Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic unveiled a new memorial plague dedicated to victims of concentration camps established by the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia during World War II.

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Memorial for WWII Concentration Camp Victims Unveiled in Belgrade

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

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

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

“Many victims of Jasenovac were brought by the Sava River to the Staro Sajmiste, which functioned as part of the Jasenovac camp system for some time after the summer of 1942,” it says.

The unveiling was held to coincide with Serbia’s national Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust, Genocide and Other Victims of Fascism in the Second World War.

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 Staro Sajmiste monument nearby.

Vucic said that “we have now documented, with full name and surname, 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 on territory in Belgrade that was under the formal control of the NDH, but it was run by the Waffen SS and Serbian police carried out the arrests of the Jews.

The NDH was a fascist puppet state supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, which enacted racial 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 adopted a law to establish a memorial centre at the Staro Sajmiste site but it has not been built yet.

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