established the Serbian State Guard, numbering about 20,000, compared to the 3,400 German police in Serbia. Recruiting advertisements for the Serb police force specified that “applicants must have no Jewish or Gypsy blood”. Nedic’s second in command was Dimitrije Ljotic, founder of the Serbian Fascist Party and the principal Fascist ideologist of Serbia. Ljotic organized the Serbian Volunteers Corps, whose primary function was rounding up Jews, Gypsies, and partisans for execution. Serbian citizens and police received cash bounties for the capture and delivery of Jews.
The Serbian Orthodox Church openly collaborated with the Nazis, and many priests publicly defended the persecution of the Jews. On 13 August 1941, approximately 500 distinguished Serbs signed “An Appeal to the Serbian Nation”, which called for loyalty to the occupying Nazis. The first three signers were bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. On 30 January 1942, Metropolitan Josif, the acting head of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, officially prohibited conversions of Jews to Serbian Orthodoxy, thereby blocking a means of saving Jewish lives. At a public rally, after the government minister Olcan “thanked God that the enormously powerful fist of Germany had not come down upon the head of the Serbian nation” but instead “upon the heads of the Jews in our midst”, the speaker of these words was then blessed by a high-ranking Serbian Orthodox priest.
A most striking example of Serbian antisemitism combined with historical revisionism is the case of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic (1880-1956), revered as one of the most influential church leaders and ideologists after Saint Sava, founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. To Serbs, Bishop Velimirovic was a martyr who survived torture in the Dachau prison camp. In truth he wasbrought to Dachau (as were other prominent European clergy), because the Nazis believed he could be useful for propaganda. There he spent approximately two months as an “Ehrenhaftling” (honour prisoner) in a special section, dining on the same food as the German officers, living in private quarters, and making excursions into town under German escort. From Dachau, this venerated priest endorsed the Holocaust:
“Europe is presently the main battlefield of the Jew and his father, the devil, against the heavenly Father and his only begotten Son… (Jews) first need to become legally equal with Christians in order to repress Christianity next, turn Christians into atheist, and step on their necks. All the modern European slogans have been made up by Jews, the crucifiers of Christ: democracy, strikes, socialism atheism, tolerance of all religions, pacifism, universal revolution, capitalism and communism… All this has been done with the intention to eliminate Christ… You should think about this, my Serbian brethren, and correspondingly correct your thoughts, desires and acts.” (Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic: Addresses to the Serbian People–Through the Prison Window. Himmelsthur, Germany: Serbian Orthodox Eparchy for Western Europe, 1985, pp. 161-162).
Today, many Serbs proudly cite the Chetniks as a resistance force and even claim that the Chetniks were somehow allied with the United States during the Second World War, but this is simply historical revisionism. According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Chetnik resistance against the Nazis came to a complete stop as early as the end of 1941. Thereafter, the Chetnik resistance actively collaborated with the both Nazis and Fascists, and for this reason Jewish fighters found it necessary to abandon the Chetniks, in favour of Tito’s Partisans. In reality, the Chetniks, dedicated primarily to the restoration of the Serbian throne and territorial expansion of the Serbian state, were the moral counterpart of Croatia’s Ustatsha. Both were quintessentially genocidal; the Chetniks committed systematic genocide against Muslims, who, for nearly all of 500 years had lived peacefully with the Sephardic Jewish community. Under explicit orders from their leader Draza Mihailovic, the Chetniks attempted to depopulate Serbia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia of all non- Serbs and in the process, massacred most of the 86,000 to 103,000 Muslims who perished during the war.
For years, the Serbian dominated Belgrade government has supported and trained PLO terrorists. Immediately after the murder of Leon Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro in 1985, the terrorist mastermind Abu Abbas was welcomed in Belgrade. Since the late 1980’s, Abu-Nidal has maintained a large terrorist infrastructure in Yugoslavia, in coordination with Libyan, Iraqi, and Yugoslav intelligence services. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, as Iraqi missiles landed in Israel, Belgrade supported its ally Iraq. Support of anti-Israel terrorism may be a consequence of support for nonaligned Arab states, rather than an expression of anti-Jewish sentiment.
Although the Jewish community of Serbia is not currently experiencing persecution, overt expressions of Serbian antisemitism do surface in such mainstream institutions as the Serbian Orthodox Church and the official news media. The 15 January 1992 issue of the official publication of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Pravoslavlje (Orthodoxy), carried an article entitled, “Jews Crucify Christ Again.” In this polemic, “treacherous” and “surreptitious” Israeli politicians were said to be constrained from expressing their “pathological” hatred of Christians openly because “they know that Christian countries gave them the state.” Allegedly, nuns are so
frequently beaten in Israel, that one nun was actually “happy, because they only spit in her face.” Only weeks later, when Russia extended diplomatic recognition to the former Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Slovenia, the official Yugoslav (Serbian perspective) news agency Tanjug blamed “a Jewish conspiracy” against Serbia, hauntingly reminiscent of the theme of the 1941
The essential strategy of Serbian propaganda is to portray the spiritual kinship between Jews and Serbs as victims of the Holocaust and endangered by Croats. This concept is disseminated through the Serbian-Jewish Friendship Society, founded in Belgrade in 1988 and supported by the Serbian government. In January and February 1992, Dr. Klara Mandic, the secretary-general and principal voice of this organization, syndicated a chilling article in the North American Jewish press. This article alleged that Ankica Konjuh, an elderly Jewish woman, was tortured and murdered by “Croat extremists” in September 1991. However, even as she released this story to the press, Dr. Mandic knew that Ankica Konjuh was neither a Jew norcould have been killed by Croats. Bona-fide witnesses have testified that Ankica Konjuh, a 67 year-old Croat, was one of 240 civilians massacred by Serbian forces after the last Croat defenders were driven from the region. Moreover on 23 December 1991, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia met in Belgrade and demanded in writing that Dr. Mandic cease and desist misrepresenting Ankica Konjuh as the first Jewish victim of the war.
Nevertheless, in late February 1992, when Dr. Mandic lectured at the Hillel House of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., she provided the rabbi with a copy of that misleading article, delivered without further comment. It is noteworthy that this speaking engagement was part of a tour arranged by Wise Communications, a Washington-based public relations firm representing the Serbian oil company Jugopetrol, a thinly veiled proxy for the Communist Belgrade government. Beginning with the proposition that antisemitism has never existed in Serbia, Dr. Mandic portrayed Croatia as preparing to repeat the Holocaust. She claimed to be a “Jewish leader,” although Jews are distinctly absent from her constituency. Less than half a dozen Jews are actual members of her society of several thousand. She introduced herself as an “eyewitness” speaking on behalf of Croatian Jews, although since the war began, she has had no contact with any of the nine Jewish communities of Croatia. When Dr. Mandic was asked to comment on Serbian (Yugoslav Army) shelling of the synagogue of Dubrovnik, the second oldest surviving synagogue in Europe, she denied that the synagogue had ever been damaged at all. Meanwhile, the attack has been well documented by the Jewish community of Dubrovnik and the World Monument Fund.
Jewish sensitivity to the Holocaust is similarly exploited by the Jewish-Serbian Friendship Society of America (Granada Hills, California), an offshoot of Dr. Mandic’s organization. Its newsletter equates the Jewish and Serbian positions during World War II, both as victims of Croats, but fails to mention Serbian complicity in the Holocaust, Serbian collaboration with the Nazis, and Serbian genocide against Croats, Gypsies, and Muslims. It warns of an imminent Holocaust being initiated in Croatia. A contrasting portrayal of Croatia, however, emerges from a spectrum of Croatian Jews, American Jews who have visited Croatia, and international Jewish agencies monitoring events on site. All concur that there is no state-sponsored antisemitism in Croatia; the rights of the Jewish minority are respected; and antisemitic incidents are virtually unknown. Thus, only a few dozen of the 2,000 Jews of Croatia have chosen to emigrate to Israel since the war began.
Serbia of today and Germany in World War II offer striking parallels. In 1991, Vojislav Seselj, a member of the Serbian Parliament and leader of the Serbian irregulars who call themselves Chetniks, declared, “We want no one else on our territory and we will fight for our true borders. The Croats must either move or die.” Croats in Serbian conquered regions are forced to wear red-and-white armbands, analogous to the yellow armbands worn by Jews in Serbia during the Holocaust. The stated purpose of the expulsion of Muslims and Croats from captured regions is “ethnic cleansing.” The indigenous non-Serbian populations of the invaded territories are being driven from their homes, exterminated, or imprisoned in concentration camps, to create regions of Serbian ethnic purity. Jewish community centres, synagogues, and cemeteries have been damaged and destroyed by characteristically indiscriminate Serbian artillery attacks. To all of this, the Jewish-Serbian Friendship Society has remained conspicuously silent.
Belgrade has promoted the myth of Serbian kinship with the Jews as fellow victims of Nazi oppression, while concealing the true extent of Serbian collaboration with the Nazis. It is ironic that Serbia is now seeking Jewish support for a war in which both the idealogy and methodology so tragically echo nazism. The European Community, the Helsinki Commission, the United
Nations, and the United States have all condemned Serbia as the aggressor.
Western diplomats have characterized the current Serbian regime as “a lying, terrorist criminal organization.” Serbia, however, claims to be the victim and campaigns for Jewish sympathy and support, exploiting the powerful symbolism of the Holocaust. Serbia’s professed solicitude for the Jewish people must be reexamined.
DID YOU KNOW? Serbs have repeatedly blocked the legislation on Holocaust and genocide denial in the Parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina. After all, the first experiments in mass executions of Jewish camp inmates by poison gas were carried out by Serbs that collaborated with Nazis. Serbia was the first country to declare itself “Judenfrei” (“cleansed” of Jews). Today, Bosniak MP commemorated the Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoa) and called for this important legislation to be adopted.
Bosniak Member of Parliament Marks the Holocaust Remembrance Day: Yom Hashoah
House of Representatives, Member
Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina
On Tuesday 21st April 2009, we are commemorating Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day. This date, 27. Nisan according to the Hebrew calendar, marks the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising.
I take this opportunity to honor the heroes of the 1943 Warsaw uprising, and also to remember that we still have to fight fascist ideology, so that this ideology will be defeated once and for all.
Although the fascist states have been defeated, fascism as an ideology has not. I sincerely hope that the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina will find the courage to adopt legislation against Holocaust and genocide denial. And in that way, it would be a contribution to the fight against fascism.
1. Jews and Bosnian Muslims have joint experience in persecution and genocide in Europe
2. Serb Nazi collaborators murdered 20,000 Muslims around Srebrenica in 1943 genocide
3. Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel condemns Karadzic for denial of Srebrenica genocide
4. Hasan Nuhanovic interview for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
5. Jasenovac Research Institute – a Serbian-nationalist organization that denies Srebrenica genocide
6. So called “Srebrenica Historical Project” and Stefan Karganovic’s Anti-Semitic Source
7. Our Friends at the United States Holocaust Museum
8. Holocaust Denier David Irving Jailed in Austria
9. Holocaust Remembrance Day 2008
The gathering is about cultural and educational initiative for promotion of the Jewish-Muslim dialogue based upon mutual acquaintance, respect and refusal to deny and diminish Holocaust. Hosted by the UNESCO, former President of France Jacques Chirac, Prince El-Hassan bin Talaal of Jordan, former President of Indonesia Abdurrahman Wahid and former German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, project “Aladdin” aims to assist in Muslim-Jewish dialogue so as to remove many a prejudice and stereotype which burden the Muslim-Jewish relations in the world.
“The call of conscience”
We, women and men in public life, historians, intellectuals and people of faith have gathered to announce that defence of values of justice and brotherhood must overcome all obstacles on the way to victory over intolerance, racism and confrontation.
We are witnesses to daily increase in hatred and violence which deepen the abyss of misunderstanding.
That has a particular impact upon the current relations between Muslims and Jews who have, for centuries in Persia, in the Middle Ages of Europe, in Northern Africa and in the Uthmaniyyah Empire, lived in relative harmony.
“Israelis and Palestinians have the right to their own states”
Facing the lack of knowledge, the prejudices and competing sentiments which we all reject, we believe in acquainting ourselves of one-another, and in the primacy of History.
Therefore we affirm, above all political views, our decisiveness to defend the historic truth as there is no peace based upon lies. The Holocaust is a historical fact: a genocide in which some six Million European Jews perished.
Its magnanimity is universal, as values of dignity and respect of human being is what the Nazi Germany and its European allies sought to destroy. Denial of that crime against humanity is not only an affront to the memories of the victims but an affront to the very idea of civilization. Therefore we believe that learning about this tragedy is a cause for all who have the heart and will to prevent future genocides.
We call upon all people of conscience in the world to work with us
We declare, together, our mutual wish to promote truthful, open and brotherly dialogue.
In that spirit we gathered in this project “Aladdin”. We call upon all people of conscience in the world to work with us in this joint venture of mutual acquaintance, respect and peace.
Unite in the struggle against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia
The importance of this is augmented because of the fact that I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina where, at the end of the 20-th century, a genocide was perpetrated upon Muslims in Europe, several decades after the Holocaust. This is, therefore, the right opportunity and place for me to remind all that Muslims and Jews have reasons to gather around a joint project such as this one and unite in the struggle against anti-Semitism and Islam-phobia, which phobia has gathered speed of recent.
July 11th – the day of remembrance of the Srebrenica Genocide
It is for that reason that we respect the fact that the European Parliament adopted, on January 15, 2009, a resolution to proclaim July 11th as day of remembrance of the Srebrenica Genocide and called upon all “people of conscience” to remember, on July 11th, the crime against humanity which was committed on July 11th, 1995, in Srebrenica against Bosnian Muslims and, consequently, we call for all to take an oath that it will never happen again to anybody.
We have committed to develop the Muslim-Jewish cultural dialogue