Friday, October 24, 2014

Massacre at Kragujevac [Nazi executions of Serbs in occupied Serbia] / By Richard Berengarten
By Richard Berengarten

Massacre at Kragujevac

Between October 19th and 21st 1941, the most infamous Nazi massacre in Serbia during the Second World War took place at Šumarice, just outside the town of Kragujevac, and in local villages. The event had a marked effect on the course of the war in the Balkans.

The Nazis decreed that 100 people should be shot for every German killed, and 50 for every German wounded.

[German soldier points to Serbs that need to be "finished off"
after mass executions.
Šumarice near Kragujevac, October 21, 1941]

One of the most shocking aspects of the massacre was that more than 200 pupils from local schools were taken out of their classes and shot. There are several stories of extraordinary individual sacrifice and acts of heroism, especially by several of the schoolteachers.

Over 40 victims managed to find scraps of paper on which they scribbled their last messages to their loved ones. These were discovered by townspeople after the event. The message copied here was scrawled by 17 year old Ljubiša Jovanović into his school report book. It says, “Dear mum and dad, hi for the last time. Ljubiša.”


Ljubiša Jovanović, aged 17

The note that 17 year old Ljubiša Jovanović
scrawled in his school report book in October of 1941 in Serbia.
It says, “Dear mum and dad, hi for the last time. Ljubiša.”
Contemporary German records stated that 2,300 people were shot in reprisals. But after the war, the Yugoslav communists supported a different version of events: it was accepted that 7,000 men and boys had been killed at Kragujevac. Since the collapse of Yugoslavia, painstaking local researchers, led by Staniša Brkić at the 21st October Memorial Museum, have arrived at the more objective and reliable figure of 2,795 - 2,800 victims.

By comparison with other major Nazi atrocities, the Kragujevac massacre has received scant notice in the English-speaking world.


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