The HANNAH Digital Graphic Novel will be available online, to be used on the internet, or downloaded as pre-packed PowerPoint for use on a big screen in the classroom, or as printable PDF. Its main topics will be about the Jewish life and culture, the Holocaust, antisemitism and the current life of Jewish communities. Also, a manual for teachers, archivists and librarians will be available as PDF for download, as well as tasks for students. All material will be available in Greek, German, Polish, Serbian and English.
Creating a Graphic Novel about the Novi Sad Raid
The Novi Sad Raid
After Germany and its allies invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Serbia was divided into several occupied zones. Hungary occupied and annexed Bačka, a region in the western part of Vojvodina.
The Raid in southern Bačka, or the Novi Sad Raid, is a series of military and police operations carried out by the Hungarian armed forces against the Serbian and Jewish civilians during the period of January 4 and 29, 1942, in predominantly Serbian populated communities of Bačka and in Novi Sad. On the streets of Novi Sad and along the banks of the Danube, Hungarian fascists killed around 4 000 people, mostly Serbs (at least 2,578) and Jews (at least 1,068), and others too.
This is a graphic novel about the making of a graphic novel on the Novi Sad Raid.
director of the Historical Archives of the City of Novi Sad
director of Terraforming
member of the Terraforming team
member of the Terraforming team
member of the Terraforming team
Member of the Jewish
Creating a Graphic Novel
01. Football in Novi Sad – the initial idea of a graphic novel
The Historical Archives of the City of Novi Sad and Terraforming have had an excellent partnership for a number of years. This time, Miško and Petar were discussing the idea of creating educational material about the Novi Sad Raid.
During the conversation in Petar’s office, Miško noticed a pair of old football boots in a glass display box. Petar explained that these were authentic boots from the 1930s. Footballers from the Vojvodina Sports Club used to wear such boots at the time.
Being a historian and also a big football fan, Petar was happy to tell stories about the pre-war history of the two football clubs that shared the same stadium in Novi Sad: the Serbian “Vojvodina” and the Jewish club “Makabi1”.
This prompted Miško to propose: “Telling a story about football in Novi Sad could provide an interesting and accessible way to depict the pre-war life in the city, its citizens, the occupation, and the Novi Sad Raid itself!”
And that is how a new idea for an educational graphic novel was conceived.
The victims of the Novi Sad Raid were predominantly Serbs and Jews. Jews are a minority in Serbia. During the Holocaust, just as in the rest of Europe, the Jewish community of Novi Sad was decimated. Antisemitism is still present in every European society and Jews continue to be subjected to prejudice, discrimination and hate speech. While it is our human and moral responsibility to commemorate all victims, it is particularly important to protect minorities and disadvantaged groups. This is why we decided to put special focus in the novel on the life and persecution of Jews.
There was a great deal of work to be done. Petar began writing a piece about pre-war Novi Sad, which would serve as the introduction to the novel. Miško called a meeting of the Terraforming team.
Find out whether there was a football club in your town/country before World War II. Does the club still exist today?
Find out whether there was a Jewish football club or sports club in your town/country. Does it still exist today?
Marija and Aleksa were the designated researchers on the project. The first task was to sift through and analyze the relevant materials in the Historical Archives of the City of Novi Sad. They were looking through various fonds, searching for information about everyday life in pre-war Novi Sad, about sports clubs, the school system, the economy, cultural activities as well as the local Jewish community.
In order to identify persons that would be the protagonists of our graphic novel, Marija and Aleksa researched the junior members of the 1930s football clubs and compared this data against the lists of the Novi Sad Raid victims. This helped identify two young citizens of Novi Sad that became the lead characters of the graphic novel.
Djordje Rajh and Petar Simin were talented footballers, members of the junior teams of Makabi and Vojvodina, respectively. Both were killed by the Hungarian fascists. Petar was killed at the very start of the Hungarian occupation of Novi Sad, while Djordje was killed during the Raid.
“We need to find out as many details about Djordje and Petar as we can,” insisted Marija.
The two researchers then undertook some meticulous detective work, with Aleksa looking for details about Petar and Marija investigating Djordje – date and place of birth, whether they had any siblings, what their parents did for a living, where they lived, whether there are any photographs, which schools they attended, how well they did academically, if any of their schoolmates became well-known personalities, who reported their death and when, and what other useful sources and materials could be found.
Identify data on Jewish victims from your town/country in the Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names.
Besides Jewish victims, find out if there were other victims from your town/country who were killed during World War II. Who were the perpetrators of the crime? Investigate their motives and the ideologies that they followed.
One of the most important principles when creating an educational graphic novel is to adhere to historical data and scientifically proven facts. From the outset, we collaborated with historians, who helped us focus on the most significant events and social developments and watched out for any potential errors.
To this end, Marija and Aleksa talked to Dr. Milan, a renowned historian and our long-standing partner.
Dr. Milan pointed out: “Although our story is focused on Novi Sad, in order for it to be properly understood we need to take into account the wider social and historical context within which it unfolded.”
An example of such a confluence of European and local contexts is the passing of ships with Jewish refugees on board through Novi Sad towards the end of December 1939. A group of over 1 100 Jews fleeing Vienna, Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, and other central European cities boarded ships that traveled down the river Danube, in the hope of reaching Palestine. This historical event is known as the ‘Kladovo Transport’.
We decided to incorporate this event in our graphic novel, too.
Investigate what led to the emergence of Jewish refugees in Europe and around the world during the 1930s. Look into how Jewish refugees were received in different countries during that period.
Find out more about the historical event known as the “Kladovo Transport”.
Research when Jews first settled in the region where you live. Find out if there is still an active Jewish community there today.
Identify a person of Jewish origin in your town/country that has significantly contributed in the fields of science, culture, sport, economy, or other fields, and compile a short presentation about them.
Examine whether there is a synagogue, Jewish quarter, or some other trace of Jewish life in your town/country. Is there a Jewish historical museum? Visit the museum, or find other ways to explore Jewish customs and traditions. Find out what is Purim. Learn about which are the most important Jewish holidays.
Visit the local library and ask the librarian to recommend relevant literature about the Holocaust in Europe, and about the Holocaust in your country. Identify two publications in the field of Holocaust research authored by experts from your country. Identify two publications in the field of Holocaust research authored by international experts. Examine what these works discuss and when they were written. Find out the basic facts about the authors.
Visit the “Jewish Virtual Library” website (or a similar online database of Jewish publications). Find two publications or books about Jewish culture and history. Learn what the works are about and when they were written. Find out the basic facts about the authors.
Find an interview (in text, video, or audio format) with a Holocaust survivor from your town/country. What left the biggest impression on you from her/his testimony?
Identify two memoirs or autobiographic works written by Holocaust survivors from your country. Find out some basic information about the authors. How did they survive the Holocaust?
Investigate whether there is a memorial or monument commemorating the victims of the Holocaust in your town/country. When was it erected? Does it commemorate a specific historical event? Which one? Make a photo report.
Find out if there are any authentic locations in your town/country that are significant in the history of the Holocaust but are not specifically marked. Locate one such place and compile a short presentation on what makes it authentic and why it is significant. Make a photo report.
Investigate whether there is a memorial or monument in your town/country commemorating any other World War II victims. Find out who it is dedicated to, and on what occasion and by whom it was erected. Make a photo report.
Identify the most significant museums and memorial centres dedicated to World War II and the Holocaust victims in your country. Make a short presentation.
Ask a history teacher, museum curator, or librarian to help you find some educational material for learning about the Holocaust and antisemitism in your country.
Find out if there are any state-run or independent organizations directly or indirectly engaged in addressing antisemitism – for example, monitoring antisemitic incidents, monitoring laws and regulations against antisemitism, educating about antisemitism, ensuring the safety and security of Jewish communities, etc. Which are these institutions? Make a short presentation.
Identify an international work of art or popular-culture piece such as a movie, theatre play, graphic novel, etc, about the Holocaust, or that in some way represents the Holocaust.
Identify an international work of art or popular-culture piece such as a movie, theatre play, comic, etc, about the Holocaust in your country, or that in some way represents the Holocaust in your country.
What are the most important remembrance days for the Holocaust victims in your country?
Are there any other remembrance days in your country dedicated to other victims killed during World War II, such as the Roma or Sinti, or others?
There are no “insignificant” Holocaust events. All victims deserve to be remembered and respected. Find out whether a historical event took place in your town/country that is not officially commemorated. Mobilize your classmates and, with the cooperation of your teachers, librarians, and museum workers, organize a commemoration of this event in your school or local community.
© 2022. This work is licensed under a CC NC SA 4.0 license.