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Introduction

Banjica concentration camp was a quisling and Nazi German concentration camp in occupied Serbia from June 1941 to September 1944 in World War II, located in the eponymous suburb of Belgrade. It started as a center for holding hostages, but later included JewsSerbs,Roma, captured partisans, and other opponents of the German Reich. The camp's registers record the names of 23,637 prisoners, of which 4,286 were executed or died.

The camp was jointly run by German occupying forces, under command of Gestapo official Willy Friedrich, and Serbian quisling police. Serbian administrator was Svetozar Vujkovi?, pre-war policeman, while his deputy was ?or?e Kosmajac, both infamous for their sadism.

The first reprisal executions in late June were against "Communists and Jews". The first mass execution at Banjica occurred on December 17, 1941, when 170 prisoners were shot.

he camp was chiefly intended for Serbs accused to be communists, royalists, or otherwise opposed to the occupation, although some 900 Jews and 300 Roma also passed through the camp during the course. The inmates were brought by German forces and Serbian special police. The Serbians were reported to be even more brutal to the inmates than the German occupiers. Special police, led by Ilija Paranos andBožidar Be?arevi?, brought in 4,456 prisoners, of which 1,409 (31.6% of the total death toll) was executed. Before execution, most were questioned and tortured in most brutal manner. The remainder was imprisoned by German forces, chiefly SS (11,311 arrested, 1,872 died) and Gestapo (1,773 arrested, 326 died).

A German soldier points his rifle at a prisoner in Jajinci, which served as an execution site for Banjica inmates.

The village of Jajinci near Belgrade functioned as an execution site for inmates from the Banjica camp. Some sources state that mass murder of 250—450 Jews who were executed on October 17, 1941 on the location named Trostruki surduk, were brought there from Banjica concentration camp.

One of the Banjica prisoners was Toma Petrovi?, then the British ambassador’s driver, who tried to conceal a quantity of arms and explosives which had been left inside the British Embassy premises and who was betrayed to the Gestapo.

According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, "In November 1943 SS-Standartenfuehrer Paul Blobel, the officer in charge of 'Aktion 1005', came to Belgrade in order to set up a unit that would disinter the bodies of the murder victims and burn them. The unit, consisting of fifty Sicherheits polizei (Security Police) men and German military police, as well as 100 Jewish and Serbian prisoners was engaged in its gruesome task of obliterating the traces of the murders up to the fall of 1944". The few preserved lists document that even children were executed: mothers with small children in their arms, 22 under the age of 7, 26 between 7 and 14, and 76 between 14 and 17.

Several thousands of the prisoners were sent to concentration and labour camps in Germany such as Mauthausen-Gusen and Auschwitz. The museum of Banjica prison camp has materials taken from the prisoners, including photographs, personal belongings, drawings, and hand-made art.

The Banjica concentration camp was shut down at the end of September 1944, a month before the withdrawal of the Germans from Belgrade. Its commandant, Willy Friedrich, was tried by a Yugoslav military court at Belgrade on March 27, 1947 and sentenced to death.

 

 

Photo

A German soldier points his rifle at a prisoner in Jajinci, which served as an execution site for Banjica inmates.

Banjica concentration Camp Near Belgrade, October 1941

Banjica concentration camp near Belgrade, October 1941

Gestapo official Willy Friedrich

The commandant of the Banjica concentration camp was Gestapo official Willy Friedrich.

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