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Jamila Kolonomos collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2009.180

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    Consists of a collection of 67 pre-war, wartime, and post-war photographs of Macedonian survivors, resistance fighters, and rescuers. The photographs were used in "Monastir without Jews: Recollections of a Jewish partisan in Macedonia" by Jamila Kolonomos. Contains photographs of Ms. Kolonomos, her family, and members of the partisan group known as the Macedonian Brigade. Also contains one CD of the images.
    inclusive:  1930-2004
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Jamila Kolonomos
    Collection Creator
    Jamila A. Kolonomos
    Jamila (Zamila) Kolonomos was born on June 18, 1922 in Bitola, Yugoslavia (now North Macedonia), to a Jewish couple, Isak and Esterina Fransez Kolonomos. Jamila had an older sister, Bela (b. 1920) and 3 younger siblings, Kalef (b. 1925), Menahem (b.1927) and Rachela (b.1930.) Isak was born in 1893 in Monastir (now Bitola), to Kalef and Djamila Kasorla Kolonomos. Isak’s family was Romaniote, Greek Jews that had lived in Ioannina (Yannina) Greece, since Roman times and moved to Monastir in the late 1800s. During the Ottoman period the town was called Monastir, when Macedonia was annexed by Serbia in 1913, it was renamed Bitola, the Jews however, continued calling it by its old name. Esterina was from Skopje, Macedonia where her father was a hakham at a synagogue. Isak served in the Bulgarian Army during World War I, where he met his future wife. In 1920 the Kolonomos family moved to Bitola where Isak worked at the Banque Franco-Serbe, later becoming director. Jamila’s family observed the Jewish holidays, but was not very religious and spoke Ladino, Greek, French, Serbian and Turkish. She was a member of Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist youth organization that prepared Jewish youth for a life in Palestine. Esterina died of heart disease in March 1941.

    On April 6, 1941, Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia, supported by Hungary and Bulgaria. Yugoslavia quickly capitulated and Bitola was occupied by Germany, then Bulgaria. Bulgarian authorities passed many anti-Semitic laws that restricted the everyday lives of the Jewish community. In October 1941 Jews were banned from engaging in industry or commerce, later in 1941 Jews were forced to live in the poor side of Bitola, establishing a ghetto. Jamila’s sister, Bela married Moise Kassorla on November 16, and the couple moved to Skopje. In July 1942 all Jewish households were ordered to hand over 20% of the value of their assets and in autumn 1942 Jews were denied citizenship and were forced to wear Star of David buttons. Jewish students were no longer allowed in school so Jamila’s brothers began to learn office work and she and her sister Rachela learned to sew and cared for their ill grandmother. A coworker denounced Isak to the authorities, who forced him to open the bank safe and confiscated the contents inside. Due to the anti-Jewish restrictions he was not able to find another job. As a Hashomer Hatzair member, Jamila supported anti-Fascist efforts, made shoes for partisans, and collected discarded weapons. Jamila joined other members in forming small underground resistance groups, creating 3 for youth and another for women.

    On March 9, 1943 Jamila was warned by a resistance leader that because of her work with the resistance groups, it was unsafe for her to sleep at home. He gave her the address of Stojan-Bogoja Siljanovski’s cigarette kiosk near a police station where she could hide for the night. Before accepting the offer, she and her father discussed putting the family in hiding but her father decided against it, not wanting to leave his invalid mother. Jamila spent the night locked in the kiosk with Estela Levi. Early in the morning of March 11, while they remained hidden, the two began hearing shouting and crying as the soldiers marched the Jewish townspeople through the streets. The kiosk owner did not return until that evening, bringing 3 more Jewish women: Roza Ruso, Estreya Ovadya, and Adela Faradji. Jamila and Estela learned that the Jews were pulled from their homes by police and Bulgarian soldiers, taken to a rail station, had their valuables confiscated, were loaded on to cattle cars, and transported north to Skopje. Jamila and her companions hid in this cold, cramped space with little to no access to food, water or bathrooms. Every day they heard police buying cigarettes and talking on the other side of the curtain that kept them hidden.

    On April 7, the women acquired safe passage to the mountains in Greece where they joined the partisan group Damyan Gruev. Jamila was given the alias Tsveta (Flower) and became one of the 10 Jews in the 30 person unit, fighting the occupying forces. Jamila was appointed Commissar, the political leader of the detachment and acted as the editor of their first newspaper. In August, Jamila’s group merged with two other detachments, Goce Delchev and Pitu Goli to form the first Macedonian Battalion, Mirche Acev bringing their number up to 130 members. The battalion liberated a group of Serbs and Slovenes from a prisoner camp in Greece, who joined them to form Brigade 1 (Tovimos). In September, Jamila was appointed Commissar, she became responsible for preparing status and logistical reports for the battalion, and organizing literacy lessons and presentations in liberated cities. The winter of 1943-44 was harsh, many men froze to death or starved. Jamila nearly succumbed as well but, she was saved by Chede Filipovski.

    In June 1944, the Serbs and the Slovenes returned to their own regions and a separate Macedonian Brigade was established. Jamila acted as deputy Commissar for the newly formed brigade as well as for the 42nd Yugoslav Division. In August, Jamila was wounded in the back by an exploding shell during a battle to liberate Debar. On October 30, she helped liberate Ohrid and Struga. The Macedonia region was liberated in November. In December Jamila married Chede Filpovski.

    Germany surrendered May 7, 1945, and after the war Jamila and Chede returned to Bitola. In June, Chede died in a motorcycle accident. In July, their daughter, Mira was born. Jamila stayed in Bitola hoping that her friends and family would return. Instead she learned that those who had been taken away joined Jews from Skopje and Shtip. They were all held in Monopol Tobacco Warehouse in Skopje, enduring continual inspections and beatings with inadequate food or water. They were held for 3 weeks before being deported in 3 shipments to Treblinka killing center in German occupied Poland. Those who reached Treblinka, including Jamila’s father, grandmother, sisters Bela and Rachela and brothers Menaham and Kalef were murdered upon arrival. Approximately 98 percent of the Macedonian Jewish community was murdered at Treblinka. At the end of the year Jamila moved to Skopje, where there was a larger Jewish community. In June 1947, she married Avram Sadikario, (1919-2007) a fellow survivor from Bitola. They had one son, Samuel.

    Jamila was recognized many times for merit and bravery in her wartime service, receiving many national medals. She received a Doctorate in Landino and was named Professor Emeritus at Sts. Cyril and Methodus University. Jamila wrote numerous articles and books on the Yugoslav-Macedonian Resistance. She became a leading official in many political, benevolent, and social associations, including the Alliance of Yugoslav Resistance, the Union for Protection of Childhood of Macedonia, and the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Women of Macedonia. She served as deputy in the Macedonian Assembly. Jamila, age 91, died on June 18, 2013 in Skopje.

    Physical Details

    1 CD.
    1 folder

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Administrative Notes

    Isaac Nehama donated this material to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on April 6, 2009 on behalf of Jamila Kolonomos.
    Record last modified:
    2023-12-26 14:08:43
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