The Jews of Monastir (Bitola)
The city of Monastir, today called Bitola in Macedonia, has long hosted a Sephardic Jewish community. Its population was exterminated by the Nazis in 1942 and today, the municipality of Bitola, in collaboration with la university Bar Ilan in Ramat Gan is working on a memorial project.
During our research on the Alliance’s schools of Monastir, it appeared to us that the memory of the Jews of the Alliance, forgotten by history, would also deserve to be presented to the larger public and be given a place in history. It is through this virtual exhibition, that we pay tribute to this disappeared community of the Balkans by highlighting its relations with the AIU. Although today the descendants of this community are scattered around the world, the AIU Library Team has followed their traces in order to present an unreleased story.
To accomplish this, the “Yugoslavia” archives of the AIU, until recently not digitalized, constituted the primary source, which further directed us towards others, mainly those of “Turkey”, “Greece”, “Lebanon” and “France” and made it possible to travel in time. Four complete bundles of the “Yugoslavia” archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle cover twenty-seven years of history of the school’s activity in Monastir under the Ottoman and Serbian regimes. These century-old manuscripts of the employees and members of the AIU bear witness to the social and political changes that all communities in the city went through in this region later known as the laboratory of Balkan nationalisms. Certainly, these Documents highlight more particularly the social changes and political integrations experienced by the Jewish community of Monastir both with the arrival of the Alliance in 1895 and with the establishment of the Serbian regime in 1912.