Public event in Amsterdam
A public presentation “Escalating into Holocaust” took place on Wednesday 21 September 2016 at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, co-hosted by NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Terraforming.
The event attracted an audience of about 50 participants – scholars, academics, PhD students, activists, professionals in the fields of Holocaust research, education, commemoration, musealisation and related fields, as well as others interested in the subject.
The event was opened by welcoming word by Dr Erik Somers from NIOD, who is also coordinator of the NIOD’s team in charge of the project “Escalating into Holocaust”.
At later point, Dr Frank van Vree, director of NIOD Institute, welcomed the participants and expressed his appreciation and satisfaction that this international event is taking place in NIOD, and that NIOD can contribute to the overall project goals as a project partner.
The programme was devided in two parts, focusing on two themes:
1. Presentation of the project “Escalating into Holocaust”, and
2. Challenges and best practices in developing the concept and content of Holocaust memorials;
The programme continued with the presentation by Misko Stanisic, creative director of the Terraforming network. Misko Stanisic presented the project “Escalating into Holocaust”, its evolvement and background, its goals, current activities, and expected outcomes and results. He pointed out the European dimension of the project, and its strive to explore shared European narratives and experiences of the Holocaust, as well as the current challenges of antisemitism and xenophobia our societies are facing today. Also, Misko Stanisic talked about the concept for the educational materials “Escalating into Holocaust” that Terraforming is developing. The materials will present 4 personal stories of young Jewish victims murdered at Sajmiste concentration camp, combining graphic-novel-style illustrations and the archive documentation of the Historical Archives of Belgrade, focusing on pre-war Jewish life in 3 cities in Serbia.
Dr Milan Koljanin, senior researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History in Belgrade, presented the historical background of the Holocaust in German-occupied Serbia and the concentration camp Judenlager Semlin (concentration camp at Sajmiste). Dr Koljanin is also a member of the Planning Committee for the future Memorial Center at Staro Sajmište. He also spoke about the current state of the Planning Committee work.
Vladimir Mijatovic, senior archivist at the Historical Archives of Belgrade presented the work on the database of the Sajmište camp victims. Vladimir Mijatovic explained the concept and informational structure of the database, the challenges and obstacles, as well as solutions the archivists developed during the process. The victim’s database is a focal point of the project “Escalating into Holocaust”. It will serve as an important contribution to the future Holocaust researches and education, as well as to the future permanent Memorial Center at Sajmiste.
Nikola Radic Lucati, artist and activist from the Center for Holocaust Research and Education, presented the exhibition “October 1941”. Together with his colleague Dr Milovan Pisarri, Nikola Radic Lucati is author of the exhibition that aim to illustrate the escalation of violence and killings in German-occupied Serbia during October 1941. This escalation resulted not only in murder of most of the Serbian Jewish male population, together with many Roma and Serbs victims, but it pushed the creation of the concentration camp at Sajmiste, where most of the remaining Jewish population was murdered until May 1942. Through archival materials and newspaper clips, 32 exhibition boards presents each day of October 1941, and mass prosecutions of the civilians. This led to the final phase of Holocaust in Serbia – systematic execution of the remaining Jewish women and children detained in the Sajmište camp, in the notorious gas van, so called “dušegupka”. In addition, the exhibition is exploring the involvement of collaborators, position of bystanders, war profiteers, propaganda, and how official media was trying to present that life was continuing “like nothing happened”.
The next part of the programme was dedicated to challenges and best practices in developing the concept and content of Holocaust memorials. Two presentations were held:
Dr Erik Somers, Historian at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies:
Musealisation of the Holocaust – Memory and Representation
Pieter Lagrou, Professor of History at the University of Brussels:
Holocaust and Remembrance – Kazerne Dossin: Memorial and Museum
More details about these presentations will be available in the final project publication, scheduled for January 2017.
During the Q&A with the audience after the official programme, Dr Milan Koljanin, Nevena Bajalica (Anne Frank House / Terraforming) and Misko Stanisic were answering and discussing questions related to the past and current challenges of antisemitism in Serbia and Europe, and in what way combating current antisemitism is incorporated into the project “Escalating into Holocaust”.