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English -

THE KRAGUJEVAC MASSACRE



"" by Carl K. Savich

Introduction

In the summer of 1941, Serbian guerrillas launched an uprising in central Serbia against the

German occupation. The Serbian uprising spread and increased in intensity threatening the

German military occupation of Serbia and endangering the German southern flank in
Europe. The Serbian uprising came at the time of the German invasion of the USSR. Adolf
Hitler immediately perceived the danger that the Serbian insurrection posed to the stability
of the Balkans region and for German control. Swift action was taken. Hitler ordered that
brutal measures be taken to suppress the Serbian revolt. Hitler ordered that the rebellion be

quelled "by the most rigorous methods". Pursuant to these instructions, Wilhelm Keitel
ordered that for every German occupation soldier killed in Serbia, a hundred Serbian
civilians would be executed, while fifty Serbian civilians would be killed for every

wounded German soldier. This unprecedented order, that 100 Serbs would be shot for
every German soldier killed, was given to quell the Serbian insurgency. This order would
Pogledi - English
result in one of the most brutal massacres of civilians during World War II, the Kragujevac
Pogledi - en francais Massacre, when an estimated 5,000 Serbian civilians were executed.

Serbia was a hotbed of opposition and resistance to the Nazi New Order in Europe. The
first organized resistance movement in Europe was launched in Serbia under the command
of Serbian Colonel Draza Mihailovic at Ravna Gora. By the summer of 1941, the first
major popular uprising to German occupation occurred in Serbia. Hitler was appalled at

this unprecedented act of defiance to the New Order in Europe. To terrorize the Serbian
population and resistance, Hitler ordered that Serbian civilians be rounded up and executed
as reprisals for Serbian resistance. Thousands of Serbian civilians would be executed. One
of the most brutal acts of reprisal occurred in the central Serbian town of Kragujevac,
where to fulfill the hundred to one quota, thousands of civilians were killed. The 1941.
Kragujevac Massacre became one of the most notorious and tragic events of World War II.
Like the massacres at Lidice, Babi Yar, Oradour, and Nanking, Kragujevac symbolized the 1999.
horrors of war and occupation and the cost of resistance to military occupation.

Operation Punishment

Yugoslavian Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic and Foreign Minister Alexander Cincar-
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Markovic had signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany on March 25, 1941. On March 27,
Serbian military officers under Yugoslav Air Force General Dusan Simovic overthrew the
regime and established Peter II as the titular ruler of Yugoslavia. The overthrow followed
violent Serbian anti-German demonstrations in Belgrade and wide-spread popular antipathy
towards a Yugoslav-German agreement. Hitler immediately reacted. Hitler perceived the
coup d'etat as an affront and insult to Germany and as an unacceptable act of defiance. ?
While the new Simovic regime requested a dialogue, Hitler immediately decided on the

total destruction of Yugoslavia as a country.
1941.
Under Directive No. 25, Hitler ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia on March 27, 1941 after
the coup detat in Belgrade. The invasion of Yugoslavia was known as Operation 1944.
, , Punishment (Fall Strafe) while the invasion of Greece was Operation Marita. Hitler ordered
that Yugoslavia "must be destroyed as quickly as possible". Hitler announced his plans for
the invasion of Yugoslavia as follows:
K
It is my intention to break into Yugoslavia in the general direction of Belgrade and
southward by a concentric operation from the area of Rijeka-Graz on the one side and from
- the area around Sofia on the other and to give the Yugoslav forces an annihilating blow. In
addition I intend to cut off the extreme southern part of Yugoslavia from the rest of the
country and seize it as a base for the continuation of the German-Italian offensive against
C Greece As soon as sufficient forces stand ready and the weather situation permits, the English
ground organization of the Yugoslav Air Force and Belgrade are to be destroyed by
" "
continuous day and night attacks of the Luftwaffe. About Kragujevac

Hitler also emphasized in this directive the plan to exploit the pro-German Croats, formerly The Kragujevac
a part of German Austria-Hungary, who would be used as a Fifth Column to destroy
Massacre
Yugoslavia. Hitler stated that "the domestic political tensions in Yugoslavia will be
sharpened by political assurances to the Croats." This was the policy of divide and conquer.
Internet Riznica Serbska
The Axis attack on Yugoslavia consisted of 24 German divisions and 1,500 aircraft, 23

Italian divisions and 670 aircraft and naval vessels which attacked on the Adriatic, and 5
Hungarian divisions. The total number of Axis divisions was 52 with a total of 2.300
aircraft. The Yugoslav army could muster 30 under strength divisions that were poorly
A
trained, inadequately equipped, and demoralized.

Yugoslavia was to be attacked by Axis troops based in Austria, Hungary, Romania, and
Bulgaria. The Second Army, commanded by Maximilian von Weichs, stationed in
Klagenfurt, Austria and Barcs, Hungary was to attack from the north. The second
formation was the German 12th Army stationed in Bulgaria under Field Marshal Sigmund
Wilhelm List, one element of which was to occupy Macedonia while another was to press
on to Belgrade. XLI Panzer Corps under the command of Georg-Hans Reinhardt was
stationed in bases in Romania and was to attack Belgrade. Attached to the XLI Panzer
Corps, was the 2nd Waffen SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" which had been transferred
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- from southern France. The Das Reich Waffen SS Division was the spearhead of the attack
on Belgrade. Das Reich was an elite formation commanded by SS Oberstgruppenfuehrer
60 Paul Haussner, known as "Papa Haussner" because he was regarded as the founder of the
: 1944-2004 Waffen SS or Armed SS, the military wing of the SS.
:
Belgrade was declared an open city which meant that it was not defended. This allowed the
1903-2003 Luftwaffe to bomb the city non-stop for three days, destroying much of the center of the
city and killing 17,000 Serbian civilians, men, women, and children. As an open city, there
was only a garrison in Belgrade with hardly any front line troops. This led to the tragic-
comical and absurd "capture" of the city. Nothing better illustrates the hollowness and
emptiness of war than the "capture" of Belgrade. The actual capture of Belgrade has rarely
been told. This was achieved by the commander of No.2 Company of the SS Motorcycle
Reconnaissance Battalion, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Fritz Klingenberg of the 2nd SS Panzer
Division "Das Reich". Klingenberg, along with one platoon leader, two sergeants, and five
privates of the SS motorcycle assault company, crossed the Danube on a requisitioned
motor boat. They rode their motor cycles through the streets of Belgrade unopposed. They
did not meet any military forces or any resistance. They drove to the Yugoslav War
Ministry in Belgrade which they found abandoned. They raised a Nazi swastika flag over
the ministry building. They then went over to the German Embassy where another Nazi
swastika flag was raised. The mayor of Belgrade then agreed to turn over the city to
prevent further bombing of the city and the killing of more civilians. Hitler awarded
Klingenberg a Knights Cross of the Iron Cross for the "capture" of Belgrade and
Klingenberg became a celebrity and hero in Nazi Germany as "the man who captured
Belgrade." Klingenberg would himself be killed in 1945 when Russian and US troops
occupied Germany. Belgrade would be occupied by the 1st Panzer Army under
Generaloberst Ewald von Kleist. Kleist was photographed in front of the Skupshtina or
Yugoslav Parliament building in Belgrade saluting a German tank commander of a Panzer
Kampfwagen IV Ausf D tank on April 14. The 11th Panzer Division which had moved
from Bulgaria seized Belgrade. The Germans casualties in the invasion of Yugoslavia were
151 killed, 392 wounded, and 15 missing. They captured 337,684 Yugoslav POWs, plus
6,028 officers. But 300,000 Serbian troops escaped into the mountains and country-side.
They would continue the conflict as a guerrilla war.

German Occupation

Serbia was the only area of dismembered Yugoslavia in which an outright German military
government was established. Serbia was the only Balkan country that Germany and the
Axis countries occupied militarily throughout World War II. Why was this so? The
Germans could never control Serbia and the Serbian population. Without direct German
military occupation, Serbia could not be militarily and politically subdued. On April 20,
1941, Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, the Chief of the German Army High
Command (OKH), ordered the establishment of a German military government in German-
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occupied Serbia. The office of the Military Commander in Serbia was the chief of the
occupation. He was subordinate to the Quartermaster General of the Army High Command
and to the commander of the German 2nd Army which occupied Serbia. The main
responsibilities of the Military Commander in Serbia were enunciated as follows in the
Dienstanweisung or brief as follows: To safeguard the railroad line between Belgrade and
Salonika and the Danube shipping lanes, to execute the economic orders of Reichsmarshal
Hermann Goering who was the Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan, and to establish and
to maintain law and order.

German Air Force General Helmuth Foerster was the First Military Commander in Serbia.
He was replaced in June, 1941 by Antiaircraft Artillery General Ludwig von Schroeder. Air
Force General Heinrich Danckelmann replaced him when Schroeder was killed in a plane
crash a month after assuming command. In June, 1941, the Germans brought in four under-
strength divisions to occupy or garrison Serbia under the command of General of Artillery
Paul Bader: the 704th, 714th, 717th, and 718th divisions. The German Second Army was
deployed to the Russian Front. On June 9, under Directive No. 31, Hitler unified the
command structure by making Wilhelm List the Armed Forces Commander in Southeast
Europe who was directly subordinate to Hitler. List was responsible for the security and the
defense of Serbia and Greece and General Bader was subordinated to him. List had his
headquarters in Salonika.

Two Concepts of Guerrilla Resistance

Two rival guerrilla or resistance movements emerged in Serbia following the German
occupation. The Ravna Gora Chetnik Movement was headed by Colonel Dragoljub-Draza
Mihailovic which was based in the UK where the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile fled. The
guerrillas under Mihailovic engaged in sabotage but opposed direct attacks on German
troops because such attacks were futile from a military standpoint and because the goal or
objective of the guerrilla movement was to lay the groundwork for the Allied invasion of
Yugoslavia which was to occur later in the war. Mihailovic opposed attacks on German
troops because he did believe the sacrifice in Serbian lives was worth the cost. Mihailovic
maintained that it was not worth sacrificing fifty Serbs for "a single German or a section of
railway line." The Partisan or Communist guerrillas began uprisings began in Serbia in
July, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa. On July 3,
1941, Tito convened a meeting of the Politburo of the Communist party of Yugoslavia in a
suburb of Belgrade after Joseph Stalin had made a call for Communist resistance in the the
occupied countries. The following day, Tito issued a proclamation calling for a general
uprising in Serbia. The Partisans managed to seize Uzice in western Serbia and to set up a
so-called Communist Republic. The Partisans were internationalist in outlook and were not
indigenous to Serbia. Josip Broz Tito was a Croat-Slovene Roman Catholic born in Croatia
when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He spoke with a Croatian accent and did
not know the Serbian terrain. He was like a foreigner in Serbia. He had been a soldier in the

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Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I, had been captured by the Russians in 1915,
and joined the Red Army in 1918. He fought in the Red Army from 1918 to 1920 and
became a Communist leader who would lead the Yugoslav Communist Party. His wife was
the Russian Pelagija Belousova, whom he married in 1919 in Russia. The Partisans wanted
to create as much bloodshed and carnage and destruction as possible. This was their raison
detre. They wanted to destroy the pre-Communist foundations and to create legitimacy for
Communist rule by after the war by demonstrating that they had liberated the country from
German occupation. Thus the forces under Mihailovic and Tito were fighting under two
opposing concepts of guerrilla resistance.

The Serbian population was anxious to drive out the German forces from Serbia. The
Serbian insurgency thus had overwhelming popular support in Serbia. Both the forces
under Mihailovic and Tito were involved in the rebellion, even cooperating against the
Germans and engaging in joint actions. The German military occupation of Serbia was
threatened. The German combat troops had been redeployed to the Russian Front so that
Serbia was occupied by under-strength garrison troops. The German police and the three
German divisions were unable to suppress the Serbian insurgency. On September 4, the
125 Infantry Regiment was sent to Serbia from Greece.

On September 19, Tito and Mihailovic met for the first time at Struganik following
Mihailovics meeting with Partisan representatives in August. They sought to organize their
forces in a common front against German troops. Mihailovic and Tito agreed not to attack
each other. No real agreement, however, was reached to cooperate because of conflicting
concepts of resistance. A second meeting between Tito and Mihailovic took place on
October 27 at Brajici located between Uzice and Ravna Gora. Captain D.T. "Bill" Hudson
of the British mission to Draza Mihailovic came along to the Brajici meeting. Mihailovic
and Tito were unable to reach an agreement to cooperate against the German forces.

Insurgency in Serbia

Following the German occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece, guerrilla movements


launched a massive resistance campaign against German occupation forces. In Serbia, a
large insurrection against German occupation began in the summer of 1941. There were
attacks and sabotage against communication and transportation lines. German troops were
tortured, mutilated, and killed by Serbian resistance forces. The German response to these
guerrilla attacks was to attempt to suppress the resistance by mass hangings and mass
executions of Serbian civilians and hostages.

In June, 1941, Wilhelm List became the Wehrmacht Commander Southeast, the supreme
representative of the German Army in the Balkans and exercised executive authority in
Serbia which was occupied by German troops. List had been the Commander-in-Chief of
the 12th Army during the German invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece. List was assigned
the duty of safeguarding of the unified defense of areas occupied by German troops in
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Serbia against attacks and unrest. Hermann Foertsch, who had become the Chief of Staff of
12th Army on May 10, remained Lists Chief of Staff in his new position as Wehrmacht
Commander Southeast.

By September 5, the uprising in Serbia was spreading rapidly and endangering the stability
of the German occupation. List issued an order on the suppression of the revolt:

In regard to the above the following aspects are to be taken into consideration: Ruthless and
immediate measures against the insurgents, against their accomplices and their families.
(Hanging, burning down of villages involved, seizure of more hostages, deportation of
relatives, etc., into concentration camps.)

On September 16, Hitler issued a personally signed directive, Directive No. 31a, to List
charging him with the suppression of the insurgency in Serbia:

I assign to the Wehrmacht Commanderthe task of crushing the insurrectionary movement


in the southeastern area. It is important first to secure in the Serbian area the transportation
routes and the objects important for the German war economy, and thento restore orderby
the most rigorous methods."

List then recommended and requested that General Franz Boehme, a pre-war Austrian
officer who then commanded the XVIIIth Army Corps in Greece, be commissioned to
handle military affairs in Serbia. The entire executive authority for Serbia was subsequently
transferred to Boehme. Boehme was made the Plenipotentiary Commanding General.
Boehme thus was delegated supreme authority to suppress the insurgency in Serbia
although he remained subordinated to List. Boehme took command of all German troops in
Serbia and directed all actions against the Serbian insurgents on September 19. Boehme
was a veteran of the German Army military campaigns in France and Poland. He would
later be transferred to serve with the 20th Gebirgsarmee in Norway as a General der
Gebirgstruppen and ended the war in Norway. The 342th Infantry Division was transferred
from France and deployed in Serbia to suppress the insurgency. The 100th Tank Brigade
was also deployed to Serbia. Danckelmann was relieved of command in Serbia while
Boehme took over the command of Serbia. Danckelmann was held responsible for letting
the Serbian rebellion get out of control and spread.

Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the supreme command of the German armed
forces, pursuant to Hitlers directive, sent instructions for the suppression of insurgency
movements in the occupied territories, which List issued to his subordinate commanders:

Measures taken up to now to counteract this general communist insurgent movement have
proven themselves to be inadequate. The Fuehrer now has ordered that severest means are
to be employed in order to break down this movement in the shortest time possible. Only in
this manner, which has always been applied successfully in the history of the extension of
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power of great peoples can quiet be restored.

The following directives are to be applied here: (a) Each incident of insurrection against the
German Wehrmacht, regardless of individual circumstances, must be assumed to be of
communist origin. (b) In order to stop these intrigues at their inception, severest measures
are to be applied immediately at the first appearance, in order to demonstrate the authority
of the occupying power, and in order to prevent further, progress. One must keep in mind
that a human life frequently counts for naught in the affected countries and a deterring
effect can only be achieved by unusual severity. In such as case the death penalty for 50 to
100 communists must in general be deemed appropriate as retaliation for the life of a
German soldier. The manner of execution must increase the deterrent effect. The reverse
procedure to proceed at first with relatively easy punishment and to be satisfied with the
threat of measures of increased severity as a deterrent does not correspond with these
principles and is not to be applied.

The German punitive expedition was headed by Franz Boehme and focused on the Macva
valley between the Sava and Drina rivers, Sabac. Boehme, a Roman Catholic born in
Steiermark, Austria and a former Austrian military officer who was a veteran of World War
I, focused on collective punishment of the entire Serbian civilian population. Boehme
rationalized or justified the executions as revenge for the Serbian role in World War I. The
Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip had precipitated World War I by the assassination of the
Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Austrian troops suffered high
casualties against the Serbian army during the first year of World War I. Boehme saw the
mass executions of Serbian civilians as retribution for Austrian deaths during the Great
War. Boehme issued orders to the military units under his command on September 25 and
October 10, 1941, in which he ordered that "the whole population" of Serbia was to be hit
severely. Boehme ordered that for one German solider or Volksdeutsche killed, a hundred
Serbs were to be executed. Keitel had made a vague reference to "the death penalty for 50
to 100 communists". Boehme now had ordered that for every German soldier or ethnic
German outside of the Reich, a Volksdeutsche, killed, a hundred Serbs would be executed:

If losses of German soldiers or Volksdeutsche occur, the territorial competent commanders


up to the regiment commanders are to decree the shooting of arrestees according to the
following quotas: (a) For each killed or murdered German soldier or Volksdeutsche (men,
women or children) one hundred prisoners or hostages, (b) For each wounded German
soldier or Volksdeutsche 50 prisoners or hostages.

Boehme ordered that: "In all commands in Serbia, all Communists, male residents
suspicious as such, all Jews, a certain number of nationalistic and democratically inclined
residents are to be arrested as hostages, by means of sudden actions."

On October 4, List issued to following order to General Paul Bader for treatment of the
Serbian population:
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The male population of the territories to be mopped up of bandits is to be handled


according to the following points of view: Men who take part in combat are to be judged by
court martial. Men in the insurgent territories who were not encountered in battle, are to be
examined and, If a former participation in combat can be proven of them to be judged by
court martial.
If they are only suspected of having taken part in combat, of having offered the bandits
support of any sort, or of having acted against the Wehrmacht in any way, to be held in a
special collecting camp. They are to serve as hostages in the event that bandits appear, or
anything against the Wehrmacht is undertaken in the territory mopped up or in their home
localities, and in such cases they are to be shot.

Following Lists order, the executions of Serbian civilians and hostages increased and
reprisals against the Serbian population were conducted based on the ratio of "a hundred to
one", the 100 to 1 ratio, 100 hundred Serbs killed for one German soldier killed. There was
a reprisal killing of Serbian civilians outside the Serbian town of Topola. General Boehme
ordered on October 4 and October 9 that Serbian civilians be shot. Boehme sent List the
following report of the executions by shooting of about 2,000 Communists and Jews in
reprisal for 22 murdered of the Second Battalion of the 421st Army Signal Communication
Regiment in progress." List also received reports of reprisal shootings of Serbian civilians
conducted by the Security Police and S.D. The Topola mass shooting was mentioned in the
War Crimes Judgment at Nuremberg. List believed that the way to deal with the insurgency
in Serbia was to bring more troops to the area. Hitler and Keitel, however, argued that
terrorism and intimidation of the population would suppress the resistance movement
without significant additional German occupation troops. List was thus not in agreement
with many of the pacification programs and policies of the German High Command. Illness
on October 15 forced the retirement of List from active service.

The Kragujevac Massacre, October 20-21, 1941

The central Serbian town of Kragujevac had a pre-war population of 27,249, located in the
political, cultural, educational, and industrial center of Serbia known as Shumadija at the
Lepenica river, a tributary of the Morava. Kragujevac was first mentioned in the Turkish
Tapu Defter as Kragujevdza in 1476 as a village with 32 houses. By 1822, it had 283
houses with a population of 2,000. Kragujevac was the capital of the Serbian Principality
when Milos Obrenovic proclaimed it the capital from 1818 to 1839. The first Serbian court
was established in Kragujevac in 1820, the first high school in 1833, the first theater in
1835, the first Lycee in 1838, the first cannons in 1853, and the first electric power station
in 1884. By 1851, the town had become the industrial center of Serbia. In 1853, the oldest
Serbian military plant was established with French assistance to produce cannons. The
military technical institute (Vojno Tehnicki Zavod) was established in Kragujevac which
oversaw Serbian military armaments and weapons production. In 1929, a railroad line
between Kragujevac and Kraljevo was established. The town produced military vehicles.
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Ford trucks were built in the late 1930s for the Yugoslav army.

On October 15, Mihailovics forces captured a German platoon. The next day, the
commander of the 920th German regiment in Kragujevac sent his third battalion to free the
platoon. This rescue regiment was ambushed by both Mihailovics and Titos forces. Ten
German soldiers were killed and 26 wounded. On October 19, 300 civilians were executed
in three surrounding villages in retaliation or as reprisals. All roads leading out of
Kragujevac were blocked. All houses were searched. All males between 16 and 60 were
taken to district military headquarters for identification, then to huts overlooking the town.
Civil servants were rounded up from offices and 300 students over 16 were taken from the
high school along with 18 teachers. The roundup continued into the afternoon. 100 were
shot on October 20. 10,000 were assembled. On October 20, 2,300 were executed
according to the official German report by Boehme. Laza Pantelic, the headmaster of the
First Boys High School was shot. When he observed 35 of his students being led away to
execution, he asked the German soldier: "Where are they being taken?" "To be shot"
answered the German soldier. "Im their headmaster. Let them go, and take me instead."
"Thats impossible", replied the German soldier. "My place is not here---its with my boys."
He joined the students where they embraced and faced the firing squad together. "Shoot, I
am still in class." The students from the Kragujevac high school were reported to have said:
"We are Serbian children. Shoot." The Germans reportedly spared a few hundred
townsmen so that the horror could be spread to terrorize the population. Approximately 600
were kept at the execution site in Shumarica where they buried the dead for the next 4 days.
The bodies were buried in shallow graves, which allowed dogs unearthed the bodies and
ate them. The graves were later marked by Serbian Orthodox crosses which the Communist
regime later had removed.

An announcement from the local German command office in Kragujevac on October 21,
1941, was as follows:

For every dead German soldier, 100 residents have been executed, and for every wounded
German soldier, 50 residents have been executed, and before all others, Communists,
bandits, and their assistants were targeted, all totaling 2,300.

On October 29, Felix Benzler, sent this report to his ministry:

In the past week there have been executions of a large number of Serbs, not only in
Kraljevo but also in Kragujevac, as reprisals for the killing of members of the Wehrmacht
in the proportion of 100 Serbs for one German. In Kraljevo 1,700 male Serbs were
executed, in Kragujvac 2,300."

The town of Rudnik was subsequently razed. In Gornji Milanovac, the town was
systematically destroyed with incendiary bombs by the German forces, 72 houses out of
464 were left standing. In Kraljevo, railway and aircraft factory workers were executed and
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the Germans reportedly shot one member of each family in the town.

In the villages of Meckovac, Grosnica, Milatovac, 427 civilians were executed. In Draginac
and Loznica, 2,950 hostages were killed, for guerrilla activity around Kraljevo. In Kraljevo,
1,736 civilians were killed.

A telegram between the Plenipotentiary of the German Foreign Ministry and the military
commander in Serbia explained the reason 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 100 hundred Serbs for every German soldier killed. The German
military command in Serbia listed the number of executed at Kragujevac at 2,300. The
Communist regime manipulated and inflated the figures to 7,000 killed after the war for
propaganda purposes. A more accurate and objective number for the total number of
Serbian civilians executed in Kragfujevac and in the neighboring villages and towns for the
entire period is approximately 5,000.

On October 24, Walter Kuntze was assigned Deputy Wehrmacht Commander Southeast
and Commander-in-Chief of the 12th Army. This was a temporary or interim appointment
to last until List could return to duty. On October 31, Boehme submitted a report to Kuntze
in which he detailed the shootings 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."

Executions of Serbian civilians continued. Kuntze in a directive of March 19, 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).

The Kragujevac massacre had a profound effect on Mihailovic. The Kragujevac Massacre
convinced Mihailovic that he was correct in avoiding attacks on the German occupation
forces that would lead to executions of Serbian civilians. He told British officer Christie

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Lawrence:

You have heard of the result of my revolution last autumn? Of the hundreds of villages
burned and the terrible reprisals that the Germans inflicted on our innocent people? When
it was over I resolved that I would never again bring such misery on the country, unless it
could result in our total liberation.

The Communist Partisans, by contrast, were indifferent to the losses of the civilian
population in Serbia. The Partisans were motivated by an ideology that prevented them
from seeing that German occupation troops in Serbia were not Nazi party members but
recruits who had no choice but to serve in the German Army. The senseless murder of
German occupation troops would invite reprisals that would lead in the loss of innocent
civilian lives. The Partisans, however, were also guided by a political agenda. Their goal
was to control territory and set the stage for a Communist takeover of the country. Edvard
Kardelj said: "Some comradeshave a fear of reprisals---destruction of villages, executions,
and so on.In war we must not be afraid of whole villages being destroyed." Tito replied to
Mihailovics assertion that large-scale attacks against the Germans would result in reprisals
that would lead to the destruction of those units and the loss of innocent civilian lives:
"Thats of no importance. Im looking further ahead." The terror will unquestionably lead to
armed action" Communist leaders reacted to the bewilderment caused by their callousness
toward suffering by saying that if the Serbs perished in this war, there were enough
Chinese to settle Serbian lands. In other words, the goal was in achieving political power.
This was what the partisans wanted. They were not concerned if innocent civilians were
killed. The ends justified the means. So long as a Communist dictatorship was created in
Serbia and Yugoslavia, the cost in human life was irrelevant.

The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and the Kragujevac Massacre

Franz Boehme (1885-1947) was captured on May 9, 1945 in Norway. Boehme was placed
on trial by the U.S. Military Tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Serbia
for the mass executions of Serbian civilians in Kragujevac and adjoining towns and
villages. This trial was the "Hostages Trial", Case No. 47, which was held from July 8,
1947 to February 19, 1948. He committed suicide prior to his arraignment on May 29, 1947
by jumping off the fourth floor of the prison building in Nuremberg, Germany. The
defendants in the Hostages Trial were German military commanders who had ordered
reprisal killings against civilians or hostages in order to maintain order in occupied
territories under attack from guerrillas. Franz Boehme, Wilhelm List, Walter Kundze,
Maximilian von Weichs, Hermann Foertsch, Lothar Rendulic, Helmuth Felmy, Hubert
Lanz, Ernst Dehner, Ernst von Leyser, Wilhelm Speidel, and Kurt von Geitner were
charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yugoslavia, Greece,
Albania, and Norway. They were charged in a four count indictment that charged them
with will unlawfully, willfully and knowingly committing war crimes and crimes against
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humanity under Article II of Control Council Law No. 10 "with being principals in and
accessories to the murder of thousands of persons from the civilian population of Greece,
Yugoslavia, Norway and Albania between September 1939 and May 1945 by the use of
troops of the German Armed Forces under the command of and acting pursuant to orders
issued, distributed and executed by the defendants." They were further charged in
participating in "a deliberate scheme of terrorism and intimidation wholly unwarranted and
unjustified by military necessity by the murder, ill-treatment and deportation to slave
labour of prisoners of and the civilian populations."

Under the first count, they were charged with the murder of hundreds of thousands of
persons by mass executions of civilians, that they "issued, distributed and executed orders
for the execution of 100 "hostages in retaliation for each German soldier killed and "fifty"
hostages in retaliation for each German soldier wounded." Under count two, they were
charged with destroying cities, towns, and villages by burning and leveling them. Under
count three, they were charged with the summary execution of POWs and the murder of
relatives of those combatants. Under the fourth count, they were charged with the murder,
torture, and systematic terrorization and imprisonment in concentration camps of the
civilian populations in the occupied territories. These acts were held to violate the 1907
Hague Regulations, international conventions, the laws and customs of war, general
principles of criminal law, and the internal penal laws of the occupied countries which were
"declared, recognized and defined as crimes" by Article II of Control Council Law No. 10
which was promulgated by the US, USSR, France, and the UK. The Nuremberg court
found Wilhelm List guilty on counts one and three and he was sentenced to life
imprisonment. Walter Kuntze was found guilty on counts one, three, and four and received
a life sentence. Hermann Foertsch was acquitted and released. Maximilian von Weichs was
severed from the case due to illness. Generalfeldmarschall Ewald von Kleist was extradited
by Yugoslavia on August 16, 1946, was tried for war crimes, convicted, and sentenced to
15 years imprisonment. Kleist was extradited by the USSR in 1948 where he was found
guilty of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment. Kleist died in the Vladimir POW
camp in 1954 in the USSR.

The Nuremberg court found that hostages could not be taken and then executed during a
military occupation based on military expediency. "Every available method to secure
order" must be used before hostages can be taken. The court found that the Serbian/
Yugoslav guerrillas were not entitled to be classed as "lawful belligerents." The court
found that the guerrillas were franc tireurs, from French for "free shooters". Thus, they
were not entitled to POW status. As franc tireurs, upon capture the guerrillas could be
"subjected to the death penalty", that is, summarily shot. The court, however, rejected the
defendant"s defense of "superior orders". The defendants argued that they were not
responsible because they were only following orders of those superior to them in rank and
power. In following superior orders, the court held that one must show "excusable
ignorance of the illegality" of the orders to be excused. If one knows that the order is illegal
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and follows it, one cannot use the defense. An order is illegal if it "violates International
Law and outrages fundamental concepts of justice." The court held that following "superior
orders" is not a defense in the commission of a criminal act. The court found that Wilhelm
List and Walter Kuntze were following orders they knew to be illegal and criminal because
the orders from Hitler and Keitel violated international law and fundamental concepts of
justice. The executions of Serbian civilians at Kragujevac were thus found by the
Nuremberg Tribunal to constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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