Saturday, March 24, 2012

Holocaust Museum in Skopje

On March 21, I went to with IWA to the Holocaust Museum in Skopje. I didn’t know anything about the Jews in Macedonia. I didn’t even  know MK had Jews in here.  I thought it would be appropriate to share some history with you about the Jews in Macedonia. I’m summarizing here, but I have a booklet that I will be brining home if you are interested.
The Jews who were in Macedonia before WW1, were Sephardic Jews. Or Jews that had been deported from Spain in 1492. They moved around an were kicked out of many other countries before settling in the Balkans. They settled in Bitola, Stip, and Skopje in Macedonia. They became thriving parts of their communities.  Not often forced to live in ghettos like the other  Jews were in other countries.

During WW1, the Bulgarians occupied the current Macedonian area. They signed an agreement with Germany to deport all of their Jews, but they only did so in the occupied areas, not in Bulgaria proper.  Jews were denied Bulgarian citizenship, forced to wear a yellow star, banned from banking, civil servants, pharmacists, and doctors.

After all of this, the Bulgarians signed the Dannecker-Belev agreement, where Bulgaria agreed to deport all Macedonian Jews to death camps. On March 11, 1942, the Jews of Bitola and Stip were shipped off to Skopje were they were interred for 11 days in a tobacco factory with only one toilet for over 7,200 people. And they were not provided food until 5 days in. Roughly 165 doctors and foreign citizens were released. On March 22, 7,144 Jews were placed in cattle cars for transportation to Treblinka death camp.

 No one returned.

A total of 900,000 Jews and approximately 2,000 Roma were killed at Treblinka. There are fewer than 100 known survivors. The only Jews that survived the holocaust in Macedonia escaped the country before the round up or were hidden by other locals. Some joined the military to fight off the invaders.

Of the nearly 8,000 Jews in Macedonia only 350 survived.

There is a small Jewish community that survives in Skopje, the others all immigrated to Israel or Palestine.
A car they were transported in, mostly from Stip.

The Macedonian Jews were the only Jews to have a photographic catalog taken of them.

This is the memorial inside the museum. It is 7,144 different strings of beads showing the burning bush of the bible. It also states "remember" in both English and Macedonian.

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