Yugoslavia is located in the northwest of the Balkan Peninsula in the southeast of Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea in the West.
The coast is the tortuous and narrow Dalmatian coast.
It borders Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania on the north, East and west respectively.
From the late 1930s, Germany began to adopt the strategy of giving priority to economic and political means and supplemented by military threats to fully infiltrate the Balkans in order to achieve the purpose of fully controlling the Balkan countries.
On the basis of the anti fascist treaties and the anti fascist policies of some countries in the Balkans, it gradually satisfies the anti fascist political demands of some countries in the Balkans with the anti fascist policies of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of Germany.
In the autumn of 1940, the Balkans became important to both belligerents.
British policy has become more active.
Due to the breakdown of the negotiations between Germany and the Soviet Union on a series of issues, including the Balkan issue, there is no hope of invading Britain, and the “sea lion” plan to land in Britain has been postponed indefinitely.
Therefore, while stepping up preparations for the “Eastern war” to be implemented in the following spring, he planned to go south and capture the whole Mediterranean region from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Suez Canal and the Middle East with the support of Spain and Italy, so as to solve the conflict with Britain through the so-called periphery.
In this way, Hitler accelerated the pace of conquering the Balkans in an all-round way.
Hitler believed that the whole situation in the Balkans would depend on Yugoslavia’s attitude.
He worried that Yugoslavia would take actions against Germany when the German army marched into Greece through Bulgaria.
Moreover, Turkey’s attitude depends to a considerable extent on Yugoslavia’s attitude.
Therefore, Hitler tried every means to pull Yugoslavia to the side of the axis powers through “peaceful means”.
In early March 1941, the German army occupied the position along the South Bulgaria border.
Yugoslavia’s strategic posture has become very unfavorable.
In the north and East, it has been surrounded by Germany and countries joining the axis camp, and in the south, Greece, which borders it, is fighting against Italy, so Yugoslavia’s southern border is also unreliable.
Hitler promised that if Yugoslavia signed a treaty, Germany would guarantee the Yugoslav border and cede the Greek Salonica to Yugoslavia.
Under the coercion and inducement of Germany, the Yugoslav government joined the axis in March 1941.
When the news reached Belgrade, it aroused strong opposition from the Yugoslav people.
Rallies and demonstrations were held all over the country, suggesting that “war is better than agreement!” “Better die than be a slave” and other slogans.
Communists have played a positive role in organizing mass struggle.
The pro British faction of the Yugoslav bourgeoisie, taking advantage of the support of the army and the masses, launched a coup in the early morning of March 27, overthrew the zweitkovic government and established a new government headed by general simovich, commander in chief of the air force.
However, fearing the German invasion, the new government denied changing its policy and continued to show loyalty to Germany.
Nevertheless, Hitler was still worried that the change of the Yugoslav government would lead to Yugoslavia’s withdrawal from the sphere of influence of the axis powers, thus undermining the entire strategic attempt of Germany and endangering the upcoming “Marita” action of invading Greece, especially the “Barbarosa” action of attacking the Soviet Union scheduled to start on May 15.
On March 27, Hitler signed the 25th directive on the elimination of Yugoslavia by force.
The Directive states that the military coup in Yugoslavia has changed the political situation in the Balkans.
Even if Yugoslavia now expresses its loyalty, it should be regarded as an enemy and smashed as soon as possible.
Hitler pointed out that destroying Yugoslavia in one fell swoop could also serve as a deterrent to the Turks.
The German command decided to attack Yugoslavia and Greece at the same time.
On the same day and night, Hitler sent a letter to Mussolini asking the other party to stabilize its position on the Albanian front and prepare to cooperate with the German army, which received a positive response from Mussolini.
To carry out this campaign, Germany gathered a large number of troops from Italy, Hungary and other countries.
The second group army of the Italian army is concentrated on the southern border, while the ninth and tenth group armies of the Italian Army are concentrated on the Albanian border.
At the request of Germany, Bulgaria gathered the main force of its army in Turkey in order to provide rear cover for the German army invading Yugoslavia and Greece.
In order to better coordinate the military actions of German allies and servant countries participating in the Balkan War, Hitler signed directive No.
26 on “cooperation with allies in the Balkans” on April 3, 1941.
In sharp contrast to the careful battle plan of fascist Germany, Yugoslavia and Greece are indecisive in defense preparation and lack of organization and coordination.
When Germany began to actively prepare for aggression against Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav government delayed organizing resistance.
After simovich’s new government came to power, the risk of German invasion of Yugoslavia increased significantly, but the new government delayed the pre war mobilization and hoped to reach a compromise with Germany to avoid war.
It was not until March 30, 1941 that the Yugoslav government declared April 3 as the start date of “secret mobilization”.
As a result, the precious time for mobilization and the completion of the strategic deployment of the armed forces was lost in vain.
The new government even decided to send Slobodan Jovanovic, the second deputy prime minister, to Rome on April 6 to negotiate with Italy to mediate the relations between Yugoslavia and Germany.
Because Yugoslavia’s position in the war was very important to Greece, the military representatives of Britain, Greece and Yugoslavia held negotiations on the Greek border on April 3 to discuss the coordination between the armed forces.
Participating in the negotiations were general papagos, commander in chief of the Greek armed forces, general Wilson, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, and general Jankovic, deputy chief of general staff of Yugoslavia.
Due to the limited military assistance provided by Britain and the fear of further deterioration of relations with Germany, Yugoslavia failed to reach a formal agreement with Britain and Greece on the issue of coordinated operations.
However, Jankovic said that although Yugoslavia cannot guarantee to participate in the Allied side, if the German army attacks Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia will defend all borders and cooperate with the Greek army to attack the Italian army in Albania.
In the early morning of April 6, the German army launched a sudden attack on Yugoslavia and Greece at the same time.
In order to prevent the expansion of the Yugoslav armed forces, the German and Italian air force carried out heavy bombing of important airports and transportation lines in Yugoslavia, especially important cities such as Belgrade.
Meanwhile, the German ArmyFirst, the armored division and infantry division of the 12th group army crossed the border of Baonan at the same time in three sections and invaded Macedonia in southern Yugoslavia.
Facing the German invasion, the Yugoslav government did not take corresponding military measures.
It thought that after Germany issued an ultimatum, it could mobilize calmly as in previous wars.
On the day of the war, simovich was busy attending his daughter’s wedding in the suburbs of Belgrade.
Only 12 hours after the outbreak of the war did the Yugoslav government hastily declare a state of emergency and carry out national mobilization.
In order to quickly divide the third group army in Yugoslavia and Macedonia and ensure the freedom of movement of the German army fighting with Greece, the 40th army of the 12th group army of Germany attacked in two directions: one force attacked Skopje, an important transportation hub.
Attack shtep and Flores with another force.
In addition, the second armored division of the 18th mountain army advanced along the stromica Valley and went south from the northwest of Lake doeran to Thessaloniki, an important Greek town, in order to detour the Greek army to build a defensive line.
Under the coordination of two mountain divisions and one infantry division, it launched a sudden attack on the Greek East Macedonian group army.
The 30th army carried out auxiliary raids on the Western Thrace region adjacent to Turkey.
Within two days, the third group army of the southern army in Macedonia was defeated.
On April 7, the German army occupied Skopje and shtep, cutting off the connection between Yugoslavia and Greece.
The southern army was forced to withdraw to the south, and the strategic plan of fighting with Greek and British troops came to naught.
On April 10, the German advance detachment established contact with the Italian army near Ohrid lake.
All this has created conditions for the development of attacks.
On April 8, the first German armored group launched an attack on the southern wing of the fifth Yugoslav army from the northwest of Sofia, which was resisted by the southern army.
With the strong firepower support of the artillery and air force, the German armored forces attacked along both sides of the Sofia Nish railway, developed rapidly, reached a breakthrough on the first day, divided the fifth group army of Yugoslavia after occupying Nish and other cities, and entered the rear of the sixth group army of the Southern Army.
At dawn on April 10, the German second group army launched a major assault by taking advantage of the favorable political situation in Yugoslavia at that time, with the purpose of fully occupying Yugoslavia and meeting with the Italian army.
The second German group army advanced to Belgrade along the Drava River with one force and the rest to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.
On the evening of the 10th, the German army occupied Zagreb.
After several days of fighting, the Yugoslav Army stopped its resistance in Croatia and Slovenia.
On April 11, the German armored forces crossed the dense Southern Army troops and arrived at a place 80 kilometers away from Belgrade from the southeast.
Here, they encountered the southern wing of the retreating sixth group army of the southern army and defeated it the next day.
The German military authorities officially took over the city on the 13th after the two German groups moving from the southeast and northwest met in Belgrade.
On April 14, the king of Yugoslavia hurriedly flew from Kotor to Britain.
The next day, the Yugoslav Army stopped resistance after 12 days of fighting.
On April 17, Yugoslavia officially signed the unconditional surrender.
At the same time, the joint attack of Germany and Italy also disintegrated Greece’s defense.
Greek Prime Minister corinthias committed suicide and the participating troops surrendered one after another.
On April 14, after the British Expeditionary Force was cut off from the main force of the Greek army, the British Expeditionary Force headquarters thought that there was no hope of resisting the German attack, so they successively withdrew the main force of the British Army by sea.
In addition to the great difference in military strength between the belligerents, the failure of the Greek and British forces in defense operations, the lack of coordination between the Greek and British forces in the deployment of defense campaigns, the lack of contact between various defense groups and the unwillingness of the Greek military command to shrink its troops in time are also important reasons for the failure.
The German army achieved its goal in the battle of the Balkans at a smaller cost.
About 8500 German casualties and 3000 missing.
The Yugoslav, Greek and British Expeditionary Forces suffered great losses.
About 370000 people of the southern army were captured, 220000 of the Greek army were floating, and 12000 of the British army were killed, injured and captured.