Beno Ruso and Roza Kamhi: The years make their own

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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. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Many countries in the Balkans offer wildly different narratives of the twentieth century. Centropa has therefore chosen links to articles on the region that are decidedly neutral.

Find here a timeline of the Balkans in the twentieth century provided by the BBC.

The CIA publishes fact books for over two hundred countries. Read about Macedonia here.

Lonely Planet provides an overview of Macedonia during WWII and the twentieth century in a broader historical context.

In his article Partisans: War in the Balkans 1941-1945, Stephen Hart offers a more in-depth account of wartime violence in Yugoslavia. Find it here and learn about how resistance to Hitler led to terrifying brutality.

 

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A significant proportion of the Jewish community in Macedonia are descended from the Sephardic Jews who fled persecution in Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century. Read about the history of the Macedonia Jewry here.

In the film, Roza talks about the Holocaust Memorial Centre for the Jews of Macedonia. Explore this page for more information.

Learn about the Jewish history of Bitola in this Yad Vashem article. When Macedonia was part of the Ottoman Empire, Bitola was called Monastir, a name that the Jewish community there continued to use until the 1940s. Here is a brief overview of the Ottoman Empire.

Macedonia was occupied by Bulgaria during the Second World War. During this time, incredibly harsh restrictions were placed against Macedonian Jews, and huge numbers were deported, including 7,125 from Bitola, almost the entire community. More information about the Holocaust in Bitola/Monastir can be found here. Of those deported from Macedonia, most were taken to Treblinka in Poland.

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There has been a Jewish presence in Monastir since it was part of the Roman Empire, but the community grew in 1492 and 1496 following the expulsion of Spanish and Portuguese Jews. Learn more here.

Roza and Beno were part of the local Hashomer Hatzair group. To learn more about this youth group organisation, visit their website. Additionally, this website has more information about Jewish youth groups in Bitola.

Find out more about the Jewish community of Monastir on this page.

Across Europe adults in occupied territories were required to provide photographs for identification papers. This resulted in great collections of images documenting every face from entire towns or regions, though few of these survive. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum possess one of the few remaining collections, of the now lost Jewish community of Monastir/Bitola. Read about the collection here, and view it here.

Read Centropa interview with Adam Sadikario, who also grew up in Bitola and engaged in resistance during the war.

Film Details

  • Duration:
    16:11
    Countries:
    Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia

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