ITF Chair Karel de Beer participated in the wreath-laying ceremony in Belgrade on 27 January to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day along with Serbian President Boris Tadic.
The ceremony took place at the World War II Genocide Victims' Monument at Staro Sajmište, and additional participants included the Minister of Labor, Minister of Culture, Media and Information Society, the President of the Jewish Community in Serbia, the City of Belgrade, and the Municipality of Novi Beograd. The commemoration was attended by Holocaust survivors, descendants of the victims, former camp inmates, representatives of the ministries, and members of the diplomatic corps.
In his remarks, President Tadic emphasized that Serbia will preserve and restore the monuments dedicated to victims of the Holocaust, and said that, "I call on you to once again count on your fellow citizens and neighbors, who are here with you and whose memory is vivid, and who are trying to preserve the past experiences of dehumanization in order to be able to recognize in the present what will make their human and their future peaceful."
Serbian Minister of Culture, Media and Information Society Predrag Markovic added that "yesterday, all primary and secondary schools dedicated a class to the Holocaust and its meaning, as knowing the past is a prerequisite to remembering victims, as well as to preventing anything like that from happening in the future."
The exhibition "Holocaust in Serbia 1941-1944" was officially opened on the 27th at the Museum of Yugoslav History. Ambassador de Beer gave a speech, along with Mayor of Belgrade Mr. Dragan Dilas and H.E. Minister of Labor and Social Policy Mr. Rasim Ljajić. "The Holocaust in Serbia 1941-1944" exhibition is a unique project and the first overview exhibit that presents the most important aspects of the Holocaust in Serbia from 1941 until 1944. Visitors will be able to see many artifacts, video clips, and testimonies from survivors presented with the assistance of the Shoah Foundation. A special segment of the exhibition is a memorial space designed to honor all of the innocent Holocaust victims.
"The Holocaust in Serbia 1941-1944" exhibition was organized by the Institute of Recent History of Serbia and the Museum of Yugoslav History in cooperation with more than 50 cultural institutions from Serbia, as well as leading institutions from the U.S., Israel, France, Holland, and Poland, among others. The exhibition will be open until 1 April 2012.
Prior to his visit to Serbia, the ITF Chair traveled to Lithuania to attend the closing ceremony of a seminar for teacher trainers organized by the US Embassy and Lithuanian Ministry of Education and funded by the ITF. The seminar was an intensive three-day program with many excellent speakers, both from Lithuania and around the world. The ITF Chair presented certificates to the 60 teacher trainers that attended the seminar in Siauliai.