Commemorative events in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The commemoration of 75 years since the deportation of 7,144 Jews to the death camp Treblinka in 1943 was marked by numerous events and activities in Skopje, Bitola and Shtip on 11 and 12 March 2018. The commemorative events were held under the auspices of the Prime Minister H.E. Zoran Zaev.

The events were attended by official high-level foreign delegations and guests, members of the parliament and Government, Jewish delegations -  including from Israel and United States of America - the diplomatic core, students and pupils, civil society organizations, and media.

The main event on 11 March was the commemorative concert and the addresses of the President H. E. Gjorgje Ivanov, the deputy Minister of Defense of Israel Rabbi Eli ben Dahan, the member of the American Jewish Committee Rabbi E. Beker and the President of the local Jewish Community Mrs. Berta Romano-Nikolik. President Ivanov emphasized that it is our sacred duty to preserve the truth about the Holocaust and to preserve the memory for each and every Jew who was murdered. Mrs. Romano-Nikolik stated that without remembrance there is no future, noting that we forgive but we do not forget so that the events will never be repeated. The ceremony was attended by a number of IHRA delegates: Richelle Budd Caplan, member of the Israeli Delegation to the IHRA, Tom Yazdgerdi, Head of the United States Delegation to the IHRA, Bruno Boyer, French Delegation to the IHRA, Paul Hagouel, Greek Delegation to the IHRA, and Alexandru Florian and Elisabeth Ungureanu from the Romanian Delegation to the IHRA.

On 12 March in Skopje a “March of the Living” from the old railway station to the Tobacco factory known as Monopol – the place where the Jews were collected and deported was held. The Prime Ministers of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Bulgaria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Deputy Prime Minister of Romania, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland were among those that took part in the march.

The Prime Ministers of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria addressed the commemorative ceremony before the monument of the Holocaust victims. Prime Minister Zaev pointed out that the presence of prime ministers from neighboring countries at the commemoration of this day was a historical, European and civilization gesture: "We must never forget what had happened here 75 year ago. The history repeats only for those who are blind for the past. We will not become blind and we will continue to remember."

Bulgarian Prime Minister B. Borisov, the first Bulgarian official to attend the commemoration, underlined Bulgaria's deep regrets for each human life sent to perish in the camps.

On the same day, the Assembly held a special commemorative session and the Declaration adopted few days earlier by the Assembly to mark the occasion of the deportation was read out. The Declaration underlined the permanent determination of the state to never forget the victims of the Holocaust and stressed that the focus was to be put on the young generations.

Later during the day an unofficial visit to the "Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews from Macedonia" was organized and the new permanent exhibition (still to be completed) about the history, tradition, culture of the Jews and, in particularly, about the Holocaust on the territory.

On the eve of the commemoration events, the Government adopted the IHRA working definition on the antisemitism.

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