Exhibition report - Center for Holocaust Research and Education

Page 1

Đžctober 1941

of the crimes of 31 day Holocaust, genocide and terror of nazi and collaborationist authorities in Serbia.

Report on the exhibition October 2015 / February 2017


Center for Holocaust Research and Education

Exhibition “October 41” is part of the project:

two defining stages of the Holocaust in Serbia

Project partners: Historical Archives of Belgrade (Serbia) www.arhiv-beograda.org Center for Holocaust Research and Education (CHRE) (Serbia) www.cieh-chre.org Terraforming (Sweden, Netherlands, Serbia) www.terraforming.org Institute for Study of the History of War and Genocide - NIOD (Netherlands) www.niod.knaw.nl Rijeka University, Department of Cultural Studies (Croatia) www.ffri.uniri.hr


Center for Holocaust Research and Education



Project is financed by: Educational, Audiovisual and Cultural Executive Agency (EACEA) of European Commission through the programme “Europe for Citizens” - Active Remebrance in Europe

A project financed by the EACEA - Europe for Citizens Programme: Strand 1 - Europen Remembrance (REMEM)

Project is supported by: Ministry of Culture and Information of Republic of Serbia and Secretariat for Culture of the Belgrade Municipality

“October 41”, installation, 1st and 3rd week, 2 channel video, HAB gallery, April - May 2016


“October 41”, opposite, top: “a gypsy” detail of witness statement of record, given to the state commission for the war crimes of the occupiers, Archives of Yugoslavia. opposite, bottom: Mladen Urošević, a case of a missing Roma boy in occupied Belgrade, CHRE HAB gallery, April - May 2016

The idea for an educational exhibition on the Holocaust, Porajmos and genocide in WW2 Serbia, in itserlf, was not new. Altough rare, there were such projects by state ministries and historical institutes in 2011 and 2015. However, the wide topic and a long timeline could not permit the in-depth, detailed engagment of Nazi occupation and quisling regime, that is so badly needed in the current climate of rehabilitation of wartime quislings in Serbia. Our response was to use our segment of the overall project, and contribute the factual basis for the interpretation of the war, by focusing on a single-month of occupation, the very period of escalation of atrocities, which coincided with the rise of the quisling government in Serbia. CHRE has produced and curated an exhibition in the form of a visual diary, in which each day of the month had its dedicated panel, with 25-30 reproduced documents, photographs, newspaper articles, testimonies, public orders, posters and even advertising. The selected documents (approximately 900), were photo-reproduced, billingually annotated, placed in mutually contextualizing relations, and accompanied with a text on a chosen topic for each day and its panel.

Methodology CHRE approach was to read the exhisting writing of positivist historiography comparatively, in the context of other types of sources, such as testimonies, location analysis and, in particular, the primary archival sources massed in large analyzed datasets. We have used these large data sets to extract the relevant narratives that either complement or contrast the existing works on the period, and to re-frame the narrative from the civillian perspective. These, of course, include the victims, but also, the regular citizens, as well as the collaborationist administration and propaganda, which were until now, considered less relevant. This re-organizing of narrative through juxtaposition had to rely on showing the documents themselves, and not as was the usual practice, as footnotes and references. In this view, this is the first exhibition on the subject that is prepared for the “time after the witnesses”, and which relies for narrative corroboration using the period documents.

Research The project relied in no small part on the previous archival research by CHRE, and the use of exhisting literature, the books on Serbia and Belgrade under the occupation, and extensive research for the monograph “Suffering of Roma in Serbia during the Holocaust” by CHRE co-founder, Dr Pisarri, as well as the literature on Sajmište camp. Also the history of the war itself, as published in military history monographs and periodicals from 1960s onward, However, history did not take place on the battlefields and in the camps alone, and our goal to use this project to tell the civillian history of war, meant that an entirely new research had to be conducted, opening the rarely used archives on non-military factors, the bio-political ministries of health, labour and economy, the municipal services, departments of statistics, propaganda, etc... The intensive, dedicated research and reproduction phase spanned the period between October 2015 to March 2016, taking us through the archives of the Jewish museum,

Military Archives of Serbia, Archives of Yugoslavia, University Library Svetozar Marković, online archive “Znaci”, and our project partner, the Historical Archives of Belgrade. During the course of our research, we have enjoyed full support of the management and archivists at all of the institutions involved.

Research results The wide-ranging effort at reproducing and analyzing this new collection of documents, has resulted in significant new historical discoveries. The CHRE team has discovered and presented a document proving the existence of a second, refugee camp, alongside the camp for the Jews and Roma at “Topovske šupe” location as late as mid-October 1941, proving the causal link that camp had in the internment of the Roma later that month. A clear causal connection was established between statefounded trading firm “Obnova” (Renewal) and the trade in clothes taken off the victims of mass executions troughout Serbia, raising the questions of culpability of general Milan Nedić, quisling ruler of Serbia whose rehabilitation trial is currently underway in Belgrade.

“October 41”, exhibition details, HAB gallery, April - May 2016

Identity of the commander of concentration camp “Topovske šupe” was established, and is currently under further research for corroboration in German archives. The looting of Roma houses by his brother and collaborationist local partners was established and linked to mass-casualties of Roma civillians released from the Judelnlager Semlin (camp on Sajmište) in winter of 1942. New cases of missing Roma children were presented, with officcial correspondence between the family and quisling authorities, along with a group of previously unknown testimonies of Roma women. Parts of the hearing of Dragi Jovanović, the quisling leader of the security services, special police and wartime mayor of Belgrade, were shown for the first time, with possible consequences for the process of rehabilitation of Milan Nedić.

Testimony and location photographs of the mass-shooting site in Rakovica, Belgrade, (Dr Pisarri, CHRE dicovery), were shown in an exhibition setting and diseminated for a wide audience. Previously unpublished testimony of Roma witnesses of the Sajmište camp was published in full, and used as audio in the exhibition. New testimonies of Jewish witnesses - the children of the inmates of the “Topovske šupe” camp was presented in audio format. Complete lists of victims of the “Kladovo transport” were shown in an exhibition for the first time. Parts of the database of the Jewish victims of the camp at Sajmište, a project of our partner, Historical archive of Belgrade were presented as video-projection, together with previously unpublished original construction blueprints of the camp pavillions.

Printing and production In the course of the reproduction work, a production database was made of nearly 5000 separate articles, documents and photographs. The files were photographed in studioconditions, under standardized lighting, and reproduced to be printed up to 0.5m-1.3m. The text legibility was improved, and printed sizes guaranteed comfortable reading at subject distances of one meter or more. All of the originals were printed on fiber-based period-correct paper stock, with separate kinds and colors of paper being used for different kinds of content. Special printing profiles were developed to prevent ink-bleed on fibre stock. Prints were mounted on PVC boards, and cut, in many cases to custom shapes dictated by the condition of the original articles. These were placed on their exact locations on the 31 exhibition-boards, 2.5m high. The date, text and annotation plates were produced with texts and archival references in Serbo-Croatian and English, and included in the overall compositions on the exhibition boards. Specialized lighting was added to the original lighting grid of the Historical archives of Belgrade gallery, and a

Left: Introductory panel, on the jewish refugees of the “Kladovo transport�, interned by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia before the outbreak of the war.

custom-made area-limited sound reproduction systems and video were discretely installed. CHRE has employed a team of professional exhibition technicians from the MOCAB (Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade), for all the venues and has taken great care to adapt and install this modular exhibition in a wide variety of spaces it has encountered. MOCAB had also donated part of their surplus material to the project.

Audio-visual elements

“Through this forest, the jews has passed” - from “Antimasonic” exhibition, organized the German propaganda dept. and collaborationist government. HAB Archive.

Lists of Sajmište victims, two channel video projection, HAB gallery.

Three audio-testimonies were used as localized sound a different points of the exhibition, in relation to the printed content on the panels and walls. The sound direction and level for each work was designed not to interfere with other sound sources, giving the audible circle of just 2m in diameter. Sound recordings had to be digitized from analog tape, and cleared in post-production. Digitally recorded audio was matched to the analog one as closly as possible. A dual-beam, loop-projection video-work was created to showcase our (HAB) partners’ work on the database of Sajmište victims. Both video and sound were run during the entire time exhibition was opened.

Exhibition catalogue The cataogue of the exhibition was made to follow the diary form of the exhibition, with a full page spread given to each day, and an accompanying text on a topic unique for that day. Two historical study texts by CHRE co-founder Milovan Pisarri, were also incorporated, giving the narrative depth and clear rationale for the project, and adding a structured layer of information, helping the catalog become an educational tool, enhancing the goals of the exhibition, as well as the overall project. The catalogue follows on the overall methodology of the exhibition, juxtaposing several kinds of historical sources into a single narrative unit with the added text. The catalogue was intentionally produced in high-resolution, to make the reduced size the documents clear and legible, and thus, an active narrative addittion, as opposed to mere illustration. The catalogue was written,

produced and designed by CHRE, using project funds, and was co-funded to its present, (larger than originally planned form), by the generous help from the Historical Archives of Belgrade and the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade. The catalogue was produced in Serbian language, on 96 pages, 23 x 32 cm, in color, soft-cover. It has accompanied the exhibition on all four venues and two project presentations, and was diseminated free of charge to a wide range of audiences, from professionals and decisionmakers, to university students and pupils on school visits.

Exhibition opening, Belgrade, April 20th, 2016 Exhibition opening was the first public event of “Escalating Into Holocaust - From execution squads to the gas van of the concentration camp at Sajmište: Two defining phases of the Holocaust in Serbia” project. On Wednesday 20 April 2016 at the Historical Archives of Belgrade, in the presence of many prominent guests and visitors, exhibition “October 1941” was opened. Authors of the exhibition are Dr Milovan Pisarri and Nikola Radić Lucati from Center for Holocaust Research and Education (CHRE) from Belgrade. Through archival materials and newspaper clips, 32 exhibition boards presents each day of October 1941, a month in which Holocaust and genocide based on racist laws escalated against Jews and Roma, and mass executions of Serbian civilians began in retaliation for the uprising. This led to the final phase of Holocaust in Serbia - the transformation of the camps for hostages in Serbia into fully - fledged death camps through systematic execution of the Jewish women and children detained in the Sajmište camp, in the gassing van, euphemistically named “Eintlasungwagen” (de-lousing truck). A press conference was organized before the exhibition opening, with a goal to present the project Escalating into Holocaust and upcoming activities. Participants of the press conference were Mr Dragan Gačić, project director and director of the Historical Archives of Belgrade, Mr Vladan Vukosavljević, Secretary of the Secretariat of Culture of the City of Belgrade, Dr Milovan Pisarri, co-author of the

H.E. Yossef Levi, Israeli ambassador and H.E. Axel Dittmann, German ambassador to Serbia.

exhibition and Mrs Nevena Bajalica, project manager and co-founder of the Terraforming international network Stockholm-Amsterdam-Novi Sad. The exhibition was opened by Mr Dragan Gačić, director of the Historical Archives of Belgrade, H.E. Yossef Levi, Israeli ambassador and H.E. Axel Dittmann, German ambassador to Serbia. Israeli ambassador to Serbia H.E. Yossef Levi underlined that it should not be forgotten what had happened on Sajmište concentration camp and that we should all cherish this memory. He repeated the fact that in World War II in Europe six million of Jewish men, women, children and babies were killed by Nazis. Levi said that Jews were killed by Nazi occupiers, but also by Ustashas, Hungarian gendarmerie, and by Serbs who were executing the orders of the occupation authorities. “There were Serbs who helped Jews in so many ways, but there were also those who participated in mass murders”, stated the ambassador of Israel.

Up, Mr Dragan Gačić, director of the Historical Archives of Belgrade opening the exhibition

German ambassador to Serbia H.E. Axel Dittmann said that the crimes committed by Nazi authorities in Germany must be remembered if we want to shut the door to the evil. Ambassador of Croatia H.E. Gordan Markotić and ambassador of Montenegro H.E. Branisalv Mićunović also attended the ceremony. The exhibition opening was attended by over 160 participants, and the subsequent symposium and workshops have added another 180 to that number, making this a successful event, especially considering that the venue is outside the city center. During the course of the exhibition, there were 350 visitors, with three school visits, a visit of the boarding school for children without parental care, and a study visit with a panel talk for a group of representatives of historical institutes, domestic and foreign NGO’s, Antifascist union of Serbia and activists. The exhibition opening was also attended by international experts - guests from Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Sweden and Croatia, participants of the international conference “Escalating into Holocaust”. International guests complimented the exhibition.

Among others, Dr Gerhard Baumgartner, director of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance from Vienna, professor Dr Walter Manoshek, and Dr Alexander Korb, as well as Dr Ljuba Dimić of SANU - Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences.

A Visit to the Judenlager at Sajmište After exhibition opening, a visit to Staro Sajmište was organized for international participants. Guests from Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, Sweden and Croatia were presented with the history of the site before, during and after the war, in an organized tour around Sajmište, guided and lectured by Nikola Radić Lucati, CHRE. Exhibition opening, Niš, September 26th, 2016 The exhibition opened in NiŠ, Serbia’s third largest city, in the Synagogue, which is used today as a gallery under the auspicies of the National Museum of NiŠ, and its chief curator NebojŠa Ozimić. The opening ws a success, considering the intermittent use of the venue, at which some 50 people attended, including NiŠ Jewish community, and righteous unto nations - descendants of local families who were saving Jews during the Holocaust. Also present were the local academics, school-teachers and their classes. Exhibition was a venue for two school visits, with lectures held by local schoolteachers, and messages left by their pupils. The exhibition had recieved extensive media coverage, with local TV and radio stations announcing the opening and conductung interviews with authors and National Museum curator at the opening, and having a TV panel discussion between CHRE’s Dr Pisarri and Mr Alexander DinčiĆ, a historian who also writes on issues of the camps in Niš. Exhibition was attended by 120 active participants out of 250 visitors over the month it was on show. “October 41” opening in Niš, Synagogue gallery, National Museum of Niš, 3rd from top, Nebojša Ozimić and DrMilovan Pisarri at the opening.

“October 41” in the Synagogue gallery, Niš.

Following page, detail, Books of the banjica camp, HAB antisemitic caricature of Geza Kon, publisher, UNILIB

Public Event Amsterdam, 21 September 2016 A public presentation “Escalating into Holocaust” took place on Wednesday 21 September 2016 at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, cohosted by NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Terraforming. The event attracted an audience of 105 participants - scholars, academics, PhD students, activists, professionals in the fields of Holocaust research, education, commemoration, musealisation and related fields, as well as others interested in the subject. CHRE has participated in all activities during the Amsterdam event, and has given a lecture-presentation on the political position, methodology, and the course of the work on the exhibition in Serbia. The presentation was illustrated using the photo-documentation of the project. Presetation had also included the video-installation on HAB work as well. Nikola Radić Lucati, CHRE, presenting the exhibition at the public event at NIOD, Amsterdam.

Public Event Stockholm, December 7th 2016 A public presentation of the project “Escalating into Holocaust” was held in Stockholm, at the Sensus center, with 40 participants, project partners, and a subsequent working visit to Levada historie center. CHRE has presented the work on the exhibition “October 1941” in the context of the overall joint project. The same detailed and in-depth presentation as on the previous meeting was used. The event was attended by academics, students, professionals in the fields of Holocaust research, education, commemoration, representatives of the local Serbian expat community, as well as others interested in the subject. Exhibition opening Novi Sad, January 17th, 2017 The exhibition had opened in the new building of the Historical Archives of Novi Sad, with attendance od local academic community, schools, Jewish community, historians and the general public. HANS director Mr Petar Djurdjev had opened the exhibition with the authors, and had participated in a lecture with the guded tour. The HANS director had been instrumental in organizing the media coverage and had promoted the exhibition with the local educators. The opening was attended by 50 people, with two

school visits taking place during the exhibition term. The education visits were attended by further 110 participnts and had over 250 visitors overall. On January 22nd, the project symposium was held at the HANS, attended by over 80 professionals, academics, archivists and historians, repreentatives of the regional parliament and the municipality, with all national and regional media attending. CHRE had delivered a lecture on the exhibition, and Dr Pisarri had taken part in moderating one of the panels. Notable lectures on the 1942 pogrom in Novi Sad, were delivered by Mr Djurdjev and Teodor Kovač, a Holocaust survivor and historian. Exhibition opening in Kragujevac, February 17th, 2017 The exhibition “October 41” was opened in the museum of the Memorial park 21 October, Kragujevac, a central national memorial institution in Serbia, dedicated to the mass execution of at least 3000 of its citizens, perpetrated by the Wermacht and the local collaborationist government. For us, as authors, this venue carries a special meaning, as the events of 20th-21st of October 1941 are part of the our exhibition’s topic as well. The museum is an active, open exhibiting institution, with a permanent exhibition on show, a collection of paintings of Petar Lubarda, and the most significant modernist sculpture park dedicated to the memory of the victims. It also is the focal point for group visits, especially by schools, carrying the unbroken comemorative tradition since the war. The exhibition was installed in the gallery alongside the paintings of Petar Lubarda, and the opening was attended by 50 guests, representatives of the local institutions, Roma NGO Romanipen, educators and the media. The cooperation of the museum’s director, Slavoljub Jovanović, and the curator Mr Marko Terzić has been exemplary, firstly, in giving us their confidence and permission to install the exhibition in a narrow space of the Lubarda collection, and in participating actively in the organization and the installation of the exhibition, by providing additional lighting, and cotributing to the media exposure of the exhibition. The opening was featured on national television, and the curator Marko Terzić has participated with us on a radio show. On 26th of February, CHRE has given a guided tour and a lecture of the exhibition to the teachers and pupils of Užice gymnasium, who had arrived especially for this show. The attendance was 90 participants and over 200 visitors.

“October 41” opening in the Memorial center 21st of October, Kragujevac, down, study visit from the Užice Gymnasium.

“October 41” installation in the Historical Archives of Novi Sad

“October 41� installation in the Memorial center 21st of October, Kragujevac

Witness testimony and location photo on the site of mass executions that took place on October 14th, 1941, in Rakovica, Belgrade. An event found and verified by Dr Milovan Pisarri, CHRE.

Media links https://flashvideo.rferl.org/Videoroot/Pangeavideo/2016/0 5/2/27/27d910e6-b36e-4353-b6d4-09780b0585b4_hq.mp4 http://www.nacional.hr/interview-milovan-pisarri-u-srbijise-dogodio-shizoidni-preokret-u-kojem-je-mihailovicpostao-nositelj-antifasizma/ http://www.rts.rs/page/stories/sr/stor y/125/ drustvo/2290216/u-arhivu-beograda-otvorena-izlozba-oholokaustu.html http://www.bulevarumetnosti.rs/art-info/vesti/398izlozba-oktobar-1941-u-galeriji-istorijskog-arhiva-beograda https://allevents.in/events/izlo%C5%BEba-oktobar41-centra-za-istra%C5%BEivanje-i-edukaciju-oholoka/670973883062922 https://youtu.be/bJ-bhNiB5Hs?t=1023

Planning for the future CHRE has received interest from educators and municipal galleries in several cities in Serbia who would be willing to host the exhibition, some of the first being Užice, Pančevo, Sarajevo and Sombor. There was also interest expressed by Dr Gerhard Baumgarten, director of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance to host the translaed and annotated version of the exhibition in Vienna. The immediate step will be to produce the English language version of the catalogue and make it available as a pdf download. Eventual goaal would be to find a permanent exhibition venue, in Belgrade, preferably at one of the unmarked and endangered sites of Holocaust and Porajmos in the city.

About CHRE Center for Holocaust Research and Education (CHRE) has been founded by Milovan Pisarri, and Nikola Radić Lucati in late 2014 to actively contribute to social and historical, factual interpretation of the Holocaust in Serbia. The center serves as the platform for independent research of primary historical sources, encompassing the entire scope of factors influencing the victims’ communities, the German occupation, Serbian state and society, in all their defining aspects - economic, military, ideologic, religious and cultural. The center regards it’s primary topics - The Holocaust and the Porajmos,the killing sites, forced labor, pre-war de-legitimization of Jewish and Roma communities, collaborationist government participation in the Holocaust, can only become effective educational content, in a way that is relevant for the formation and strengthening of a democratic, civil society, in an engaging, informed, and open environment.


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