ZAGREB, Yugoslavia (Oct. 23)
The Jewish community in the war-ravaged Croatian town of Osijek has appealed to Jews around the world to try to stop the “senseless war” that is destroying lives and property in their town and elsewhere in the breakaway Croatian republic.
Osijek, which has a Jewish population of about 200, has been in the center of battles between the Croatian militia and the Serbian-led Yugoslav army.
The message, signed by Darko Fischer, president of the Jewish Community of Osijek, disclosed for the first time damage to Jewish communal property, including the local synagogue.
Although it reported “over 100 civilians killed and over 1,000 wounded,” the message did not mention Jewish war casualties.
“If you would be able to come to Osijek today, we could only show you, with pain and sorrow, a destroyed city,” it said. “Every third apartment building is damaged and most of the industry is completely destroyed.
“Sites important for the Jewish tradition were also targeted. The building of the Jewish community and the small synagogue in it are severely damaged.
“The monument ‘Mother and Child,’ by sculptor Oskar Nemon, which is dedicated to the memory of Jewish victims of war, was saved only by a miracle when a bomb exploded only 50 feet from it, killing one citizen and leaving a deep crater on the lawn of the park.”
The message, addressed to “all Jewish communities of Yugoslavia” and to “all Jews of Yugoslavia,” also called on “Jews of Diaspora and Israel” to realize what is happening in Osijek and cities like it.
“The people that carry in their genes the 3,000 years of suffering and persecution must raise their voice and use their influence to stop the insanity of war,” the message said.
“The people that remembers Masada and the Warsaw Ghetto, pogroms and concentration camps must show to the world the senselessness of war on the eve of the 21st century.”
The message was translated by Srdjan Matic, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Council in Zagreb, the Croatian capital.