Staro sajmište: Mesto sećanja, zaborava i sporenja [Staro Sajmište: A site remembered, forgotten, contested].
Belgrade: Beogradski centar za ljudska prava.
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The Semlin concentration camp (also known by its Serbian name Sajmište) was one of the main sites of the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Serbia. Established by Nazi Germany in December 1941 on the outskirts of Belgrade, Semlin was one of the first concentration camps in Europe created specifically for the internment of Jews. Between March and May 1942, approximately 7,000 Jewish women, children and the elderly (almost half of the total Jewish population of Nazi-occupied Serbia) were systematically murdered there by the use of a mobile gas van.
In spite of its importance as a site of the Holocaust, for much of the post-war period the Semlin camp occupied a marginal place in Yugoslav/Serbian public memory. Even today, sixty seven years after the liberation of Belgrade, the site where the camp was located, best known by the name Staro sajmište – the Old fairgrounds - stands practically in ruins, awaiting conservation and transformation into a suitable place of remembrance.
The book Staro Sajmište: A site remembered, forgotten, contested - published in the year which marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Semlin concentration camp – offers the first detailed account of the post-war history of this place of the Holocaust. Based on extensive research using both archival sources and secondary literature, the book reveals a whole array of largely unknown details about the post-war history of this locality, and in doing so draws attention to the continuity in the marginalization of Staro Sajmište as a place of the Holocaust. By analyzing Staro Sajmište as a place that has been simultaneously remembered, forgotten and contested, the book makes a significant contribution towards existing debates about Serbian society’s attitude towards the past, especially towards the Second World War and the Holocaust.
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