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Anger over concentration camp concert


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Survivors fume over use of Belgrade facility where 48,000 perished

Ire at concentration camp concert

The Associated Press

updated 11:10 a.m. ET, Thurs., Nov. 1, 2007

BELGRADE, Serbia - Stray dogs wander forlornly around the rundown gray brick barracks that used to house of one of the most notorious World War II **** death camps in the Balkans.

Soon, the site where some 48,000 Jews, Serbs and Gypsies perished in the 1940s will be throbbing to the rhythms of rock music.

For Serbia's small Jewish community, the weekend concert at the Sajmiste camp near the center of Belgrade is the latest indignity to befall a site they say needs to be saved from decades of neglect and deterioration.

"It's like holding a wedding at a graveyard," said Aleksandar Mosic, a Jewish chairman of the camp's memorial center, ahead of the concert by British band Kosheen.

Nearly all of Belgrade's 8,000 Jews were killed at Sajmiste soon after it was set up in 1941 at the site of the Belgrade Fair exhibition ground, Mosic said. Thousands of leftists and Serb nationalists also were killed at the camp.

What made Sajmiste unique was its location in clear view of Belgrade's residents, on the western bank of the Sava River.

Prime real estate

The capital's downtown area is located on the eastern side of the Sava, about 200 yards from the prewar fair grounds. Since World War II, new Belgrade has spread across the river and developers consider the Sajmiste site prime real estate.

"It was the only death camp in Europe which was so visible," said Mosic, 88, who wants to build a proper memorial to the victims of what he describes as "the forgotten concentration camp."

"The intention was to intimidate the Serb population by letting them see what was going on inside the camp," he said. "For our small nation, the Sajmiste camp was as horrendous as Dachau or Sachsenhausen in Germany."

Most of the inmates were murdered while being transported in "gassing trucks"

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