Macedonia -- New Holocaust Museum Opens

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

There have been several articles about the opening of the new Holocaust Museum and Memorial in Skopje, Macedonia last week -- the opening marks an important step in coming to terms with the past and also was made possible by a landmark decision on post-Holocaust compensation.

The Forward writes:

The inspiration for the center came from Ivan Dejanov, president of the Macedonian Israeli Friendship Association, and its implementation has been led by principal consultant and Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum and by Victor Mizrahi, honorary consul of Israel in the Republic of Macedonia. It became possible, however, only with the enactment of the Law on Denationalization, which allows for restitution of money and property rights of Jews, even those without living heirs. The Macedonian government allocated 17 million euros to the Holocaust Fund for the Jews of Macedonia, and this eventually went toward the completion of the center and helped in the construction of the country’s only synagogue, in 2000. “It is almost unprecedented for a government to have acted in this way,” Mais said. “It’s an exemplary phenomenon.”
 It says:
The official celebrations marked only the first phase of the center. A special children’s museum will open in the complex in March 2012, to be followed by the permanent exhibition, in March 2013. The completion of all phases of the project coincides with “Skopje 2014,” a $273 million initiative to transform the city into a competitive European capital and rebuild its infrastructure after a 1963 earthquake that destroyed about 80% of the city’s architecture.

 There are about 200 Jews in Macedonia -- I was present at the inauguration of Skopje's little synagogue in 2000 and have posted about other efforts to restore Jewish heritage.