October 20 This Day During World War ll

October 20, 1941 – Thousands of civilians in Kragujevac in German-occupied Serbia are killed in the Kragujevac massacre. The Kragujevac massacre was the murder of men and boys in Kragujevac, Serbia, by Nazi German soldiers between 20–21 October 1941. All males from the town between the ages of sixteen and sixty were assembled by German troops and members of the Serbian Volunteer Commandand Serbian State Guardincluding high school students, and the victims were selected from amongst them. On 29 October 1941, Felix Benzler, the plenipotentiary of the German foreign ministry in Serbia, reported that 2,300 people were executed.Later investigations by the post-war Yugoslavian government came up with between 5,000 and 7,000 people executed, although these figures were never proven reliable.Subsequently, Serbian and German scholars have agreed on the figure of 2,778. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel had issued an order on 16 September 1941 (OKW-Befehl Nr. 888/41), applicable to all of occupied Europe, to kill 50 communists for every wounded German soldier and 100 for each German soldier killed. German soldiers were attacked in early October by the Communist Partisans and by Chetniks under Draza Mihajlovic near Gornji Milanovac, and the massacre was a direct reprisal for the German losses in that battle. A German report stated that: “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.” On 18 October 1941, all of the Jewish males in Kragujevac were arrested, and along with some alleged communists this group numbered about 70 men. As this number was insufficient to meet the quota, over the period of 18–21 October, the entire city was raided. Around 10,000 male civilians, aged 16–60, were arrested by German troops, members of the 5th Detachment of the Serbian Volunteer Command under the command of Marisav Petrović, and the Serbian State Guard.A whole generation of high school students was taken directly from their classes. The executions started at 6pm on the following day. People were shot in groups of 400. The shootings continued into the next day, at a lesser pace. The remaining prisoners were not released, but held as hostages for further reprisals. On 31 October 1941, Franz Böhme, the Commanding General in Serbia, sent a report to Walter Kuntze of the shootings that took place 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.” Kuntze issued a directive on 19 March 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).”Franz Böhme went on trial for the Kragujevac massacre among other war crimes. 

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