The Jewish community in the territory of Niš had an extremely long and rich tradition. In
the interwar period, between 300 and 400 members of the Jewish community lived in Niš. They
were fully incorporated in the dominant social, cultural and political life in the Kingdom of
The collapse of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after the April 1941 war and the
establishment of the German military occupation apparatus in Niš, as in other parts of the
occupied territories, were followed by stages leading to the systematic destruction of the Jews.
These were first reflected in first registering the entire Jewish population, then their marking,
which involved wearing the Star of David and a yellow ribbon, restricting their movement,
confiscating property and sending them to forced labor. Some of the refugees from various parts
of Europe, who had been accommodated in the Kuršumlijska Banja before the war began, were
moved to Jewish and Serbian families in Niš, Leskovac and Priština with the arrival of the
Germans. Thus, 155 more Jewish emigrants found themselves in Niš and were subjected to the
same measures as native Jews.
As early as October 1941, in accordance with a German order, adult Jews from Niš were
gathered at the Park Hotel and interned at the newly established camp in the Crveni krst
municipality. Meanwhile, the Niš Roma were detained and arrested in the camp. Among the
detainees were political opponents, insurgents and prominent people from Niš who had been
brought as hostages. By the end of the year, the remaining male Jews from Niš and the
surrounding area were imprisoned in the camp, while women and children began arriving from
the beginning of 1942.
The Gestapo-controlled camp was located on the site of the former Yugoslav Army
barracks, near the train station, and, as of April 1941, it operated as a temporary detention camp
for the Yugoslav military prisoners and as a prison for opponents of the Reich regime. It was
enclosed by a double row of barbed wire, while the camp premises contained a rectangular
building with comprising the ground floor, the first floor and the attic, additional camp premises,
as well as observation towers. The life of the Jews in the camp was especially difficult. They
were forced to go to forced labor and were subjected to constant psychological and physical
torture. Living conditions in the camp, given the inability to maintain hygiene, the cold and the
poor nutrition, were extremely difficult.
On the eve of the much-anticipated retaliation against the detainees, on 12 February
1942, the first escape from the Nazi concentration camps of considerable proportions was carried
out. The planned reprisals were still carried out, and, in February 1942, more than 850 prisoners
of the Penitentiary and those from Crveni Krst were massacred in Bubanj, near Niš. The victims
included almost all male Jews from the Crveni krst camp, as well as one part of Roma and Serbs.
In late February 1942, women and children from the Crveni Krst camp were deported by train to
the Staro Sajmište camp in Belgrade, where they were soon killed in gas vans. The remaining
Jews from the Crveni Krst camp were shot dead at Bubanj by February 1943. Almost the entire
Jewish community in Niš was destroyed during the Holocaust.
The Crveni Krst camp survived until 1944. During this time, it operated as a temporary
camp from which prisoners were being taken outside the borders of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
or shot at Bubanj. The 12 February memorial is situated at the site of the former Crveni Krst
prison camp, in memory of more than 30,000 prisoners who passed through it.
Literature: Zoran Milentijević, Jevreji zatočenici logora Crveni krst (Jews, Prisoners of the Crveni Krst Camp), Niš 1978, Miroslav M. Milovanović, Nemački koncentracioni logor na
Crvenom krstu i streljanja na Bubnju (The German Concentration Camp at Crveni Krst and
Shootings at Bubanj), Beograd 1983, Nebojša Ozimić, Logor na Crvenom krstu (The Crveni Krst
Camp), Niš 2011, Ivana Gruden Milentijević, Nebojša Ozimić, Niški Jevreji u logoru Sajmište,
(The Niš Jews at the Sajmište Camp), Niš 2017.