Jews can be traced to the area of Serbia as far back as Roman times. Under Turkish rule beginning in the late 14th century, the Jews of Belgrade played an important part in the trade between Turkish provinces. In 1856, there were about 2,000 Jews in Serbia, with about one-half in Belgrade. At the start of World War I, there were about 5,000 Jews in Serbia.
After the war, the Kingdom of Yugoslovia was established with a total Jewish population of about 70,000. At the start of World War II, this population was about, 71,000, with about 12,000 in Serbia. Belgrade was occupied by the Germans in April, 1941, and anti-Semitic activities began immediately. By the end of September, 1941, all Jewish men had been put in a concentration camp, situated in Topovske Supe, a Belgrade suburb. This entire population was murdered by the Nazis over a few month period. By August, 1942, a German report stated that the "problem of Jews and gypsies had been solved; Serbia is the only country where this problem no longer exists."
After the establishment of the State of Israel, many surviving Jews emigrated to Israel. As of 1952, there were about 1,500 Jews in Belgrade. In 1991, after the start of the breakup of the Yugoslav republic, the population was about the same 1,500.
Encyclopedia Judaica, CD-Rom Edition, Keter Publishing
Copyright © 1998-99 Edward Victor