Thousands stood in silent respect in the southern Macedonian city of Bitola Sunday to remember the victims of the Nazi Holocaust of Jews during World War II.
Sunday was the 75th anniversary of the deportation of more than 7,100 Macedonian Jews to Nazi death camps in Poland.
“We will never forget the Holocaust. We will not allow for anti-Semitism, hate speech, intolerance, xenophobia or any other phenomena that represent the violation of human rights,” Talat Xhaferi, speaker of the Macedonian parliament, said.
Xhaferi said Macedonia will never allow history to be altered or denied. He pointed to Jewish property stolen by the Nazis and their cohorts were, by law, returned to their rightful owners.
He said the Holocaust memorial in downtown Skopje has a church on one side and a mosque on the other, a sign that all ethnic communities in Macedonia can live free and openly.
“We promote dialogue, tolerance and understanding for the settlement of global, regional and bilateral issues,” Xhaferi said.
German and Israeli visitors also joined Macedonians in a March for Life Sunday.
Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia when the Nazis and their allies occupied the region in 1941.
Backed by Soviet troops, they were driven out by Yugoslav partisans and Bulgarian forces who had been allied with the Germans before switching sides.
All but a handful of Macedonian Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis.