"The Destruction of the European Jews"
by Professor Raul Hilberg
Published by: Holmes & Meier Publishers, New York
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Raul Hilberg is a renovned Holocaust research expert.
This book contains three well referenced volumes.
Excerpts from the book concerning ex-Yugoslavia:
Volume II, Page 682:
Although the Serbian area was under
German occupation for almost four years, we shall be interested
in the Serbia of 1941 and 1942. By the middle of 1942 the destruction
process there was over...
The keystone in the administrative structure [of the occupied
Serbia] was the military commander in Serbia: (in succession) Schroder,
Danckelmann, Bohme, Bader...
Economic maters... Dr. Franz Neuhausen. A watchful eye on
general political developments was kept by the Foreign Office
plenipotentiary, Minister Benzler. Political security was a function
of the SS and Police. Like many newly invaded territories, Serbia first
had an Einsatzgruppe of the RSHA, commanded by Standartenfuhrer
Dr. Fuchs. [All of the above mentioned are German officers].
Finally, Serbia also had, after August 1941, a puppet regime
headed by the former Yugoslav Minister of War, General Milan Nedic.
The destruction process descended upon the Jews of Serbia
with immediate force. On May 30, 1941, the [German] millitary
administration issued a definition of Jews (Losener principle),
ordered the removal of Jews from public service and the professions,
provided for registration of Jewish property, introduced forced
labor, forbade the Serbian population to hide Jews
(Beherbergungsverbot), and ordered Jewish population to wear a star.
In other words, the first three steps of the destruction process had
been introduced in a single day.
...Serbs who had any kind of Jewish property in their possession
were ordered to register such assets...
The Serbs dislike foreign domination in
practically any form, and German-occupied Serbia was consequently
the scene of continuous partisan warfare. ...in Serbia, German army
reacted to the rebellious outbreaks by shooting hostages, especially
During the late summer of 1941,... two camps were set up, one
in Belgrade, the other in Sabac. At the same time, systematic
roundups of Jewish men were set in motion in the entire Serbian
territory. Aparently the [German] military was already beginning
to think in terms of large-scale shootings of Jews.
...At the beginning of September a traveling envoy from Berlin
joined Foreign Office Plenipotentiary Benzler in Belgrade. The
traveler was Edmund Veesenmayer, a party member, businessman, and
Foreign Office troubleshooter. On September 8, 1941, Veesenmayer
and Benzer ...proposed that 8,000 Jewish men be removed from Serbia,
perhaps in barges moving downstream on the Danube to the delta of
the river in Romania...
...Expert in Jewish affairs, Rademacher...
turned to Adolf Eichman. The RSHA's expert on Jewish affairs had a
remedy: "Eichman proposes shooting."
On October 2, 1941, things were already
hapenning in Serbia. At town in Topola a truck convoy of Company 2,
521st Signal Batallion, was ambushed by partisans. Twenty-one men
were killed immediately; another died later. Two days later General
Bohme instructed the 342d Division and the 449th Signal Batallion
to shoot 2,100 inmates of the Sabac and Belgrade camps. The ice was
On October 10 Bohme decided to go all the way. He ordered the
"sudden" (schlagartige") arrest of all Communists and suspected
Communists, "all Jews", and a "certain number" of "nationally and
democratically inclined inhabitants."
The arrested victims were to
be shot according to the following key: for every dead German
soldier or ethnic German, a hundred hostages; for every wounded
German soldier or ethnic German, fifty hostages.
(This was the key Bohme had applied to the Topola ambush.) Limiting
the role of the SS in the killing, Bohme specified that the shootings
were to be carried out by the troops and that if possible, the
executions were to be performed by the units that suffered the
losses. Straight revenge...
In a private letter written by Staatsrat Turner [the chief
of civil administration under Bohme] to the Higher SS and Police
leader in Danzing, Gruppenfuhrer Hildebrandt, on October 17, 1941,
he wrote: "...for murdered Germans, on whose
should really be borne by Serbs, 100 Jews are
shot instead; but the Jews we had in the camps - after all, they too
are Serb nationals,..."
While the German army was completing the
shooting of 4,000 to 5,000 men, there remained a problem of killing
about 15,000 women and children; for "it was contrary to the
viewpoint [Auffassung] of the German soldier and civil servant to
take women as hostages," ... The Jewish women and children consequently
had to be "evacuated."
At the end of October, Minister Benzler, Staatsrat Turner, and
Standartenfuhrer Fuchs, joined by Foreign's Office's expert, Rademacher,
were considering various methods of quietly removing the women and children.
The bureaucrats planned a ghetto in the city of Belgrade, but Staatsrat
Turner, who did not like ghettos, urged a quick removal of the Jews to a
transit camp on a Danubian island at Mitrovica, not far from the Serbian
capital. When the proposed Danubian island turned out to be under water,
the choice fell upon Semlin (Zemun),
a town (oposite Belgrade) originally under the jurisdiction of the
Befhelshaber [occupying force] in Serbia but now transferred to Croatia.
The Croatian government graciously gave its permission for the construction
of a camp in Semlin. (The quote is originally from
correspondence Rademacher to Luther, December 8, 1941, NG-3354).
On November 3, 1941, Turner instructed the Feld- and Kreiskommandanturen
to start counting the Jewish women and children in all Serbian towns.
Preparations were completed in December. Troop units began to move the
families of the dead hostages to Semlin...
the Jews arrived, they were accomodated in the camp. From time to time
a batch of women and children were loaded on a special vehicle that
drove off into the woods. The vehicle was a gas van.
Slowly but methodically the gas van did its work. In March 1942
the Jewish population of the Semlin camp fluctuated between 5,000 and
6,000, in April the number dropped to 2,974, and in June Dr. Shafer
reported that apart from Jews in mixed marriages there was no longer
any Jewish problem in Serbia.
When Generaloberst Lohr took over as Oberbefehlshaber Sudost in
August 1942, Staatsrat Turner jotted down a few notes for a persnal
report to his new chief. In this report Turner itemized all the achievements
of the previous administration. With a considerate satisfaction he wrote
down a unique accomplishment: "Serbia only country in which Jewish question
and Gypsy question solved."
German march across Europe, some territories were occupied and others
were alloted to Axis allies. Two areas were in a special cathegory.
Germany did not wish to incorporate them, but they were not to be
absorbed by her partners. Hense these regions became COUNTRIES
themselves. The new entities - states by default and satellites
par excellence - were Croatia and Slovakia.
The underlying philosophy
of the state was Fascist-Catholic. Its movement, the
Ustasha, was an organization that in the Interior Ministry [led by
Croat Dr. Artukovic who later found his refuge in the United States
of America] developed a uniformed force, somewhat analogous to the
SS, which was performing police functions and running concentration
At the time of its creation the new Croatian state had very
uncertain boundaries. To the north the Germans annexed a good chunk
of Slovenia, stopping only a few miles from Zagreb. To the west the
Italians annexed Ljubljana, most of the Dalmatian coast, and a few
Adriatic islands. To the east the German  commander in Serbia
held the town of Semlin (Zemun), while in the northeast the
Hungarians annexed the basin between the Danube and the Tisza...
On April 30, 1941, the three-week-old
Croatian state issued its first anti-Jewish law, a definition of
the term "Jew." ... The Croatian authorities ...improved upon, the
original Losener definition.
We need only recall the problems to which the original German
definition gave rise to realize that the Croatian definition, with
all its improvements, was drafted by expert hands...
In a very short time the Croatian government also proceeded
to enact all those measures which German bureaucrats had toiled
over for eight years:
- the prohibition of intermarriage
- of employing Aryan servants under forty-five,
- of raising the Croatian flag
- the revocation of name changes adopted since December 1, 1918 -
the marking of Jewish stores and persons,... ,...
By the end of August 1941, after only four months of
Croatian government, most Jewish enterprises worth less than
200,000 kuna (RM 10,000, or $2,500) had been "Aryanized."
The decrees had hardly been issued when the Jewish population
was drawn out of the cities and towns for deportation to interment
camps. In the principal three cities (Zagreb, Sarajevo and Osijek)
roundups were the following...
The camps, which were controlled by
the Directorate for Public Security [run by Croat Eugen Kvaternik,
son of Marshall Slavko Kvaternik] and
garrisoned by the Ustasha, held Serbs, Gypsies, and Croatian
political prisoners, as well as Jews. Numerically, the Serbs were
in first place as inmates and casualties, but for Jews and
Gypsies, death was all but certain...
More than half of Croatian Jewry had been delivered to these
camps. Shunted from one to the other, the Jews were marked for
attrition and annihilation. Most
of the Jewish inmates died in this process of starvation, shootings,
knifings, and blows with
hammers to the head.
An indication of what was happening was given to to Italian Foreign
Minister Ciano on December 16, 1941, in the course of the visit by
high-ranking Croatian delegation to Venice. On that Occasion Pavelic
mentioned that the Jewish population of Croatia had already declined
to little more than a third of its former size...
By the summer of 1942 the depleted community was ripe for
deportation... Thousands of Jews had already
been trekking to the Italian-occupied zone of Croatia and to
Hungarian annexed Yugoslav Backa to find refuge[!]...
The Italian commander in Mostar... had
promised equal treatment to all inhabitants, and he had even refused
to evict Jewish tenants to make room for German Organisation Todt.
When asked for an explanation, he declared that anti-Jewish measures
were "incompatible with the honor of the Italian army."...
The German-Italian negotiations continued
for several months... The Italians first offered to take the Jews
to Italy. Next the negotiators considered the possible removal of
the victims to the island of Lopud, off the Dalmatian coast. Finally
the Italian government promised to concentrate the Jews on the spot.
However, it declined to permit Croatian confiscations of Jewish
property and, more important, refused a German request of Jewish
"labor battalions."... Several thousand Jews had been concentrated
on the Italian-occupied island of Rab, from which they escaped to
partisan-held areas in September 1943.
...The Croatian government availed itself of these departures
to publish its own version of the 11th Ordinance to the Reich Citizens
law. All Jews leaving the country were to loose their Croatian nationality,
in order that they might also lose their property. Again there was an
improvement over the original German decree: any dependents left behind
by the deported persons were also to lose their nationality. On October 9,
1942, Finance Minister [Croat] Kosak agreed to pay to the German government
30 reichsmark for each deported Jew - payment by the Croatian people to
the German people for the German contribution to the "final solution of
the Jewish problem" in Croatia... In March 1943 the representative of
the Reichbahn in Zagreb agreed to furnish cars, to be hooked to regularly
scheduled trains, for the deportation of about 2,000 Jews via Austria to
Auschwitz. On occasion of these deportations, another vain attempt was
made to induce the Italians to cooperate in their zone...
In September the Italian zone disappeared,...
In April 1944 Kasche and the police attache, Helm,
send their final report to Berlin. The Jewish question in Croatia, said
Kasche, had been solved... Neither Kasche nor Helm mentioned that
many Jwes had found refuge among Marshal Tito's partisans, who at that
time had liberated a considerable portion of Yugoslav territory. When
the war was over, about twenty per cent of Croatia's Jews were still
[BACK TO:] Common suffering of Jews and Serbs
The truth belongs to us all.
Feel free to download, copy
Last revised: March 8, 2004