Banjica concentration camp was a Nazi German concentration camp from June 1941 to September 1944 in World War II, located in the eponymous suburb of Belgrade in what was then Yugoslavia. It started as a center for holding hostages, but later included Jews, Serbian communists, Roma, and captured partisans. The camp's registers record the names of 23,637 prisoners. The commandant of the Banjica concentration camp was Gestapo official Willy Friedrich.
The camp, a Yugoslav Army barracks before the German occupation, was part of the systematic destruction of the Jewish population. On May 30, 1941 the German military administration defined what a Jew was, demanded the removal of Jews from the professional and public service, started registration of Jewish property, introduced forced labor, forbade the Serbian population form hiding Jews (Beherbergungsverbot), and ordered all members of the Jewish community to wear the yellow Star of David. Communists in German-occupied Serbia orchestrated an uprising there, to which the Germans responded by requiring Jews in Serbia to supply forty hostages weekly.
The village of Jajinci near Belgrade functioned as an execution site for inmates from the Banjica camp.
One of the Banjica prisoners was Toma PetroviÄ‡, then the British ambassadorâ€™s driver, who tried to conceal a quantity of arms and explosives which had been left inside the British Embassy premises and who was betrayed to the Gestapo.
According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, "In November 1943 SS-Standartenfuehrer Paul BLOBEL, the officer in charge of AKTION 1005, came to Belgrade in order to set up a unit that would disinter the bodies of the murder victims and burn them. The unit, consisting of fifty Sicherheits polizei (Security Police) men and German military police, as well as 100 Jewish and Serbian prisoners was engaged in its gruesome task of obliterating the traces of the murders up to the fall of 1944". The few preserved lists document that even children were executed: mothers with small children in their arms, 22 under the age of 7, 26 between 7 and 14, and 76 between 14 and 17.
Several thousands of the prisoners were sent to concentration and labour camps in Germany such as Mauthausen-Gusen and Auschwitz. The museum of Banjica prison camp has materials taken from the prisoners, including photographs, personal belongings, drawings, and hand-made art.
The Banjica concentration camp was shut down at the end of September 1944, a month before the withdrawal of the Germans from Belgrade. Its commandant, Willy Friedrich, was tried by a Yugoslav military court at Belgrade on March 27, 1947 and sentenced to death.