Institut za noviju istoriju Srbije, Beograd



Narodni muzej Čačak


Tram, carriage and bicycle: Everyday traffic in occupied Belgrade in 1941 


Abstract: The paper discusses the changes in the Belgrade traffic system under the German occupation in 1941, an unavoidable part of everyday life that was radically transformed during the war. By reconstructing and analyzing the standard routines in the city’s traffic system, we perceive the disruption of the pre-war lifestyle and subsequent institution of newly imposed rules of conduct. Unlike the peacetime routine, when individuals could disobey or rearrange many restrictive laws without too much concern, during the occupation everyday traffic became one of the most conspicuous and unavoidable restrictive systems, a prominent symbol of obedience, loss of individuality and identity. 


Key words: Belgrade, Nazi occupation, everyday life, traffic, train, tram, automobile, carriage, bicycle, pedestrians 


Summary: The German occupation of Belgrade introduced a number of changes in the city’s traffic that could not be avoided or ignored. The city’s entry and exit points were strictly controlled. The usual railway route was slowed down because of the reduced number of departures, occasionally even completely suspended. Communication with Šabac, Zemun and Pančevo was serviced mainly by slow riverboats. Walking, the most common mode of transit in the city, was limited by curfews, by closing off certain streets, and by fear from the occupying soldiers. The bicycle became a popular means of transportation; they were banned on the outskirts of the city after the uprising, because it was suspected that the guerillas used them in organizing their courier network. The main mode of transportation in Belgrade were trams, but their use became limited because of  the reduced number of vehicles. The privileged status of the Germans in trams caused more crowding. The occupiers confiscated most of the private cars, and there were limitations for their use for those private individuals who were allowed to keep them. These were people who cooperated with the occupiers or whose work was instrumental in the life of the city and its population. The number of taxi cars was reduced, and carriages and other horse-drawn vehicles took over the role of transporting passengers. Introduction of numerous restrictions in the freedom of move ment was a means of disciplining the population, whose obedience was expected, so that the power balance between the victors and the defeated was demonstrated in the very form of movement. The occupiers commanded speed ​​and modernity, while the occupied were left with standing in lines, pushing and shoving, fighting for limited resources, frequent  controls, fines and a forcible return to technologically backward means of transportation.