SKOPJE, Macedonia (JTA) — The capital of this Balkan nation of 2 million people saw the dedication of a multimillion-dollar Holocaust museum that has been called one of the finest institutions of its kind.
Macedonia, a landlocked country north of Greece, had a Jewish population of about 8,000 before the Holocaust, “and more than 98 percent of them were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators,” Michael Berenbaum, a former director of the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s research institute, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
That’s part of the reason that an institution of the magnitude of the new museum, which according to Macedonian media cost $23 million to build, is “appropriate” in Skopje, he said.
Berenbaum is a partner at Berenbaum Jacobs Associates, the firm that designed the museum.
The funding for the museum came from restitution money paid in 2000 by the government to the local Jewish community, which is now comprised of about 200 members.
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Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Robert Singer, the executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress, were among the other dignitaries who attended the museum opening.
The museum, a three-story building located in the Macedonian capital’s museum quarter, includes unique displays such as hundreds of suitcases dangling from the ceiling, a transport wagon similar to ones used to transport the Macedonian Jews to be murdered, and a tank engine of the kind used to produce deadly gas for the gas chamber of Treblinka, where Macedonian Jews were killed.