The following text is an memorandum of understanding signed by the Jewish communities of Republic of North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia.
The history of the Balkan peninsula was a history of thousands of years of different nations and minorities living together. In those centuries we, as peoples, saw big conflicts that led to incredible human tragedies and at the same time examples of co-existence, tolerance and care for each other.
This year we, as Jewish communities of four different states, are marking 80 years since those two examples – of unspeakable tragedy and of overwhelming humanity occurred. We realise why those stories are important to be taught to the society and next generation in our respective states. That is the reason why today, united by our common history and understanding the responsibility we have to preserve the memory of the Shoah and acknowledging the common threats and opportunities in front of us, we stand together.
We, the undersigned, democratically elected representatives of the Jewish communities in our countries:
Prof. Alexander Oscar, President of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”;
David Saltiel, President of the Central Board of the Jewish Communities of Greece;
Pepo Levi, President of the Jewish Community in the Republic of North Macedonia;
Aleksandar Albahari, President of the Jewish Community of Serbia;
Believe that the preservation of the history, traditions and culture of the Jewish communities in our countries is one of our main obligations and duties to the memory of our parents and ancestors, who lived in those lands at one of the darkest moments in Jewish history;
Deplore that a number of public figures are attempting to change, distort, and rewrite the history of the Holocaust by shifting responsibility from pro-Nazi allies and collaborators to Nazi Germany alone;
Deplore further that individuals with antisemitic ideas, positions and actions are added or proposed among the names of the true Righteous Among the Nations and saviors of the Jews during the Holocaust;
Recognize that only united as Jewish communities, can our voice and the voices of our ancestors be heard and preserved;
Acknowledge with reverence the memory of 11,343 Jews from today’s North Macedonia, east Macedonia and western Trace in Greece and town of Pirot in Serbia who were deported by the Bulgarian pro-Nazi government as well as the memory of another 55,000 Jews from Greece deported by Nazi Germany;
We are committed to:
Working together to preserve the authentic history of the Jewish community in the Balkans and especially the history of the Shoah.
Partnering in the creation of educational programs, designed both for the Jewish community as well asfor educators, teachers and other educational specialists in the formal and informal educational sphere of our respective countries.
Organizing a meeting of representatives of our communities at least once a year to discuss and specify measures for the prevention of hate speech and Holocaust denial or distortion.
Working in a coordinated manner with the aim of presenting what happened in the years of the Shoah to all possible institutions in our countries and abroad and fighting all attempts to distort history.
Pepo Levi, MD, PhD
President of the Jewish Community in North Macedonia
Prof. Alexander Oscar, MD, PhD
President of the Organisation of Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom"
President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece
President of the Jewish Community of Serbia