Crveni krst


In Nis, about 200 kilometres south of Belgrade, the nazis set up a concentration camp to house mainly Serbian communists and partisans. The camp was established in 1941 in the former military repository and it was constructed as other Nazi concentration camps. The main camp was not at all large, but only measured about 300 times 300 meters. The first prisoners were Serbian jews who arrived in september 1941, but in the same month other serbian prisoners also began to be imprisoned. Conditions were neither worse nor better than in other Nazi camps. The prisoners were beaten, tortured, deported to other camps or taken by truck and transported to the execution site Bubanj about five kilometers outside Nis. This led to the prisoners rebelling on February 12, 1942. Without weapons, the prisoners attacked the armed guards and about 100 prisoners managed to escape. After the uprising, all Jewish men were murdered at Bubanj and all Jewish women and children were sent to the Sajmiste in Belgrade where they were murdered. In order to strengthen surveillance and make new escape attempts more difficult, the Germans built a wall around the camp. The last execution took place on September 14, 1944. A month later, the camp was liberated by Yugoslav partisans. As always, how many people were in the camp is difficult to determine, but a figure mentioned is about 30,000, of which about 10,000 were murdered at Bubanj.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2009).

Location: 43°19'50" N, 21°53'15" E

Get there: Walk from central Nis.

My comment:

Something that is unique about the camp is not only that it was liberated completely intact but also kept intact. But after the liberation, the camp fell into oblivion and was until the museum opened in 1967 abandoned. All the buildings remain and in the prisoner’s main building there is an exhibition about the camp and on the top floor the punishment cells are preserved. The buildings used by the SS belong to the museum’s administration and other buildings such as the prisoners’ toilet, prison wall and watchtowers remain. It is even possible to go up in the watchtowers even though they, like other buildings, are in great need of restoration and security flaws. Crveni krst means red cross and the reason why the camp was named Red Cross was because the area the camp was located in was called the Red Cross.

Follow up in books: Pavlowitch, Steven: Hitler’s New Disorder: The Second World War in Yugoslavia (2008).