eu flag europe for citizens enBefore the Second World War, between 1,400,000 and 1,800,000 Jews lived in the Balkan states. During the wartime period of Nazi German control, between 750,000 and 950,000 of these people were killed. The precise numbers are elusive: census figures can be incomplete or unreliable, and certain categories of people were not uniformly considered to be Jewish. For example, until the Nazis imposed the Nuremberg Law categories, converts to Christianity and the children of mixed marriages often were not regarded as Jewish in the Balkans.

While the murder of Jews was a feature of Nazi occupation policy all over Europe, we will not fully understand how the Holocaust unfolded in southeastern Europe unless we set it into a local context. The fate of the Balkan Jews differed dramatically from place to place, and sometimes from year to year. Some of this variation reflected local differences in the historic situation of Jews; some of it reflected variations in German policy; and some of it reflected decisions by Jews' fellow citizens of other faiths, and by the Balkan governments. There are some satisfying cases of resistance, and also some discouraging cases of collaboration in the Holocaust.

The story of the Holocaust in the Balkans is complex as well as tragic. While more than 550,000 Jews from Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Bulgaria were killed, the circumstances surrounding their deaths and chances for individual survival varied from country to country.

The killing operations in Romania were particularly barbarous. German, Romanian, and Ukrainian forces swept through the Romanian territories of Bukovina and Bessarabia, slaughtering every Jew within their grasp. The city of Odessa in Transnistria (a Ukrainian territory acquired by Germany and Romania in 1941) was home to 180,000 Jews. In February 1942, however, it was proclaimed "cleansed of Jews."

In the traditional Romanian territories known as the Regat, the campaigns against the Jews followed a typical pattern: anti-Jewish violence, property seizures, and the creation of ghettos. A conflict between the Romanian government and the Germans, however, limited the number of Jews deported to Belzec. All told, upwards of 420,000 Romanian Jews perished during the Holocaust.

With the division of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Jews in the territory became governed by Hungary, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, and the independent state of Croatia, led by the Fascist Ante Pavelic. After Pavelic's Ustasa movement gained power with the help of Hitler, the Croats slaughtered more than a half-million Serbs (including the child pictured) and moved against the Jews as well. More than 80 percent of Yugoslavia's 80,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis and the Ustasa.

The fate of Greek Jewry hinged on the Italians. When Italy capitulated to the Allies in September 1943, German troops occupied Greece. Although deportations to Auschwitz were delayed until March 1943, 80 percent of Greece's Jewish population was killed.

The only Balkan-Jewish communities that sidestepped the Nazi whirlwind were located in Bulgaria. Bulgarian government officials were generally antisemitic but opposed the murder of Jews, and thus resisted German demands to initiate deportation procedures. Ultimately, however, the Bulgarian government agreed to deport the approximately 9000 foreign Jews who lived in areas acquired from the division of Greece. However, aggressively public, pro-Jewish campaigns mounted by physicians, writers, attorneys, and members of the Orthodox clergy were effective in persuading the Bulgarian citizenry that the antisemitic, collaborationist plans of the Bogdan Filov government were wrong. Bulgarian officials confiscated the possessions of the nation's Jews, but 78 percent of Bulgaria's 65,000 Jews survived the war.

The main project goal is to further support Holocaust remembrance, research and education, with particular aim to explore shared European aspects of the Holocaust by taking Holocaust in Balkans as starting point, in order to further discuss important current European challenges, and Holocaust as a shared European narrative that defines European values of diversity, tolerance and Human Rights.

The project aims to:

  • Introduce participants to the history of the Holocaust with particular emphasis on the history and experience of the different groups of people who were put to death and whose lives changed beyond recognition under Nazi persecution in Balkans region;
  • Tailor the project to provide background information on the Jewish religion; other religious groups who were persecuted; ethnic groups who were executed; people with disabilities and those who were executed because of sexual orientation;
  • Raise the awareness of european citizens regarding the remembrance of the Holocaust; Introducing the importance of remembrance and the role it can play in building a positive identity;
  • Exchange practices, strategies and educational methods and tools of Holocaust and remembrance education regarding the Jewish and Roma genocide;

Through the series of public events in Romania Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia and Greece, international experts will present and discuss shared European aspects of the Holocaust, Holocaust research, commemoration, teaching and learning about Holocaust, as well as current European challenges in facing intolerance, anti-Semitism, anti-Romanyism, xenophobia etc.

In addition, a exhibition, and a set of educational materials and an online presentation will be produced, and presented at the events.

This way the project will contribute to expand the view from local to European perspectives and further examine the Holocaust and its defining impact on the common European values in post-war Europe, including the current European challenges of intolerance, discrimination and raising anti-Semitism and anti-Romanyism.

Project planned activities:

1. Steering Committee

Online, all partners
Content:
At the beginning of the Project, the consortium will meet online to:

  • gather representatives for each partner;
  • further discuss the project outlines and objectives;
  • create the basis and define the agreements on the definitive action plan;
  • clarify the roles and specific commitment for each partner;
  • consider financial aspects of the project and clarify the management structure;
  • provide a platform for queries and suggestions;
  • set-up further avenues of communication;

Expected results:

  • Project objectives and outcomes are further discussed and agreed upon;
  • Project action plan is revised and agreed upon;
  • Shared project methodology is agreed upon;
  • Contingent technical issues are agreed upon;
  • Possible financial matters are effectively solved;
  • Increased communication and mutual understanding among partners is ensured;
  • Increased comprehension of each partner’s role is ensured;
  • Increased trust and network effectiveness between the partners is ensured;
  • Smooth project implementation is performed;
  • Evaluation measures are agreed upon.

2. European preparatory meeting

Venue to be defined, 2 representatives from each partner CSO
Content:

During 2 working days, 2 representatives from each partner are going to meet in (venue to be defined) in order to discuss all the aspects regarding project implementation. Now is the time to discuss about web page creation and design, to speak about the european events, promotional and visibility material creation, final products realization. Also we will discuss about proper financial resources allocation to each stage of the project and the evaluation methods to be used.

Expected results:

  • Project objectives and outcomes are further discussed and agreed upon;
  • Project action plan is revised and agreed upon;
  • Shared project methodology is agreed upon;
  • Contingent technical issues are agreed upon;
  • Possible financial matters are effectively solved;
  • Increased communication and mutual understanding among partners is ensured;
  • Increased comprehension of each partner’s role is ensured;
  • Increased trust and network effectiveness between the partners is ensured;
  • Smooth project implementation is performed;
  • Evaluation measures are agreed upon.

3. Local research in each participating country

Venue: each participating country, 15 representatives from each partner CSO
Content:

During 4 months, each partner organization is going to carry a local research in his own country on the following topics:

  • Segregation among Jews: was it necessary?
  • What are things people should know about this event?
  • Examining books and movies that explored the Holocaust.
  • Leadership during the holocaust from 1933 through 1939.
  • What other world events were going on during the Holocaust?
  • Ghettos
  • Concentration Camps
  • Holocaust War Criminals
  • Lessons learned from the Holocaust
  • Artwork, Stolen Art, Poetry, Literature, and Music of the Holocaust
  • Museums and Memorials
  • Displaced Persons and Refugees
  • Killing Squads (Einsatzgruppen)
  • Etc.

The research findings will be collected and compilled into project final product -a guide on Holocaust in Balkans. Also, pictures and informations collected at this stage will be used for exhibitions in each partner country.

4. European event 1

Venue: -Greece

Participation: The event will involve 70 citizens, including 25 participants from partner countries of the project

Content:

The aim of the event is to allow participants to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the Jewish community in Greece before the Holocaust, cultural diversity of Europe as well as the scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust. Greek history teachers will share their experience with the students in schools. Media representatives will be present and informe about the event their readers. The event will start with an introduction to Jewish culture and religion. Then an extensive tour of Ghettos on the Island of Crete- will be held with a Jewish guide meeting local people. A round table involving local stakeholders, school teachers, citizens, NGO representatives will be held during the event on the topic Jews holocaust in Greece.

5. European event 2

Venue: -Croatia

Participation: The event will involve 70 citizens, including 25 participants from partner countries of the project

Content:

The aim of the event is to allow participants to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the Jewish community in Croatia before the Holocaust, cultural diversity of Europe as well as the scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust. History teachers will share their experience with the students in schools. Media representatives will be present and informe about the event their readers. The event will start with an introduction to Jewish culture and religion. Then an extensive tour of  concentration camps at Kerestinec prison, Jadovno, Metajna and Slana- will be held with a Jewish guide meeting local people. A round table involving local stakeholders, school teachers, citizens, NGO representatives will be held during the event on the topic Jews holocaust in Croatia.

6. European event 3

Venue: -Macedonia

Participation: The event will involve 70 citizens, including 25 participants from partner countries of the project

Content:

The aim of the event is to allow participants to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the Jewish community in Macedonia before the Holocaust, cultural diversity of Europe as well as the scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust. History teachers will share their experience with the students in schools. Media representatives will be present and informe about the event their readers. The event will start with an introduction to Jewish culture and religion. Then an extensive tour of  Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia- will be held with a Jewish guide meeting local people. A round table involving local stakeholders, school teachers, citizens, NGO representatives will be held during the event on the topic Jews holocaust in Macedonia.

7. European event 4

Venue: -Serbia

Participation: The event will involve 70 citizens, including 25 participants from partner countries of the project

Content:

The aim of the event is to allow participants to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the Jewish community in Serbia before the Holocaust, cultural diversity of Europe as well as the scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust. History teachers will share their experience with the students in schools. Media representatives will be present and informe about the event their readers. The event will start with an introduction to Jewish culture and religion. Then extensive tours of:  Sajmište concentration camp, Banjica concentration camp and Crveni Krst concentration camp- will be held with a Jewish guide meeting local people. A round table involving local stakeholders, school teachers, citizens, NGO representatives will be held during the event on the topic Jews holocaust in Serbia.

8. European event 5

Venue: -Bulgaria

Participation: The event will involve 70 citizens, including 25 participants from partner countries of the project

Content:

The aim of the event is to allow participants to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the Jewish community in Bulgaria before the Holocaust, cultural diversity of Europe as well as the scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust. History teachers will share their experience with the students in schools. Media representatives will be present and informe about the event their readers. The event will start with an introduction to Jewish culture and religion. Then extensive tours of  Sofia Synagogue and its History Museum (whici preserve items, pictures and documents, related to the Jewish culture and historical heritage in the country) will be held with a Jewish guide meeting local people. A round table involving local stakeholders, school teachers, citizens, NGO representatives will be held during the event on the topic Jews holocaust in Bulgaria.

9. European event 6

Venue: -Romania

Participation: The event will involve 70 citizens, including 25 participants from partner countries of the project

Content:

The aim of the event is to allow participants to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the Jewish community in Romania before the Holocaust, cultural diversity of Europe as well as the scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust. History teachers will share their experience with the students in schools. Media representatives will be present and informe about the event their readers. The event will start with an introduction to Jewish culture and religion. Then extensive tours of:  Museum of History of the Jewish Community from Bucharest, the Holocaust Memorial, the Great Synagogue & the Holocaust Museum, the Jewish Community center, the Jewish Theatre, the Choral Temple, the Jewish History Museum, the Jeshuah Tova Synagogue will be held with a Jewish guide meeting local people. A round table involving local stakeholders, school teachers, citizens, NGO representatives will be held during the event on the topic Jews holocaust in Romania.