The city of Novi Sad lies on the banks of the Danube river. Historically, the Danube has shaped much of the life in the city, and modern habits resemble the old customs in many ways. Nowadays, we can recognize these traditions in distinguished fish food district Ribarsko Island, an old industrial district of China Quarter, and the city’s most popular beach Strand. By all means, there is no better place to showcase an important and dreary monument that reminisces of the dark and avoided part of history and serves as a powerful reminder. Specifically, I am talking about the iconic raid victims memorial called - The Family, symbolizing the crime in 1942, the biggest one that Novi Sad has ever seen.
The Family monument is four-meter tall, established in 1971, by a renowned sculptor Jovan Soldatovic. Also known as the Raid Victims Memorial, it was built in honor of the 3,000-4,000 Serbs, Romani and Jewish civilians who lost their lives in the massacre done by the Hungarian troops in Hungarian, that occupied Novi Sad in 1942 after the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia. The monument is accompanied by the bronze plates that tell the story of the unfortunate event and list the names of all wrongfully killed people.
The monument symbolizes the hardships of the fallen civilians with gaunt and thin figures of a mother, a father, and two children. Thousands of Jews and Serbs were sent to the frozen river Danube, and then the Hungarian soldiers fired the ammunition until the ice broke and everyone drowned. Such a simple monument tells a tale of a malicious act, that we don’t want to remember, but must never forget. With much horror reshaping the most of Europe, the crimes like these became common, and not spectacularly moving nor historically important. However, the city of Novi Sad embraces its Jewish heritage and strongly condemns such hate crimes.
The Jewish community of Novi Sad was one of the most prosperous in Yugoslavia. The grievous events of the Second World War took its toll there, just like everywhere else. In the remembrance of those people, the city of Novi Sad takes pride in its Jewish heritage: a 100-year old synagogue turned into a concert venue and one of the most significant streets carrying the name Jewish St, to name a few examples.
The Family monument is regarded as a cultural heritage site of great importance. The sitting area around it is one of the most popular gathering places in the city, and on the long summer nights, it echoes with the guitar sounds and clinking of the beer bottles. The iconic raid victims memorial “Family” is a truly moving sight in Novi Sad, to chill with friends, learn about city’s infamous history, or just pay the tributes to the wrongfully departed souls.
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