Commemoration Events in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

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Skopje

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked by a number of events throughout the country, thus confirming the firm commitment of the Government, educational system, civil society and others to remember and pay tribute to the Holocaust victims, including 7,144 Jews deported to the death camp Treblinka in 1943.

This year the two main commemorative events were organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Austrian Embassy in Skopje and the "Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia".

The central commemorative ceremony was held at the Macedonian Philharmonic hall on 28th January 2019. The keynote speakers were the Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikola Dimitrov and the President of the Jewish Community Mrs. Berta Romano – Nikolik. The event was also addressed by the Austrian Ambassador in Skopje Renate Kobler, the Austrian Special Representative to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), Ambassador Thomas Michael Baier and Italian Ambassador in Skopje Carlo Romeo, on behalf of the current Italian Presidency of IHRA. Special guest at the ceremony was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Mr. L. Linkevicius who was on a bilateral visit the same day (www.mfa.gov.mk).

Minister Dimitrov in his address, among the rest, underlined that our commitment and obligation today, tomorrow and in the years to come, is to remember all the victims of the Holocaust, including 7,114 Jews who in 1943 were deported to the death camp in Treblinka, and to learn lessons for us and, especially for younger generations. We, the citizens, must not forget our civil responsibility that should be shown always and everywhere: in our immediate surroundings - at home, in educational institutions, in working environments, at meetings in cafes, at sports arenas...He reminded the audience that the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews in March 2018 was organized under the auspices the president of the Government Mr. Zoran Zaev and on that occasion the national Assembly adopted a Declaration, while the Government adopted the IHRA working definition on antisemitism. He, once again, highlighted the strong commitment to continue with engagement to intensifying and enriching the activities in all fields related to the memory of Holocaust victims. Remembrance is the first step in our resolute efforts never to have repetition of such a crime against anyone.

The ceremony ended with concert by the prominent duo Timna Brauer & Elias Meiri (piano and guitar) from Vienna who performed traditional songs from Jerusalem.

The ceremony was attended by members of the Jewish community, representatives of the Assembly and Government, diplomatic core, academia, media, civil society and received a large coverage in the media.

The same day in the morning a round table “Combating antisemitism and Holocaust distortion” was held in "Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews from Macedonia". The table consisted of two panels. The first one was devoted to the “Challenges of contemporary antisemitism and Holocaust distortion in Europe and ways and means to address these phenomena” and the second one to the “Civil society activism and the role of media in combating heat speech and heat crime”. The introductory address was given by Ambassador T. M. Baier who spoke about the Austrian and IHRA efforts and activities to combat antisemitism and Holocaust distortion. The panels also included addresses by Ambassador Jovan Tegovski, Head of the IHRA delegation, Director of the Holocaust Memorial Center Mr. Goran Sadikarijo, British Ambassador in Skopje, President of Euroclio, Chairperson of the Institute for preservation of Holocaust in Bulgaria and a prominent journalist from Telma TV.

On 25th January the elementary school “Gorgija Puleski” from Skopje, organized a commemoration event “We Remember”, where pupils read the poems and essays they have wrote on the subject of the Holocaust, followed by the school choir and ballet performance. The exhibition “The Lost World of Sephardic Jews in the Western Balkans” was opened.

On 25th January in joint organization of the Israeli ambassador and the NGO Acta Non Verba the exhibition “More than a duty – diplomats recognized as righteous among nations” – a project by Yad Vashem was opened in one of the cultural centers in Skopje.

On 27th January 2019 the NGO ARNO organized, within the regional project “Holocaust on the Balkans – research, education, remembrance” funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the EU, an awarding ceremony for best literature work and best post-card on the subject “The Holocaust in Macedonia”. The main goal of the project was to raise the awareness among the young generation about the Holocaust, to pay respect to the Jews – victims of the Holocaust and to send a message that this kind of tragic events must never be repeated. At the end the participants at the ceremony had an opportunity to write a personal message and the winning post card was offered to the "Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia".