I first encountered this place when I took my car to be repaired at a garage just across the bridge in Novi Beograd. I was fascinated by the shadowy tower looming above a decaying circular building, grimy, gritty, forgotten.
Casual enquiries, along the lines of “any idea what that is…?” produced not much.
A quick look in a guide book, or a website, not sure which, revealed that the site was a former commercial exhibition site. But, still I was sure there was more to it.
Those of you who know the history of the place are probably way ahead of me.
Finally, I heard, from a Serbian colleague, the story of Sajmište, Belgrade’s own sad chapter in the horror story that was the Holocaust. It was my first up close encounter with one of the sites at which humanity lost its compass.
The really strange thing is that a casual passer by would have no clue as to the history of the site. People live in the buildings. Washing hangs on lines. Children play. Football games fill the air with noise and light. People walk, drink, eat, laugh and love in the cafes and restaurants that line the river just a few meters away. Life, of course, goes on.
There is no plaque. No explanation. No museum. There are plans I believe but they are not not yet fulfilled.
Since walking, quietly, around the site, I have discovered websites which tell the tale far better than I ever could. If you are interested please take a look at them.
So, if you see the sculpture, by the river, which bears no name, pause a while and reflect.
Think about the horror we have been capable of and must constantly strive to prevent from ever happening again.
These few photos are dedicated to those that suffered and died here and the millions of others who suffered a similar fate.
To the Serbian people, rebuilding their country, looking to the future with hope and confidence.