Exhibition on local Jewish history opens at Maribor Synagogue

Maribor, 26 May - Marking the end of Never Forget, an international project, the Maribor Synagogue opened on Friday an exhibition documenting the history and tragic fate of Jews in the Prekmurje and Međimurje regions.

Exhibition on Jewish history opens at the Maribor Synagogue.
Photo: Andreja Seršen Dobaj/STA

The exhibition, dubbed The Story of Two Transports, The Međimurje and Prekmurje Jews during the Holocaust, tells the long history of the Jewish communities in the Croatian and Slovenian regions, their contributions to the development of cities and the tragic fate that befell them during the Holocaust.

Personal items are on display, such as a blanket that belonged to a girl that was deported, and a notebook with photographs that a wife had been sending to her husband until she was taken to Auschwitz.

The name of the exhibition references the two largest deportations of Jews in 1944.

On 26 April 1944, 367 Jews were gathered in the Slovenian towns of Lendava and Murska Sobota. They were first taken to Čakovec in Croatia, then to Nagykanizsa in Hungary, from where they were transported to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Most never returned. A second wave of deportations followed in autumn.

"The story is more complex than it seems," noted Boris Hajdinjak, director of the Maribor Synagogue. "When the two transports to Auschwitz happened, a quarter of Jews living in the area was already missing. They were killed, captured or had escaped," he added.

The Jews used to represent a tenth of the Lendava population and an important part of the community. "They built our main street, they were businessmen, they founded clubs and were a part of the social life in Lendava," said Deputy Mayor Mihael Šooš. "That was ruptured suddenly during WWII, so it is important to remember them," he added.

The Never Forget project aimed to preserve the memory of the victims of totalitarian systems and to strengthen European civic culture, democracy, respect for human rights and reflection on Europe's cultural diversity.

The project was held by a Croatian association from Čakovec, another cultural and economic hub of the community, the Centre of Jewish Cultural Heritage - Maribor Synagogue, and the Lendava municipality.

"We wanted to encourage people to not only get informed on the facts but to also do something," Hajdinjak said.

Several seminars and an international conference were organised as part of the project. Other activities included an educational excursion for history and ethics teachers to Auschwitz-Birkenau and laying Stolpersteine or stumbling stones in commemoration of the Holocaust victims.

© STA, 2023