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Sajmište Concentration Camp


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Sajmište concentration camp (Serbian Cyrillic: ?????????????? ????? ????????, German:Semlin Judenlager, pronounced [sâjmi??t?]) was a German run Nazi concentration camplocated on the outskirts of Belgrade whilst part of NDH (Independent State of Croatia). It was established in December 1941 and shut down in September 1944. The majority of Serbian Jews were killed in the Sajmište camp.

In 1941, Axis powers conquered Kingdom of Yugoslavia and dismantled its territory into several entities and puppet states. Belgrade became the capital of Serbia south of Sava and Danube, which was under formal rule of the government ofMilan Nedi?, but in fact administered by Nazi forces. The area of Srem (Syrmia), on the left bank of Sava river, came under control of Independent State of Croatia, while adjacent Banat was under direct German control. The occupiers sought to "solve" the Jewish question in Serbia. The initial plan was to expel male Jews into camps in Danube Delta or concentration camps in Germany. However, as the planned islands were flooded, the Germans asked the Croatian Ustaše (and got their agreement) for having Sajmište as a transit camp for the Serbian Jews.

On May 30, 1941 the German military administration defined what a Jew was, demanded the removal of Jews from the professional and public service, started registration of Jewish property, introduced forced labor, forbade the Serbian population form hiding Jews (Beherbergungsverbot), and ordered all members of the Jewish community to wear the yellow badge. Communists in German-occupied Serbia orchestrated an uprising there, to which the Germans responded by requiring Jews in Serbia to supply forty hostages weekly.

The camp was formed on the left bank of the Sava river, near the railway bridge at the entrance into Belgrade where the pre-war trade fairground (sajmište) was located. This territory which was, at that time, deserted, uninhabited and marshy, was several kilometers from Zemun and formed a part of NDH (Independent State of Croatia) territory.

In the beginning, Sajmište was almost exclusively meant for Serbian resistance fighters, Serbian Jews, and subsequently for Serbian Romaand political prisoners.  Even as the murder of male Jews was underway in the winter of 1941, the military administration chief, SS-Gruppenfuehrer Harold Turner, enacted the first measures for interning Jewish women and children in the Sajmište concentration camp near Belgrade, reporting to his Nazi bosses:

Staro Sajmište Central tower, part of the old Sajmište concentration camp.

Preliminary work for Jewish ghetto in Belgrade completed. Following the liquidation of the remaining male Jews, already ordered by the commander in Serbia, the ghetto will contain approximately 10,000 Jewish women and children

Prisoners Forced labor of Jews.

Most of the inmates were Serbian opponents of the occupation, as well as Serbian Romani people.TheWehrmacht claimed that military reasons justified the interning of women and children. Counterintelligence (IC/AO) in Saloniki reported:

“ All Jews and Gypsies are being transferred to a concentration camp near Semlin... They are clearly informants for the rebels. ”

The number of inmates is estimated at 40,000. At least 32,000 Serbian and 7–8 000 Jewish victims perished in Sajmište concentration camp.

The concentration camp administration had approximately 500 Jewish men who were exempted from shooting. They administered the camp in so-called "self-administration" and were responsible for distributing food, dividing up labor, and organizing a Jewish guard force which patrolled along the barbed wire fence inside the camp. The camp commandant since January 1942 was SS Untersturmführer Herbert Androfer. The camp's exterior was guarded by 25 men of German Reserve Police Battalion 64.

Supplies were provided by the "Department of Social Care and Social Institutions of Belgrade’s Municipal Authorities". At the beginning of December 1941, German authorities ordered Jews in Belgrade to report to the Sicherheitspolizei and to hand over their house keys. From December 8th until 12th, Germans took them to Sajmište. Conditions in the camp were extremely difficult - the damp and the cold, hunger and epidemics.

As camp inmates starved and froze to death, Jewish men (the number is unknown) were led away to be shot by German firing squads in Belgrade. They were killed in the same manner, in the same place and by the same people as were the Banjica camp prisoners. After all men were shot, 6,280 women and children were killed in a special gas truck on their way to Belgrade and buried in Jajinci.

The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust states:

“ Mass murders of Jews took place in Jajinci, Jabuka, Zasavica (near Šabac), and Bubanj (near Niš). By December, most of the Jewish men had been killed; the rest - a group from Niš, and several hundred men had been put to work in the Sajmište camp, near Belgrade, were murdered in February and March 1942, respectively. ”

On October 20, 1941, Turner attended meeting with other Nazi officials including Security Police Sicherheitspolizei chief Wilhelm Fuchs,Franz Rademacher (in charge of Jewish affairs at the German Foreign Ministry) and two men from Adolf Eichmann's office, Franz Stuschkeand SS-Obersturmbannführer Friedrich Suhr. These men decided to arrest all the Jews in Serbia and imprison them at Sajmište concentration camp, and thereafter to transport them to the east (presumably to be murdered) once transport became available, which would not be before the summer of 1942.

Pursuant to this plan, between December 1941 and February 1942, all Jewish women and children in Serbia (7500 to 8000 people) were taken to the Sajmište camp. Bad food and completely inadequate shelter and sanitary conditions (for example, there was a single shower for all the prisoners) killed large numbers of people. Informations from some sources lead to conclusion that 250—450 Jews executed on February 1942 on location Trostruki surduk were brought from Sajmište concentration camp.

Gas van used by Nazis for murders atChelmno extermination camp in Poland. Mass killings by gas van

Turner and the other Nazis responsible for the camp did not care of course how many people died, because the plan was to murder all the people in the east anyway, and the more that did not need to be transported the easier it would be to kill the survivors. However, as it turned out, it wasn't possible to transport the people as early as Turner and the others had hoped, and so a decision was made to kill the people at the camp in Serbia. The means by which this would be done would be carbon monoxide poisoning, with the exhaust from internal combustion engines. Accordingly, the camp authorities arranged with their masters in Berlin to have a gas van sent out to Belgrade. (Gas vans had already been used in Poland and other places to murder people.) From March to May 1942, the Nazis used the gas van to kill all the Jews imprisoned in Sajmište. This accounted for almost all the Jews in Serbia. (Of the Serbian Jewish population of 16,000, the Nazis murdered approximately 14,500.) Most of the survivors were either being hidden by Serbian friends or had joined the Partisans.

Destruction of the evidence

In November 1943 SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel, the officer in charge of Aktion 1005 (later executed for his numerous crimes against humanity) came to Belgrade to organize the destruction of the evidence of the Nazi crimes at Sajmište concentration camp. This plan, devised by Heinrich Himmler when the war turned against Germany, was to disinter and burn the bodies of the murder victims. Blobel organized a unit of fifty Sicherheitspolizei and German military police, and 100 Jewish and Serbian prisoners to carry out this gruesome task. Similar actions were undertaken at about the same time at other locations where the Nazis had murdered and buried large numbers of people, for example, at Rumbula in Latvia and Belzec extermination camp in Poland.

Memorial to the honour of Sajmište victims Aftermath

In 1944, Sajmište was hit by U.S. bombers in raids, which killed 80 people at the camp and injured 170. The bombers' intended target was the nearby railway station.

Sajmište is still not a memorial center. The location is proclaimed a "Cultural Heritage of city of Belgrade" in 1987, and a monument was erected on April 21, 1995. A campaign to create a memorial center was initiated in April 2006.


The Letters of Hilda Daj?

The letters of Hilda Daj? , offer a rare and moving insight into the conditions at the Semlin Judenlager in Belgrade between December 1941 and May 1942.

Hilda Daj? was born in 1922 to an affluent Ashkenazi family which included her parents, Emil and Augusta, and younger brother Hans. Before the war, having graduated from High School as one of the top students of her generation, Hilda enrolled to study architecture at the University of Belgrade. After her studies were interrupted by the invasion of Yugoslavia by Nazi Germany in April 1941, Hilda volunteered as a nurse at the Jewish hospital in Belgrade.

In the early months of the occupation, Hilda's father, Emil Daj? took on the role of vice president of theVertretung der Judischen Gemainchaft, the Representative Body of the Jewish Community in Belgrade. This organisation, established by the Nazis, took over the affairs of the community from various Jewish communal bodies, charities and other institutions which operated before the war, and which were closed down by the occupiers. Because of Emil Daj?'s involvement with the Representative Body in the initial stages of the occupation Hilda's family was unaffected by many of the harsh antisemitic measures and policies to which other Jews in Belgrade were subjected at the time.

In December 1941, after most of the country's male Jewish population was killed as part of the retaliatory executions (Geiselmordpolitik) carried out by the Wehrmacht in response to acts of insurgency and sabotage, the Jewish women and children were ordered to pack their personal belongings and report to the head office of theJudenreferat, the Jewish Section of the Special Police at no.23 George Washington Street.

After handing in the keys to their properties, around 5,000 or so Jewish women and children were taken to the adapted Pavillion no. 3 at the newly establishedJudenlager Semlin. Although families of the leadership of the Jewish Representative Body were not obliged to comply with this order, Hilda defied her parents' wishes, and volunteered to go to the camp to continue to perform nursing duties among, as she put it, the 'people in need'.

The first letter by Hilda Daj? was written on 7th December 1941, the day before she left for Sajmište. The recipient of this letter was Nada Novak, Hilda's friend from High School. Nada, who was two years older, used to be president of the school's Literary Society which is where the two girls met. In the letter Hilda refers to the time at school and 'The Society' as the 'most pleasant period of [her] life'.

The second letter was written two days later, on 9th December, and contains the first impressions of life at the camp. It was addressed to Mirjana Petrovi?, another school friend, who wrote to Hilda a day earlier. the letters were smuggled in and out of Sajmište by the Jewish hospital staff, who regularly visited the camp.

The third letter, to Nada Novak, is said to have been written around the 13th December. In it Hilda reveals that members of the family are about to join her at the camp. Clearly, once all the Jews had been interned at Sajmište, The Nazis no longer had any use for the Representative Body of the Jewish Community or its leadership.

In the period between the third and the fourth letter, Mirjana Petrovi? met Hilda on several occasions, once together with Nada Novak. During the harsh winter of 1941/1942 the river Sava froze over, and every day, small groups of interns carrying stretchers with the dead and the seriously ill, could be seen walking across the ice under German guard. On the docks opposite the camp, they were met by the staff from the Jewish Hospital who unloaded the casualties onto a truck.

On one occasion, Hilda managed to summon Mirjana to a small run-down inn frequented by dock workers, where the interns who carried the stretchers were allowed a brief rest before returning to the camp. The two friends embraced and spoke briefly. They met on two further occasions, but during their last encounter the guard did not allow them to talk. Mirjana Petrovi? later recounted that by that time Hilda was thin, pale, and seemed dejected and desperate . This is evident from the tone of Hilda's last preserved letter from Sajmište, written in early February 1942.

The date of Hilda Daj?'s death is not known, although it is certain that she was killed along with over 6,000 Jewish women, children and elderly in a mobile gas van which was brought to the Semlin Judenlager in March 1942. Between late March and 10 May 1942, interns were taken, in groups of between 50 and 100, on their last journey to the burial grounds at Jajinci.

(The first three letters by Hilda Daj? are the property of the Jewish Historical Museum in Belgrade, while the fourth is deposited at the Historical Archives of Belgrade)

Letter # 1

Tomorrow morning I leave for the camp. Nobody's forcing me to go and I'm not waiting to be summoned. I'm volunteering to join the first group that leaves from 23 George Washington Street tomorrow at 9 a.m. My family are against my decision, but I think that you at least will understand me; there are so many people in need of help that my conscience dictates to me that I should ignore any sentimental reasons connected with my home and family for not going and put myself wholly at the service of others. The [Jewish] hospital will remain in the town, and the director has promised that he will take me in again when the hospital moves to the camp. I am calm and composed and convinced that everything is going to turn out all right, perhaps even better than my optimistic expectations. I shall think of you often; you know - or perhaps you don't - what you have meant to me - and will always mean to me. You are my most beautiful memory from that most pleasant period of my life - from the [Literary] Society.

Nada, my dear, I love you very, very much.


7. XII 1941

Letter # 2

My dear Mirjana,

I'm writing to you from the idyllic surroundings of a cowshed, lying on straw, while above me, instead of the starry sky, stretches the wooden roof construction of Pavilion No. 3. From my gallery (the third), which consists of a layer of planks and holds three of us and on which we each have an 80 cm. wide living space, I am gazing down on this labyrinth, or rather this ant heap of wretched people whose tragedies are as widespread as those who live not because they think that one day things will be better but because they haven't got the strength to end it all. If indeed that is the case.

Mirjana, my dear, your letter is you yourself - I love it as much as I love you. Your words and sentiments are as beautiful as you are yourself and your compassion as great as everything else that is specifically yours. Don't admire someone just because they get things done quickly. Perhaps some people are more altruistic and less energetic and have more humility than ambition; this makes their deeds, however great, pass unnoticed, while the deeds of others are more obvious because they have been performed quickly and resolutely.

Dear Mirjana, there are now 2,000 women and children here, including nearly a hundred babies for whom we can't boil any milk as there's no fuel and you can imagine what the temperature is towards the top of the pavilion with the Kosheva wind blowing as hard as it does. I'm reading Heine and that does me good, even though the latrine is half a kilometre away and fifteen of us go at the same time, and even though by four o'clock we've only been given a bit of cabbage which has obviously been boiled in water, and even though I have only a little straw to lie on, and there are children everywhere and the light is on all night, and even though they shout 'idiotische Saubande' [stupid bunch of pigs] and so on all the time, and even though they keep on having roll calls and anyone missing these is 'severely punished'. There are walls everywhere. Today I started to work in the surgery, which consists of a table with a few bottles and some gauze, behind which there is just one doctor, one pharmacist and me. There's a lot to do, believe me - with women fainting and goodness knows what else. But in most cases they put up with it all more than heroically. There are very rarely any tears. Especially among the young people. The only thing I really miss is the possibility of washing myself adequately. Another 2,500 people are due to arrive and we only have two wash-basins, meaning two taps. Things will gradually sort themselves out - I have no doubt about that. The hospital will be in another pavilion. They frequently count us, and for the same reason the pavilions are surrounded by barbed wire. I don't regret coming here at all - in fact I'm very satisfied with my decision. If every couple of days I can do as much as I've done these first two, then the whole thing will begin to have some point. I know, in fact I'm absolutely convinced, that all this will pass (which doesn't exclude the possibility that it will last several months) and that it will all end well, and I feel good about this in advance. Every day I meet lots of new people and gain new experience - I get to know people as they really are (there are very few here who put on an act). Many of them are taken in as some sort of 'commanding officers'. Even though I would be up to this, it isn't for me - my ambitions don't point in that direction. My dear Mirjana, you'll still be able to recognize me - I won't change - it is only now that I realize from my presence of mind that I am strong enough not to let external things affect me. All I want is for my parents to be spared all this.

I looked up at your window, my dear, when the truck was driving us to the Exhibition Hall, but I didn't see you. Next time we meet we must make up for everything we haven't done together over this year. Who knows, maybe our separation is so unusual…[illegible]…that I'll discover how much I love you and how attached I am to you, even though I haven't been with you all that often.

My dear Mirjana, stay just as you are - you're a darling and I love you so much,

your Hilda

9. XII 1941

Letter # 3

Nada, my sweet,

The way in which I received your letter was hardly romantic; we two nurses together with a pharmacist had organized making tea with milk (providing the women had brought these with them, because nothing can be sent here, neither do any parcels arrive at all) on twelve spirit stoves - and while we were making it, to the loudest din imaginable both inside and out, tears were running down my face because of the smoke and the paraffin and these were joined by the real, sincere and soothing tears that came from reading your letter.

Here it's so - I don't know how to describe it - it's quite simply a huge cowshed for 5,000 people or more, without walls, without barriers - everyone sharing the same quarters. I described the details of this magic castle to Mirjana and I really don't feel like repeating them. We get either breakfast or supper accompanied by the most abusive of words - on top of that, one's appetite passes and one's no longer hungry. Over the past five days we've had cabbage four times. Otherwise, everything's wonderful. Especially as far as our neighbours are concerned - the Gypsy camp. Today I went there to shave and grease the heads of fifteen people with lice. However, although after this my arms were burning up to the elbows from the cresol, my work is in vain, because as soon as I finish the second group, the first have got lice again.

The running of the camp is in the hands of people from Banat and is based on favouritism or rather 'loverism', but we Belgraders are too docile and they take advantage of this, because as soon as one of them chats with a girl, she becomes his girlfriend. Every hundred inmates have a group commander, usually some whipper-snapper aged between 16 and 20, and up to now they've already picked 100 camp policewomen from the girls aged from 16 to 23. I kept myself well-hidden, because I'm only too aware of my particular attitude towards police of any kind. What their criteria are when they make their choice, only they know.

It's now half-past ten, I'm lying down - I can feel the straw under me (a wonderful substance, especially when it's full of fleas) - and I'm writing to you. I'm very pleased that I've been here from the very start - one experiences so many interesting and unrepeatable things that it would have been a shame to have missed any of them. Even though there are only two taps between the lot of us, I manage to keep clean as I get up before five and go to wash myself all over. Here we have to queue for everything. It's very good of them to try our patience like this. It would be great if everyone eventually got to the front of the queue. That's not so easy. Today they took all the children (boys) - and grown-ups who were with us because they were ill - off somewhere, we don't know where - but of course monotony would disturb our already jittery nerves. You can imagine how much noise 5,000 people make, shut up in one big room - during the day you can't hear yourself speak and at night you have a free concert consisting of children crying, people snoring and coughing and all sorts of other sounds. My work lasts from six-thirty in the morning until eight-thirty in the evening - even longer today - but things will get sorted out as soon as the hospital arrives and that should be any day now. The hospital courier comes here every day, and today it was Hans and I heard from him the bad news that my family will be arriving tomorrow. A weekend like this one is far from ideal, especially for my parents and Hans, who needs a healthy diet. They took all our money and valuables apart from 100 dinars each. The only thing they don't economize on is the lighting - it's on all night and prevents me from having a good night's sleep. My ambitions always have to be satisfied, because I always want everything to be in the superlative. And this is no exception. Ever since I've been here I've been very calm, I've worked hard and with great enthusiasm and have experienced a real transformation. When I was 'free' I couldn't get the camp out of my mind, and now, over the past five days I've got so used to it that I don't think about it at all - instead I think about much more beautiful things, like - you know already that I think a lot about you. In the evening I read. Even though we were only allowed to bring as much as they said we could bring, I've got 'Werther', Heine, Pascal, Montaigne as well as English and Hebrew text-books. Rather a small library, but I think it will serve me very well.

My Nada, I'm not writing all this simply because I want to, but because of a very strong conviction: that we will see each other soon. I've no intention of spending the summer here, and I hope that they (with a capital T) will take my intentions into consideration. I expect their decision soon.

My Nada, I must get some sleep now, I'll be getting up early tomorrow and I must keep up my strength. Bye-bye, my dearest - I'm hesitant about thinking about you in this filthy cowshed so as not to spoil the pure devotion for you I carry inside me.

Affectionate greetings to you, Mother, Jasna and everyone else, from a very happy volunteer.

Click on the letters to view larger images.

Letter 3, page1

Letter 3, page 2

Letter 3, page 3

Letter 3, page 4
Letter 3, page 5
Letter 3, page 6

Letter # 4

My dear,

I could never have imagined that our meeting, even though I was expecting it, would arouse in me such a flurry of emotion and create even more unrest in my already frenzied soul which simply won't calm down. All philosophizing ends at the barbed-wire fence, and reality, which, far away on the other side you can't even imagine or else you would howl with pain, faces one in its totality. That reality is unsurpassable, our immense misery; every phrase describing the strength of the soul is dispersed by tears of hunger and cold; all hope of leaving here soon disappears before the monotonous perspective of passive existence which, whatever you compare it with, bears no resemblance to life. It is not even life's irony. It is its profoundest tragedy. We are able to keep going, not because we're strong, but because we are simply not conscious all the time of the eternal misery that surrounds us - everything that makes up our life.

We have been here for almost nine weeks and I am still quite literate - I can still think a little. Every evening, without exception, I read your and Nada's letters and this is the only moment when I am something else, not just a Lagerinsasse [German for female camp intern]. Hard labour is golden compared with this - we don't know why - on what charge - we've been convicted, nor how long we'll be here. Everything in the world is wonderful, even the most miserable existence outside the camp, while this is the incarnation of every evil that exists. We are all becoming evil because we're starving - we're all becoming cynical and count everyone else's mouthfuls - everyone is desperate - but in spite of this, no one kills anyone because we're all just a bunch of animals that I despise. I hate every single one of us because we've all fallen as low as we can go.

We are so near the outside world, yet so far from everyone. We have no contact with anyone; the life of every individual out there carries on as usual, as if half a kilometre away a slaughterhouse containing six thousand innocent people doesn't exist. Both you and we are equal in our cowardice. Enough of everything!

Even so, I'm not the anti-hero you might think I am from what I'm saying. I put up with everything that's happening to me calmly and painlessly. But the people around me. That's what upsets me. It's the people that get on my nerves. Not the hunger that makes you weep, not the cold that freezes the water in your glass and the blood in your veins, nor the stench of the latrines, nor the Kosheva wind - nothing is so repulsive as the crowd of people who deserve to be pitied, but who you are unable to help and can do nothing else than put yourself above them and despise them. Why do all these people talk about nothing else other than what is offending their bellies and all the other organs of their so highly esteemed cadavers. A propos, a couple of days ago we were laying out the dead bodies - there were 27 of them - in the Turkish pavilion, right at the front. I don't find anything repulsive anymore, not even my filthy work. Everything would be possible if only we could know what can never be known - when the gates of compassion will be opened. What do they intend to do with us? We are in a continual state of tension: are they going to shoot us, blow us up, transport us to Poland…? All that is of secondary importance! We just have to get through the present, which is not pleasant in the least - not in the least.

It's now half-past two, I've been on duty in the surgery all night (every fourth night), in the pavilion they're coughing in unison and you can hear the patter of rain on the roof. Here in the surgery the stove is smoking like hell, but, as the saying goes: who doesn't inhale the smoke, isn't warmed by the fire.

This is my most exciting day in the camp. To want something so much and then to get it is more than happiness [this is a reference to the meeting with Mirjana at the inn across the river from the camp]. Perhaps one day we'll get out of here alive into a happier life, because that's what we all desperately, but by now rather anaemically, want. Mirjana, my dear, we are imprisoned slaves, in fact even lower than that - we're not so much wretched as a despised and starving horde, and when from this position one sees a little of life - meaning you - then one senses so many of life's juices that flow through it. Only - yes that eternal only - to wrench oneself away from that life afterwards is so painful and bitter that not even the sea of tears that one sheds can express it. I cry and they all start laughing: How can you, who conducts yourself like a man, allow yourself to cry like a sentimental teenager?!

But what can I do when in the depths of my heart everything is so horrible. That's the refrain I repeat to myself all night. I know there's no hope of our getting out soon, and outside are you and Nada, all that binds me to Belgrade which, by some incomprehensible contradiction, I deeply hate and deeply love at one and the same time. You don't know, just as I didn't know, what it's like to be here. I hope you will never find out. Way back when I was a child I was afraid they would bury me alive. And now this is some sort of vision of death. Will there be some sort of resurrection? I've never thought so much about the two of you as I do now. I continually talk with you and yearn to see you, because to me you are that 'paradise lost'.

Love from your camp inmate

Wilhelm Fuchs

Oberführer und Oberst der Polizei Wilhelm Fuchs 

(1 September 1898 in Mannheim - 24 January 1947 in Belgrade)

was a NaziEinsatzkommando leader. From April 1941 to January 1942 he commanded Einsatzgruppe Serbien. From 15 September 1943 through 27 May 1944 he commanded Einsatzkommando 3.


  • 1 September 1898~ 24 January 1947

Reinhard Heydrich


Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich

 (7 March 1904 – 4 June 1942), also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.

Reinhard Heydrich, cadet

He was SS-Obergruppenführer (English: General) and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the SDGestapo and Kripo) and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor(Deputy Reich-Protector) of Bohemia and Moravia. In August 1940, he was appointed and served as President of Interpol (the international law enforcement agency). Heydrich chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference, which laid out plans for the Final Solution (Endloesung); the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German-occupied territory.

Reinhard Heydrich

He was attacked in Prague on 27 May 1942 by a British-trained team of Czech and Slovak soldiers on behalf of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile who had been sent to kill him inPrague in an operation named Operation Anthropoid. He died from his injuries approximately one week later. Intelligence falsely linked the assassins to the town of Lidice, and Ležáky. In retaliation, Heinrich Himmler ordered over 13,000 people arrested. The village of Lidice was razed to the ground and many of its women and children were deported to Nazi concentration camps; further, all male residents over the age of 16 (192 in total) were shot by firing squads. In total, approximately 1,300 people were murdered after Heydrich's death.

SS-Brigadeführer Heydrich, head of the Bavarian police and SD, in Munich, 1934

On 17 June 1936, all police forces throughout Germany were united with Himmler as the chief. On 26 June, Himmler reorganised the police into two groups:[23]

– Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) which consisted of the national uniformed police and the municipal police.

– Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) which consisted of the Gestapo and the Kripo or Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police).

Heydrich in Vienna, March 1938

At that point, Reinhard Heydrich was head of the SiPo, Gestapo, Kripo and SD. Heinrich Müller, was the chief of operations of the Gestapo. Heydrich's first task was the suppression of all possible dissent prior to and during the 1936 Olympics, a task he executed with a cold and systematic ruthlessness which gained him the (Deutsches Olympiaehrenzeichen) or German Olympic Games Decoration (First Class).

In summer 1939, Heydrich created a foundation, the Stiftung Nordhav, to obtain real estate for use of the SS and Security Police as guest houses and vacation spots. The Wannsee Villa, which the Stiftung Nordhav acquired in November 1940, was the site of the Wannsee Conference, the meeting Heydrich held with senior officials of the Nazi regime to announce the plans for the deportation and extermination of all Jews in German-occupied territory. This to be coordinated with the representatives from the Nazi state agencies present at the meeting.

On 27 September 1939, the SD and SiPo (made up of the Gestapo and the Kripo) were folded into the new Reich Main Security Office or RSHA, which was placed under Heydrich's control. At that time, the title of "Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD" (Chief of the Security Police and SD) or CSSD was conferred on Heydrich. On 24 August 1940, Heydrich also became the President of Interpol. Thereafter, the headquarters of Interpol was transferred to Berlin. He was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei on 24 September 1941.


Heydrich (left) at Prague Castlein 1941. To Heydrich's left is Karl Hermann Frank, State Secretary for the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and Higher SS and Police Leader for Bohemia and Moravia

In London, the Czechoslovak government in exile resolved to kill Heydrich. Two men specially trained by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gab?ík, were chosen for the operation. After receiving training from the British, they returned by parachute on 28 December 1941, dropped from a Halifax of 138 Squadron RAF.

On 27 May 1942, Heydrich was scheduled to attend a meeting with Hitler in Berlin. German documents suggest that Hitler intended to transfer Heydrich to German-occupied France, where the French resistance had started to gain ground. Heydrich would have to pass a section where the Dresden-Prague road merged with a road to the Troja Bridge. The intersection was well-suited for the attack because Heydrich's car would have to slow to negotiate a hairpin turn. The attack was scheduled for 27 May. On that date, Heydrich was ambushed while he rode in his open car in the Prague suburb of Libe?. As the car slowed to take the turn, Gab?ík took aim with a Sten sub-machine gun, but it jammed and failed to fire. Instead of ordering his driver to speed away, Heydrich called his car to a halt in an attempt to take on the attackers. Kubiš then threw a bomb (a converted anti-tank mine) at the rear of the car. The explosion wounded Heydrich and also Kubiš himself.

When the smoke cleared, Heydrich emerged from the wreckage with his gun still in his hand and he gave chase after Kubiš and tried to return fire. At least one account states that his pistol was not loaded. He ran for half a block, became weak from shock, and sent his driver, Klein, on foot to chase Gab?ík. In the ensuing firefight, Gab?ík shot Klein in the leg and escaped. Heydrich appeared not to be seriously injured.

The open top car in which Heydrich was mortally wounded showing the upholstery fibres credited for causing his death by septicemia.

A Czech woman went to Heydrich's aid and flagged down a Tatra van delivering floor wax and polish. First, Heydrich was placed in the driver's cab, but after complaining that the movement of the truck was causing him pain, he was placed in the back of the truck, lying on his stomach, and he was taken to Na Bulovce Hospital popularly known as Bulovka. Then Heydrich was taken to the emergency room. 

He had suffered a severe injury to the left side of his body with major damage to his diaphragmspleen, and lung, as well as a broken rib. Czech Dr. Slanina packed the chest wound, while German Dr. Walter Diek tried unsuccessfully to remove the splinters. He decided to immediately perform an operation. This was carried out by Drs. Diek, Slanina and Hohlbaum. First, Heydrich was given several blood transfusions. Then, the chest wound, left lung and diaphragm were all debrided and closed. Further, a splenectomy was carried out. 

Himmler ordered Dr. Karl Gebhardt to fly to Prague and take over Heydrich's care. Despite a fever, his recovery appeared to progress well. Dr. Theodor Morell, Hitler's personal doctor, suggested the use of Sulfonamide (a new antibiotic) be used but, Dr. Gebhardt refused and thought Heydrich would recover.On 2 June, during a visit with Himmler, Heydrich reconciled himself with his fate by reciting a part of one of his father's operas:

The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself. We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum.

After Himmler's visit, Heydrich slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. He died on the 4th of June, probably around 4:30 a.m. at the age of 38. The autopsy states that he died of septicemia. Of peculiar note, Heydrich's facial expression as he died (his "death mask") betrayed an "uncanny spirituality and entirely perverted beauty, like a renaissance Cardinal," according to Dr. Bernhard Wehner, a police official who investigated the assassination.

An elaborate funeral was conducted for Heydrich in Prague and Berlin, with Hitler attending (and placing Heydrich's decorations on his funeral pillow, the highest grade of the German Order and theBlood Order Medal). Although Heydrich's death was employed as pro-Reich propaganda, Hitler seemed privately to blame Heydrich for his own death, through carelessness:

Since it is opportunity which makes not only the thief but also the assassin, such heroic gestures as driving in an open, unarmoured vehicle or walking about the streets unguarded are just damned stupidity, which serves the Fatherland not one whit. That a man as irreplaceable as Heydrich should expose himself to unnecessary danger, I can only condemn as stupid and idiotic.

A memorial at Treblinka. Each stone represents a Jewish town or city, the population of which was exterminated at the camp Stamp memorializing Heydrich

Heydrich's eventual replacements were Ernst Kaltenbrunner as the chief of RSHA, and Karl Hermann Frank 27–28 May 1942 and Kurt Daluege 28 May 1942 – 14 October 1943 as the new acting Reichsprotektors.

After Heydrich's death, his legacy lived on; the first three "trial" death camps were constructed and put into operation at TreblinkaSobibór, and Belzec. The project was named Operation Reinhard in Heydrich's honor.

Heydrich's grave

Heydrich was buried in Berlin's Invalidenfriedhof, a military cemetery. The location of the grave in the Invalidenfriedhof is not entirely certain. Heydrich's plot may be between those of two famous German war heroes, Adolf Karl von Oven and Gerhard von Scharnhorst (cemetery section C). Hitler wanted Heydrich to have a monumental tomb, but because of the downhill course of the war the tomb was never built. In 1945 Heydrich's temporary wooden grave marker disappeared. The marker was never replaced, because the Allies and Berlin authorities feared Heydrich's grave would become a rallying point for Neo-Nazis, as later on the grave of Rudolf Hess did in the little Bavarian town of Wunsiedel.

When Berlin became a divided city, the cemetery abutted the line between East Berlin and West Berlin, which in the 1960s became the path of the Berlin Wall. During the time when the Wall was standing, Heydrich's grave may have been part of the so-called "death strip" between the two Berlins and inaccessible to the public, though this is unlikely because section C of the Invalidenfriedhof is in the front of the cemetery, near the Scharnhorststraße entrance, and the death strip was in the back (southwest sections E, F, and G and along the Schiffahrtskanal).

A letter published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 1992 asserted that Heydrich's grave is in cemetery section A next to General of Infantry Count Tauentzien von Wittenberg, who fought against Napoleon in the wars of liberation (1813). A recent biography of Heydrich also places the grave in Section A. A photograph of Heydrich's burial shows the wreaths and mourners to be in section A, which abuts the north wall of the Invalidenfriedhof and Scharnhorststraße at the front of the cemetery



  • 7 March 1904 – 4 June 1942

Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Ernst Kaltenbrunner 

(4 October 1903 – 16 October 1946)

was an Austrian-born senior official ofNazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, Reich Main Security Office), President of Interpoland, as a Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the highest-ranking Schutzstaffel (SS) leader to face trial at the first Nuremberg Trials. He was found guilty ofwar crimes and crimes against humanity and executed.

Kaltenbrunner (on the very left), Heinrich HimmlerAugust Eigruber, and other SS officials visiting Mauthausen concentration camp in 1941, in the company of camp commander Franz Ziereis. Kaltenbrunner's body after execution, October 1946.

Kaltenbrunner was executed by hanging at around 1:40 a.m. on 16 October 1946. Kaltenbrunner's last words were:

I have loved my German people and my fatherland with a warm heart. I have done my duty by the laws of my people and I am sorry this time my people were led by men who were not soldiers and that crimes were committed of which I had no knowledge. Germany, good luck.

In 2001, Ernst Kaltenbrunner's personal Nazi security seal was found in an Alpine lake, 56 years after he threw it away in an effort to hide his identity. The seal was recovered by a Dutch citizen on vacation. The seal has the words "Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD" (Chief of the Security Police and SD) engraved on it. Experts have examined the seal and believe it was discarded in the final days of the war in May 1945. It was one of Kaltenbrunner's last acts as a free man. Kaltenbrunner gave himself up claiming to be a doctor and offering a false name. However, his mistress spotted him, and by chance occurrence, she called out his name and rushed to hug him. This action tipped off the Allied troops, resulting in his capture, trial, and execution.

Kaltenbrunner, pictured here in 1944, hisKnights Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords visible around his neck.


  • 4 October 1903 – 16 October 1946

Camp Life

Sajmište concentration camp (Serbian Cyrillic: ?????????????? ????? ????????, German: Semlin Judenlager) was a Nazi concentration camp, located in the outskirts of Belgrade. It was established in December 1941 and shut down in September 1944. The majority of Serbian Jews were killed in the Sajmište camp. Most of the inmates were Serbian opponents of the occupation, as well as Serbian Romani people. The Wehrmacht claimed that military reasons justified the interning of women and children. The number of inmates is estimated at 40,000. At least 32,000 Serbian and 7–8 000 Jewish victims perished in Sajmište concentration camp.


Contributor: bgill
Created: November 11, 2011 · Modified: November 11, 2011

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