ABOUT THE CAMP

ABOUT THE CAMP

 

After the invasion of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the Nazi forces set up a military occupation zone and the collaborationist administration in Serbia. Anti-Semitic and anti-Roma regulations were introduced in the first days after the occupation of its capital Belgrade. Jews were particularly affected by these measures, which included wearing a yellow armband, a ban on the use of public transportation, confiscation of property, forced labour and more.

In July 1941, Jews, along with communists, fell hostages and victims of the first shootings carried out by the Nazi forces in retaliation for the partisan uprising. The first camps were established, some for partisans and others for Jews. In mid-August, a camp was established in Belgrade known as the Topovske Šupe (Artillery Sheds).

For the needs of the camp, buildings– artillery sheds - were used which were an integral part of the large barracks of the former Yugoslav army named "Kraljević Andrej", which was located in a densely populated part of the city known as Autokomanda. The camp was most likely under the control of the Gestapo, but it cannot be ruled out that it was directly under the command of the Military Commander for Serbia, that is, the military structure that governed occupied Serbia. The lack of documents does not permit the chain of command to be determined with accuracy.

From some testimonies, it appears that the German commander of the camp was a man whose last name was Brosch and that he was fluent in Serbian. Nothing more is known about him.

The camp was established after the decision to expel the Jews from Banat, a province northeast of Belgrade that was under the administration of the local Germans (Volksdeutsche). The first groups arrived in Belgrade in mid-August 1941. Women and children were housed in the homes of the Belgrade Jews while men were housed in the camp, most likely to make it easier to organise them for forced labour.

Life continued more or less normally around the camp, albeit in changed circumstances caused by the war and occupation. The citizens of Belgrade went to work every day, took a tram that passed in front of the camp, visited the stadium of their favourite football team which was only a few hundred meters from the camp.

The camp had an average of 1,500 detainees and its population was constantly changing, especially since the early October 1941. Namely, after the introduction of the order to shoot 100 hostages for each German killed and 50 for each one wounded, the Nazi authorities in Belgrade continued the practice of shooting Jews and communists. In mid-September, new detainees from other Banat towns arrived to the camp, followed by the Jewish men from Belgrade. In late October, the Roma men from Belgrade were arrested and interned.

It is estimated that about 5,000 Jews and about 1,500 Roma passed through the camp. All were shot in execution sites near Belgrade, mostly near Jabuka.

Very little is still known about the Topovske Šupe camp. The location of the Topovske šupe camp is forgotten, neglected and unknown to the general public. There is a great threat that the buildings that were an integral part of the camp will be destroyed due to the announced construction of a shopping mall. After the commemorative plaque erected by the Association of Jewish Communities of Serbia in 2018 was stolen, the representatives of the Jewish community of Belgrade unveiled a new memorial plaque on 2 May 2019, on the occasion of marking the Day of Remembrance and Courage - Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah.

 

There are only a few scientific articles on the history of the camp in Serbian, the most important of which are:

 

Milovan Pisarri, Beleške o istoriji logora Topovske šupe“, ("Notes on the history of the Topovske šupe Camp"), a historical text developed during the project (https://cpi.rs/publikacije/25)

Nenad Žarković, „Prolazni logor Topovske šupe“, ("The Topovske Šupe Passing Camp "), Nasleđe, No. 10 (2009), p. 103-112 (https://scindeks-clanci.ceon.rs/data/pdf/1450-605X/2009/1450-605X0910103Z.pdf)

Dragan Cvetković, „Logori Topovske šupe i Sajmište kao centralna mesta holokausta u okupiranoj Srbiji – numeričko određenje i kvantitativna analiza“, (“The Topovske šupe and Sajmište camps as central places of the Holocaust in occupied Serbia - numerical determination and quantitative analysis"), H Istorija XX veka, No. 1 (2018), p. 69-92 (https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=646324)

 

There is an article (in English) about the culture of remembrance and places of the Holocaust in Belgrade by Paula Simon Impressions as a history student from Germany: (Holocaust) remembrance in Serbia, (https://cpi.rs/aktuelnost/21/)

 

Sanela Schmid and Christian Schölzel are the authors of the text How to Use the Central German Archives Concerning Research on WWII and the Holocaust in Former Yugoslavia, intended for all researchers interested in researching material in the German archives related to the Holocaust in Serbia (https://cpi.rs/publikacije/27


 

The documentation collected and published on this website represents only a small trace of the history of the victims, their executioners and observers.

ABOUT THE CAMP