"Kragujevac Massacre" Top 5 Page for this destination Kragujevac Travelogue by Zvrlj

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Local command

Kragujevac, October 21st 1941


The cowardly and treacherous surprise attacks on German soldiers during the previous week, on which occasion 10 German soldiers were killed and 26 wounded, had to be punished. For that reason 100 people were shot for each killed German soldier, and for each wounded 50, mainly communists, bandits and their siders, 2300 altogether. Every similar case, even if it were only sabotage, will be dealt with the same severity.

Chief of local command


"The deepest impression that a foreigner can walk away with from one country is the pain that he can feel in that country. That is what I experienced in Kragujevac. Nazi brutality vented its anger in full force on this docile city, turning it into an enormous grave with seven thousand murdered people. It is a difficult memory that I carry. But also a beautiful memory. When someone mentions Yugoslavia, I always remember Kragujevac and its students who were massacred by the enemy. It is then that I am reminded of the heroism of their people."

Jean-Paul Sartre


"Our people display such moral spirit that they do us great justice before the world. What our brothers in Old Fatherland are doing is worthy of the spirit that fills our folk songs. What spiritual strength, fearlessness and heroism our yet immature boys fostered as they cheered before the German gun barrels: 'We are Serb children. Shoot!' How proud we can all be, knowing that there is no other example as magnificent as this in the entire history of the world. Those divine martyrs will live in our memory for centuries, arousing our fascination with their immortal deeds."

Nikola Tesla


"[?] There are many stories of individual heroism. A poem entitled 'Kragujevac' by Radoje Radovanovic. published in Belgrade in 1947, was influential in the development of this annual event (Veliki skolski cas ? The Great School Lesson), as was (poem) Krvava bajka (A Bloody Fairytale) by Desanka Maksimovic, who was herself a secondary school teacher of Serbian language and literature. Radovanovic's poem was dedicated to the memory of Miloje Pavlovic, also a teacher of Serbian, and Principal of the Zenska ucitcljska skola ['Women's Teacher Training School']. Pavlovic was 54 years old when he was killed. The final line of Radovanovic's poem renders Pavlovic's last words as 'Pucajte. Ja i sada drzim cas' ? 'Go ahead. Shoot. I am giving my lesson. Now.' The line is inscribed on a stone slab at the Sumarice site.

Although no witnesses survived to report what Pavlovic actually said to his pupils as he led them out to be shot, in the post-war years in Yugoslavia this line gradually became an ineradicable part of national folklore. It caught the mood of the times in a dignified and appropriate way, and distilled whatever cathartic and positive meaning could be drawn for the townspeople, especially the families of the murdered men and boys, not to mention for the population as a whole.

Another teacher who died heroically at Sumarice was Lazar Pantelic, vice-principal of the Prva muska gimnazija ['First Boys' Grammar School']. He taught biology. Born in the town of Sabac on February 5, 1893, he was 48 years old when he was killed. He left a widow and five children aged between 11 and 16. For reasons that are unclear, on the day of the massacre Pantelic was put into the group designated not be executed. But when he saw that some of his pupils were among those who were going to be shot, he asked if he could take their place. When he was refused, he insisted on joining them. So he walked out to his death voluntarily in front of the boys in his class. [?]"

From The Blue Butterfly by Richard Burns


"Data concerning the number of people shot in Kragujevac are quite various, though among our public, in literature, journalism, even in certain historical textbooks the number 7000 shot prevails. They are often the result of personal impressions which this crime left on contemporaries, and less the result of serious Investigation. Data in German sources: announcements and numerous reports of German commanders and commands speak of 2300 people shot. In the war reports of partisan and cetnik sources we can find mention of 5000 to 12000 people shot, while in the documents of the royal Yugoslav government in London the most frequently mentioned number is 6000 victims. The security chief of the Danube province, Danilo Mihailovic, spent a few days in Kragujevac after the shooting and being overwhelmed by the proportions of the tragedy, but lacking the possibility for a more precise insight, he informed Milan Nedic's government that 7100 to 7300 people had been shot. However, the first serious research into establishing the crime of the occupiers which included the number of people shot in Kragujevac, was carried out after the liberation by the town committee of the regional commission of Serbia for establishing the crimes of the occupiers and their aides. The result of their work is contained in the report issued on 12. 7. 1945 and it records 2324 persons shot. This number, given by the official state organ, was used by Democratic Federal Yugoslavia in its indictment at the trial of a group of German generals before the Allied military court no. 5 in Nuremberg and at the trial of German generals and other high officers before the military court of the third Yugoslav army in Belgrade in 1947. When in 1953 the institution Memorial Park, 'The October of Kragujevac' was established which included the museum 'October 21st', the process of investigating the shooting and collecting material about the people shot was continued. This process continues to the present day. The results of this work indicate 2796 men, women and children shot and 61 survivors, from October 19th to October 21st, 1941."

From the Memorial Museum 21st October permanent exhibition

  • Page Updated Aug 12, 2010
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Comments (1)

  • bakalapoe's Profile Photo
    Nov 12, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Massacres like this had happened in Greece (Distomo, Kalavryta) and some other places at the same period of time...
    I guess the history of your own town is a story of suffering... Love your country, have been many many times in Belgrade and Novi Sad...Greetings from Greece

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