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MASSACRES AND REPRISALS DURING THE GERMAN OCCUPATION OF YUGOSLAVIA


In the Hungarian occupied part of Yugoslavia, local partisans were conducting a low key guerrilla war against the occupiers. On January 23, 1942, seventeen Hungarian soldiers were gunned down near the town of Novi Sad.

The commander of the Hungarian troops, General Ferenc Teketehalmi-Czeydner, retaliated by unleashing his troops and Arrow Cross militia on the town. Rounding up 550 Jews and 292 Serbians, they forced them to march across the frozen river Danube at Novi Sad until their weight broke the ice plunging them into the icy waters where they all drowned or were shot by the Hungarian fascists. Over a six day period, another 2,467 Serbs and 700 Jews and anti-fascist Magyars were massacred. The General was later court-martialled but the charges were quashed by the head of state, Admiral Horthy. After the war, General Frenec was extradited to Yugoslavia where he was sentenced to death in the Vojvodina Supreme Court on October 31, 1946.

THE SERBIAN MASSACRES
On April 28, 1941, Units of the Croatian Ustashi Army, a militia created by the Croat Prime Minister, Ante Pavelic, surrounded the villages of Gudovac and Brezovica and killed 234 inhabitants who held Serbian nationality. They were told to go home to Serbia or convert to Roman Catholicism, refusal to do so ended in death. In the village of Blagaj, 520 men, women and children, were murdered in the most cruel way by being hit over the head. In the Koprivnica Forest near Livno, around 300 souls were subjected to the most unspeakable acts of brutality before being killed. Hands and legs were cut off, eyes gouged out, heads of small children were severed and thrown onto their mothers laps, breasts were severed and children's hands pulled through and tied together. In the Livno area alone, the Ustashi killed 1,243 Serbs including 370 children. In the Risova Greda Forest, over 800 Serbs were killed and their bodies hurled into ravines. On July 10 in the town of Glina, around 700 Serbs were gathered in the local Serbian Orthodux church, ostensibly for conversion to Catholicism. Locked inside the church, all were beaten with wooden mallets, clubs, rifle butts and stabbed with bayonets and knives before being left to die as the church was set on fire and burned to the ground.

The Ustashi commander, General Dragutin Rumler, filed a report stating that so far, around 10,000 Serbs, Jews and Gyspies had been killed to date. The German occupation forces at that time turned a blind eye to the slaughter, after all, the Ustashi were doing what the Nazi Gestapo and S.D. units had come here to do. By far the worst crime committed by the Ustashi was the murder of children from the Mount Kozara region. The Serb children were separated from their parents and taken to various interment camps set up by the Ustashi. In the camp at Sisak, 6,693 children were housed in filthy conditions and soon 1,600 died. At the camp at Jastrebarko, 3,336 children were housed in the same pitiful condition. Soon after their arrival the local cemetery caretaker had buried 768 boys and girls. In Plot 142 in the Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb lie the remains of 862 children who had died after being rescued by the Red Cross. Hundreds of families in Zagreb adopted 938 of these children without even knowing their names or identity. Fifty years after this tragedy, a final count was made. The crimes committed by the Ustashi troops in 1941 and 1942 took the lives of 11,176 children (6,302 boys and 4,874 girls) The average age of these children was 6.5 years.

This crime of Genocide, committed by the pro-German Catholic Croatians on the Orthodox Serbian population during World War Two is something the outside world knows little about. (On December 12, 1941, the Independent State of Croatia declared war on the United States following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor)

Ante Pavelic, fugitive war criminal, escaped the slaughter of Bleiburg only to surface several years later in Argentina. After an attempt on his life in April, 1957, Pavelic moved lock, stock and barrel to the safety of fascist Spain. There, on December 28, 1959, he died from complications relating to injuries received during the assassination attempt.

VILLAGE MASSACRES
On March 27, 1944, troops of the 7th SS Prinz Eugen Division massacred 834 Serbian civilians and set fire to around 500 houses in the villages of Ruda, Cornji, Dorfer Otok and Dalnji in Dalmatia. The troops were engaged in fighting the Yugoslavian communist guerrilla forces and the massacre was a collective punishment for those supporting the partisans. Earlier, in May 1943, the Prinz Eugen Division marched into Montenegro and occupied the Niksic district. In one village, 121 persons, mostly women, were brutally murdered. They included 29 children under 14 and 30 persons between the ages of 60 and 92. In 1943, the Prinz Eugen Division was made up mostly of ethnic Germans from Serbia and Croatia. On July 28, 1944, the Division, supported by the Albanian 21st SS Skanderberg Division, made up mostly of Muslims from Kosovo and engaged in a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing against the Kosovo Serbian and Jewish populations, surrounded the village of Velika and in an orgy of looting and killing massacred 428 Serbs, looted and burned down 300 houses. In the village of Blagaj, 520 men, women and children killed in a most cruel way by being hit over the head. In the village school at Prebilovci the Ustashi removed infants from their cradles and dashed their heads against the school walls in front of their mothers. In the Livno area, the Ustashi murdered 1,243 Serbs, including 370 children during 1941. On October 9, 1941, some 2,000 communists and Jews were shot on the basis of Hitler's 100 to 1 order. This happened in a village near Topola after the killing of 22 men of the 2nd Battalion of the 421st Army Signal Communication Regiment. The shooting was carried out on the orders of General Franz Boehme, the German Commanding General in Serbia. After the war Boehme committed suicide while awaiting trial.
In 1940, approximately 700,000 ethnic Germans were living in Yugoslavia and Romania. Many thousands of their menfolk were recruited into the Waffen SS after Germany invaded the country on April 6, 1941.

THE HELL OF JASENOVAC
After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, the Nazis created the pro-German Independent State of Croatia. Ruled by the Croatian Security Police the 'Ustasha' they commenced on a policy of racial genocide against all Serb, Jewish and Gypsy nationals living within its borders. The Jasenovac extermination camp, with its sub-camps, was set up by the Ustasha and became the third largest camp in Europe and undoubtedly the most bloodiest. Established on the banks of the Sava River 100 kilometres south of Zagreb, it occupied an area of one and a half square kilometres and included the women's camp at Stara Gradiska. It soon became a slaughterhouse and the horrible crimes perpetrated by the Ustasha in Jasenovac equalled, even surpassed, anything the Nazis ever did in Poland. It soon became known as the 'Auschwitz of the Balkans'. Its victims were mainly Serbs, Jews and Gypsies, all doomed to extinction simply because of their race. The barbarity and sadism of the Ustasha knew no bounds and even German officers such as Field Marshal Wilhelm List were shocked by the conduct of their 'allies'. Latest research gives the number of victims murdered at the Jasenovac camp alone at 85,000 as a minimum. The Simon Weisenthal Center estimates that around 600,000 Serbs fell victims to the Ustasha in the Independent State of Croatia. This was about a third of the pre-war Serbian population of Croatia. After the war, one of the commanders at Jasenovac during 1944, Dinko Sakic, was traced and arrested in 1998 in Argentina where he had lived for the past fifty years. At his trial, he received a sentence of twenty years imprisonment. He died on July 20, 2008, at age 86. Today, the Jasenovac Memorial lists the names of 69,842 victims.

Military and civilian deaths in Yugoslavia have been calculated at 1,027,000 during WWII.

THE MASSACRES AT KRAGUJEVAC AND KRALJEVO (October 20-21, 1941)
The town of Kragujevac in central Serbia was the scene of one of the most brutal reprisals during the German occupation of Yugoslavia. A directive from Hitler himself stated that for every German soldier killed by partisans one hundred civilians were to be executed. For every soldier wounded, fifty residents were to be executed. Two days previously ten German soldiers were killed and twenty wounded in an ambush by communist partisans.

Sumarice, in Kragujevac, was chosen as the massacre site because more hostages could be found here than elsewhere. In the villages of Meckovac, Grosnica, Milatovac and Marsic a total of 427 civilians were executed. In the two villages of Draginac and Loznica 2,950 hostages were massacred in retaliation for German losses in the fighting against partisans around Kraljevo. In the town of Kraljevo itself 1,736 hostages, including 19 women, were shot by units of the German Wehrmacht including the the 1,400 men of the 717th Infantry Division and the 749th and 737th Infantry Regiments. In the roundup of hostages in Kragujevac even high school students and their teachers were taken from the school to be shot. The 53 inmates of the town's jail were also murdered. Communists and their sympathizers were specifically targeted as were Jews and Gypsies. In Serbia, there was little, if any, anti-jewish feeling by Serbians towards their Jewish neighbours.Within a week, over 4,000 innocent civilians were slaughtered in two of the largest massacres committed on Yugoslavian soil for what the German commander, General Franz Boehme, believed would give such a lasting impression on the partisans that they would willingly give up their struggle.



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