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On 2 October 1941, at a small village near Topola, a troop unit of the 521st Army Signal Regiment consisting of 2 officers and 45 men was ambushed from the cornfields along the road on which they were traveling. A few dead and wounded were found at the scene of the attack. In a small valley nearby, other dead soldiers were found. A survivor who escaped being killed by feigning death gave information that these men had been lined up and killed by the partisans by machine gun fire. The total casualties consisted of 22 dead, 3 wounded, and 15 or 16 missing. The incident was reported through regular channels to higher commanding officers.
On 4 October 1941, General Boehme issued an order of reprisal for the killing near Topola which was in part as follows (NOKW-192, Pros. Ex. 78) [Document reproduced in section VB.]:"Twenty-one soldiers were tortured to death in a bestial manner on 2 October 1941 in a surprise attack on units of the signal regiment between Belgrade and Obrenovac. As reprisal and retaliation, 100 Serbian prisoners are to be shot at once for each murdered German soldier. The Chief of the Military Administration is requested to pick out 2100 inmates in the concentration camps Sabac and Belgrade (primarily Jews and Communists) and to fix the place and time as well as burial place. The detachments for the shooting are to be formed from the 342d Division (for the Sabac concentration Camp) and from the 449th Corps Signal Battalion (for the Belgrade concentration camp). * * *
On 9 October 1941, General Boehme informed the defendant List as follows [NOKW-1211, Pros. Ex. 79]:"Execution by shooting of about 2000 Communists and Jews in reprisal for 22 murdered of the 2d Battalion of the 521st Army Signal Communication Regiment in progress."
Another report distributed to the 12th Army commanded by the defendant List stated 180 men were executed on 9 October 1941, and an additional 269 were executed on 11 October 1941. After the killing of the 449 men, the psychological effect upon the participating units was such that a transfer of the mission was made to another unit.
On 9 October 1941, the Chief of the Security Police and of the SD reports [NO-3156, Pros. Ex. 81]:"In reprisal for the 21 German soldiers shot to death near Topola a few days ago 2100 Jews and gypsies are being executed. The execution is carried out by the German armed forces. The task of the Security Police is merely to make available the required number. Eight hundred and five Jews and gypsies are taken from the camp in Saba, the rest from the Jewish transit camp Belgrade." On 20 October 1941, the Chief of the Security Police and of the SD in Berlin reported to the Armed Forces Commander Southeast as follows [NO-3404, Pros. Ex. 82]: "In reprisal for 21 dead German army soldiers 2100 Jews from the Jewish camp were made available for execution by order of XVIII Corps Headquarters. The Wehrmacht is carrying out the execution."
On 21 October 1941, the Chief of the Security Police and the SD reported to the Armed Forces Commander Southeast in part as follows [NO-3402, Pros. Ex. 83]:"After ruthless action by the troops was bound to fail up to the time of the employment of the Plenipotentiary Commanding General in Serbia because of the lack of corresponding orders Lieutenant General Boehme's order, according to which 100 Serbs will be executed for every soldier killed and 50 for ever soldier wounded, has established a completely clear-cut line for action. On the strength of this order, for instance, 2200 Serb and Jews were shot in reply to an attack on a convoy near Topola, during which 22 members of the Wehrmacht perished, while in return for the soldiers killed in the fight for Kraljevo so far 1736 inhabitants and 19 Communist women from Kraljevo have been executed."
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