Macedonia inaugurates Holocaust memorial center


(JTA) — Macedonia inaugurated a memorial center dedicated to the country’s Jewish Holocaust victims.

The memorial museum opened Thursday in the capital Skopje, in an area that had been home to many of the hundreds of Jewish Macedonian families.

More than 7,000 Macedonian Jews were killed after being deported to the Treblinka concentration camp in 1943. Today about 200 Jews live in Macedonia, most in Skopje.

"The tragedy of the Jews of Macedonia during the Holocaust is a particularly painful one, even when placed amidst the many other horrific accounts of deportation and murder," said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international Jewish affairs, who played a central role in the planning for the Holocaust Memorial Center. "Uprooted by Bulgarian gendarmes from their homes virtually overnight, their assets seized, they were handed over to the Nazis who took them overland and by ship to Treblinka and near certain and immediate death."

Baker also serves as president of the center’s international advisory board.

"The lessons of the Holocaust in your country must serve as an early warning system to those of your neighbors, where anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are resurgent," Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, said during the inauguration ceremony, which was organized by the government, the Holocaust Foundation and the Jewish community of Macedonia to mark the 68th anniversary of the Jewish community’s deportation to Treblinka.

During the ceremony, three urns with ashes of Macedonian Jews killed in Treblinka were placed in the building.

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