Yugoslavia was dismembered during the Second World War: It consisted of German-aligned Croatia, German-occupied Serbia and areas temporarily occupied/annexed by neighboring countries. In the present context, we focus on Serbia and Croatia. (See the entry on Jewish demography for a broader perspective.)


In July 1941, a major uprising occurred in Serbia, which the German forces managed to quell only with draconian reprisal measures, during which 100 hostages were shot for every killed German soldier. Next to communists, partisans and Serb nationalists, almost all Serbian Jewish males were held as hostages. In the end, almost all of these Jewish men were executed in reprisal killings. Some 7,000 women, children and the elderly were kept in the Semlin Camp near Belgrade. Documents indicate that they were slated for deportation, but the orthodoxy insists that they were murdered using a gas van. (See the entry on Semlin for details.)


About 39,000 Jews are believed to have lived on the territory which was short-lived wartime Croatia. Some 6,200 of them were deported in two batches of transports, the first with some 5,000 individuals in the second half of 1942, and a second batch in May 1943. Only some 1,700 of these Jews were shipped to Auschwitz, the rest evidently to various destinations in Germany. The fate of the other Jewish inmates is unclear, but is closely linked to the events that unfolded at the Jasenovac Camp. Only a minority of the inmates of that camp were Jews, but the general death toll for this camp ranges wildly, and both documental and forensic evidence is scant, such that no reliable estimate can be developed. (See the entry on Jasenovac for details.)

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