TOPOVSKE ŠUPE CONCENTRATION CAMP

WHERE IS IT?

The complex of the Jewish transit concentration camp Topovske šupe in Belgrade is located at Autokomanda in Voždovac, in Tabanovačka Street no.1.

THE HISTORY

The camp was organized by the Germans in the "Cannon Sheds" at Autokomanda served from August 1941. to imprison Jews and Romani. During the three months of its existence, the camp primarily served as a place for executions due to the losses suffered by the Germans in the battles with the insurgents in Serbia. The first detainees were Jews from Banat, who were expelled to Belgrade by local Germans (better known as Folkdojčeri- Volksdeutscher). Later, all Jewish men from Belgrade were interned, and lastly Romani.  The detainees were housed in 2 two- storey buildings former stables. On that cramped space, an average of about 1400 Jews were "accommodated".

In addition to the beds on the floor, plank beds were made at the height of the horse mangers. The detainees were tortured in the attic one of the buildings, in a space surrounded by barbed wire. The hanging and burning of the clothes and equipment of the killed "prisoners" was done in the area between the 2 camps facilities. The Germans fenced these buildings in which the camp was located with a high wooden fence, which separated the camp space from the building where were the workshops for the German army. All of them, except for rare cases, were killed in mass shootings in the autumn of 1941. at the execution sites around Belgrade (mostly in Jabuka near Pančevo). Available documents show that the systematic execution of Jews and Romani began in September 1941. The hostages were taken from the camp near the "Topovske šupe". The shootings were then individual and small-scale, while in October and November they became mass. After the murder of 21 German soldiers near Topola, General Beme, the German military commander for Serbia, ordered on 4th October that 2100 be shoot in retaliation for the killed soldiers. The places of liquidations were often changed so that we record the most mass shooting in Jajinci, in the village of Jabuka near Pančevo, Bubanj potok, Bežanija, in the forest near Deliblatska peščara and elsewhere. In mid-November 1941., a maximum of 200 to 300 Jews remained in the Topovske šupe camp.

STATUS

In 1979, the Institute for Planning the Development of the City of Belgrade foresaw the construction of a complex of facilities, the bus station "South" on the area where the buildings of the former barracts are located and in which the Topovske šupe Concentration camp was located. The project for the construction of the "South" station foresaw the demolition of all exiting buildings in that area. For that occasion, the experts of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the city of Belgrade prepared a study of the conditions for this area.

The location of Topovske šupe camp is forgotten, neglected and unknown to the general public.  After the commemorative plaque erected by the Association of Jewish Communities of Serbia in 2018. was stolen, representatives of the Jewish Community of Belgrade unveiled a new memorial plaque on the 2nd May in 2019., on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance and Courage- Yom Hashoah Ve- Hagevurah.

In February 2020 The Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on the memorial Center "Staro sajmište- Old Fairground camp" which includes the area of Topovske supe as well. Its purpose is to create a legal basis for the institutional care and protection of this area and contribute to the culture of remembering the tragic events of the Second World War.

Written by Alisa Šarac

Translated by Iva Pešić