On October 13,Â 1941, Serbian guerrillas attacked and besieged the central Serbian city of Kraljevo, occupied by the 717th German Wehrmacht Infantry Division. In response, the Division took Serbian civilians hostage. On October 15, German troops were able to repel the Serbian attack with heavy losses. Shots continued to be fired into the town by Serbian guerrillas. In retaliation, 300 Serbian civilians were executed by German troops as a reprisal. The male population was subsequently assembled in the yard of the Railroad CarÂ Factory and were shot in groups of 100. In the Wehrmacht war diary, it was reported: “For losses of 15.10 so far altogether 1,736 men and 19 Communist women shot.” In the following days, an estimated 7,000-8,000 Serbian civilians were executed in Kraljevo and the surrounding area.
|ABOVE: German troops lead Serbian civilians from Kraljevo to execution site in the railway car factory.|
|Serbian Chetnik guerrillasÂ killed in the assault on Kraljevo|
In the summer of 1941, a massive Serbian insurgency exploded in German-occupied Serbia. The uprising caught the German occupation forces by surprise. Such resistance and opposition to the Nazi New Order in Europe was unheard of in any other European country. Adolf Hitler and Wilhelm Keitel, the head of the OKW, the German Military High Command, ordered “ruthless, harsh, and draconic” measures to counter-act the unprecedented Serbian insurgency and guerrilla movement. Christopher R. Browning, a historian of Serbia during World War II, noted that such unheard of resistance would undermine the Nazi New Order in Europe:”[T]he increasing display of German military impotence and vulnerability would hearten Germanyâ€™s enemies and stimulate yet further resistance that could snowball into disaster.”It was a “national uprising” involving the entire Serbian population. A crisis for the German occupation occurred, as Browning noted:
“For the Germans the situation in Serbia reached crisis proportions in early September. They had just installed a new collaboration regime under General Nedic in the hope that he would have the prestige and popularity to mobilize anti-Communist sentiment against the partisans. But the Nedic experiment produced no immediate dividends; in the first test case after the installation of the new government, 450 Serbian police sent to Sabac refused to fight. More disastrous for the Germans was the growing threat to their own troops. In all of August the German army in Serbia had suffered 30 dead, 23 wounded, and 1 missing.”
Moreover, the Serbian police force the German occupation authorities created “was demoralized and disintegrating.” The German occupation could find almost no support in Serbia whatsoever.
The Austrian-born General, Franz Boehme, was sent to Serbia to put out the Serbian insurgency. Boehme told his troops to take revenge for World War I and to punish the Serbian people collectively, to hold them responsible as a nation, including women and children. Boehme wanted to shock the Serbian population with Nazi terror: â€œYour mission lies in â€¦ the country in which German blood flowed in 1914 through the treachery of Serbs, women and children. You are the avengers of these dead. An intimidating example must be created for the whole of Serbia, which must hit the whole population most severely.â€
Browning noted that the Nazi terror backfired and only strengthened the Serbian resistance: “‘Even with the most unrestricted reprisal measures … it was not possible to restrain the growth of the armed revolt.’ Many German observers frankly concluded that rather than deterring resistance, reprisal policy was driving hitherto peaceful and politically indifferent Serbs into the arms of the partisans.” The German reprisals against civilians were driving the Serbian population into the resistance.
On October 29, the German consul in German-occupied Serbia, Felix Benzler, sent this report to his ministry:
“In the past week there have been executions of a large number of Serbs …Â in Kraljevo … 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…â€
PHOTO: Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler arrives in Kraljevo, SerbiaÂ with Karl Wolff, his chief of staff and an SS commander, to meet Artur Phleps, the commanderÂ of the Nazi SS Division “Prinz Eugen”, made up of Donauschwaben from Vojvodina and based in Pancevo, fighting the Serbian guerrilla Chetniks in central Serbia, October 15, 1942.
AUDIO: Himmler giving a speech to the newly-formed Donauschwaben Pancevo “Prinz Eugen” Nazi SS Division on October 17, 1942 in Kraljevo, Serbia, when they were engaged in combat against Serbian Chetnik guerrillas.
PHOTO: Himmler in Kraljevo reviewing the Prinz Eugen Nazi SS Division, made up mostly of ethnic Germans from Serbia, in the Banat region of Vojvodina, with Artur Phleps.
PHOTO: An excellent photo gallery of the German invasion of Yugoslavia. Note that the Serbian resistance movement is spearheaded by Serbian Chetniks under General Draza Mihailovich. This is a fact falsified, manipulated, distorted,Â and covered-up by Balkans historians, including “Serbian expert” Christopher R. Browning.
A German soldier points to the body of a Serb who is still alive and is to be finished off in Kragujevac.