Memorial for WWII concentration camp victims unveiled in Belgrade

Aleksandar Vucic unveils the new commemorative plague. Photo: Instagram/buducnostsrbijeav.

Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday inaugurated the new plaque near the banks of the Sava River, close to the location of the Staro Sajmiste concentration camp (former trade fair), which operated during World War II.

The plaque describes the concentration camp complex which was operated from 1941 to 1945 by the Independent State of Croatia, NDH in Jasenovac in Croatia, where Jews, Serbs, Roma and antifascists were imprisoned, as part of a “terror system”.

“Many victims from Jasenovac were brought via the Sava River to the Staro Sajmiste, which operated under the Jasenovac camp system for some time after the summer of 1942,” he says.

The unveiling was held to coincide with Serbia’s National Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Holocaust, Genocide and other victims of fascism during World War II.

After the ceremony, Vucic, along with representatives of state and local institutions and members of Serbia’s Jewish and Roma communities, laid wreaths at the nearby Staro Sajmiste monument.

Vucic said that “we have now documented, with first and last name, 17,016 innocent victims of Judenlager Semlin [the German name for Staro Sajmiste]”.

Some 10,000 Serbs, 7,000 Jews and at least 60 Roma died at Staro Sajmiste in 1941 and 1942. The camp was in territory in Belgrade that was under official NDH control, but it was run by the Waffen SS and the Serbian police carried out the arrests of the Jews.

The NDH was a fascist puppet state backed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, which enacted race laws targeting Serbs, Jews and Roma and ran a system of concentration camps.

After the war, nothing was done to preserve the site of the former concentration camp. In 2020, Serbia passed a law to establish a memorial center at the Staro Sajmiste site, but it has yet to be built.

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