The five years
of the WW2 were the years of total evil. The destiny of each Jew – man, woman
or a child, was to be murdered according to the German Nazi racist philosophy.
All over occupied Europe, innocent Jews were tortured in thousands ways of
brutality. They were gassed to death in gas chambers in concentration camps,
the entire families were shot in mass graves, starved to death, drown in
rivers, exhausted to death by forced labor, murdered by medical experiments
with no anesthesia and other diabolic methods of death.
More than 6
million Jews, 80% of the Jewish population under the German occupation, were
murdered in those days. Their only crime was that they were born Jewish.
I said – days
of total darkness, but still in this darkness, there were some sparkling
lights: European men and women who decided not to surrender, as almost everyone
did, to the Nazi evil, and to reach a hand to sometimes an unknown human being
who asked for help in order to survive. It could’ve been a sudden knock at the
door at midnight by a Jewish girl, who jumped from the train taking her family
to the death camp. It could’ve been a mother asking the neighbor to hide her
children before her whole family was to be taken and shot in the nearby forest.
for those who helped Jews to escape from their destiny was in many cases death,
not only for the one who was ready to help but for his family. The bravery of
those, who risked their lives and lives of their families to help people that
were transported to death like cattle, was the victory of humanity over fear
A few thousands
Jews were saved by courageous Europeans in cities, towns and villages. The
number of these heroes was small but their moral strength is a torch that
teaches us until today what a single human being can do against a death
industry and annihilation machine.
existed also in today’s Serbia. More than 140 Serbian men and women were
awarded a special medal for their unique deed by Israeli YAD VASHEM – Holocaust Martyrs' and
Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Out of 35000 Jews who lived in today's Serbia, approximately
30000 were murdered. Hundreds were saved thanks to their Serbian saviors. The
real number of these heroes might never be known, as in many cases they were
murdered or passed away in the aftermath of the war. Today, at the Ceremony in
Belgrade, we will be posthumoulsly granting YAD VASHEM Medals to two Serbian
families: Vojislav Knežević and Nurija & Devleta Pozderac.
We, the survivors and the State of Israel, shall
always remember them. They were good Christians and Muslims, good Serbians, but
first and foremost, exceptional people. That is why we call them the Righteous
among the Nations, saints among the gentiles, who taught us the meaning of
compassion and love in the most horrible days in the history of the civilized