World War II Victims Remembrance Day
World War II Victims Remembrance Day is a public holiday observed annually in Serbia on the 21st of October. This holiday remembers all the Serbians who died during World War II. It also serves as a memorial to the Kragujevac Massacre that took place on this date in 1941.
During this massacre, almost 3,000 Serbian men and boys were killed by Nazi troops in Kragujevac. Although this day is currently a public holiday in Serbia, it is a working day as well, so people do not receive the day off, and many businesses remain open. Even so, many of the events that take place on this day are attended by those who want to remember the fallen.
The History of World War II Victims Remembrance Day in Serbia
In 1941, Serbian resistance attacks on German forces began to increase, so the Nazis decided to take retaliatory action. For every German soldier killed, they decided that 100 hostages needed to be killed, and for every German wounded, 50 hostages would be executed. This formula came from the very top of the Nazi hierarchy and was intended to suppress anti-Nazi resistance in Eastern Europe.
On October 21st, 1941, 2,700 Serbian men and boys were killed during the Kragujevac Massacre. Eventually, the Germans decided to stop using the ratio of 100 Serbs to every killed German, not because of the cruelty of it but because they felt it was ineffective in curbing Serbian resistance. The Nazis abolished the practice in 1943.
Observing the History of World War II Victims Remembrance Day in Serbia
All across Serbia, there are solemn ceremonies that pay tribute to those who were massacred throughout WWII and not just the people lost during the Kragujevac Massacre. Even though this is an important memorial day in Serbia, it is not a day off for the general public.