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Bitola - The Monastir Photograph Collection

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The Monastir Photograph Collection

Photographs of nearly every Jewish adult in Monastir, more than half the community, were collected by the Bulgarian authorities in the first half of 1942. Though many of the Jewish inhabitants of eastern Europe were required to submit photographs for purposes of police registration, work permits, and ration cards both inside and outside ghettos established by Germany or its Axis allies, few of these photograph collections survived the war intact. The Monastir registration photographs constitute one of these rare collections

The origins of the Monastir photograph collection lay in the directive given by the Bulgarian occupation authorities in early 1942 to the Jews of Monastir, then recently concentrated in a ghetto, to submit photographs of all family members above the age of 13. While some of the submitted photos were newly taken for this purpose, others were older family snapshots dating from the 1890s to the early 1940s. Most of the photographs are head shots of individual adults, but some are group portraits of two, three, or more family members.

Apparently, these photographs were reproduced by the Bulgarian authorities; one complete set now exists at the Macedonian State Archives, captioned in the 1950s, while another set was cut and pasted into police register books produced by the Bulgarian authorities in 1942. These police registers were recovered after the war and turned over to the Union of Jewish Communities of Yugoslavia. Years later they were donated to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, but not before a large percentage of the photos were removed by survivors.

The photographs are currently available at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Related Articles:

Tower of Sephardic faces: The Jewish community of Monastir, Macedonia »
The Holocaust in Macedonia: Deportation of Monastir Jewry »
Sephardi Jews during the Holocaust »

Related Links:

Browse the collection of portraits of Bitola Jews »
Remnants and Recollections: Highlighting the experience of Sephardi Jews »