published by Osservatorio balcani e Caucaso
article written by Federico Sicurella
“From August to December of 1942, this place was a Nazi concentration camp for Jews and Roma people from Belgrade and the Banat region. All were declared prisoners, and each day hundreds were transported elsewhere to be shot”. The bronze plaque bearing this inscription is located on the wall of a dilapidated building – removed from the view by bushes and billboards – located in the district of Vozdovac, just outside the centre of Belgrade. Known as “Topovske Šupe” (i.e. “the mouths of cannon”, as it anciently used to host barracks), the building housed one of the first concentration camps in Eastern Europe during the Nazi occupation.
Within a few months, Topovske Šupe will most likely be razed. The land on which it stands is owned by Serbia’s largest private group, Delta Holding, which intends to demolish the ruins of the former concentration camp to build a large shopping centre. As stated in the brochure of the project , the “Delta Planeta” is designed to be the largest shopping mall in the region (with an area of 200,000 square metres) and attract customers not only from Belgrade, but from the whole of Serbia and even other Balkan countries. The total investment is 200 million Euro. Works are due to start next year and are expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
The representatives of Delta Holding have stated that the memory of the place will not be erased and indeed will find a ‘dignified place’ in the context of the new construction. But in Belgrade, many find this solution outrageous and disrespectful of the historical and cultural value of the place. And so, on June 2nd, about fifty people gathered in Topovske Šupe to express their dissent and revive the memory of that place. And they did it by holding a “Čas istorije”, a history lesson.