Monastir During the Holocaust

On 6 April 1941, Nazi Germany attacked Yugoslavia. By the next day, German tanks had entered Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, and on 9 April Monastir (Bitola) was occupied by SS units of the 72nd Division of the Wehrmacht – known as the LSSAH (Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (The Adolf Hitler Personal Bodyguard Regiment)) – and the 12th Armored Division. German forces quickly pressed on south to Greece.

For three days straight, the Germans looted Jewish-owned shops across Macedonia, including Monastir. This was accompanied by violent acts of oppression and humiliation. A number of people were killed.

During April 1941, the Bulgarian army entered the city, and on 22 April the annexation of the region known as “southern Serbia” (Macedonia and certain parts of Serbia) to Bulgaria – an ally of Nazi Germany – was declared. The Macedonian population received Bulgarian citizenship. The Serbs were fired from their workplaces, and deported to areas of occupied Serbia by the Germans. Those left without citizenship or any other basic rights were the Jews. All their property was confiscated, and they were dismissed from their jobs and forbidden to work.

The hope that under Bulgarian rule the situation of the Jews would improve was soon dashed. Less than two years later, in which many anti-Jewish measures were enacted, the Jews of Monastir, together with the Jews of Macedonia, were sent by the Bulgarians across the border, where they were delivered into the hands of the Germans and sent to Treblinka.