An official website of the United States government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Overview

The Jewish population of Montenegro prior to World War II (WWII) numbered approximately 30 people, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).  The numbers rose during the war when Jews took refuge in Montenegro from the Nazi-controlled regions of Serbia and Croatia in the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia.  For most of the war, Italian occupying forces ruled the territory.  Generally, the Italians did not deport Jews or confiscate Jewish property, and they were lax in enforcing racial laws.

Nazi Germany occupied Montenegro after the capitulation of the Italian forces in September 1943.  By February 1944, the Nazis had identified most of the remaining Jews in Montenegro and transferred them to several extermination camps in Europe, where 28 of the country’s 30 Jews and many others who had taken refuge in Montenegro perished.  About 300 Jews who hid in the northern and coastal towns of Montenegro reportedly escaped deportation and survived.  It is difficult to ascertain more specific numbers, as records tend to show data for the whole of Yugoslavia rather than specifically for Montenegro.  The USHMM notes that in 1941, approximately 78,000 Jews lived in all of Yugoslavia, including at least 4,000 foreign or stateless Jews who had found refuge in the country during the 1930s.

Few Jews remained in Montenegro immediately after the war, although the population rose again with the return of some former residents who had hidden or survived the camps.  According to the World Jewish Congress, approximately 400 to 500 Jews live in the country today, about 10 percent of whom are actively involved in the community.  The Department is not aware of any Holocaust survivors currently living in Montenegro.

The main Jewish organization is the Jewish Community of Montenegro (Jevrejska Zajednica Crne Gore), which is affiliated with the World Jewish Congress.  Judaism is considered an official religion in Montenegro.

Immovable Private, Communal/Religious, and Heirless Property

Montenegro became independent in 2006, and restitution in Montenegro began in the 2000s.  Restitution efforts are largely focused on private property taken from individuals by the Communists, and not during the Holocaust era.  Montenegrin restitution law does not specify property owned by any religious group.  The restitution process is very slow and is based on assessments from the post-war Communist period that often undervalued properties and businesses.  The Department is aware of one long-running case involving U.S. claimants that is based on this difference in property valuation assessments.

In its 2016 report on immovable property, the European Shoah Legacy Institute (ESLI) noted that claims by some foreign citizens, including Americans, relating to confiscation and nationalization were settled in the post-WWII years through bilateral agreements with Yugoslavia and foreign governments.

The Republic of Montenegro passed two laws that chiefly address private property restitution and permit both citizens and non-citizens to seek restitution or compensation.  The 2004 Law of Rights of Restitution and Compensation for Confiscated Property covered private property taken by the state.  As the law did not specify a time period in which property was taken, it could in theory cover the Holocaust-era.  This possibility, however, was never tested as no Holocaust-era claims were made when the window for making claims closed in 2005.  Both citizens and non-citizens were permitted to file claims for restitution or compensation for expropriated property with the commission created under this law.  When possible, the claimants’ property was returned, with financial compensation or substitution of other state land granted when restitution was not possible.  Former owners had 18 months from the day the commission was established in the municipality where the property was located to submit restitution or compensation claims.

The law was revised in 2007 to provide for three regional commissions to make decisions on restitution.  New claims, however, are not allowed.  According to ESLI, several limitations hamper the success of the restitution mechanism in Montenegro, including a lack of administrative capacity and cumbersome procedures.

Since endorsing the Terezin Declaration in 2009, the Republic of Montenegro has not passed any laws dealing with restitution of communal property.  In 2015, the government announced plans to enact legislation specifically addressing restitution claims for property confiscated from churches and religious communities during the Communist period.  To date, no such law has been passed.  According to ESLI, any future law on religious property would likely have little impact on the Jewish community because of its small size and the minimal amount of communal property not returned.  (The World Jewish Restitution Organization identified two houses in Montenegro that rightfully belong to the Jewish community in Serbia.)

Montenegro has not enacted a law covering heirless property.

Movable Property: Nazi-Confiscated and Looted Art, Judaica, and Jewish Cultural Property

The Department is not aware of issues with any looted or confiscated art or other movable property.  Representatives of the Jewish Community of Montenegro report that they are not aware of any claims for restitution or compensation regarding Judaica and Jewish cultural property.  Little is known about whether cultural institutions in Montenegro are conducting provenance research.  In 1998, Montenegro was part of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and did not participate separately in the Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets, but it is a signatory to the International Council of Museums Code of Ethics.

In 2013, the government donated land to the Jewish community to build what is believed to be the first synagogue in Montenegrin history.  Construction of the synagogue, which will be part of a community center, began in December 2017.  The country’s first locally resident rabbi in more than a century and the president of Montenegro laid the foundation stone in a ceremony that was attended by mayors and representatives from all religious communities.

Access to Archival Documents

Government archives are generally open to the public.

Education, Remembrance, Research, and Memorial Sites

The Jewish community in Montenegro is very active in educating people about Jewish life and important dates in history.  However, there are no Holocaust memorials or museums in Montenegro.  International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated in the capital of Podgorica on January 27 with the burning of six candles for the six million Jews killed.

The Holocaust is taught as part of the mandatory history program in the ninth grade and in the last year of high school.  Primary school pupils read the “Diary of Anne Frank” in the eighth grade as part of a mandated literature course.

Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act Report: Montenegro
Build a Custom Report

01 / Select A Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future