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File:Kragujevac - V3.jpg

"Broken Wing" - a monument to those who were killed

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.[1] Later investigations indicated 5,000 to 7,000 people.[2]


File:142 Germans arested people in Kragujevac.jpg

Germans escorting people from Kragujevac and its surrounding area to be executed.

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[citation needed]

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."[5][6][2]

Arrests and the massacre

File:Execution of serbs in Kragujevac on 21 10 1941.jpg

Germans rounding up civilians

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.[citation needed] 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,[citation needed] 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."[7]

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)."[7]

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.[8] An investigation in the 1960s placed the number of casualties at 5,000.[2] 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.[9]

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.

Desanka Maksimović wrote about the massacre in the poem "Krvava Bajka" ("A Bloody fairy tale").


  1. Kurapovna, Marcia Christoff (2009). Shadows on the Mountain: The Allies, the Resistance, and the Rivalries That Doomed WWII Yugoslavia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 167. ISBN 0470084561.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tomasevich, Jozo; Vucinich, Wayne S. (1969). Contemporary Yugoslavia: Twenty Years of Socialist Experiment. University of California Press. p. 370.
  3. Cohen, Philip J. Serbia's Secret War: Propaganda and the Deceit of History, Texas A&M University Press, 1996
  4. Pomeranz, Frank. Fall Of the Cetniks, History Of The Second World War, Vol 4, p1509
  5. Singleton, Frederick Bernard (1985). A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples. Cambridge University Press. p. 194. ISBN 0521274850.
  6. Roberts, Walter R. (1987). Tito, Mihailovic and the Allies, 1941-1945. Duke University Press. p. 328. ISBN 0822307731.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals. United Nations War Crimes Commission. 1997. p. 41. ISBN 1575884038.
  8. Brkić, Stanisha. Kragujevachki oktobar 1941. Kragujevac: Svetlost, n. d.. p. 11.
  9. Raketić, B. (22 October 2007). "„Engleska krvava bajka“ u Kragujevcu". Blic.

External links

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bg:Разстрели в Кралево и Крагуевац de:Massaker von Kraljevo und Kragujevac fr:Massacre de Kragujevac ru:Массовые расстрелы в Кралеве и Крагуеваце sr:Крагујевачки октобар sh:Masakr u Kragujevcu sv:Kragujevacmassakern ta:கிறகுஜேவாச் படுகொலைகள்

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