21. October 1941. The German massacre in Kragujevac: one more unpunished crime

Posted on October 20, 2013 by

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The Kragujevac massacre was the massacre of over 5,000 civilians — men, women and schoolchildren — in Kragujevac, Serbia,  Yugoslavia by the soldiers of Nazi Germany, on 20 October 1941. It was one of the worst massacres during  German military occupation of Serbia.

Kragujevac exe

Massacre of Serbian children in Kragujevac on 21 10 1941 – Kragujevac massacre – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Germans had threatened to shoot 50 Serbs for every wounded German soldier and 100 for each killed. They were attacked in early October near Gornji Milanovac so the massacre was a direct reprisal for the German losses in that battle.

On the day of October 19 in the early morning, the whole city was raided. Around 10,000 civilians, aged 16–60, were arrested. A whole generation of high school children 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.

Kragujevac masakr                                                 Krag

Kragujevac, 20. October 1941: mass execution of Serbs                             October 1941, Beginning of the Wehrmacht’s massacres in Serbian city of Kragujevac 

(murdered 7,700).

A telegram to the Plenipotentiary of the German Foreign Ministry from the military commander in Serbia explained why civilians from Kragujevac were chosen for execution:
“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.”
The executions in Kragujevac were indiscriminate. Serbian civilians were selected merely to fill the quota of one hundred Serbs for every German soldier killed.

Showing

Kragujevac, Sumarice — German soldier showing to others who is to be ‘finished’ (incidentally still alive).

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 Wings” monument, the monument of pain and defiance, the monument “One hundred for one”, the monument resistance and freedom, the monument to shoe cleaners.

sumarice

Memorial in Sumarice: Fascist executions in Kragujevac on 21. October  1941. represents one of the biggest crimes of the German Wehrmacht during World War II

A famous poem about the massacre of the schoolchildren, “A Bloody fairy tale” (Krvava Bajka), was written by Desanka Maksimović:

It was in a land of peasants
in the mountainous Balkans,
a company of schoolchildren
died a martyr’s death
in one day.

They were all born
in the same year
their school days passed the same
taken together
to the same festivities,
vaccinated against the same diseases,
and all died on the same day.

It was in a land of peasants
in the mountainous Balkans,
a company schoolchildren
died a martyr’s death
in one day.

And fifty-five minutes
before the moment of death
the company of small ones
sat at its desk
and the same difficult assignments
they solved: how far can a
traveler go if he is on foot…
and so on.

Their thoughts were full
of the same numbers
and throughout their notebooks in school bags
lay an infinite number
of senseless A’s and F’s.
A pile of the same dreams
and the same secrets
patriotic and romantic
they clenched in the depths of their pockets.
and it seemed to everyone
that they will run
for a long time beneath the blue arch
until all the assignments in the world
are completed.

It was in a land of peasants
in the mountainous Balkans,
a company of small ones
died a martyr’s death
in one day.

Whole rows of boys
took each other by the hand
and from their last class
went peacefully to slaughter
as if death was nothing.

Whole lines of friends
ascended at the same moment
to their eternal residence.

Translation from Serbian language:

© 1999 Sarah O’Keeffe

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