Musical Life in the territory of (ex) Yugoslavia

Holocaust Period

Le 6 avril 1941, la Yougoslavie est envahie sur toutes ses frontières, sauf celles de la Grèce. l'armée royale ne résiste que onze jours. Le 17 avril 1941, une capitulation est signée. Le roi Pierre II et le gouvernement s'exilent à Londres, le pays est aussitôt démantelé:

En Croatie, les Allemands offrent d'abord le pouvoir à Maček, chef du Parti paysan, majoritaire. Ce dernier, membre du gouvernement en exil décline la proposition, mais rentre néanmoins en Croatie et reconnaît le nouvel "État indépendant" désormais aux mains d'Ante Pavelić, chef du parti d'extrême droite des Oustachis. La hiérarchie catholique, avec l'archevêque de Zagreb Mgr Stepinac a la même attitude. Ces ralliements s'expliquent par le fait que la Yougoslavie représentait pour la plupart des Croates un État oppresseur et que l'indépendance de la Croatie répondait à leurs vœux.

Contrairement à la Croatie, en Serbie, le démantèlement du pays et l'occupation allemande, précédée par le bombardement de Belgrade sont ressentis comme une lourde défaite, mais les Allemands trouvent quand même des collaborateurs pour former un gouvernement, d'abord avec d'obscurs politiciens, mais ensuite à partir d'août 1941 le général Milan Nedić forme un gouvernement qui comprend également deux autres généraux de l'armée royale.


On the day after the occupation of Belgrade (April 13, 1941), German troops, assisted by "Volksdeutsche" (local Germans), ransacked the Jewish shops. Within a week, the Jews were ordered to register with the police, and eventually 9,145 Jews, out of a total prewar population of about 12,000, were registered. The Jews were removed from public service. The yellow *badge was introduced, and Jews were drafted into forced labor. About 3,500 to 4,000 males from the age of 14 to 60 were forced to clear the buildings that had been razed by the bombardment, while women aged 16 to 40 were given menial tasks in the German military installations. A special police detachment was formed to deal with the Jewish population. A "Jewish Organization" (Jevrejska Zajednica) was created to attend to the needs of the Jewish population. The Nazis forced the organization to collect contributions from the Jews and provide hostages to ensure Jewish compliance with their orders. After the German invasion of the U.S.S.R., the occupation regime became even harsher. In one incident alone, at the end of July, 120 Jewish hostages were shot to death (in the village of Jajinci, near Belgrade). In the Banat, which had a large German minority, after robbing the Jews of all their property and belongings the Nazis placed them in camps and a few weeks later (in September 1941) deported them to Belgrade, adding another 2,500 people to its destitute Jewish population. By the end of September, all Jewish men aged 16 and above were put into a concentration camp, situated in Topovske Šupe, a Belgrade suburb.

Felix Benzler, German consul in Belgrade, and Edmund Veesenmayer, from the German Foreign Office, demanded the concentration of "at least" 8,000 men on an island in the Danube delta and their liquidation there and asked for appropriate pressure on the German military authorities. Adolf *Eichmann was consulted on the matter and proposed the immediate execution of the Jews. He dispatched Franz Rademacher to Belgrade who discovered that of the 8,000 Jewish men, 2,000 had already been shot and there were only about 4,000–5,000 left. He arranged for their execution "by the end of the week" (October 1941). Between Aug. 25 and Oct. 18, 1941, all Jewish men in Nazi hands – those who had been put on forced labor (about 3,000), the deportees from the Banat, and any others that the Nazis had succeeded in apprehending – were concentrated in the Topovske Šupe camp and in the nearby Banjica camp. The massacre began in the early part of September. Day by day, groups of Jews, ranging from 100 to 300, were taken out of the two camps, ostensibly for work in the fields. In fact a total of 4,500 were shot to death, the scene of the crime being either Jajinci or some other site on the opposite bank of the Danube. A group of Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia who had been on their way to Palestine in September 1940 had been stranded on the Danube for lack of a seaworthy boat to continue their voyage. They had found temporary refuge in the Yugoslav town of Šabac, but when the Nazis occupied the country they were all interned (together with 63 local Jews). Originally their number was 1,300, but 200 refugees, mostly children, had received immigration certificates to Palestine and had departed. In October 1941, all the men were taken to the Danube village of Zasavica and shot; the women and children were deported to the Sajmište camp in Zemun near Belgrade. In February 1942 they were loaded into closed trucks and were gassed while en route to Jajinci. Not a single person escaped from this camp, and the fate of its inmates was reported by a few Jewish women, wives of gentiles, whom the Nazis had released. In August 1942 a German report stated that the "problem of Jews and gypsies had been solved; Serbia is the only country where this problem no longer exists."


The new Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was headed by Ante Pavelić, leader of the Ustaše movement, who had been in exile in Italy and Germany and had developed relations with the Nazis. For the Jews, the four years of his rule in Croatia were marked by savage cruelty and terror. Within a few days of the occupation of Zagreb, the Germans, the local Nazis, and the Ustaše combined to deprive the Jews of their property and their status. Nuremberg-style laws were enacted as early as April 30, 1941, followed by the removal of Jews from all public posts and the introduction of the yellow badge. On August 27, a decree was issued expropriating all Jewish-owned real estate, and two months later the Jews were ordered to hand over all other valuables in their possession. In Osijek, a levy of 20,000,000 dinars was imposed upon the Jews within three days of the occupation of the city; in Zagreb, the Ustaše arrested the wealthy Jews in May and kept them hostage until a ransom equivalent to 100 kilograms of gold was provided for their release. Synagogues, cultural institutions, and even Jewish cemeteries were razed by the Ustaše as soon as it came to power.

Early in May 1941, the first concentration camp was established in the Danica factory, in the village of Drinja, near Koprivnica. Mass arrests of Jews were stepped up after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war (June 1941), and a number of additional concentration camps were established in Jasenovac, Stara Gradiška, Loborgrad, and Djakovo. A temporary camp, at Jadovno near Gospić, served as one of the early extermination camps. By July 1941 all the inmates of the Danica camp had been murdered, and by August the inmates at the Jadovno camp had suffered the same fate. The main, and most notorious, of the Croatian concentration camps was situated near Jasenovac, a town on the Zagreb-Belgrade railroad. This camp remained in existence throughout the period of Croatian "independence," and tens of thousands of people were murdered there, among them about 20,000 Jews. It was to these camps that the Jews of Croatia proper were deported. Exact figures are not available, but it is estimated that by the end of 1942, 5,000 Jews had been deported. Further deportations took place as late as 1944. The Jewish communities continued to exist, although they were now largely made up of persons with only one Jewish parent, who were protected by law; Jewish partners of mixed marriages were also saved from deportation due to the efforts of the Catholic Church, and especially the papal nuncio. (About 1,000 such persons survived in Croatia.)

Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were incorporated into "independent" Croatia, had a prewar Jewish population of about 14,000. When the Germans occupied Sarajevo (April 17, 1941), one of their first acts was to set fire to the Sephardi synagogue in the city, the finest structure of its kind in the Balkan countries. They were assisted in this act of vandalism by local Muslims, who, under the influence of their spiritual leaders, were generally hostile to the Jews and willingly collaborated with the Nazis. Hājj Amīn al-Husseini, the ex-mufti of Jerusalem, went especially from Berlin to Sarajevo in order to give his blessing to the Bosnian Muslim division named "Handjar" (Sword), which was among the Croatian puppet state's contributions to the German war machine. This division effectively fought on the eastern front against the Soviet Union, incorporated in the ranks of the Wehrmacht. In the wake of an act of sabotage that occurred at the end of July, nine of the leading Jews of Sarajevo and 12 prominent Serbs were arrested, and within a few days the police announced their execution by a firing squad. Mass deportations began on September 3, when 500 Jews were dispatched to a camp at Kruščica near Travnik; a second transport to the same location took place a few days later. On Oct. 19, 1941, in celebration of "Germany Day," 1,400 Jews were arrested in Sarajevo. Although the community commissars (a Serb and a Muslim) succeeded in getting a few of the Jews released, the community as a whole was panic-stricken and made strenuous efforts to escape. About 1,600 made their way to Italian-occupied Mostar. The largest roundup of Jews was organized by the Germans on Nov. 15–16, 1941, when 3,000 Jews were deported to Jasenovac. Women and children from Bosnia and Herzegovina were taken to the Loborgrad and Djakovo camps. By the end of August 1942, some 9,000 Jews had been deported, and only 120 were left. In the fall of 1941 the Kruiščica camp was liquidated, the men being sent to Jasenovac and the women to Loborgrad. A year later, the Loborgrad camp suffered a similar fate, and those who had survived the first year were now dispatched to the Auschwitz death camp.

The Jewish community of Osijek had been tricked by the Ustaše into building its own ghetto in a factory near the village of Tenje. When the job was completed, the Jews of Osijek and the surrounding area were crowded into the factory, where they lived for a period of two months. In August 1942, the surviving inmates were transported to Jasenovac and Auschwitz. By April 1945, only a little more than 1,000 Serbs and Jews were still alive in the Jasenovac camp. On April 22 they were all crowded into a single factory building to await their death. In a final desperate effort, some 600 of the prisoners broke the gates and attacked the Ustaše guard; for most of them, the effort was in vain, and only 80 saved their lives, among them 20 Jews. The Stara Gradiška camp, a "branch" of Jasenovac, "specialized" in women and children, and no less than 6,000–7,000 children, according to one report, were put to death there. The German consul in Zagreb, Siegfried Kasche, and police attaché Hans Helm reported to Berlin on April 18, 1944 that "Croatia is one of the countries in which the Jewish problem has been solved."

Composer Isak Hendel perished in the Holocaust, his works had been published in Zagreb in 1940 and republished in 2009.
Bernard Grüner was the cantor in Zagreb, he survived the Holocaust - having been liberated from detention soon after Archbishop of Zagreb Alojzije Stepinac, later beatified, heard about his imprisonment – and his works were published in Zagreb in 2011.


In Vojvodina, occupied by Hungarian troops, the fate of the Jews (and, to a certain degree, the local Serbs) was no different. In Subotica, the main city in Bačka, 250 persons were killed in the first days of the occupation. In Novi Sad, the first slaughter took place on the third day of the occupation, when 500 people, both Jews and Serbs, were murdered. The Jewish community was threatened with deportation to Croatia unless it made an immediate payment of 50,000,000 dinars; after great efforts, 34,000,000 were raised. Altogether, about 3,500 people were killed in Vojvodina in the initial stage, among them 150–200 Jews. Concentration camps were established in various places (Subotica, Stari Bečej, Ada, Odžaci, Bažka Topola), and some 2,000 Jews passed through these camps in the first two months of the occupation. In January 1942, a clash between resistance fighters and a Hungarian troop detachment caused the death of four Hungarian soldiers, and in reprisal 1,000 men, women, and children were rounded up and shot to death. Among the victims of this slaughter were 100 Jews. A few weeks later, a similar action took place at Novi Sad, where 870 Jews – almost a fifth of the total Jewish population of the city – in addition to 430 Serbs were murdered. Thousands more were brought to the banks of the Danube to suffer the same fate when a dispatch from the Hungarian military authorities arrived to put an end to the mass killing.

In 1942 the Hungarians ordered the formation of forced labor battalions into which all Jews and Serbs between the ages of 21 and 48 were drafted. Some 4,000 Jews from Bačka and Baranja were conscripted into the battalions; 1,500 were sent to the Ukraine, near the front, where they succumbed to disease and starvation or were murdered. Only 20 of the entire group survived the ordeal. The others were sent to Hungary and Serbia, where they were put to work in copper mines and on the railroads, together with about 6,000 Hungarian Jews. In spite of the harsh conditions to which they were exposed, they managed to survive for a while. The end came in March 1944, when Hungary was taken over by German forces. On September 17, a transport of 3,600 Jews from the Bor mines (where the labor battalions were concentrated) was dispatched in the direction of Belgrade; about 1,300 prisoners were murdered or died en route and the rest were deported to Germany. A short while later a second transport of 2,500 Jews, which included a large contingent of Vojvodina Jews, was organized. Some of these managed to escape, and several hundred were liberated by Tito's partisans, finding refuge with the population in Serbia and the Banat. The rest of the Jews from Bačka and Baranja were deported on April 25–26, 1944. About 4,000 Jews from the area of Novi Sad were interned at Subotica, while the Jews from the eastern part of Bačka were dispatched to a camp in Baja (Hungary); in May 1944, the group from Subotica was also sent to Baja. Eventually all the inmates of the Baja camp (as well as those of the Bačka Topola camp) were deported to Auschwitz.


The majority of Macedonian Jews were concentrated in three cities: in Skoplje (3,795 Jews, including 300 refugees from Belgrade); Bitolj (Monastir; 3,350); and Štip (550). Direct control of the area was in Bulgarian hands, and for the first 18 months persecution of the Jews did not go beyond confiscation of property, forced contributions, and personal insults. In August 1942, a group of 50 refugees from Belgrade was handed over to the Gestapo, which deported them to the Banjica camp; on Dec. 3, 1942, they were put to death in Jajinci. At the beginning of January 1943, further restrictions were imposed on the Jews, and two months later all of the Jewish population of Macedonia was placed in a temporary concentration camp in the "Monopol" tobacco factory near Skoplje. On March 22 a transport of 2,338 Jews was dispatched to the death camps in Poland, followed a week later by two more transports, numbering 2,402 and 2,404 people. Only about 100 Jews returned to Macedonia from these transports. About 150–200 Sephardi Jews were recognized by the Spanish government as Spanish nationals and were not deported; about 120 Jews fled to Albania, and some joined the partisans.


Compared to the other parts of occupied Yugoslavia, the area under Italian control was a haven for the Jews. In spite of constant pressure by German diplomats – including Kasche, the German consul at Zagreb – the Italians refused to accede to demands to deport Jews and, for a while at least, regarded any measure discriminating against the Jews as incompatible with the honor of the Italian army. Originally there were a small number of Jews in this area, but soon it became a refuge for Jews from Bosnia and Croatia. In August 1941, according to a German estimate, there were between 4,000 and 5,000 Jews in Dubrovnik and Mostar. By November 1941, the Italians went as far as establishing camps for the Jewish refugees, interning refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina in Kupari (near Dubrovnik) and Jews from Croatia in Kraljevica. In Split there were 2,000 refugees, in addition to 415 local Jews; 500 were sent to the island of Korčula and 1,100 to Italy (mostly to the Ferramonti internees' camp). In June 1943, 2,650 Jewish inmates of camps in Dalmatia were deported to the island of Rab. In all the camps, the Italians extended humane treatment to the Jews.

In September 1943, after the Italian capitulation, Tito's partisan army evacuated 2,000 refugees from Rab; able-bodied men joined the partisans, while the old men, women, and children found refuge in northern Dalmatia. About 300 people – the old and sick, women and their small children – remained on the island, and when the Germans invaded it, in March 1944, they were deported to Auschwitz. A similar fate overtook the Jews in Split. On Sept. 28, 1943, all adult men were interned, and after a while they were deported to Sajmište, where they were all murdered. In March 1944, 300 women and children were deported from Split to Jasenovac where they died.


Yugoslav Jews took an active part in the fight against the Nazis and played a leading role among the organizers of Tito's revolt. Ten Jews were named as national heroes of the resistance. No exact figures are available for the number of Jews who fought with the partisans, because they did not enlist as Jews, and in the early stage no family names were recorded. With one exception, there were no Jewish units. After the war, however, the Federation of Yugoslav Jewish Communities was able to identify 2,000 Jewish names among the members of Tito's formations.

Shortly after the occupation of Belgrade, *Ha-Shomer ha-Za'ir put itself at the disposal of the Communist Party and helped organize the resistance. The first secret radio in Zagreb was operated by two Jewish brothers and the first act of sabotage in Vojvodina was carried out by youngsters of the Jewish youth movement. Individual Jews committed acts of sabotage, and in August 1942 the first group joined the partisans. A Jewish partisan unit was formed in the fall of 1943 from among the Jews evacuated from the Italian camp on the island of Rab. Composed of 250 men, the unit suffered heavy losses in the fighting against the Germans: its ranks were decimated, and the survivors were incorporated into other units. The most prominent Jewish resistance fighter was Moša *Pijade, who became one of Tito's four vice presidents after the liberation.

Contemporary Period

From the end of 1944, when Yugoslavia was liberated, about 14,000 Jews returned to the cities from their places of hiding, the partisan areas, and prison camps. The Federation of Jewish Communities officially reestablished its activities on Oct. 22, 1944, a few days after the liberation of Belgrade, when its surviving chairman, Friedrich Pops, reopened its office. Fifty-six Jewish communities were reconstructed, and the federation, with the aid of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), engaged in a variety of welfare projects, including the reopening of the home for the aged in Zagreb, extending material aid to the needy who began to return to their daily lives, etc. It also reestablished its ties with the World Jewish Congress and other Jewish organizations.

Upon the establishment of the State of Israel (1948), the Federation sought and received permission from the Yugoslav authorities to send material help and organize Jewish emigration to Israel. From the end of 1948 until 1952 about 8,000 Jews, who were allowed to take their property with them, left for Israel. After 1952 the number of Jews remained almost unchanged at 6,500–7,000, of whom 6,200–6,500 were registered in 38 communities. In 1968 there were 1,552 Jews in Belgrade, 1,359 in Zagreb, 1,095 in Sarajevo, 1,320 in six communities (each of which had more than 100 members), 911 in 28 local and district communities (some of which had less than ten members), and another 220 scattered throughout the country. The structure of Yugoslav Jewry is revealed by censuses taken in 1952 and 1957. The first census covered 6,250 Jews who were registered in communities. Of these, 43% were male and 57% female; about 50% were Sephardim (especially in Serbia and Bosnia) and the rest were Ashkenazim (mostly in Croatia and Slovenia). Of the children, 591 were under the age of seven, 818 were in elementary school, 325 were in high school, and 247 were in institutes of higher learning. Among the adults, there were 12 apprentices in various fields, 221 doctors (military and civilian), 41 pharmacists, 21 veterinarians, 82 engineers, 46 technicians, 54 teachers in schools of higher learning, 48 teachers and educators, 27 lawyers, 12 judges (and 33 others held law degrees), 31 journalists, 875 in different branches of administration, 247 economists and administrators in economic enterprises, 4 agronomists, 231 artisans, 33 writers and artists, 73 army officers (not counting medical personnel), 5 noncommissioned officers, 233 on pension, 136 with no profession, 277 in various other professions, 1,435 housewives, 314 elderly people without pensions, 106 chronically ill, 45 seriously crippled, and 257 did not supply details on their professional status. The census of 1957 covered 6,691 Jews including 137 women per every 100 men (contrasted with an average of 106 women per 100 men in the general population). The number of children (up to age 18) was 25.1% of the Jewish, and 38.7% of the total population.

The activities of the Federation of Jewish Communities were founded upon the 1953 law that regulated the activities of religions and churches in Socialist Yugoslavia. But religious life was only part, and not necessarily the outstanding part, of Jewish community life. In 1952 the Federation deleted the word "religious" from its title and the title of the communities associated with it. The communities thus viewed themselves as national Jewish entities, preserving their ties with worldwide Jewish organizations and various bodies in Israel. This attitude was made possible by the liberal Yugoslav policy on the question of nationalities and the support of widespread circles in Yugoslavia for Judaism and for Israel. The Federation devoted much of its efforts to Jewish education. Kindergartens were established in a number of cities (and still functioned in 1969, in Belgrade and Zagreb); youth centers and sections for women, whose activities were directed by appropriate national boards, were set up in some communities; the larger communities reestablished their libraries; and an historical museum was established in Belgrade, including an institute for research on the history of Yugoslav Jewry, in which non-Jewish scholars also participated. Jewish youths were sent to Jewish seminars and studies abroad, and every year summer camps involved between 350 and 400 youth on various levels. Choirs in Belgrade and in Zagreb cultivated Israel and Hebrew music, both religious and secular.

There is special concern regarding the preservation of cemeteries of historic significance and the orderly liquidation of cemeteries and other property of communities which could not be preserved or were displaced by urban-renewal projects. Some synagogues were handed over to local cultural institutions and serve as cultural houses and museums. About 30 monuments have been erected to the victims of World War II in cemeteries and public places.

The Federation of Jewish Communities publishes a monthly organ and an annual Jevrejski Almanah. The first almanac appeared in 1954, the seventh, for 1965–67, in 1968. The almanacs cover historical and current-affairs material as well as literary works about the Holocaust. The Jewish youth publish an organ titled Kadimah. For a number of years a calendar printed in Serbo-Croatian was put out (containing prayers printed in Latin characters) by the only rabbi (ḥakham) to have survived the Holocaust, Menahem b. Abraham Romano (1882–1968) of Sarajevo. In 1952 the Federation published a book titled Crimes of the Fascist Conquerors and their Collaborators Against the Jews in Yugoslavia, whose second edition includes a summary in English. The Federation also published a number of basic Jewish books including a translation of a short history of the Jewish people by S. Dubnow with an epilogue that carries on his concept of the Jewish nation with a Marxist interpretation.

The position of religion in community life weakened. In the community organizations committees for religious affairs have tried to satisfy the needs of the community as much as possible. On holidays the communities often celebrated with communal prayers and meals. No one was left to replace Rabbi Romano upon his death. Religious life was supplemented by observance of days of remembrance, especially for the victims of the Holocaust. Representatives of Yugoslav Jewry participate in many Jewish world conferences. Their ties with Israel were demonstrated – with the agreement of Yugoslav authorities – by fund raising for the Martyrs Forest and the forest in memory of Albert Vajs (Weiss; 1905–1964), successor to Pops as chairman of the Federation, and mutual visits by delegations of youth and others. After 1966 the Federation expanded its ties with Jewish communities in Eastern European countries. Mutual visits were frequent, not only on occasions of celebration, such as the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the community in Sarajevo (October 1966), but also for discussions on practical matters. Even the Israel-Arab Six-Day War (1967), which brought about Yugoslavia's one-sided position and the severance of diplomatic relations with Israel, did not change this situation. The Federation's activities were not restricted from above, although it took upon itself specific restrictions in its relations with the State of Israel.

[Cvi Rotem] In the early 1980s the Jewish population of Yugoslavia was estimated at approximately 5,500, the majority of whom resided in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo. Although the regime in Yugoslavia was authoritarian, its internal structure was the most liberal of all Eastern European countries, and the Jewish community enjoyed freedom both with regard to the organization of communal life and the conduct of religious and cultural activities, and most notably with regard to the community's ties with international Jewish organizations. Thus delegates from Yugoslavia regularly participated in the conventions of the World Jewish Congress, the World Conference of Synagogues and Kehillot, etc. From all parts of Yugoslavia, 28 community heads participated in a seminar and study tour in Israel (Oct. 19, 1976–Nov. 2, 1976), organized by the Jewish Agency.

Though not a member of the Warsaw Pact, and with a foreign policy independent of Moscow, since 1967 Yugoslavia adopted an extreme anti-Israel policy with regard to the Middle East conflict. It was the foremost defender and militant champion of sanctions against Israel in all international forums, including the UN and its agencies. [Eliezer Palmor] The violent breakup of Yugoslavia which began in 1991 and the bloody civil war that accompanied it had far-reaching and traumatic effects on the 5,000 to 6,000 Jews who lived in the country. Until the division of the country, Yugoslav Jews had belonged to communities joined in autonomous republic-wide organizations which in turn were members of a nationwide Federation based in Belgrade.

Most Jews were concentrated in the capital cities of three of the republics: Zagreb, capital of Croatia, with about 1,200 Jews; Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with about 1,000; and Belgrade, capital of Serbia and also the federal capital, with about 1,500 Jews. The remaining Jews lived in much smaller scattered communities, mostly in Croatia and Serbia's Vojvodina province. Fewer than 100 Jews lived in Slovenia, and only 100 in Macedonia.

There was little overt antisemitism, and the rate of intermarriage was high. Through the 1980s participation grew in wide-ranging programs and activities run by the Federation and the individual communities (with the help of international Jewish philanthropic organizations). These included a summer camp on the Adriatic Sea, annual Maccabi sports competitions, old-age care facilities, women's and youth groups, and educational programs including religion classes, Hebrew classes, and the first Jewish kindergarten in Yugoslavia in more than a decade, which opened in Zagreb, the most active community, in 1989. Yugoslavia had only one rabbi – Belgrade-based Cadik Danon – but by the late 1980s one young man was in Israel studying to become a rabbi, and several others were training as cantors or lay leaders for religious services.

Yugoslavia's Jews also maintained close ties with various international Jewish organizations, and by the late 1980s Yugoslav government officials also met with Jewish and Israeli representatives. At a meeting in New York in July 1987, Yugoslav leader Lazar Mojsov told World Jewish Congress president Edgar Bronfman that he would "work toward better relations with the Jewish world as a whole and with the State of Israel."

A landmark cultural event was a major exhibition on the Jews of Yugoslavia that opened in Zagreb in April 1988 and then was shown elsewhere in the country, attracting tens of thousands of visitors, before going on to the United States and Israel. Belgrade's first Holocaust memorial (aside from memorials in the Jewish cemetery) was dedicated in 1990; it was by the Jewish sculptor Nandor Glid.

The mounting separatism and ethnic tensions that came to the fore in the late 1980s had their effect on the Jewish communities. Some Jews felt that Serbian overtures to Israel including the formation in 1989 of a Serbian-Jewish friendship society and the twinning of various Serbian-Israeli cities were mainly aimed at courting world Jewry to give support to Serbia in its opposition to any decentralization of the state. A leader of the tiny Jewish community in Slovenia warned of possible antisemitism after a youth magazine published Protocols of the Elders of Zion in 1990. In Zagreb, Jewish leaders at the end of 1990 expressed concern that Croatian nationalism might prompt a resurgence of antisemitism, but later threw support behind the Croatian government when it seceded from Yugoslavia and became embroiled in civil war.

When the civil war broke out following Slovenian and Croatian secession in the summer of 1991, the status of Jewish communities again became a political issue. Serbs and Croats attempted to discredit each other with accusations of antisemitism. In early 1992 Klara Mandic, a founder of the Serbian-Jewish Friendship Society, visited the United States and in a series of lectures and articles charged the Croatian government of Franjo Tudjman with reviving fascism and antisemitism and planning "genocide" against Serbs in Croatia. Nenad Porges, president of the Zagreb Jewish community, countered by accusing Serbs of antisemitism and expressing support for the Tudjman government.

The civil war led to great suffering and destruction, particularly after fighting spread from Croatia to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Jews had to flee their homes along with hundreds of thousands of other citizens, and Jewish monuments and property were damaged or destroyed along with countless other buildings. Among them, the medieval synagogue in Dubrovnik was damaged by bombs; the Jewish community center in Osijek was hit by shelling; and Serbian fighters used the ancient Jewish cemetery overlooking Sarajevo as a position from which to fire onto the city. In Zagreb, terrorist bombs in August 1991 wrecked the Jewish community offices and prayer hall and also damaged the Jewish cemetery.

Starting in April 1992, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee carried out daring air and overland evacuations of almost the entire Jewish population of Sarajevo.

Almost from the beginning of the civil strife, communications between Zagreb, Sarajevo, and Belgrade were difficult or cut altogether. Local Jewish communities became fully autonomous and ultimately independent as the former Yugoslav republics became independent. In Zagreb, gala celebrations in September 1992 marked the reopening of the Jewish community center and prayer hall after a full-scale restoration, partially funded by local authorities, following a terrorist bombing of the year before. [Ruth E. Gruber] In the years that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia the Federation of Jewish Communities in Belgrade, although diminished, continued to function, arranging cultural events and publishing Jewish material. In Zagreb, capital of Croatia, a Coordinating Committee headed by Dr. Ognjen Krauss was formed. The Kehillah is now called Zidovska opcina and is similarly active in all fields of Jewish life, especially in publishing cultural reviews and books on historical subjects. In Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, there exists a Judovska skupina, a small congregation. In Sarajevo, the community, now called Jevrejska zajednica and headed by Jacob Finci, operates from the Ashkenazi synagogue. In Skopje, capital of Macedonia, Jews are organized under the name of Evreiska zajednica. Representatives of these organizations occasionally meet in European Jewish forums abroad and once a year in Dalmatian (Croatian) summer resorts.

Estimated population figure in the early 2000s were as follows: Bosnia-Herzegovina 500, Croatia 1,700, Macedonia 100, Serbia and Montenegro 1,500, Slovenia 100. [Zvi Loker (2nd ed.)]

Relations with Israel

Between the end of World War II, which saw the creation of Yugoslavia as a Communist federal republic, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Yugoslav attitude to Palestine Jewry was friendly and found expression in allowing passage to thousands of "illegal" immigrants to Palestine. From the Yugoslav point of view, this formed part of the anti-imperialist struggle. In 1947 Yugoslavia was elected a member of the 11-nation Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP). Its representatives declared their understanding for Jewish aspirations to independence, but eventually took a stand for a binational state, and in the UN Assembly, in November 1947, Yugoslavia did not vote for the partition resolution. However, following the proclamation of the establishment of the State of Israel, Yugoslavia recognized the new state on May 19, 1948; full diplomatic relations and the first trade agreement were quick to follow. The majority of Yugoslav Jews, survivors of the Holocaust, were permitted to go to Israel in 1948–49. In the years 1949 to 1954 relations were cordial. Political, social, and cultural ties were developed through exchange of delegations, as, e.g., between the Socialist Union and Mapai, the Yugoslav trade unions and the Histadrut, and through manifold activities of the respective legations at Belgrade and Tel Aviv.

Although Yugoslav diplomacy was not, even before 1956, generally favorable to Israel's stand in the Arab-Israel conflict, it did preserve a fairly balanced attitude until then. On Sept. 1, 1951, its representative voted, in the Security Council, for free navigation for all nations in the Suez Canal, a resolution hailed at the time as a victory for Israel. Marked deterioration on the Yugoslav side came after the Bandung Conference in 1955 and Yugoslav premier Tito's policy of assembling, and possibly leading, a group of "nonaligned" nations, together with Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister of India. As Tito's collaboration with Nasser went ahead, relations with Israel became cooler. Another important factor in the changed Yugoslav attitude was the improvement of relations between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union from May 1955. During the Sinai crisis (1956), Yugoslavia adopted an extremely hostile attitude to Israel. It thereafter slowed down and finally stopped most of the positive aspects of bilateral cooperation. Apart from trade, only personal contacts between Jews were permitted to continue. Yugoslavia supported the Arab stand against Israel in all spheres, save for economic boycott.

Yugoslav policy in the Middle East gradually evolved into a completely one-sided, pro-Arab position, culminating in its branding Israel as the "aggressor" in the Six-Day War (June 1967), severing diplomatic relations concurrently with other Communist countries (Romania excluded), and open advocacy of Egyptian-Arab extremist viewpoints. However, the sympathies of the Yugoslav people still seemed to incline toward Israel.

By 1971, the only aspect of Yugoslav-Israel relations which continued unaffected was in the sphere of trade, although Yugoslavia unilaterally suspended, in April 1970, the payments' agreement. Commercial ties started modestly in 1949, with a few hundred thousand dollars' worth of exchange both ways, and grew steadily; at the time of the signature of the third trade agreement in 1966 they had reached six million dollars. Trade was still growing in 1971, being fairly balanced. Yugoslav firms were represented in Israel, and there seemed to be a common understanding to continue with mutually useful trade exchanges.

The main items imported by Israel from Yugoslavia were meat, wood, furniture, boxes for packing citrus, metal products, and sugar. Its exports were cement, citrus fruits and concentrates, phosphates, tires, textile rayons, and plastic products. [Zvi Loker] A slightly more favorable tone toward Israel's rights was, however, expressed by the late President Tito during his visit to Romania (Dec. 3–4, 1977), when he said: "Israel exists for many years as a genuine fact, is recognized by the UN and is a member of it; any other view would be unrealistic. Thus, all the Arab states must recognize Israel as a state." Although Yugoslavia had not restored diplomatic relations with Israel broken after the Six-Day War in 1967, commercial and cultural ties as well as cooperation in the areas of sports and tourism burgeoned during the 1980s. Slovenia's Adria Airlines established direct flights to and from Israel in 1989.

During the 1990s Israel established diplomatic relations with the independent states of former Yugoslavia. [Eliezer Palmor]

Musical Life

The many pictures of shofars discovered on ceramics at the archaeological site in Celarevo on the Danube river (7–9 century C.E.; Khazars?) may indicate on the presence of Jewish settlements and were the first pictures of the noted Jewish instrument in this part of Europe. This necropolis is the unique site in the Balkans and Panonia.
Ancient Jewish communities also existed on the shores of the Adriatic Sea (Split). There is no information about the music of these communities. There is also no trace whatsoever about the Jews of Dubrovnik who settled there from the 12 century C.E.
In the 16 century, a large community of Sephardim immigrated to the Balkans' parts of the Ottoman Empire up to Sarajevo. They learned synagogue music at a school founded by Rabbi David Jakov Pardo in the second half of the 18 century. Basic research on this musical tradition was done between the two world wars by Isak Hendel, Erik Elisha Samlaich, Zhiga Hirschler, and others. Unfortunately, most of the researchers lost their lives during the Holocaust, and the texts and musical transcriptions were lost as well.
From the studies of the contemporary musicologists Cvjetko Richtman (1902–1990), who was the founder of the Institute for the Study of Folklore in Sarajevo, his daughter Dunja Richtman (1970– ), and particularly the basic studies of Ankica Petrovic (1978– ) on the musical tradition of the Sephardim in Bosnia-Herzegovina, one can infer that there is a great difference between the sacred and the secular music of the Bosnian Sephardim. In this tradition, the melodies of their secular "romances" (romantigas) were influenced by medieval Spanish music, while their sacred music preserved more ancient roots from the pre-Ottoman and pre-Arab era. (see also *Greece and *Ladino (Romancero). A great number of Jewish music documents are archived in the Jewish Museum of Belgrade.
At the time of the national resurgence, the pioneers of "classical music" were of a Jewish origin, both among the Croats (Vatroslav Lisinski, born Fux, 1819–1854) and the Serbs (Josif Schlezinger, 1794–1870).
However, there are no Jewish elements in their music.

In the first half of the 20 century, the most prominent Jewish composers in Yugoslavia were

All of them were killed during World War II.

Among the survivors who immigrated to the United States were the baritone and composer Aaron Marko Rothmueler (1908–1993), who also wrote The Music of The Jews (1958), and the eminent musicologist Dragan Plamenac (1895–1983), known for his studies on music of the 14 and 16 centuries. Among the composers and performers who immigrated to Israel were Paul Raphael Sterk (1904–1979), who composed the symphony City of David; Uri Givon (1912–1974), who produced numerous arrangements of Jewish and Israeli songs and compositions; Reuven Yaron, who was brought to Palestine as a child in 1943, studied with M. Seter, and was killed at the age of 23 in the Sinai Campaign of 1956. His compositions were highly esteemed.

Among the notable performers between the two world wars were pianist Ernest Krauth, conductor Milan Sachs, and violinist Mary Dragutinovic. In the field of light music Abraham Kupferberg and Raphael Blam distinguished themselves.

After World War Bruno Bjelinski, Miroslav Spieler, Ruben Radica, Dubravko Detoni, and Enriko Josif were active as composers, and performers included singer Breda Kalef, conductor Oskar Danon, violinist David Kamhi, and pianist Andreja Preger.

Music in Serbia / Jewish composers

In small and recently liberated Serbia, 19 century  music was trying to rise with great difficulties. The first piano came to Serbia at the time when Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven had already finished writing their symphonies in Vienna. Another two or three years had to go by before the first man with modest "musical training" came to this country.

Josip Shlezinger (1794-1870) founded the "Prince's Band," in Kragujevac in 1830, turning with his hard work illiterate peasants into the first musicians able to read music.
Josip Slezinger, from the very outset, pointed Serbian music in the right direction. Slezinger performed various types of music; marches, dances, potpourri, fantasies from foreign, predominately contemporary operas (Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, Halevy) as well as his own pieces dedicated to the theatre, often inspired by folk melodies.
Slezinger composed music for many plays by domestic authors and therefore became the creator of the favorite and dominant stage genre in Serbia in 19 century: a play with music similar to the Singspiel and operetta.







Rafailo Blam, Composer, professor and extraordinary musician, the founder of the first Serbian and Yugoslav society of Jazz musicians and founder of famous Jazz Band " Mickey boy".
Rafailo Blam was a member of the Symphony Orchestra RTB , member of Belgrade philharmonic Orchestra, member of National orchestra of Radio Belgrade, National orchestra Radio Beograd.
His professional career was completed as professor in "Mokranjac " music school in Belgrade.




Enriko Josif ( Belgrade , le 1 mai 1924 - Belgrade, 13 Mars 2003 ) Enriko Josif was one of the most important and most interesting personalities of the Serbian musical creativity.
His opus includes anthological examples of Serbian orchestral music (Symphony in One Movement, Symphoniette, Lyric Symphony "Out of Solitude", Sonata Antica),concert music (Piano Concerto),vocal and instrumental music ("The Death of Stefan Dechanski", "The Stone Sleeper", Oratorio Profano da Camera," Places for Glorification of Freedom", "Song of Songs"),chamber music ("Dreams", Divertimento, "Hamlet" Suite, "On the Waters of Babylon", "Callings", "Signs", "Epic Tune"),and soloist music (Four Sketches, Sonata Brevis, Ballad, Psalmody). He composed the ballet "Bird, Don't Fold Your Wings", solo songs, stage and film music. He shared his enormous creative energy among music writing, pedagogy, essay writing and journalism.
"What used to be a prayer to our predecessors, to me are only single moments of shining-cracks and wounds which help me to hear parts, particles of advancing singing which is not mine, although I'm aware of it. It exists in GENESIS", says Enriko Josif.
After graduating from the Music Academy in Belgrade, class of Milenko Zivkovic, Enriko Josif worked as a teacher in music schools "Vuckovic" and "Stankovic". He specialized in Rome in 1961/62. He taught composition for twenty-five years at the Music Academy in Belgrade, later called the Faculty of Music Art. He became a correspondent member of the Serbian Academy in 1991, and a regular member in 2000.
For his creative work he obtained numerous significant awards, such as: The Seventh-of-July Award, The October Award of the City of Belgrade, the award "Petar Konjovic", as well as awards of the theatre festival "Sterijino pozorje", of the Cultural and Educational Association of Belgrade and of Yugoslav Broadcasting Corporation.
"I believe that there is no more wondrous and amazing thing than the one that provokes the ability to hear a song within me", says Enriko Josif.
Although broken patterns of different styles can be perceived in his works, such as elements of baroque sound world ("Baroque does not appeal to me, it feeds my musical being"), and those of even earlier epochs, but also those of impressionism and of sharp and bold  sound combinations, this prolific creator has not considerably changed his style over time. He has created a recognizable musical language and has been passionately looking for a voice and voices, an instrument and instruments capable of true reproduction of his melody drawings, of expressing his poetry and individual acoustic world, of attaining the wanted tone quality, and of "uncovering his coverings".
Enriko Josif died in Belgrade, on 13 March 2003.

Compositeur, pédagogue, écrivain et universitaire de musique de l'Académie serbe des Sciences et des Arts
Il est né dans une famille juive. Son père, Joseph Mosa, citoyen natif de Belgrade, était un marchand, agent des entreprises italiennes et allemandes, dramaturge amateur. Sa mère Sophie (née en Fahri), était issue d"une riche famille de Zemun. Ayant acquis une bonne connaissance des langues étrangères, elle a travaillé en tant que traductrice et est devenu un membre éminent du PEN Club International. (traductions des chansons serbes en allemand). De nombreux intellectuels, comme Jovan Ducic et Milos Djuric , faisaient parie de ses collègues et connaissances.
La famille de Josif est très musicienne. Sa mère jouait du piano, et son père nourrissait une affection particulière pour l'art lyrique. Ils voulaient partager leurs passions avec leurs deux fils, Enrico et Albert Jr., et les ont envoyés étudier la musique avec le compositeur et chef d'orchestre Vladislav Grinskog , avec qui Enrico a écrit sa première composition.
Son père est mort en 1937. Juste avant le bombardement de Belgrade (1941), la famille s'est rendue à Sarajevo, d'où ils sont passés en Italie via Dubrovnik, Split et Korcula. Ils y sont restés sans difficultés jusqu'n 1943, s'installant alors en Suisse.
Après la guerre, Josif revient à Belgrade, commence à étudier la médecine, mais devient rapidement étudiant à l'Académie de Musique.






Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.