Monday, July 18, 2011

Macedonia -- Good Review of New Holocaust Museum

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The Economist magazine gives a good review of the new Holocaust/Jewish Museum in Skopje, Macedonia.

The first thing that greets visitors to the museum is a memorial with digital photo frames with changing pictures of the dead, including 3,500 identity photos which the Bulgarians demanded from the Bitola Jews. The museum is not yet finished but today its main exhibition charts the history, not just of Macedonia’s Sephardic Jews, but also those of other parts of the Balkans and especially the former Yugoslavia. What is striking, in comparison with the museums in Paris and Berlin, say, is the lack of objects. The community was wiped out so comprehensively that virtually nothing remained, says Mr Sadikarijo.

For decades the spot where the new museum stands was a rough patch of ground that served as a bus station. The whole area, which was more or less empty, was the old Jewish quarter of Skopje, many of whose remaining houses collapsed in a devastating earthquake in 1963. When the Macedonian government began its post-communist programme of returning property nearly a decade ago, it was found that there were no heirs to much of the former Jewish property. So a fund was established, which in turn created the museum.

The memory of this community has been saved from oblivion in a way that is neither flashy, political, nor full of raw emotion. Perhaps it will serve as an exemplary model of sober remembrance in the Balkans in years to come.

1 comment:

  1. The community was wiped out so comprehensively that virtually nothing.
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