The Jewish community of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, has vowed to use all legal means to prevent the rehabilitation of the country's World War II-era Prime Minister Milan Nedic, who they say participated in the Holocaust, according to the Balkan Insight website.
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Nedic was prime minister from 1941 to 1944, a period during which the country was occupied by Nazi Germany. He was declared a war criminal by the Yugoslav Communist authorities after the war.
About 90 percent of the Jewish population in Serbia was murdered while Nedic was in power and Belgrade was the first city in Europe to be declared free of Jews.
Haris Deutsch, a member of the Jewish Community of Belgrade, said on Monday that the organization would call witnesses to testify about Nedic’s active participation in the Holocaust at the ongoing rehabilitation hearings.
“Rehabilitation would represent a devaluation of indisputable historical facts, and an insult to all the victims and survivors of the Holocaust," Deutsch said. ”Serbia would also suffer moral and political damage.”
“Nedic and his government were directly involved in the seizure of Jewish real estate, as well as in the identification and arrest of Jews in occupied Serbia,” Deutsch said.
The Nedic hearings have been controversial in Serbia, with both supporters and opponents of rehabilitation demonstrating outside the court in Belgrade.
Historians and the Serbian public are split over Nedic's role during the Nazi occupation of the country. Some believe that he became prime minister in order to ensure the wellbeing of Serbians and prevent German reprisals, while others think that a man who collaborated with the Nazis can't be rehabilitated.