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"The Destruction of the European Jews"

by Professor Raul Hilberg

Published by: Holmes & Meier Publishers, New York
Edition 1985


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.

Page 683:

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...

Page 684:

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 Jewish hostages...

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...

Page 685:

...Expert in Jewish affairs, Rademacher... turned to Adolf Eichman. The RSHA's expert on Jewish affairs had a remedy: "Eichman proposes shooting."

Page 686:

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 broken.

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...

Page 688:

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 account the ratio 1:100 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,..."

Page 690:

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."

Page 691:

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...

As 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."

Page 708:

Satellites per Excellence

During the 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.

Page 709:


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 camps.

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 [1] commander in Serbia held the town of Semlin (Zemun), while in the northeast the Hungarians annexed the basin between the Danube and the Tisza...

Page 711:

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...

Page 712:

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...

Page 713:

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, torture, drowninigs, 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[!]...

Page 715:

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."...

Page 716:

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.

Page 717:

...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 alive.

(End quote)

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