Their Legacies Remain...
“The people are no more – but their legacies remain…”
Ida Fink, “Ikvot,” Kol Hasipurim (All the Stories)
Population census of the Jews of Monastir
Between 31 January and 2 February 1942, a list of all the Jews of Monastir was made by the Bulgarian authorities. Each and every Jewish head household was ordered to present himself to the registery office, with a portrait photograph of himself, his wife and any grown children. Three volumes of the population census of the Jews of Monastir survived. They are housed in the Yad Vashem Archives, with one displayed in Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Musuem.
These registry books comprise a unique historical document, in which the names and details of the Jews of Monastir have been forever commemorated. The following details are recorded on its pages, from left to right: order number of registration, date of registration, full name, occupation, date and place of birth, nationality, religion, family status, physical traits, address, registration number, photgraph and signature.
Those photos that survived give a visual glimpse of the Jews of Monastir – young, middle-aged and elderly – the face of an entire commuity now extinct.
Just some of the photos of the people that did not survive are still glued to the appropriate column in the registry; many pictures were lost or removed by family members in Israel.
In 1959, the registers were deciphered by Yaakov Aroesti, Dusko Kostantinov and Milush Kostantinov from Monastir, and the personal details of the people listed were printed on some 800 pages using a simple printing press. Using the lists, they collated all the details and put together 3,013 short biographies of Jews from Bitola (in alphabetical order). The conclusion of each biography reads the same:
“Sent by the German-Bulgarian fascists, on 11 March 1943, to the camp of mass murder of innocents,” 3,013 times over.
Ori Oren, Ir Veshma Monastir [A City Called Monastir], 1972