Beno and Roza fell in love in the 1930s and were married in 1946. In between, the vast majority of Macedonia's Jews--more than 7,400--were deported to Treblinka. Not one returned alive. Beno and Roza, and several of their teenage friends, joined the partisans, grabbed rifles and fought back. When the war ended in 1945, Beno was 24-years-old. He was also a general. This story takes us all the way to 2011--through the death of Tito, the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the opening of the largest Holocaust Museum in southern Europe. That makes this a great film for teachers of Jewish history, Holocaust and contemporary history.
Beno Ruso and Roza Kamhi were interviewed for Centropa by Rachel Chanin in 2005. This film, based on those interviews, was commissioned by The Holocaust Memorial Center of the Jews from Macedonia in Skopje, where it is being shown in the new museum. The film was made in Macedonia by filmmakers Stojan Vujcic and Apostal Tnokovski, with two remarkable actors reading the parts of Beno and Roza.
Many countries in the Balkans offer wildly differing historical narratives. Centropa therefore has chosen a few links on the region that are decidedly neutral.
Here is an excellent BBC timeline on the20th century history of the Balkans
The Central Intelligence Agency publishes a useful factbook on more than 200 countries.Here is a link to CIA's Macedonia pages
The Lonely Planet guidebook series also offers a useful set of links to Macedonia.
Mass executions and other forms of brutality were common in Yugoslavia during World War Two - carried out by Partisan fighters as well as by Chetnik rebels and German troops. In his article "Partisans: War in the Balkans 1941 - 1945" for the BBC History series, Stephen Hart examines how resistance to Hitler led to terrifying brutality in war-time Yugoslavia.
Centropa's partner is The Holocaust Fund for the Jews from Macedonia and the new Holocaust Memorial Center.
The Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic studies and culture offers a short summary of the Jews of Bitola, or as it was known in Ottoman times, Monastir
One of the best books we've found on this region is Last Century of a Sephardic Community, by Mark Cohen, which details Jewish life in Bitola. Here is a short summary of it.
Yad Vashem offers another interesting overview of Bitola/Monastir
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's web page on the Holocaust in Macedonia
The USHMM also has an online collection of photographs regarding the deportation of Jews from Macedonia to the death camp of Treblinka, in March 1943
Read this excerpt from the Centropa interview with Beno Ruso, where he recollects how he got involved withHashomer Hatzair, a Zionist youth organization during his youth.
Read several excerpts from the Centropa interview with another Macedonian Jewish Holocaust survivor, Avram Sadikario who tells the story of growing up in Bitola, Macedonia, and describes pre-war life in Bitola's Jewish quarter.
Read how Avram Sadikario fought against the occupation of Macedonia during World War II.
Yet another Centropa interviewee from Macedonia, Roza Kamhi tells us about hertime in school in Bitola, and how she survived the Bulgarian occupation, during which the vast majority of the Jews of Macedonia were deported and killed in the Treblinka extermination camp in 1943.