Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project: "Forget You Not"™


Jasha Levi, Yugoslavian Holocaust survivor

Jasha Levi, Yugoslavian Holocaust Survivor


In His Own Words ...
April 2, 2010

I was born 89 years ago in Sarajevo, a peaceful, co-existing multicultural town in Bosnia. I bore witness as the religious and national hatreds began rising with the rise of Hitler in Europe. This is where I was first called a Kike by a Muslim boy, my erstwhile closest buddy. Sarajevo became a stage for not just one, but multiple genocides.

My town got torn and eventually consumed when Hitler invaded Yugoslavia: ethnic strife grew and ultimately culminated in a genocidal bloodbath. The Yugoslav Jewish Community, while not the only target, became its major victim, virtually annihilated during WWII. The great majority of us were descendants of Sephardic Jews who escaped the Spanish Inquisition - natives of  the Balkans for the last 400 years, keeping their religious traditions and the old Castilian language, Ladino.

The homegrown Quisling concentration camps in various parts of Yugoslavia were brutal, bloody and so inhumane that their bestiality is said to have astonished the German themselves.

The first gassing of Jews in Europe took place in custom made Cyclone transport trucks between Belgrade and the Zemun Airport. My grandmother, aunt, and the girlfriend of my college roommate were among those chosen to make Belgrade the first Judenrein city.

Yet, most of those of us who lived to see the end of the war weren't survivors of death camps and gas chambers, but went through the horrors of the war on the periphery of the Holocaust.

Many had escaped to Italy, and spent the war years as civilian internees of war or some other rubric of the Geneva Convention.

I got the chance to escape and come back to my country in 1944 to join the war and chase the Jaeger Division out of Dalmatia.

"The Last Exile" by Jasha Levi

I have described all that and more in a memoir I recently published:
The Last Exile --The tapestry of a life. (<TheLastExileBook.com>)