STA, 14 April - The Murska Sobota synagogue (Sinagoga Murska Sobota), which was demolished in 1954, has been revived in virtual form as part of the Interreg Danube project based on a few photos and incomplete plans for the building dating to 1908-1954. Using virtual reality headsets, visitors can now enter the synagogue or take a stroll around it.
The goal was to present this "extraordinary element of Jewish cultural heritage" to locals and visitors again, said
Brigita Perhavec and Daniel Ulčar from the Institute for Culture, Tourism and Sport, head of Pomurje Museum Metka Fujs and Art Rebel 9 CEO Matjaž Požlep as they presented the project.
The synagogue in Murska Sobota was the work of renowned Jewish architect Lipot Baumhorn, who designed 25 synagogues and Jewish temples, and was build in the Hungarian architectural style in 1908.
During the Second World War, when local Jews were taken to concentration camps, mostly Auschwitz, the town bought the building and decided to demolish it in 1954.
The decision was made because the building was in poor condition, so it could not be used, while the few dozen Jews who returned from concentration camps had no money to finance the renovation.
The virtual synagogue is part of the Rediscover project of exploring the hidden Jewish heritage of the Danube region within the Interreg Danube project, featuring partners from Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Germany.
Apart from the virtual synagogue, the Murska Sobota Institute for Culture, Tourism and Sport also made records of tangible and intangible Jewish cultural heritage and organised various activities, including the Days of Jewish Culture in Murska Sobota, a Jewish trail, and an exhibition presenting Baumhorn's work and the Jewish community in Murska Sobota.
STA, 16 April 2021 - The European Jewish Association has called on Social Democrats (SD) leader Tanja Fajon to right a historic injustice and return the villa in Ljubljana where the party has its headquarters to the Slovenian Jewish community.
The SD is headquartered in a villa that used to be owned by Jewish merchant Felix Moskovic. He and his family were taken to Auschwitz and other extermination camps, where they were killed.
In a letter to Fajon first published by Siol.net, the association's president Rabbi Menachem Margolin says that following their deaths, the property was sold "under questionable conditions, nationalised, and then used by high-level communist party organisations during the Yugoslav era."
"It has come to our attention that there has previously been a discussion regarding the transfer of Mr. Moskovic's property ... to the Slovenian Jewish community as part of a settlement on communal and heirless property once held by Slovenian Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
"We believe this would be an appropriate, just, and moral use of Mr. Moskovic's home and a righting of a historic wrong," Margolin says, hopeful that the SD "will recognize the symbolic and emotional unsustainability of the status quo and will work with us to change it."
The SD's ownership of the building has often come up in public debate in recent months, in particular in allegations by the ruling Democrats (SDS), who have come to call it "the stolen villa".
The SD has said the villa had been owned by the state before the party took ownership of it via an exchange contract involving a different building that the party had owned before.
In a lengthy explanation on its website, the party also says the villa had been sold to the state in 1961 by a woman who had previously bought it from a heir of the Moskovics.
SD leader Tanja Fajon has dismissed the allegations the party stole the villa as "nasty attempts at discreditation" lobbed by the current prime minister.
Fajon responded to the call, inviting Rabbi Margolin for a "talk and a review of facts". She rejected the notion that the ownership of the villa was disputable.
A similar invitation was sent to the European Jewish Congress, the umbrella organisation of Jewish associations in Europe, and the Slovenian Jewish Community.
"The history of the transfer of ownership ... is completely clear from the legal and historical aspects. After the tragic death of the Moskovic family, the villa was inherited by their legal heir, who soon sold it to a new owner, who sold it to the state in 1961."
"The SD party became the lawful owner of the house in 1993 based on a deed of gift and exchange. It has settled its relations with the Slovenian Jewish Community in that regard," the statement adds.
Fajon noted that the documentation on ownership of the building has been published on the party's website. "Only by showing all relevant documents transparently it is possible to reject the obvious lies that are the most diligently spread by Prime Minister Janez Janša."
In the letter to Margolin, the SD president also said that "our deep respect to victims of the Holocaust and all victims of Nazism and Fascism stems first and foremost from our history and tradition."
Fajon added that the SD has also paid respects to Felix and Klara Moskovic and their children with a memorial plaque to the victims of the Holocaust that was put on the front facade of the party's headquarters in August 2018.
STA, 27 January 2021 - Slovenia is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday with a series of events, including the laying of wreaths, exhibitions and the traditional reading of the names of Slovenian Holocaust victims. Top Slovenian officials labelled the Holocaust one of the bleakest moments in history, warned against its denial and urged tolerance.
Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič stressed in his address at the outset of proceedings in parliament that WWII was also being remembered because of the Holocaust, one of the darkest crimes in the history of modern civilisation.
He said its memory must be preserved as a warning and reminder, arguing the causes leading to this tragedy were still not left entirely in the past.
"Nationalism, national myths, racial and religious discrimination ... have not yet become part of the past. Some are still reviving the menacing symbols of this dark period and regime."
Despite the promises and commitments to the contrary, humanity has not learned the lesson, said Zorčič, pointing to the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica.
The crises of the past decade have brought to the surface new forms of intolerance, racism, xenophobia and hostility, he said, adding the rising dissatisfaction and intolerance during the Covid-19 pandemic was worrying, as it gave rise to dangerous negative emotions.
The MPs also observed a minute of silence for the Holocaust victims.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor je na mednarodni dan spomina na žrtve holokavsta položil venec k spomeniku žrtvam nacifašističnega nasilja na judovskem pokopališču v Dolgi vasi. #WeRemember #HolocaustRemembranceDay #HolocaustMemorialDay pic.twitter.com/aO7dPtRwaV— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) January 27, 2021
The Foreign Ministry said it was our common responsibility to stand up against all attempts to deny or distort the horrors of the Holocaust.
It believes the remembrance day is an occasion to remember all victims of one of the worst genocides in history, but also those who helped save lives.
The ministry and the Slovenian delegation at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) have supported and contributed to Holocaust remembrance, education and research for years, it added in a written statement.
Slovenian IHRA delegation head Marko Rakovec praised the many organisations and individuals in Slovenia raising awareness about the Holocaust, especially among the young.
A wreath was laid on behalf of Prime Minister Janez Janša at the Jewish section of the Žale cemetery already on Tuesday, while Boris Čerin, the president of the Slovenian Jewish Community, and Rabbi Ariel Haddad, will lay one later in the day.
President Borut Pahor meanwhile laid a wreath at a memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Dolga Vas, north-east, warning about hate speech, intolerance and incitement to violence having become an all too normal part of our life in recent years.
He said this was outrageous, and called for tolerance and the freedom of thought where everyone can express their view yet in a way that preserves dignity.
He said all people but especially public figures must refrain from words or actions that could be understood as offensive or hostile. "This is our moral and human duty of those who take part in public life, but also a political commitment."
Pahor also wished good health to the Nazi concentration camp survivors who had accompanied him to the Auschwitz liberation commemorations, including Erika Fürst, a Jew from the Slovenian region of Prekmurje.
Boris Hajdinjak, director of the Maribor Synagogue, the Centre of Jewish Culture, recalled 26 April 1944, "when for the majority of the Jews from Lendava a process leading to less than 10% surviving began".
When the survivors from Lendava, which had a thriving Jewish community before the Holocaust, realised the dead had no graves, they were allowed to erect a memorial at the cemetery in Dolga Vas, he said.
But he regretted there was no other point expect the Lendava Synagogue in Slovenia where these events could be most directly remembered. He also urged the government to make sure Slovenia finally got the long-overdue memorial point in Auschwitz for all Slovenian victims of that camp.
Later in the day the Jewish Cultural Centre will host the traditional name-reading ceremony at which the names of all Slovenian Holocaust victims will be read out loud. Due to the pandemic, it will be held online.
In Murska Sobota, the Pomurje Museum launched a virtual exhibition entitled Passports for Life, which is dedicated to Polish diplomats based in Bern who during WWII forged the passports of Latin American countries to rescue Jews.
And in Ljubljana, the National Museum of Contemporary History launched an online documentary exhibition on Slovenian victims of Auschwitz. In the evening an online debate will accompany the launch of the Slovenian translation of Sonja Borus's diary.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed in memory of the day in 1945 when the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp.
STA, 27 January - President Borut Pahor is in Poland to attend a memorial marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp, accompanied by Slovenian camp survivors. He will lay a candle to honour the victims at a memorial plaque which features an inscription in Slovene since 2008.
The delegation includes Sonja Vrščaj, Elizabeta Kumar Maurič, Marija Frlan and Lidija Rijavec Simčič, who were deported to the camp, as well as Janez Deželak, one of hundreds of Stolen Children, who were separated from their parents after Nazi occupation.
The commemoration was held at the Oswiecim Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau under the auspices of Poland's President Andrzej Duda.
During the Second World War, some six million people died in Poland, including three million Polish Jews, mostly in concentration camps.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is honoured every year on 27 January, coinciding with the anniversary of Auschwitz liberation.
The Nazis killed more than a million people in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. More than 2,300 people were deported there from Slovenia, with over 1,300 dying before the liberation.
The camp was liberated on 27 January in 1945 by the Soviet troops. Merely some 7,650 ill and debilitated prisoners survived.
Pahor is attending the memorial due to its great symbolic significance, said the president's office. The Slovenian delegation is bearing witness to the horrors of WWII, which are still leaving bitter traces of memories and suffering, said Pahor in a statement.
It is our moral duty that we never forget, that we contribute to a peaceful resolution of all issues and fight to ensure that such atrocities may never happen again, he highlighted.
Meanwhile, Kumar Mavrič expressed satisfaction that the most horrible crimes of the Second World War were living on not just in the memory of the survivors but also in the memory of young generations.
Vrščaj said that the survivors' suffering was part of their fight for freedom, urging the young to love their homeland. "We never said 'if we come home', but 'when we come home'."
Another survivor, Frlan, who turned 100 today, was succinct in saying "a reminder for the young and remembrance for the elderly".
Pahor, who attended the World Holocaust Forum marking the anniversary in Jerusalem last week, will also address a memorial ceremony in Lendava's synagogue on Thursday.
He will wrap up the Holocaust remembrance series of events in May by holding an annual debate featuring the survivors and secondary school students.
Today, a series of events to honour the Holocaust Remembrance Day is taking place in Slovenia, among them a concert of songs performed in secret meetings by an internee of the Sachsenhausen camp. Moreover, the Jewish Cultural centre will screen Shoah, a 1985 film by Claude Lanzmann.
STA, 17 September 2019 - Lendava and Murska Sobota remembered on Tuesday local Jewish families that perished in the Holocaust, as Stolpersteine, granite cubes bearing the names of the victims, were installed in various locations around the two north-eastern cities in high-profile commemorations.
In Lendava, the "stumbling stones" with brass plates bearing the victims' names were installed in Glavna Ulica street in front of the former homes of the families Blau, Balkanyi and Schwarz.
Since Lendava is located in a bilingual area, each member of the families is remembered with two stones, one with a text in Slovenian and the other in Hungarian.
The first memorial stone was installed by German artist Gunther Demnig, who conceived the project in 1992, and Lendava Mayor Janez Magyar.
The commemoration featured a number of guests, including Jewish community representatives, the victims' relatives, and Erika Fürst as the only living Holocaust survivor from the region of Prekmurje, which used to have a thriving Jewish community before WWII.
It was also attended by Mirjana Gašpar and Beata Lazar, the authors of the book Jews in Lendava, and director of the SAZU's Science and Research Centre Oto Luthar, who comes from Prekmurje.
The president of the Jewish Community in Slovenia Boris Čerin Levy and Rabbi Ariel Haddad from Italy's Trieste were also on hand, with the prayer to be sung by cantor Isidoro Abramowicz from a synagogue in Berlin.
The artistic project of installing the commemorative stones was initiated by Demnig 27 years ago to remember the members of the Jewish community who died in Nazi concentration camps, symbolically bringing them back to their homes.
Since then, Stolpersteine have been installed in more than 610 cities in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ukraine, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Norway.
In Slovenia, the project is coordinated by the Ljubljana Jewish Cultural Centre and by the Maribor Synagogue Centre of Jewish Cultural Heritage, whose head Boris Hajdinjak will today recount some of the stories of the deceased families.
The ceremony in Murska Sobota will be held later in the day to remember the families Berger, Hahn and Frim apart from many other Jewish victims of the Holocaust that have been forgotten until recently.
Lendava and Murska Sobota are thus joining Maribor and Ljubljana, the cities where the first memorial stones were installed in Slovenia in 2012 and 2018, respectively.
The honorary sponsor of the project in the country is President Borut Pahor.
Lean more about the Stolpersteine in Ljubljana here
STA, 25 August 2019 - A series of events will be held between today and 18 September in five Slovenian towns to mark the European Days of Jewish Culture. The all-European project, taking place in Slovenia for the 20th year in a row, will provide the visitors with a deep insight into individual aspects of Jewish culture and heritage.
For the 20th anniversary of the project in Slovenia, a diverse programme of events will be held in Maribor, Ljubljana, Negova, Lendava and Murska Sobota, almost all of the events being free of charge.
The European Days of Jewish Culture in Slovenia will be opened by the Maribor-based world music group Kontra-Kvartet with a concert featuring the traditional Jewish Klezmer music in the Maribor City Park.
The programme will also feature open day events, guided tours in museums, several exhibitions, a theatre performance, a concert of Jewish music, and various presentations and interactive workshops.
The aim is to introduce the audience into Jewish culture and raise their awareness of the importance of preservation and protection of Jewish heritage as an important part of European culture, the organisers say.
According to the Sinagoga Maribor centre for Jewish cultural heritage, the project involves various organisers from the entire Europe every year. Last year, events were held in more than 400 towns in 28 European countries.
You can see the full Slovenian programme here
STA, 24 April 2019 - President Borut Pahor addressed a ceremony commemorating the Jews deported during World War II from Lendava at the synagogue in this eastern-most Slovenian town on Wednesday. He underlined that the great European idea of peace and security must be protected, the president's office said in a press release.
Ob 75. obletnici deportacije lendavskih Judov je predsednik republike pred pričetkom komemorativne pietetne slovesnosti položil venec k spomeniku žrtvam nacifašističnega nasilja na judovskem pokopališču v Dolgi vasi. pic.twitter.com/IC5tRosx0u— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) April 24, 2019
The ceremony marked 75 years since a vast majority of Slovenia's biggest Jewish community was deported, a blow from which it never recovered.
Pahor dedicated his address to Erika Fürst, a holocaust survivor, inviting her to join him next year at the ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Atrocities start when small signs of exclusion become the norm. Therefore, it is key to recognise the importance of early detection of exclusion, intolerance and hatred, said Pahor.
Before the ceremony, the president laid a wreath at the Dolga Vas cemetery, the biggest Jewish cemetery in Slovenia, alongside Lendava Mayor Janez Magyar and city councillor Ivan Koncut, who laid a wreath on behalf of the state of Israel.
All our stories on Jewish Slovenia are here
STA, 27 January 2019 - Slovenia is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with events coming up in Ljubljana, Lendava and Ptuj today after having already been held around the country earlier this week. University professor Maca Jogan says that remembering Holocaust is important for distinguishing between the perpetrators and victims.
Jogan, professor emeritus from the University in Ljubljana who was the keynote speaker at a memorial ceremony in Ljubljana's Kino Šiška last Sunday, told the STA that equalising the perpetrators with those who suffered under them and fought against them needed to end.
The line between the two sides is being blurred in Slovenia since the 1990s by "all sorts of quasi journalists and then politicians", who wrap it in the language of tolerance.
"Anti-Semitism (with Jews as target) has been replaced in Slovenia in the last three decades with anticommunism (with Partisans as targets and perceived as criminals)," Jogan said.
All our stories on Jewish Slovenia can be found here
This also explains the results of an Eurobarometer survey published earlier this week, which showed that in Slovenia "only" 12% of respondents see anti-Semitism as a problem, while in the EU the share stands at about 50%.
The current situation should be addressed through education and remembrance of concrete victims, concrete perpetrators and concrete circumstances that had led to the crimes of Holocaust. "These were not just political or ideological, there was a big industry behind it."
In education, the danger is to reduce the Holocaust to the suffering of Jews and the Roma, Jogan said, pointing to Italy, where they spoke only of the crimes of Germans against Italians.
She also noted that a number of indicators showed that Israel was monopolising the right to Holocaust remembrance. "This is not acceptable, because overall the number of Jewish victims was lower than of all other victims combined."
In Slovenia, a series of cultural and educational events remembering Holocaust victims is held in January every year.
President Borut Pahor labelled the Second World War the "biggest aberration from moral standards in human history" as he addressed the main ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Maribor on Friday.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the genocide by the Nazi regime and its collaborators which resulted in the deaths of an estimated six million Jewish people, five million Slavs, thousands of Roma people, thousands of mentally and physically disabled people, and thousands homosexuals.
Some 63,000 Slovenians were taken to Nazi and Fascist concentration camps during the Second World War and 12,000 of them never returned home.
27 January commemorates the day when Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.
Between 1.1 and 1.5 million people, Jews and members of 26 other nations, mostly Slavic, including 1,700 Slovenians, died in Auschwitz during the war either in gas chambers or during scientific experiments.
The UN declared 27 January International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005 and Slovenia has been observing it since 2008.
On the global level, this year's Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked by calls for human rights protection.
STA, 22 January 2019 - Only 12% of Slovenians surveyed in a EU-wide opinion poll believe that antisemitism is a problem in their country, and only 4% consider it a major problem.
The results, presented in Brussels ahead of 27 January International Holocaust Remembrance Day, found a gap between how the problem is perceived by Jews and how by the general population in the EU.
In the survey, conducted by Eurobarometer among 27,600 respondents across the EU in December, one in three respondents (36%) said that antisemitism increased in their country in the past five years.
Only 12% of respondents in Slovenia believe the same, against 62% who feel the level of antisemitism has remained the same and 9% who believe the problem has decreased.
However, a survey conducted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights among almost 16,500 Jewish people in 12 EU countries, found nine out of ten feeling that antisemitism increased in their country.
Half of respondents in the Eurobarometer survey feel that antisemitism is a problem in their country, the largest proportion in Sweden (81%) and France (72%) and the lowest in Estonia (5%), Bulgaria (8%) and Portugal (9%).
Fifteen percent of Europeans believe that antisemitism is a very important problem in their country, the highest proportion in Sweden (37%).
In Slovenia, 12% respondents said that they felt antisemitism was a fairy important problem and 4% thought it was a very important problem, against 30% who thought it was not really a problem and 45% who said it was not a problem at all.
Thirty percent of Slovenian respondents also said that people in their country were not well informed about the history, customs and practices of Jewish people, which corresponds to 16% of all Europeans.
13% of respondents in Slovenia said they had friends or acquaintances who are Jews.
STA, 17 January 2019 - An exhibition on Soviet World War II officer Alexander Pechersky, who led the uprising at the Sobibor extermination camp, will go on display at the Maribor Synagogue tonight, accompanied by the screening of the Russian film Sobibor, as an overture to the observation of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The exhibition and the film by Konstantin Khabenskiy, Russia's candidate for the 2018 foreign language Oscar, cover the mass escape of Jews from the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland in 1943, organised and led by Pechersky.
Although only 53 of those who escaped survived, it was the most successful break from a World War death camp. The camp itself was ordered by the SS chief Heinrich Himmler to be closed, dismantled and planted with trees within days after the uprising.
Alexander Pechersky – Wikipedia
The event is being organised by the Maribor Library and Centre of Jewish Cultural Heritage Synagogue Maribor in association with the Ljubljana-based Russian Centre of Science and Culture, the Russian Centre in Maribor, International WWII Research Centre in Maribor and the Association of History Students ISHA Maribor.
The event will officially launch this year's observation of International Holocaust Remembrance Day as part of the project Shoah - Let Us Remember 2019 in Slovenia with Culture Minister Dejan Prešiček as honorary sponsor.
The project involves a number of cultural, research and education institutions. Every year they hold exhibitions, scientific conferences and various cultural events to keep alive the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, Porajmos, Nazi persecution and genocide in general and to warn of instances of hatred and intolerance that could lead to crimes against humanity.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed on 27 January, will also be observed by an event hosted by the ZZB NOB association of WWII veterans this Sunday at the Kino Šiška urban culture centre in Ljubljana. It will be addressed by Maca Jogan, a University of Ljubljana professor emeritus, who was born in the Lössnitz labour camp.
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