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381 OVADYA, Haim Estreya (1922–1944) Macedonian woman of Jewish origin who worked for the emancipation of Jewish women and lost her life as a partisan fighter of the Macedonian Army during the antifascist war against the Bulgarian Army. Born in Bitola on 25 December 1922, into a very poor family (no data regarding her parents exists), Estreya Ovadya was a member of the Bitola Ženska Internacionalna Cionisticka Organizacija (ZICO, Women’s International Zionist Organization /WIZO) which, in accordance with Jewish traditions, provided impoverished girls with dowries and/or opportunities for education, thereby enabling them to support themselves. In 1934, an antifascist and women’s rights activist, Julia Batino (born in Bitola 1914–died in Jasenovac concentration camp, Croatia 1942) was made President of the Bitola ZICO. The organization became actively involved in the progressive women’s movement in Yugoslavia and Batino herself directed her energies towards the emancipation of Jewish women, with a special emphasis on young women. Her connections to the Jewish community in Belgrade enabled her to send a certain number of girls to work or receive an education in Belgrade each year. This was how Estreya Ovadya, along with a group of young women from Bitola, arrived in Belgrade in 1938. Ovadya soon adjusted to life in the Yugoslav capital. She joined the progressive Workers’ Movement—a faction of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia that participated in the URS–Ujedinjeni radnički sindikati Jugoslavije (United Workers’ Syndicates of Yugoslavia)—and became involved in the movement’s women’s sections, which organized lectures on syndical and women’s economic and political rights. Returning to her native town of Bitola after a German bombing raid on Belgrade (6 April 1941), Ovadya was forced to live in a ghetto under anti-Semitic legislation implemented in Macedonia immediately after the Bulgarian Occupation of 18 April 1941. Her antifascist beliefs led her, in May 1941, to become involved in preparations for what became known as the Antifascist and People’s Liberation War of the MaceHaim Estreya Ovadya, August 1944 (shortly before her death on August 26) as a political commissar of a battalion on Mount Kajmakchalan 382 donians (1941–1945), fought together with the Allies (the USA, USSR and Great Britain) and the Resistance Movement in Europe. At the same time, Estreya Ovadya devotedly worked on the liberation of young Jewish women from restrictions imposed by family codes. She formed small groups of (mostly young) women—workers, highschool students and housewives—with whom she wished to share the knowledge and experience she had gained while in Belgrade. They debated and discussed women’s rights to education, to free choice of employment and to the free choice of a husband or partner. Estreya Ovadya became a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in 1942. The humiliations suffered in the ghetto seem to have inspired Ovadya to organize Jewish youth resistance and encourage their participation in the antifascist and liberation war—a highly perilous activity. On 11 March 1943, the Jews of Skopje, Bitola and Stip were deported and 7,240 of them were taken to the Treblinka II death camp in Poland. On 10 March 1943, prior to the deportation of 3,276 Jews from Bitola, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Macedonia gave the Jewish community advance warning of the deportation. Shelters were organized, as well as connections to the partisan units, but only a few Jews made use of these opportunities, unable to believe that a program for their destruction was really underway and preferring to stay together as a group. Estreya Ovadya, Adela Feradji, Zhamila Kolonomos, Stela Levi and Rosa Kamhi (among others) went into hiding and the group was accommodated in the clandestine shelter of the resistance movement and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia/Communist Party of Macedonia’s Local Committee in Bitola, located in a small room belonging to the shop of Bogoja Siljanovski, a member of the antifascist resistance. While the Bitola deportation was in process, the Damjan Gruev partisan unit from Bitola offered Jews in hiding the opportunity to join the partisan unit as fighters. As a result of the poor living conditions, Ovadya had fallen sick but she nevertheless insisted on joining the partisan struggle. In April 1943 she, together with three of the four Jewish girls who had been hiding in the village of Kanino (in the region of Bitola), were taken by a partisan courier to join the Damjan Gruev unit and collect their uniforms and partisan names: ‘Estreya...


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