Banjica concentration camp was a Nazi German concentration camp in World War II, located in the eponymous suburb of Belgrade. It started as a center for holding hostages, but later included Jews, Serbian communists and captured partisans and Roma. It can be seen from the seized registers which were kept at the Belgrade camp that 23,637 names of prisoners were entered in the camp register. Commandant of the Banjica concentration camp was Willy Friedrich, a Gestapo official.
The Banjica camp was established as early as June 1941 and shut down at the end of September 1944, a month before the withdrawal of the Germans from Belgrade. One of the barracks of the former Yugoslav Army in that Belgrade's suburb was transformed into a concentration camp.
The main reason for this step were the first decisive steps of the systematic destruction of the Jewish population were taken—on May 30 1941: the German military administration defined what a Jew was, demanded the removal of Jews from the professional and public service, started registration of Jewish property, introduced forced labor, forbade the Serbian population form hiding Jews (Beherbergungsverbot), and ordered all members of the Jewish community to wear the yellow Star of David. Communists in German-occupied Serbia orchestrated an uprising there, to which the Germans responded by requiring Jews in Serbia to supply forty hostages weekly. The first reprisal executions in late June were against "Communists and Jews".
Officially, the beneficiary of the confiscated assets was the "Serb state" . The Germans, however, withheld 60 percent of the funds; 600 million dinar out of one billion, to cover claims for war damages suffered by Reich Germans in Serbia.
The village of Jajinci near Belgrade functioned as an execution site for inmates from the Banjica camp.
One of the Banjica prisoners was Toma Petrović, then the British ambassador’s driver, who tried to conceal a quantity of arms and explosives which had been left inside the British Embassy premises and who was betrayed to the Gestapo.
As per Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, "In November 1943 SS-Standartenfuehrer Paul BLOBEL, the officer in charge of AKTION 1005, came to Belgrade in order to set up a unit that would disinter the bodies of the murder victims and burn them. The unit, consisting of fifty Sicherheits polizei (Security Police) men and German military police, as well as 100 Jewish and Serbian prisoners was engaged in its gruesome task of obliterating the traces of the murders up to the fall of 1944". From the few preserved lists, it can be observed that even children were executed: 22 under the age of 7; 26 under the age of 14; 76 under the age of 17; even mothers with small children in their arms.
Several thousands of the prisoners were sent to the concentration and labour camps in Germany, like Mauthausen-Gusen and Auschwitz. The museum of Banjica prison camp has of the materials taken from the prisoners, including photos, personal belongings, drawings, and hand-made art.
The Banjica concentration camp ex-commandant, Willy Friedrich, was tried by a Yugoslav military court at Belgrade on March 27, 1947 and sentenced to death.