In October 1941, the German occupation authorities committed mass shootings near Loznica, Kraljevo, and Kragujevac. Historian and acting director of the Museum of Genocide Victims, Dejan Ristic, told that this was the message of the occupiers that he would not tolerate any resistance. In addition to publishing supplemented editions of books about the victims of these crimes, the Museum also produced a film about the shooting in Sumarice for the first time, Ristic points out.
Kraljevo is marking the Day of Remembrance of the 80th anniversary of the crime in which the German occupiers shot more than two thousand innocent civilians during the Second World War from October 15 to 20, while the mass killings in Sumarice and the villages around Kragujevac lasted from 19 until October 21, 1941.
On the occasion of the anniversary of these tragic events, the Museum of Genocide Victims published amended editions of the books The Name and Number of Staniša Brkić and The Identities of the Victims of the Execution in Kraljevo in October 1941 by Silvija Krejaković.
Historian and acting director of the Museum of Genocide Victims, Dejan Ristic, points out that October 1941 was especially bloody, which was marked by three mass crimes against civilians – in Draginac near Loznica, in Kraljevo, and in Kragujevac.
Ristic points out that this was a message from the occupation authorities to the Serbs that any resistance would not be tolerated and that it should not be like in the First World War.
“October 1941 is extremely important because of its tragedy, drama, and the message that freedom must and must be fought for,” says Ristic. In retaliation, according to the well-known Nazi formula intended only for Serbs, 100 people were shot for one killed German soldier, and 50 for the wounded.
“The victims of the shooting in Kraljevo were workers of the wagon factory, mostly men, and there were also numerous refugees from other occupied parts of Yugoslavia, mostly Slovenia. There were also Jews and Roma, it is a mass crime against humanity,” Ristic explains.
Next to the Kraljevo complex of Memorial Park, there is a large wagon, a symbol of the memory of those refugees.
Historian Mirjana Savić emphasizes that the crime against humanity, without precedent, in Kraljevo from October 15 to 20, 1941, committed by Wehrmacht units, had a strong demographic blow to Kraljevo. At least 2,198 people were killed, and the database is still being completed, Savic added.
The cemetery of the executed spreads over 12 hectares and the conceptual design of that space was made by architects Spasoje Krunić and Dragutin Kovačević. The central part is represented by marble features – cut-down trees that represent the interrupted life of people of different ages. Savic states that among the victims were 106 people under the age of 18, and the largest number of those shot were people in the best age, from 25 to 55 years old. The red paths in the memorial park between the marble landmarks, he says, symbolize the blood that flowed in the streams in October 1941. According to her, the amphitheater within the complex can accommodate several thousand people, and more recently, there is a chapel where the names of all those killed should be found.
Dejan Ristic says that 2,796 victims have been identified in Kragujevac who died between October 19 and 21, not only in Sumarice but also in the surrounding villages – a total of about 5,000 people. The youngest victim was only 12 years old.
Happenings in Serbia at the beginning of the Second World War Immediately after the invasion of 1941, and the capitulation of the Yugoslav army, Germany established one of the most brutal occupation systems in Serbia.
“It was clear that the confrontation with enemies and active fighters against the regime would be very cruel and that they would use some measures that were used only on the Eastern Front,” Olga Manojlovic Pintar, senior scientific adviser at the Institute of Recent History, told the BBC in Serbian. Of Serbia.
Although there have been attempts to organize anti-occupation units before, insurgent sparks in Serbia became more serious only after the German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, which officially started the fighting on the Eastern Front.
The first partisan detachments were soon formed, which established close cooperation with the Yugoslav Army in the homeland, ie the Chetniks under the command of Dragoljub Draža Mihailović.
“The first joint activities of the two resistance movements in the fight against the occupiers were carried out in accordance with the idea of the Popular Front that existed in the mid-1930s – to unite all forces opposing the occupation of the country in the armed struggle against the occupiers,” said the historian.
He says that the formation of a joint resistance movement, administration, and command did not happen in the end, because Draža Mihailović opposed it, wanting to “be fully competent” and “take over the leadership”.
The Germans, realizing that the insurgent activities had taken off and that the currently united movements did not want to back down in the fight for liberation, began to apply the system of revenge on the territory of Serbia as it existed on the Eastern Front.
This cruel mechanism, whose ideological creator is Wilhelm Keitel, the supreme commander of the armed forces of the Third Reich, meant that 100 communists were shot for one killed German soldier, and 50 for the wounded.
Such a decision in the Balkans has been implemented in a modified form.
Communists, members of their families, and associates were mostly killed, followed by Jews and “nationally sanctified workers”, and often randomly elected hostages, ie civilians, as in the case of the massacre in Kraljevo.