Kindergarten opens at former Nazi death camp in Serbia
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Kindergarten opens at former Nazi death camp in Serbia

Jewish leader calls placement of new school ‘inappropriate,’ says promises to build a Holocaust memorial there have gone unfulfilled for decades

The Savsko Obdaniste kindergarten in the Serbian capital of Belgrade is housed in a building that was part of a Nazi concentration and extermination camp. (Google maps)
The Savsko Obdaniste kindergarten in the Serbian capital of Belgrade is housed in a building that was part of a Nazi concentration and extermination camp. (Google maps)

A new preschool in Serbia that is set to open at a building in the capital Belgrade that once was part of a Nazi concentration camp has drawn criticism from Jewish leaders.

The building at Staro Sajmiste has housed a number of businesses over the years and government promises to build a Holocaust memorial there have gone unfulfilled for decades, according to The Guardian.

“The kindergarten is inappropriate when you consider what took place there,” Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia President Robert Sabadoš told the British newspaper. “But what’s an even bigger scandal is that pubs have been located down there for years, decades even. There even used to be a nightclub. That site was a place of misery and suffering, and that can’t be allowed to be forgotten.”

The current owner of the building denies that he has profaned the site, saying he has “been battling for 20 years, investing in this building, caring for it, nurturing it.”

Robert Sabadoš, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia, at his office in Belgrade, June 2018. (Larry Luxner/Times of Israel)

“I bought it in a terrible state, totally ruined,” he told The Guardian. “It didn’t even have a roof, it was completely rotten. They should compare the state of this building in ’98 and today. They should all be saying ‘thank you kindly, sir, excellent work, sir.’”

Sabadoš said that many of those who operated businesses at Staro Sajmiste were likely unaware of its history.

“That’s a symptom of a failure of our collective memory,” he said.

Other former concentration camps in Serbia have also been slated for development, including one at Topovske Šupe, the paper reported.

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