Senta is a multi-ethic and multireligious town in now Serbia (former Yugoslavia). The majority is Hungarian (catholic), and there is a large Serbian Orthodox community. The vivid Jewish community was almost completely destroyed during the Holocaust. The turbulent history and present day situation are also reflected in the town’s cemeteries.
The grandmother of the house we were staying had lived at the same place all here life. Although she never traveled, she lived her life in at least five different countries – she was born in Austrian Hungarian Empire (Batsch-Bodrog County), lived subsequently in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, during WWII Senta was occupied by the Axis troops and was attached to Hungary. In 1944 Senta became part of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina within new socialist Yugoslavia. She lived another war and became citizen of Serbia and Montenegro. She eventually died in the Republic of Serbia. Some of the recent history is also reflected in these car stickers: Y= Yugoslavia, SCG=Serbia & MonteNegro, SRB=Serbia.
Most striking were the ‘stand-by’ graves at the cemetery of the Hungarian Catholics of Senta. Because of the most recent war in the area a lot of (young) people fled the country – also because of their Hungarian background didn’t want to get involved in a Serbian war that they felt was not theirs to fight. The older generation that is still there or returned to Senta often feel that they are responsible for taking care of their own funeral. So they prepare their graves – to have them on stand-by for when they die. They get a plot, place stones with their names and birth dates already engraved and meticulously clean it.
The Serbian Orthodox Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery is the sole reminder of the vivid community there once was in Senta. The cemetery was recently restored and is frequently visited by Jews (mainly from the US) in search of their family history or to visit the graves of certain Rabbis.
From the data bank of the oral history project of the British Library one can listen to audio fragments of Nadiva Stern, who was born in Senta of Jewish Hungarian parents, both involved in glass and porcelain business. Senta was Jewish orthodox town, Nadiva had Jewish education. Describes the different levels of Judaism within town. See more
All pictures are taken in September 2009