Much is known about the atrocities that took place in the Red Cross camp in the Second World War. And yet probably not all. Something is known, something partial. And something probable will never be. It is well known what kind of things were done in Nis, in the 12th February Camp, that is, the Red Cross Camp. A movie about it was even made, “Lager Nis”. A film about the first organized escape of prisoners from a camp in then occupied Europe. This is one of the most important monuments, not only in Nis, but also in Serbia. Both Europe and the world. One of the few camps from that period that testifies to what people went through during the occupation. Today this location is called the Memorial Complex Camp 12th February.
This object has several Names. His original name is the Memorial Complex February 12. But he it rarely talked about with that name. This concentration camp in Nis is usually called the “Red Cross Concentration Camp”. Because of the movie, it is also called “Lager Nis”.
Where is Red cross concentration camp located?
The location of the Red Cross Nis camp is in 12th February without number, in Nis. In the city municipality of Crveni Krst (Red cross). You can reach the Nis camp by city bus, lines 3, 9, 7, 12, 34, which you are waiting for on King Alexander Square. Or by taxi. If you come by taxi, it should not cost you more than 300-400 dinars (3,4 euros), from any point in the city.
Concentration camp Nis before WWII
The camp building was built as a barracks in 1930. The entire complex was built for the needs of the cavalry regiment “Milos Obilic” from Nis. With the capitulation of Yugoslavia in 1941, this space got a different purpose. In September 1941, a camp was formed under the command of Captain Heinrich Brant. First, the detainees were Jews and Serbs. It becomes a space designated for the keeping prisoners of war. In the middle of the same year, it was intended to become a camp for the reception and further transport of detainees. What it all looked like is explained by the fact that children were also kept in the camp. Somewhere the children were brought to the camp with their parents. And somewhere separated, and placed in a home.
12th February concentration camp
The numbers are catastrophic. From September 1941 until the disbandment of the camp in 1944, many people passed through here. Over 30,000 people. It is calculated that one third did not survive. About 10,000 of them were shot at the Bubanj hill Memorial Complex. In addition to this attempt, another occurred the same year. But unsuccessful. Nada Tomić, Milka Protić, Jelisaveta Andrejević Aneta, Danica Jovović and Vladimir Jovović were killed then. Apart from them, some of the men took part in the second escape. To date, 3,550 people have been shot and their names identified.
The camp had four categories. Later came fifth. The first category were hostages, respectable citizens. They guaranteed peace in the camp. The second category was Jews. The third category was the partisans. The fourth category consists of members of the Chetnik movement. The fifth category, which was later formed, consisted of foreigners brought there.
The first organized escape from the camp in enslaved Nazi Europe took place in Nis in 1942. They shot us but they never killed us, never subdued us.
In mid-September 1944, at the end of the camp’s existence, the documentation was destroyed. In addition, the remains of those shot at Bubanj hill were burned. And the last 36 detainees from the 12th February Camp were liquidated.
First organized escape form Nazi concentration camp
The fact of escaping from the camp speaks volumes about how much we love freedom here. The Red Cross camp is the first camp in enslaved Europe where an organized escape took place. The date of escape is February 12, 1942. That is how the camp got its name. 147 detainees took part in it. 105 of them managed to escape. The others fell while fleeing. On that occasion, 11 guards were killed. In retaliation, 1100 detainees were shot. Initially 850, and later others. The well known threat of the Nazis, a hundred Serbs for one German, came true.
Second escape from Red cross camp
In early December 1942, the second try for excape happened. But learning about it, the Germans were prepared. And so that attempt to escape failed. Three detainees who tried to escape were killed.
Red cross camp
The main building itself had one flor and an attic. There are solitary confinements in that attic. The detainees were also accommodated in those 20 cells. The women were housed upstairs. In addition to the main building, there were building aids, which still exist today.
Concentration camp in city of Nis
The Concentration camp in Nis, “12th February” , is open almost every working day. The complex is closed on Mondays. They work from Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You have to buy ticket to visit this Concentration camp. Adults pay 200 RSD (about 2euros) once. Children 150 rsd (1,3 euros). If you want a ticket for all objects of the National Museum of Nis, the price is 300 RSD (about 2,5 euros). Retired pensioners, students and pupils have preferential ticket prices, RSD 200 (less than 2 euros). The memorial complex 12th February was declared a monument of exceptional importance for the Republic of Serbia in 1979.
Značaj organizacije Crveni krst u logoru
The Red Cross organization in Nis was formed in 1878. After the liberation from the Ottomans. By their actions, during the occupation, they helped the detainees in many things. They were camp doctors. And since they spoke German, they also served as translators. And as a connection with the outside world.
Righteous Among the Nations
Because of their wholehearted help to the Jews, the Serbs were awarded the Righteous Among the Nations ( חסידי אומות העולם ) by Israel. This is the greatest recognition given to nonjewish nations people for helping Jews during WWII persecution. In Serbia, 135 people received that recognition. In Nis, there are Jelena Glavaški, Zora Budić Stojadinović and Vera Andjelković. During the Second World War, out of 352 Jews from the territory of Nis, 340 were killed or deported. No one survived those pre-war Jews of Nis. Today, there is a smaller Jewish community in the city.
We trampled the darkness, cleared the way for the sun.
Photo credits Where to Serbia ; verse are by Ivan Vučkovič