Banjica concentration camp
Banjica concentration camp was a quisling
Quisling is a term used in reference to fascist and collaborationist political parties and military and paramilitary forces in occupied Allied countries which collaborated with Axis occupiers in World War II, as well as for their members and other collaborators.- Etymology :The term was coined by...

 and Nazi German concentration camp in occupied Serbia from June 1941 to September 1944 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, located in the eponymous suburb
Banjica is an urban neighborhood of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is divided between the Belgrade's municipalities of Savski Venac and Voždovac .- Location :...

 of Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

. It started as a center for holding hostages, but later included Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Serbs
The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

, Roma, captured partisans
Partisans (Yugoslavia)
The Yugoslav Partisans, or simply the Partisans were a Communist-led World War II anti-fascist resistance movement in Yugoslavia...

, and other opponents of the German Reich. The camp's registers record the names of 23,637 prisoners, of which 4,286 were executed or died.

The camp was jointly run by German occupying forces, under command of Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 official Willy Friedrich, and Serbian quisling police. Serbian administrator was Svetozar Vujković
Svetozar Vujkovic
Svetozar Vujković was a Serbian police officer and head of the Banjica Concentration Camp in German-occupied Serbia....

, pre-war policeman, while his deputy was Đorđe Kosmajac, both infamous for their sadism.

The first reprisal executions in late June were against "Communists and Jews". The first mass execution at Banjica occurred on December 17, 1941, when 170 prisoners were shot.

Operation of camp

The camp was chiefly intended for Serbs accused to be communists, royalists, or otherwise opposed to the occupation, although some 900 Jews and 300 Roma also passed through the camp during the course. The inmates were brought by German forces and Serbian special police. The Serbians were reported to be even more brutal to the inmates than the German occupiers. Special police, led by Ilija Paranos and Božidar Bećarević, brought in 4,456 prisoners, of which 1,409 (31.6% of the total death toll) was executed. Before execution, most were questioned and tortured in most brutal manner. The remainder was imprisoned by German forces, chiefly SS (11,311 arrested, 1,872 died) and Gestapo (1,773 arrested, 326 died).
The village of Jajinci
Jajinci is an urban neighborhood located in the municipality of Voždovac, in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It was the site of the worst carnage in Serbia during World War II when German occupational forces executed nearly 80,000 people, many of them prisoners of the nearby Banjica concentration...

 near Belgrade functioned as an execution site for inmates from the Banjica camp. Some sources state that mass murder of 250—450 Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 who were executed on October 17, 1941 on the location named Trostruki surduk
Trostruki surduk
Trostruki surduk is the name of a place in Belgrade, Serbia, between Bežanija and Surčin, where the mass murder of 240—450 Jews during World War II was organized...

, were brought there from Banjica concentration camp.

One of the Banjica prisoners was Toma Petrović, then the British ambassador’s driver, who tried to conceal a quantity of arms and explosives which had been left inside the British Embassy premises and who was betrayed to the Gestapo.

According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust,
"In November 1943 SS-Standartenfuehrer Paul Blobel, the officer in charge of 'Aktion 1005', came to Belgrade in order to set up a unit that would disinter the bodies of the murder victims and burn them. The unit, consisting of fifty Sicherheits polizei (Security Police) men and German military police, as well as 100 Jewish and Serbian prisoners was engaged in its gruesome task of obliterating the traces of the murders up to the fall of 1944". The few preserved lists document that even children were executed: mothers with small children in their arms, 22 under the age of 7, 26 between 7 and 14, and 76 between 14 and 17.

Several thousands of the prisoners were sent to concentration and labour camps in Germany such as Mauthausen-Gusen and Auschwitz. The museum of Banjica prison camp has materials taken from the prisoners, including photographs, personal belongings, drawings, and hand-made art.

The Banjica concentration camp was shut down at the end of September 1944, a month before the withdrawal of the Germans from Belgrade. Its commandant, Willy Friedrich, was tried by a Yugoslav military court at Belgrade on March 27, 1947 and sentenced to death.


After the war, the site of the camp is turned into museum, with permanent exhibition devoted to the camp site. It is part of the Museum of the City of Belgrade
Museum of the City of Belgrade
The Belgrade City Museum was founded in 1903.The most important item in the collections is the Belgrade Gospel, printed in 1542 and the first book printed in Belgrade....


Radio Television Belgrade produced a television miniseries about the camp titled Banjica in 1984.

External links

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