At the conclusion of the Never Forget international project, a documentary-museum exhibition was opened in the Maribor Synagogue, which describes the long history of Jews in the area of Prekmurje and Međimurje and their tragic fate.
The Never Forget project, supported by the European Union and bringing together partners the Center for Jewish Cultural Heritage, the Maribor Synagogue, the Municipality of Lendava and the Jewish community in Čakovec, Croatia, was aimed at promoting remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and strengthening European civic culture, democracy, respect for human rights and thinking about European cultural diversity and common values.
“We wanted to encourage people not only to learn the facts, but also to do something,” said the director of the Maribor Synagogue Boris Hajdinjak.
Among the main groups addressed by the project were teachers and students. In Čakovec, for example, they organized an excursion to the memorial museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in the south of Poland, which is located on the site of the former German Nazi concentration camp of the same name. Last year, Slovenia hosted the creator of the Tlakovci memorial Gunter Demnig and at the same time erected such memorials, among others, in Šalovci and Lendava. The conclusion is represented by an exhibition A tale of two transports. Jews from Međimurje and Prekmurje during the Holocaust, which was solemnly opened today in the Maribor Synagogue. It tells about the long history of Jews in the area of Prekmurje and Međimurje, the rise and flourishing of Jewish communities in this area, their contribution to the development of cities and towns in both regions, and the sad fate they suffered during the Holocaust.
Artifacts that hide shocking storiesIn addition to photographs and texts on billboards, the exhibition also includes a quilt by Erika Fürst, who was deported to a concentration camp as a girl. In one of the showcases is Lajos Blau’s notebook, in which he collected photographs sent to him by his wife from Lendava during the Second World War, until he and his daughter were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The title of the exhibition refers to the transports in which most of the Jews from Međimurje and Prekmurje were taken to the concentration camp in 1944. Hajdinjak noted that they were not the only ones. “When these two transports went to Auschwitz, a quarter of the Jews in the area were already missing. They were imprisoned, killed or escaped. So the story is much more complex than it seems at first,” he said.
In Lendava, Jews once represented ten percent of the population. According to the deputy mayor Mihaela Šooš they represented an important part of the community. “Among other things, they built our main street, were businessmen, founded various associations and were an integral part of social life in Lendava. Unfortunately, this came to an abrupt end during the Second World War, so it is important to keep their memory alive.” he said.
As the participants in the Never Forget project explain, on April 26, 1944, the largest group of Prekmurje Jews was gathered in Lendava and Murska Sobota, who were then taken first to Čakovec, and from there to Nagykanizsa, from where they were taken in wagons to Birkenau. where it was the assembly point for the largest death camp – Auschwitz. Most of them ended their lives there. This, the first and largest transport of Prekmurje Jews, numbered 367 people. A second, slightly smaller wave of deportations followed in the fall.