In the run up to World War II, 4900 Jews lived in Subotica, making it one of the largest
Yugoslav Jewish municipalities.
Hungary, as an ally of Nazi Germany, annexed the Bačka, Baranja, Međimurje and
Prekomurje districts shortly after the April 1941 war in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, establishing
not only its military administration but also its anti-Semitic laws. Although the wealthy and
distinguished representatives of the Jewish community in Subotica were earmarked as hostages
in guarantee of peace, they were soon released. The initial anti-Semitic measures involved the
expropriation of Jewish property and forced conscription of the adult male population. The
conscription began in 1942 and envisaged the arrival of the groups of workers to the occupied
areas of the Soviet Union, Hungary, or to the Bor mine, while some of them filled the Hungarian
Army’s combat units on the Eastern Front. A number of Jews from Subotica, accused of resisting
the ruling regime, were detained or killed at the infamous prison called “Žuta kuća” (The Yellow
House) right in the town center. The period of the Hungarian administration in the said territory
lasted until March 1944, after which Germany took over the area.
Unlike the Hungarian regime, under which there was no systematic destruction of the
Jewish population, the German administration immediately resorted to measures of retaliation
against the Jews. In April 1944, orders were issued which provided that Jews were to wear the
Star of David, that all their property was to be confiscated and, finally, imposed restriction of
free movement for them. At the beginning of May 1944, the Jewish population in Subotica,
which comprised 3,000 to 3,500 people, was relocated to the multi-storey buildings of the first
ghetto in Serbia. They were only allowed the essential belongings. The Subotica ghetto was
located near the train station. In a confined area, isolated from the town and fenced off by barbed
wire, there were a large number of people under constant police surveillance, with limited escape
options. However, the ghetto was only a temporary stop for the Jews from Subotica, since they
were transported to the camp in Bácsalmás by freight wagons already on 16 June 1944. After ten
days in the Hungarian camp, with the exception of a small group that was taken to forced labor
in Austria, a large number of Jews from the ghetto in Subotica ended their journey in Auschwitz.
Today, there is a monument dedicated to the suffering of Jews located in Subotica, on the site of
the former ghetto and the place from which the deportations took place.
In addition to the ghetto, there was a prison camp in Subotica, which in 1944 housed
another 4,000 Jews from Novi Sad and central Bačka. The living conditions
in the makeshift camp located on the site of a former mill were completely inhumane. Food was very scarce,
and since there were no beds, the inmates slept on concrete. The camp in Subotica was also
liquidated by the inmates’ further transport to the Hungarian camp in Baja, and after a while,
their final departure to Auschwitz.
After the end of World War II, about 1,000 Jews returned to Subotica, and, due to
considerable migrations, their numbers continued to decline over time.
Literature: Jaša Romano, Jevreji Jugoslavije 1941-1945 (The Jews of Yugoslavia), Belgrade
1980, Pavle Šosberger, Jevreji u Vojvodini: kratak pregled istorije vojvođanskih Jevreja (Jews in
Vojvodina. A brief Overview of the History of the Jews from Vojvodina), Novi Sad 1998,
Vladimir Todorović, Poslednja stanica Aušvic (Last Stop Auschwitz), Novi Sad 2015, Dušan
Jelić, „Kratak pregled istorije subotičkih Jevreja i njihovog doprinosa razvoju grada” („A Brief
Overview of the History of the Subotica Jews and their Contribution to the Town’s
Development), Rukovet: časopis za književnost, umjetnost i društvena pitanja (The Collection
The Literary, Art and Social Issues Magazine), No. 4/5 (1994), p. 2-79.