The Kragujevac massacre was the murder of civilians in Kragujevac, Serbia, by Nazi German soldiers between 20–21 October 1941. On 29 October 1941, Felix Benzler, the plenipotentiary of the German foreign ministry in Serbia, reported 2,300 people executed. Later investigations indicated 5,000 to 7,000 people.
After the massacre Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel issued an order reapplying to all Europe to kill 50 communists for every wounded German soldier and 100 for each killed on 16 September 1941. German soldiers were attacked in early October by the Communist Partisans near Gornji Milanovac, and the massacre was a direct reprisal for the German losses in that battle. In addition, German High Command was furious because the bodies of the German soldiers were mutilated by the guerillas, so it was decided that the punishment must be particularly harsh.
A German report stated that: "The executions in Kragujevac occurred although there had been no attacks on members of the Wehrmacht in this city, for the reason that not enough hostages could be found elsewhere."
Arrests and the massacre
On the morning of 19 October, the whole city was raided. Around 10,000 civilians, aged 16–60, were arrested. A whole generation of high school students was taken directly from their classes. The executions started at 6 PM on the following day. People were shot in groups of 400. The shootings continued into the next day, at a lesser pace. The remaining prisoners were not released, but were held as hostages for further reprisals. It is worthy to mention the act of German soldier Joseph Schultz who refused to shoot civilians, accepting his own death as a consequence of his moral action.
On 31 October 1941, Franz Böhme, the Commanding General in Serbia, sent a report to Walter Kuntze of the shootings that took place in Serbia: "Shooting: 405 hostages in Belgrade (total up to now in Belgrade, 4,750). 90 Communists in Camp Sebac. 2,300 hostages in Kragujevac. 1,700 hostages in Kraljevo."
Kuntze issued a directive on 19 March 1942: "The more unequivocal and the harder reprisal measures are applied from the beginning the less it will become necessary to apply them at a later date. No false sentimentalities! It is preferable that 50 suspects are liquidated than one German soldier lose his life...If it is not possible to produce the people who have participated in any way in the insurrection or to seize them, reprisal measures of a general kind may be deemed advisable, for instance, the shooting to death of all male inhabitants from the nearest villages, according to a definite ratio (for instance, one German dead 100 Serbs, one German wounded 50 Serbs)."
Böhme went on trial for the Kragujevac massacre among other war crimes.
In 1947, at the Nuremberg Trials, 7,000 civilians were reported to have been executed according to witness Živojin Jovanović. An investigation in the 1960s placed the number of casualties at 5,000. Staniša Brkić, curator of The Museum of 21 October, published a book in 2007 where he listed names and personal data of 2,796 victims.
Monument and commemoration
To commemorate the victims of the massacre, the whole of Šumarice, where the killings took place, was turned into a memorial park. There are several monuments there: the monument to killed schoolchildren and their teachers, the "Broken Wing" monument, the monument of pain and defiance, the monument "One hundred for one", the monument resistance and freedom.
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- Raketić, B. (22 October 2007). "„Engleska krvava bajka“ u Kragujevcu". Blic. http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Srbija/16913/Engleska-krvava-bajka-u-Kragujevcu.
- Museum of October 21.
- German Occupation of Serbia and the Kragujevac Massacre
- Case Studies in Serbian Historical Consciousness: The Kragujevac Massacre, by Sarah O'Keeffe
- Kragujevac massacre Template:Sr icon
- Kragujevac Massacre – quotations overview
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