World War One and Two

After the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian heir presumptive to the throne Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, on 28 June 1914, Austro-Hungary accused the Serbian state for the act and prepared a military attack. In an effort to defend the country, on 25 July 1914, the Serbian Government ordered the evacuation of Belgrade and moved its seat to Nis, which became the so-called wartime capital of Serbia. Only a few days later, a telegram arrived in Nis, stating that Austro-Hungary had declared war on Serbia.

On 7 December 1914, The National Assembly held its session in the Officers' Home Building in Nis, where it adopted the so-called “Nis Declaration”, justifying the goals of the war for liberation and announcing the unification of the south Slavs – Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes – into a single state. Therefore, Nis is rightfully called the “birthplace of Yugoslavia”. From October 1915 to October 1918, Nis was occupied by the Germans, Austrians, and Bulgarians. It was liberated by the Serbian-French army commanded by Duke Petar Bojovic.

In Nis, there is an old military cemetery from this period, which is situated in the present-day settlement Delijski vis, where Serbian soldiers from the Balkan wars, World War One and partially German soldiers from World War One were buried. One part of this cemetery which is separated is actually British Commonwealth military cemetery where British soldiers who had died in World War One were buried. An interesting fact is that today, the cemetery represents a part of the British Commonwealth territory in the area of Nis.

Between the two world wars, Nis was the seat of Moravska Banovina (District).  At that time, the population of the city of Nis was 25,096.

During World War Two (1941-1945) Nis was an important strategic point on the road to Thessaloniki and the Black Sea. It was heavily bombarded and suffered significant repression by the German occupational forces. Testifying to this, one may find today Nis Concentration Camp and Bubanj Memorial Site. Nis was liberated on 14 October 1944, when, after heavy fighting, the German mountain division “Prinz Eugen” was destroyed.