Illona Weiss Synagogue
    Conference room
    Jewish Cultural Center "Arie Livne"
Monday, 30 January 2017 15:49


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Regarding the commemoration of January 27th, the date declared by the United Nations General Assembly as an International Holocaust Remembrance Day, representatives of the Jewish Community of Banja Luka, the Serbian-Jewish Friendship Society and the envoy of the President of the Republic of Srpska laid wreaths in commemoration at the Jewish memorial at the Novo Groblje Cemetery in Banja Luka. The message they sent was to not forget the crimes committed against Jewish people during the Second World War, as well as to put every effort in not allowing the same situation to happen ever again. The Holocaust is one of the biggest tragedies which happened in the world in the 20th century. Around 6.000.000 Jews were killed in most monstrous ways. But even today there are many wars in various countries and world peace is threatened. “There are some people who would deny the immenseness of tragedy suffered by Jewish people, who would compare it to the crimes which were committed during the last war on the territory of the former republics of Yugoslavia, or with the tragedies which are happening presently somewhere in the world. I have to say that there are no such instances as the Holocaust, because that was a systematic destruction of one nation, planned by fascist forces in one of the most civilized countries in the world. That was a crime sanctioned by law. Today, we put wreaths here and remembered in appropriate way what this day means both for us, the Jewish people, as well as for the others. 1.100.000 people were killed in Auschwitz. It is slightly less than the number of citizens of the Republic of Srpska,” stated Djordje Mikeš, the vice president of the Jewish Community of Banja Luka, emphasizing the severity of the crime. He underlined that the Holocaust commemoration has a great importance for the families killed in concentration camps, as well as for the members who survived, in order to create and preserve the national consciousness, and that the creation of the Israeli state is just one example of the efforts not to have crimes like this happen to one nation ever again. “Remembering the Holocaust is extremely necessary in this moment when in many places in Europe and in the world right-wing oriented groups and parties are starting to emerge, and when the story that Jasenovac was a labor camp is being actualized, rather than the place of mass and organized killing of not just Jews, but also Serbs and Roma. “Let’s remind, on November 1st, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution which declared January 27th an International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In determining the date they were led by historical data which says that the Red Army units entered the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (the largest concentration camp in enslaved Europe) on that day.


Before the beginning of the Second World War 400 Jews lived in Banja Luka. According to historical data, during the war members of the NDH (the Independent State of Croatia) have done everything they could to destroy Jewish people, on orders issued by doctor Viktor Gutić. With the establishment of the NDH, in the end of April of 1941, Jews were deprived of many legal rights. First deportations started during the July of 1941 when one group of men was taken and killed. On January 16th, 1941 deportation of older Jews to Stara Gradiška was organized, where they were all killed, and on July 28th, 1942 the remaining Jews (170 of them) from the Banja Luka region were taken and tortured and in the end killed in ustasha concentration camps. Temples were destroyed, cemeteries were desolated and Jewish proprety was taken away. Banja Luka was left without Jews. Today, in the city on the Vrbas River lives a small number of Jews. In 1977 in the Jewish section of the cemetery a momument was erected with the inscription: “Here are buried the remains exhumed from an old cemetery in Borik. This monument reminds of Banja Luka’s Jewish community, as well as of Jews, citizens of Banja Luka, who were killed as victims of fascist invaders and their accomplices from 1941 until 1945.”


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Read 2981 times Last modified on Wednesday, 05 July 2017 15:52