Victims of Banjica concentration camp commemorated

BELGRADE - The 70th anniversary of the closing of Banjica, the largest World War II concentration camp in occupied Serbia, was marked in Belgrade on Sunday.

President of the Republic of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic

From July 9, 1941 to October 1944, the concentration and execution camp in Banjica, operated by the Gestapo and Belgrade Special Police, saw around 250,000 detainees, of which 30,000 were shot at the execution site in Jajinci, near Belgrade.

The central commemorative event was held at the Jajinci Memorial Park, where Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic, and Minister of Veteran Policy Aleksandar Vulin paid their respects to the victims and laid wreaths at the memorial, with full state and military honors.

The wreath-laying ceremony was attended by the representatives of Serbian Armed Forces, the City of Belgrade, the Alliance of Associations of the National Liberation War Veterans of Serbia (SUBNOR) and the Association for cherishing the tradition of Serbian liberation wars, members of the diplomatic corps, and numerous citizens, who also paid tribute to the victims of the camp.

“We will forever preserve the memory of the innocents who perished here in Jajinci. Their plight is part of our collective memory, a historical scar on the soul of the state and the society, which obligates us, in the name of all innocent tortured and murdered Serbs, Jews and Roma, to remain that part of the consciousness and conscience of the humanity that is doing everything to prevent such crimes from repeating anywhere in the world,” President Nikolic said at the ceremony.

The Serbian nation fought and defended itself, brought almost to the verge of survival, Nikolic said, stressing that “if anyone has the right to warn on behalf of innocent victims and to urge the world to embrace peace, reason and reconciliation, it is Serbia.”

Serbia today has no enemies, and it cooperates with all those who sincerely want it and who see us as their equals, said Nikolic.