(JTA) — An Israeli architectural firm defended its involvement in the planned construction of a shopping mall on a former concentration camp for Jews in Serbia.
“We cannot be suspected in being insensitive to anything relating to the Holocaust,” Ami Moore of the MYS firm in Tel Aviv said in a statement sent to JTA on Friday.
Moore was responding to allegations that appeared earlier this month in an article by the Reuters news agency that his firm was pursuing unlicensed plans for building a shopping mall for Serbia’s Delta corporation on the premises of the Topovske Supe camp, where 6,000 Jews and 1,500 Roma were murdered during World War II.
Heritage preservation officials in Serbia told Reuters they opposed the plan to build on the site, which comprises a cluster of dilapidated warehouses and a memorial plaque. Delta has not obtained the necessary permits to destroy the warehouses and build there, Aleksandra Fulgozi, deputy director of Serbia’s Agency for Protection for Cultural Monuments, told Reuters.
But according to Moore, his office plans to build a large memorial monument at the entrance to the shopping mall that would “educate about the Holocaust.” He said representatives of Serbian Jewry have been consulted with regard to the design.
“Topovske Supe was an army warehouse that was improvised into a concentration camp for about half a year. The old walls mean nothing. The essence of the memorial means everything,” Moore wrote. “The main issue regarding the proposed memorial is to make it respecting of the victims, educating the next generations, visible and accessible as much as possible.”
Moore said that the plaque currently installed at Topovske Supe “fails to do so.”