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Sajmiste Concentration Camp
Sajmiste Concentration Camp
|Location 44°48′46″N 20°26′42″E|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility no|
|Geographical Coordinates 44.81255,20.44562|
The Sajmište concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager Sajmište, Croatian: Koncentracijski logor Sajmište, Serbian: Концентрациони логор Сајмиште, pronounced [sâjmiːʃtɛ]), also known as the "Jewish camp in Zemun" (German: Judenlager Semlin), was a Nazi concentration camp and extermination camp in Staro Sajmište on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II. Located on the outskirts of Belgrade, it was established on 28 October 1941. Intended to detain Serbs, Jews, Roma and others, the camp was run by German SS-Untersturmführer Herbert Andorfer, who became notorious for using a gas van to kill thousands of Jewish inmates. With the extermination of the original Jewish inmates, the camp was renamed "Concentration Camp Zemun" (German: Ahhalte Lager Semlin) and served to hold one last group of Jews who were arrested upon the surrender of Italy in September 1943. During this time it also held captured Yugoslav Partisans, Serbian Chetniks, sympathizers of the Greek and Albanian resistance movements, and Serb peasants from villages in other parts of the NDH. During this period, conditions in Sajmište deteriorated to such an extent that some began comparing it to Jasenovac and other large concentration camps throughout Europe. In 1943 and 1944, evidence of atrocities committed in the camp was destroyed by units led by SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel, and thousands of corpses were exhumed from mass graves and incinerated. The camp was closed in July 1944. Estimates of the number of deaths at the camp range from 23,000–47,000, with the number of Jewish deaths estimated at 7,000–10,000. It is thought that half of all Serbian Jews perished at Sajmište. Most of the Germans responsible for the operation of the camp were captured and brought to trial. Several were extradited to Yugoslavia and executed. Camp commander Herbert Andorfer and his deputy Edgar Enge were arrested in the 1960's after many years of hiding. Both men were subsequently given short prison sentences in West Germany and Austria, respectively, although Enge's sentence was never carried out due to his age and poor health.
After the war, Belgrade Jews murdered during the Holocaust, including those at Sajmište, were not commemorated by Yugoslavia's new Communist government. At present, the old Sajmište fairgrounds are marked by small plaques and a statue to commemorate those detained in the camp. The plaques were dedicated in 1974 and 1984, respectively. In 1987, the Sajmište fairgrounds were given cultural landmark status by the government of Yugoslavia. A 10-meter high monument created by artist Miodrag Popović was erected on the banks of the Sava in 1995. However, no memorial centers or museums have ever been built on the former campgrounds. Today, the area where the camp was located is used as a state-run facility housing low-income residents of Belgrade. It is estimated that as many as 2,500 people presently live on the grounds of the former camp.