The President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić and the President of the Jewish Community in Montenegro (JCMNE), Nina Ofner Bokan, marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with the opening of an exhibition entitled “Shoah – How Was It Humanly Possible?”.
Prior to the meeting, Ms. Ofner Bokan and Mr. Bečić held a meeting in which they discussed the adoption of the working definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The meeting was also attended by the President of the Jewish Community Assembly Mrs. Edita Klein.
At the meeting, President Bečić stressed the importance of the very existence of the Jewish Community in Montenegro, as a confirmation of multi-religious and multi-ethnic harmony of Montenegro.
Ms Nina Ofner-Bokan informed President Bečić about current projects within the Jewish Community and expressed hopes of continuing the tradition of marking International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust in the upcoming period.
They recalled the Montenegrin tradition of fostering anti-fascism and in this context pointed out that Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust should be a reminder of all the heroes who laid down their lives for the defence against Nazi evil.
At the opening of the exhibition, Mr. Bečić asked the guests to pay their respects to all Holocaust and fascism victims with a moment of silence. Subsequently, he added that at a time when all relevant international and non-governmental organisations have been recording an increase in antisemitism in Europe and worldwide, “we must move immediately, without hesitation, move to proactive action that would mean raising our voices and unequivocally and strongly condemning all forms of behaviour or speeches that could be characterised as antisemitism or, in general, fascism, xenophobia or discrimination on any grounds.”
President Bečić expressed gratitude to representatives of the JCMNE for their cooperation on the project and highlighted the Parliament’s support to EJC ‘Stop This Story’ Campaign, aimed at promoting the memory of the Holocaust and highlighting the never-ending story of antisemitism in a series of tweets:
‘I am proud to point out the Parliament of Montenegro’s contribution to the campaign called “Stop This Story” which aims to raise awareness of the problems that lead to antisemitism, which implies prejudice against Jews, as a religious group or nation.’ And he also reaffirmed his personal and the country’s commitment to stand against antisemitism: ‘Today, an unequivocal and clear message was sent from the highest house of representatives and the legislature – we must have zero tolerance for any form of antisemitism. #StopThisStory’.
Nina Ofner Bokan thanked the Parliament of Montenegro for its great contribution in marking 27 January, International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
“Today we all look back on this unprecedented tragic event, the event that had written the darkest side of history, when in addition to a large number of minority peoples, more than one third of the Jewish population died. Today, merely 76 years ago, one of the most horrible places that humanity remembers was liberated – the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp,” she said. Following the opening of the exhibition, the Jewish Community of Montenegro organised an event commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day at DODEST Hall, KIC “Budo Tomović“ in Podgorica.
Six candles of remembrance were lit at the front of the ceremony by students and the President of the JCMNE. The Chief Rabbi of Montenegro Luciano Moshe Prelević recited the Kaddish and the memorial prayers.
JCMNE President Nina Ofner Bokan delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included Vladimir Leposavić, Minister of Justice and Human and Minirity Rights. Dragan Mitov Đurović, Secretary General of the Federation of Associations of Veterans of the People’s Liberation War of Montenegro (SUBNOR).
Prof. Dr. Melita Svob and Mila Eisestein Stojić, both from Zagreb, Croatia, shared their testimonies as Holocaust survivors via Zoom.
The event also included the short film about Holocaust and a programme by students, consisting of documentary and artistic testimonies of Holocaust victims and selected excerpts from the diaries of few gerls perished in Holocaust.
A video message from Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi was presented at the commemoration.
The commemoration was attended by members of the Montenegrin Government, including the Minister of Justice Human and Minority Rights, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sport, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Federation of Associations of Veterans of the People’s Liberation War of Montenegro (SUBNOR), and members and friends of the Community.
Different kind of ceremonies and programmes took place across the country, such as in the Montenegrin Parliament, schools, different organizations and institutions commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day.