Jevreji u logoru na Rabu i njihovo uključivanje u Narodnooslobodilački rat
Jews in the Rab camp and their participation in the liberation war
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Logor za Jevreje na Rabu, kao i sve ono što je usledilo posle njegove likvidacije predstavlja posebno poglavlje u istoriji jevrejske zajednice Jugoslavije. To po glavlje je ispisano krvlju većeg broja jevrejskih boraca, koji su po oslobođenju iz logora poginuli u sastavu narodnooslobodilačke vojske (NOV) u borbama protiv nacističkih, ustaških, četničkih i drugih zločinaca. Zahvallujući Komunističkoj partiii Jugoslavije, koja je organizovala i sprovela borbu protiv okupatora i njegovih pomagača, bilo je omogućeno i znatnom broju jugoslovenskih Jevreja, među kojima i Jevrejima interniranim u logoru na Rabu da se uključe u sastav NOV i doprinesu značajan obol u oslobodilačkom ratu naroda Jugoslavije. Moramo posebno naglasiti da Jevreji u tom ratu nisu učestvovali kao zasebna narodnost ili etnička grupacija, već kao ravnopravni članovi zajednice jugoslovenskih naroda. Njihov doprinos u toj borbi bio je značajan i po broju učesnika i po broju poginulih. Prema nepotpunim podacima, u narodno...oslobodllačkom ratu (NOR) je učestvovalo preko 4000 Jevreja, od kojih je poginulo preko 1200. U ovom radu prikazaćemo učešće u NOR Jevreja, koji su biil internirani u logoru na Rabu. Smatraii smo za potrebno pisati o nijhovom uključivanju u NOR iz dva razloga: prvo, što je to bio jedlni slučaj u Jugoslaviji da su Jevreji iz raznih krajeva naše zemlje, prisilno koncentrisani u jednom logoru, stvoriii uz pomoć Komunističke partije sopstvenu vojnu organizaciju za borbu protiv okupatora i njegovih pomagača; i drugo, što su Jevreji iz tog logora masovno stupili u NOR, čim su za to bili stvoreni objektivni uslovi.
ln the camp on the island of Rab there were about 3000 Yugoslav Jews confined. Helped by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia they organized themselves in military units and all of them who practically could join the Liberation Army at first opportunity. After the capitulation of Yugoslavia many thousands of Jews from the area of the newly created so-called Independent State of Croatia and from Serbia fled to Dalmatia and Croatia litoral, i. e. to the territory occupied by the Italian Army hoping that no genocide will be committed there. They had to face many hardships but the fact remains that they escaped the fate of those sent to death camps. Three thousand of these Jews found refuge in the so-called Zone 1, the territory incorporated and considered part of Italy, Particularly in Split, but later they were confined in camps on the island of Korčula and some of them in camps in Italy. Another group of about 3.500 reached Dubrovnik and Croatia litoral where the Italians had the milita...ry administration, while the Ustashi Croats the political power. The Croats very soon started to exercise pressure on the Italian Army demanding full power to send the Jews to death camps. This demand was resisted until November 1942 when a decision was taken to confine this group of Jews in the newly created camps at Dubrovnik and Kraljevica and on the islands of Brač and Hvar. These camps were administered by the Italian Army. The conditions in the Kraljevica camp were very bad indeed, just as in concentration camps, while in the other three camps it was somehow better. In each of these camps, there were members of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and of the Communist Youth Organization, although in limited number, who initiated the organization of illegal liberation boards, which again were responsible for all actions in the camps. The most active members of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia were: in the Dubrovnik camp - Ing. Evald Erlih and Viktor Hajon; in the Kraljevica camp - Dr Aleksander Goldštajn, Bruno Prister, Dr Ivan Berkeš and others; in the Hvar camp - Ela Samakovja and Jozef Albahari - Čučo; in the Brač camp - Franjo Špicer (Ervin Šinko). At the beginning of 1943, the Italian Headquarters decided to send all the Jews from these four camps to the camp on the island of Rab which was in Zone I. One should raise the question why this decision was taken? There is no documentary evidence for the answer and one has to relay therefore on circumstantial evidence. The military situation in the first part of 1943 augured for the defeat of the axis powers. The military and economic situation in Italy pressed the Italians to get rid of the axis link, which step would make it necessary also for the Italian units to abandon the territory of Zone II and to leave the Jews there to their own fate. Sending them to Zone I, which the Italians expected to be able to keep, they hoped to gain favourable reaction of the world public opinion and also allied help if attacked by the Germans. The Jewish camp on the island of Rab was on the same side of the island as the Slovene camp which was formed In July 1942 and where patriotic Slovenes were confined. The two camps, both fenced and well guarded, were on a different side of the road leading from the township Rab to Lopari, which made any contact or communication nearly impossible. The first inmates to be confined in the Jewish camp arrived at the end of May 1943, but already at the end of June the camp was full, housing 3.500 people with 500 children up to 15 years of age among them. From whichever angle one looks at, the site, the buildings, the administration, it was for all practical purposes a concentration camp. There were a few buildings in which the inmates from Dubrovnik were housed, while those from the camps at Kraljevica, Hvar and Brač had to live in prefabricated barracks. The general conditions in the camp were far worse than in any previous camp. It was necessary urgently to do something to improve the situation. A committee was elected, which in fact was the illegal people's liberation board. The first step of the committee was to form a number of commissions: for food, housing, health, cultural and recreation activity, etc. Among the inmates of the Rab camp, there were also members of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and of the Communist Youth Organization who formed their party organization headed by a committee. This committee found ways to be in touch with the committee in the Slovene camp and the two committees formed an Executive Committee for both camps which were responsible to make preparations for the liberation of the camps. The Jewish camp was represented in the Executive Committee by Viktor Hajon. Military units were formed and prepared for action on command. Within that framework, a youth unit of 150 members was formed in the Jewish camp. This unit will be later the nucleus of the Jewish Rab Battalion. Also, illegal courses were organized to train nurses for the Liberation Army. The committee was particularly active in making the inmates interested to join the Liberation Movement and the Liberation Army, when practical. Thanks to these political and military preparations in both camps the liberation operations started before Italy's capitulation was officially announced. On September 8, 1943, at a meeting of the inmates, a decision was taken to disarm the guard and to liberate the camp. After the meeting the inmates, although barehanded, disarmed the guard and came thereby in possession of their first firearms. During the next day, military units were formed in both camps, four Slovene battalions and one Jewish battalion. The five battalions formed one unit, the Rab Brigade within which the Jewish unit was given the name: "The Fifth Jewish Battalion of the Rab Brigade". David-Dača Kabiljo was made the commanding officer of the battalion, while the political commissar becomes ing. Evald Erlih. The Jewish battalion had 244 fighting men, including the medical unit of 40 members. Representatives of the two camps approached the Italian commanding officer on the island, colonel Cuiullio demanding from him to give order to the Italians to abandon the military establishments and to hand over the arms and equipment. Cuiullio's objections notwithstanding the Italian units were disarmed, while he himself committed suicide in prison after his arrest. A delegation was sent to the Headquarters for Croatia to seek instructions for further activity of the newly formed brigade. The four Slovene battalions were ordered to advance towards Slovenia while the Jewish brigade had to head for Otočac where the HQ has established itself. Thirtyfive Jewish nurses were sent with the Slovene battalion, while 18 medical doctors and 15 pharmacologists were attached to various other units. The Jewish battalion as an independent unit started off for Otočac on September 17, 1943. While on its way the battalion's commanding staff took a decision to propose to the competent military command not to leave the battalion as a separate unit but to send its fighters to various existing units with fighting experiences. The following reasons were advanced: the members of the battalion have no experience in partisan warfare and may suffer exceptionally high losses without achieving a given goal; the enemy would employ overwhelming forces to annihilate completely a Jewish unit. The HQ concurred with the arguments and decided as was proposed. The battalion was sent to the village of Lipa where the Staff Headquarters of the 7th Banija Division was housed. Most of the fighters joined the units of this division. The battalion's independent existence lasted until October 3, when 197 fighters joined the units of the 7th Division. Before the war ended 36 of these fighters died in combat. A number of former members of the Jewish battalion were given various political and military responsibilities in other units they joined. Nearly all the other inmates of the Rab camp, about 3000 of them, were brought to the liberated area of Lika, Kordun and Banija. Their transportation started in the second part of September and was completed at the beginning of October 1943. About 200 persons, mostly old and ill people, remained on the island of Rab. They were recaptured by the Germans and sent to the death camp at Auschwitz. Out of those who were evacuated in good time 379 joined the Liberation Army. 107 of these the 7th Banija Division, while the rest was enlisted in the 6th Lika Division and the 8th Kordun Division. Accordingly, the total number of former Rab camp inmates who joined the Liberation Army is 691. Of these 86 died in the war (67 in combat, 19 as members of the supporting units) while 3 died due to illness. On the liberated area of Lika, Kordun and Bania about 2400 Jewish emigrants found refuge. Out of these 648 joined the Liberation Movement and were given various noncombat duties. Before the war ended 33 of them died due to bombardments and capture, while 12 died due to illness. Accordingly out of the former inmates 1339 took part in the Liberation War (691 in the Army and 648 in the Movement). The number of those who lost their lives in combat is 119, while 15 died due to illness, and 2 died due to accidents. About 1800 Jewish refugees evacuated from Rab to Lika, Kordun and Banija did not take part in the Liberation War. These were old people, children up to 15 years of age and mothers with small children. The people’s committees made whatever they could to help these people but they had to face hardships for all the same as the whole area was devastated by the war and practically everything destroyed. The enemy new about these refugees and bombed their quarters or captured them during surprise attacks, taking so 126 lives. This group lost 15 more people due to illness. The final figures show that from about 3500 Rab inmates 492 died during the war: 11 died in the Rab camp, the German have sent 204 to death camps, 86 died in combat, 3 died and 2 were killed by accident while serving in the Liberation Army, 33 were killed and 12 died while working for the Liberation Movement, and in addition 126 refugees were killed and 15 died on the liberated territory. About 3085 (86.2%) survived the war thanks to the Liberation Struggle organized and lead by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. The Rab inmates can be proud of their contribution to that struggle and point to the number of participants and of those who gave their life for the cause of freedom.
Keywords:Jevreji - Logor Rab / Jevreji - Narodnooslobodilačka borba / Jews - Rab camp / Jews - liberation war / Jevreji - Drugi svetski rat / Jews - Second World War / koncentracioni logor na Rabu / Jewish camp on the island Rab / Jevrejski bataljon / Jewish battalion
Source:Zbornik 2 : Studije i građa o učešću Jevreja u Narodnooslobodilačkom ratu, Jevrejski istorijski muzej - Beograd = Jewish studies 2 : Studies and facts and figures on participation of Jews in the people's liberation war, Jewish historical museum - Belgrade, 1973, 2, 1-72
- Beograd : Savez jevrejskih opština Jugoslavije [Federation of Jewish Communitues in Jugoslavia]
ISSN: 0353-0612[ Google Scholar ]