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International Scientific Conference

Antisemitism, War and Righteous among the Nations

Orebić, Pelješac Peninsula, Croatia,

Općina Orebić, Obala pomoraca 24 / Municipality of Pelješac

The conference Antisemitism, War and the Righteous Among the Nations is jointly organised by the University in Dubrovnik and the Municipality of Orebić. The conference is conveniently placed in Orebić, Pelješac Peninsula, as this location can provide all the infrastructure necessary for hosting a gathering of this kind, with emphasis on IT support and tourist logistics of this attractive peninsular community.

This international scientific conference aims to focus on the residents of Pelješac who in World War II helped Jews and their families, for which they received the Righteous Among the Nations honour. Three persons have been awarded this honorary title. Given the population size of Pelješac and the County, this number is significant, and the conference will seek to submit solid evidence on the years of war, and round off the story by inviting the descendants or the living members of the rescued families. 

The bulk of the conference discussions will be based on the testimonies of the descendants or contemporaries of both the saved families and the  Righteous Among the Nations. Remembrance and memories, torn fragments of the family heritage, but also documented evidence of the life and work, suffering and courage, the context in which special attention will be given to strong business and friendship bonds between ordinary, little people who did not hesitate to do good. For this reason, the conference will be held under the motto ''When a man is a man to man.“

A number of discussions will also be devoted to the Righteous of Dubrovnik, contributed by Vesna Miović and Radmila Šutalo from Dubrovnik, Elija Tauber from Sarajevo, Janez Premk from Slovenia, Aron Albahari from Belgrade, along with Ivica Čerešnješ from Jerusalem.

Invited speaker to the conference Antisemitism, War and the Righteous Among the Nations is Associate Professor Zdravko Bazdan, who will address the topic of antisemitism in general. Further, special emphasis will be placed on the suffering and deportation of Jews in the Dubrovnik region from the mid-1941 on, a topic discussed by Radmila Šutalo, PhD student of ''The History of Population'' doctoral programme, University of Dubrovnik. Discussion will also focus on individual cases of Jewish suffering, as well as their rescue and support in the Dubrovnik community.

Pelješac Peninsula takes pride in having three persons recognised as Righteous. Yet Rudimir Roter is the only among them whose life and work has attracted scholarly attention, presented  in the multi-author volume entitled Djelo novinara Rudimira Rotera [The Work of the Journalist Rudimir Roter]. The main objective of this conference is to trace the Jewish family that Roter saved, and to locate the descendants of this family, whose testimonies, remembrance and memories of their ancestors will provide the basis for the conference lecture of Aron Albahari. Two granddaughters of the protected Jew Abo Coen have already been located in Belgrade. They are willing to join the conference, during which a meeting with Roter's grandchildren will take place – university professors in Geneva and Rome, and members of the Conference Scientific Committee. The story of the Roter family, originally from Slovenia, will be further delineated by Janez Premk in terms of the reconstruction of the Roter family tree, within the context of the late nineteenth-century migrations spurred by difficult economic and political reasons.

The other two Righteous from Pelješac, brothers Andrija and Nikola Jurić, are virtually unknown even among their locals. They were winegrowers and labourers. The brothers were honoured as Righteous in 1989, for having helped and protected the Jewish family members of Armin Borović, famous wholesaler from Vinkovici. According to the testimony of Jurić's descendants, the medals of the Righteous have not yet been officially awarded, and therefore, one of the objectives of this conference is to locate these medals and to present them to Jurić's descendants on this solemn occasion. With this in mind, intensive communication with the Embassy of Israel in Zagreb and His Excellency Ilan Moro is in progress. The ambassador is willing to participate in the conference as guest, contribute a lecture and award the medals, if located. One lecture will discuss the commercial ability and economic activities of the Jewish Communities from continental Croatia in the Adriatic region and Dalmatian islands.

Another living protected person has been located from the Adoni family, hidden in Belgrade during the war by Veljko Rašić, who married into a family from Pelješac. She is Hanna Adoni, living in Israel, who is in possession of a documentary on the suffering of her family, whose male members, without exception, were deported and killed in the camp known as Topovske šupe  in 1942. Hanna Adoni will participate in the conference either through video link, or the documentary itself will be shown at the conference.

The Sarajevo days in the life of Frano Krtić, the Righteous from Dubrovnik, will be examined and presented by Eli Tauber on the basis of the accessible journal and library sources in  Sarajevo, with special emphasis on the role and contribution of the Righteous from the Ercegović family of Dubrovnik.

Miho Ercegović, publisher, bookseller and owner of the Foto Jadran agency, protected and helped, among others, Elvira Kohn, his employee and later famous war reporter. In all of his operative activities, travels, provision of documents and hiding of the persecuted Jews,  Miho mainly relied on his son Velimir, though other members of the Ercegović family participated just as much by selflessly giving and sharing all they had.

 The formal part of the conference will be complemented by a sightseeing tour of the area, including the Pelješac wine routes.

President of the Organizing Committee

Jasenka Maslek, PhD