2015-09-01 – 2017-02-28
The project is a wide transnational European partnership between institutions and organizations of different kind, format and expertise. This cooperation is motivated by their mutual goal to further support Holocaust remembrance, research and education, with particular aim to explore shared European aspects of the Holocaust in general, and the Holocaust in Serbia in particular, in order to further debate important current European challenges.
Concentration camp at Sajmište was a death camp for Jewish women and children from German occupied Serbia, most of them, about 5.500, from Belgrade. A number of Roma women and children were interned too. In six weeks, April-May 1942, the inmates at Sajmište were systematically murdered by the use of a mobile gas van dispatched from Berlin especially for that purpose.
For 70 years there were no detailed data about the victims, until recently, when archivists from the Historical Archives of Belgrade found 6 boxes among old unsorted piles. The boxes revealed unprocessed and unlisted documentation about more than 2000 Belgrade Jews killed at the Sajmište concentration camp. Motivated after this discovery, the Historical Archives of Belgrade initiated a wide international partnership with the aim to explore the best contemporary experiences and methodologies, as well as the most productive, sustainable and effective outcomes in processing such material.
This way the project will contribute to expand the view from local to European perspectives and further examine the Holocaust and its defining impact on the common European values in post-war Europe, including the current European challenges of intolerance, discrimination and raising anti-Semitism and anti-Romanyism.
The project is financed by the EACEA – Europe for Citizens Programme; Strand 1 – European Remembrance (REMEM)
2015-09-01 – 2017-02-28
Through the series of 6 public events in Serbia, Sweden and the Netherlands, international experts will present and discuss shared European aspects of the Holocaust, Holocaust research, commemoration, teaching and learning about Holocaust, as well as current European challenges in facing intolerance, anti-Semitism, anti-Romanyism, xenophobia etc.
In addition, a database of the Holocaust victims killed at the concentration camp Old Fairground (Staro Sajmište) in Belgrade, an exhibition, a set of educational materials , a publication and an online presentation will be produced and presented.
Historical Archives of Belgrade
The database will provide details such as name, age, address, profession, school etc. listing the Holocaust victims murdered at the concentration camp at Sajmište.
In addition, the database will also include information about the pre-war life of the Belgrade Jews murdered at the concentration camp at Sajmište. The database will be digital, searchable and available online.
Center for Holocaust Research and Education (CHRE)
The exhibition focuses on October 1941. During each day of October 1941 Nazis and their helpers committed mass killings on different locations around occupied Serbia.
Thousands of civilians: Serbs, Jews and Roma were shot by killing squads. This led to the final phase of the Holocaust in Serbia – a systematic killing of remaining Jews (women and children) detained at the Sajmište camp in Belgrade, using notorious mobile gas van.
The Project team
(Serbia – Sweden – Netherlands – Croatia)
A series of 6 international events will be held from April 2016 to January 2017. Beside presentations of the database, the exhibition and the educational materials, each event will focus on two main themes: one related to the Holocaust in Serbia, and the other involving a broader European context, presented and discussed by international experts. In addition, there will be workshops and lectures related to teaching and learning about Holocaust, shared European aspects of the Holocaust, current European challenges in facing intolerance, anti-Semitism, anti-Romanyism, and other subjects.
The events will take place in Belgrade, Kragujevac, Nis and Novi Sad (Serbia), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Stockholm (Sweden) and in Romania, during the Romanian IHRA chairmanship.
(Sweden – Netherlands – Serbia)
Educational materials “Ester” consist of several illustrated stories with manuals for teachers, available for online use, as e-books, and ready for print. The materials focus on young Jewish victims from Belgrade, and other cities, murdered at the concentration camp at Sajmište. Through personal stories of these young victims, their families and other people in their surroundings, the educational materials aims to present the pre-war Jewish life in Serbia, the Holocaust, and its devastating consequences. Educational materials combine the visual language of graphic novels, historical photographs and documents, testimonies and other materials.
Educational materials “Ester” were developed as a separate project, inspired and initiated by the project “Escalating into Holocaust”, supported by the ODIHR and their project “Words Into Action to Combat Antisemitism”.
University of Rijeka, Department of Cultural Studies
At the final stage of the project in February 2017, a Project publication will be presented.
It will be a collection of papers and articles contributed by international experts during the projects’ 6 events, compiled by the editorial team.
The Project team
The project’s website will present the main project activities, including public events, workshops, debates, presentations etc.
When finalized, the victim’s database will be available at the website.
In addition, the educational materials will be available at the website.
No memorial centres or museums have ever been built on the former campgrounds. For a long time the area where the camp was located was in a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect.
In spite of the important place that it occupies in the history of the Holocaust, in the post war era, Sajmiste was rarely recognised as a site of Holocaust remembrance. In socialist Yugoslavia, the suffering of Jews tended to be interpreted as a manifestation of the broader ‘reign of terror’ instituted by the Nazis against the civilian population.
Recently, the Belgrade City Council announced the plans of building a permanent Memorial Center at the site. The Museum of Genocide Victims in Belgrade and the newly established Memorial Center Committee are now making plans for the Memorial Center and Museum, with aim to start the project in 2017.
By putting the Concentration camp at Sajmište in focus, bringing together Serbian and international scholars and experts, and by creating materials that could be used at the future Memorial, the project “Escalating into Holocaust” aim to contribute to this important task.
The project is supported by
the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia, and
the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade