The Serbian parliament voted in favour of establishing a memorial centre at the Staro Sajmište site to remember those killed at the Nazi concentration camp in occupied Belgrade during World War II.
The legislation says that the memorial centre will collect and exhibit material from museums and archives in order to ensure a “lasting memory of the victims of the Holocaust”. Some 10,000 Serbs, 7,000 Jews and at least 60 Roma died at Staro Sajmište in 1941 and 1942. The camp was run by the Waffen SS but the Serbian police carried out the arrests of Jews and others.
After the war, nothing was done to preserve the site of the former concentration camp. A monument to the victims was erected nearby in 1995.The buildings had been used for a variety of purposes, including housing artists, a restaurant, and a gym. The establishment of a memorial centre had been promised by Serbian officials for several years.
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Serbia (SAVEZ JOS), the country’s EJC affiliate, commended the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information for its efficiency, professionalism, open-mindedness and readiness to cooperate with the Serbian Jewish community. The Federation also expressed its gratitude to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Amb. Georges Santer, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), for their support, presence and monitoring during the enactment of the Law and emphasised the importance of implementing the law in order to provide an everlasting memory of the martyrs who perished during the Holocaust.
“Memorial sites play a crucial role in educating current and future generations about the historical facts and causes of the Holocaust, while honouring the memory of the victims and survivors. The Serbian people deserve an authentic site of remembrance for the crimes of the Holocaust and so safeguarding memorial sites, such as Staro Sajmište and Topovske Šupe, is a necessity and obligation for all of our member countries, and the IHRA and its experts will continue to support Serbia with advice and expertise during the implementation phase of the law,” stated Amb. Santer on behalf of IHRA.