Sunday, May 16, 2010

Macedonia / Jewish Holocaust / Genocide Memorials

Macedonian Jews Erect World-Class Holocaust Museum
By John Dyer, May 16, 2010
"The construction cranes, heavy machinery and plumes of dust in Skopje's city center herald the final chapter in one of the Balkans' saddest tales. After years of delays, Macedonia's Jews are building a world-class museum to remember their near-extinction in the Holocaust. 'The highest percentage of Jews destroyed anywhere in the world -- including Poland -- was in Macedonia,' said Rahamin Mizrahi, vice president of the Jewish Community, a nonprofit overseeing the project. 'It was 98 percent of the Jews. From our people, no one came back. At least with this museum they will have a grave, not ashes spread around the fields.' Boosters hope the center's mission will resonate throughout former Yugoslavia, where genocide was committed in the 1990s for the first time in Europe since World War II. ... The Holocaust Center also illustrates a recent trend in Macedonia to more strongly assert the country's identity as an independent nation. The project dovetails conveniently, for example, with Skopje 2014, the government's controversial, $273 million plan to transform the city from a provincial seat into a full-fledged European capital. ...  Taxpayers are footing the bill for Skopje 2014, making it a subject for public debate. The center's costs, alternatively, are covered by a special fund created in 2000 from the assets of Macedonian Jewish families who perished in the Holocaust and left no heirs. But critics within the Jewish community nonetheless link the two, arguing the center's backers are overreaching in the same way the government is trying to do too much with Skopje 2014. [...]"

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