Serbian Holocaust

Aleksandar Mošić

Aleksandar Mošić, born in 1919, was a descendant of an old Jewish family living in Belgrade, whose Sephardic kin had settled in the area in the 16th century.  Aleksandar and his father Max survived the Holocaust by separately seeking refuge and Italian protection in Split, Croatia. He is telling us about the fate of his family during the Holocaust, the escape routes to the secure Italian zone, life in confinement, as well as how he joined the Partisan militia in Damlacija, Croatia during the last year of WWII.
The most heartbreaking part of Aleksandar Mošić’s testimony is the way he remembers his mother Elza. She was hiding at a friend’s house in the fall of 1941 and the spring of 1942. She was captured by the members of Valsov’s Army and was transported back from Loznica to the Belgrade concentration camp Banjica. In the early morning on May 9, 1942, when a Gestapo officer called out Elza’s name she knew she was headed for execution. ‘I’m calm, not afraid, my son will live,’ said Elza to her fellow inmate as her final goodbye.
In May 2011, one year after our interview, Aleksandar Mošić published a book dedicated to the memory of his mother Elza Mošić, entitled ‘My son will live.’

Interviewer: Matteo Bojanovich | Camera: Nemanja Krdžić | Editing: Nada Ljubić

Voices of Survivors


English rendition of the interview, paraphrased and abridged:


-You said that your father survived but not how did he survive. My father? My father bought fake documents, and with these fake documents he took the train from Belgrade to the south... went to port of Durazzo, in Serbian it’s Drač; I use now Italian name that is more familiar to you, so he went to Durazzo (Durres). In Durazzo he boarded the ship and by this ship he came to Curzola (Korcula)... So, as he got off the boat, the other passengers went their ways, but he remained at the landing, not knowing what to do. A friend of mine, my very dear friend... asked him, "Who are you, what can I do for you." ...he was also Jewish, not only Jewish but also confined as me... My father asked: "Do you know Fredi?" Fredi was my nick-name, given by my mother, because she said Alexandar was an emperor, but what I have in my hands it’s a little baby. So I got my nick-name Fredi... Anyway...[my friend Jack] Pinto...said, "Of course I know, I live with him, he is my roommate." ...Jack Pinto... found me, I met my father, within three of four hours we had a room rented and... applied to the Carabinieri office. So in the late afternoon he was...[registered] by the authorities of the island of Korcula.  He stayed together with me to the capitulation of Italy... I went to the Partisans, and father to Italy. Then he stayed in Italy until... May of 1945. In the summer of 1945 he returned from Italy... to Spalato, where I was already married


- And your mother ?

- O my God... you can take it from the book. My mother met very,very tragic, very very tragic fate. It is great pain to me to narrate this story. You can find it in my book under title My Mother. I wrote it down, but it is awful... it is awful, awkwardly awful. There is a rape before being shot.

-The Ustashas?

- No! I’ll tell you that impersonal side of this story. Here in the Balkans, there was... SS Waffen division.

-Waffen SS division, volksdeutche, Croats, Albanians...
And also war prisoners converted to

- Russians-war prisoners, indeed that unit that performed crime on my mother, they were not Russians...I don’t know either Mongols or Caucasians... they found my mother hidden in Loznica, raped her night after night...and her landlady asked German police to save her from the atrocities of the SS people. The police came and understood very soon that she is not Serbian but Austrian and took her to the camp of Šabac where she spent a week and again from Šabac was transferred to the camp of Belgrade, because she was a Belgradian. And within one week after her arrival in the camp of Belgrade she was shot in Jajinci...
The German policy was that all these foreign form SS divisions. I wrote it in my book under the title Bashibozuk.
-O yes, bashibozuk.

- I see you know what bashibozuk is. It is in Turkish

-Albanians iregulars

- Not only Albanians...Any Moslem population could form bashibozuk and bashibozuk units existed already in the medieval age, and they always accompanied the regular Turkish army. And the Turks used them in order to make the occupied population...

- To crush them?

- To crush the occupied population.

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