Serbian MPs Vote for New Holocaust Memorial in Belgrade
A total of 159 out of 250 MPs in the Serbian parliament voted this week for the establishment of a memorial center at the Staro Sajmiste (Old Trade Fair) site to remember those killed at the Nazi concentration camp in the country’s occupied capital of Belgrade during World War II.
Under the legislation passed on Monday, the memorial center will collect and exhibit material from museums and archives in order to ensure a “lasting memory of the victims of the Holocaust,” the website Balkan Insight reported on Friday.
Some 10,000 Serbs, 7,000 Jews and at least 60 Roma died at Staro Sajmiste in 1941 and 1942. The camp was run by the Waffen SS, but the Serbian police carried out the arrests of the Jews.
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 have been used for a variety of purposes, housing artists, a restaurant and a gym. Controversially, an office of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s governing Progressive Party was opened there in 2018.
“The passage of the bill marks the final stage of the preparations of many years to turn the site of Staro Sajmiste into a memorial center, which will finally properly honor the memory of the numerous victims of the camp,” the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s director for Eastern European Affairs, Efraim Zuroff, told Balkan Insight.
Zuroff said he hoped the center would also “play a major role in educating society about the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis and their Ustase [Croatian WWII fascist movement] accomplices.”