* World War II Europen Theater -- Yugoslavia Croatia German Balaknas offensive

World War II: Yugoslavia Croatia -- German Balkans Offensive (September 1943)

Figure 1.--This photograph was taken at the British El Shatt Camp, in Sinai, Egypt. It was a camp for refugees from Dalmatia, then part of Yugoslavia, now the indepebdent country of Croatia. Most of the refugees brought to safety ny thevRoyal mBavy from Adriarc islands were women and chikdren. The refugees set upnschoold anbd other cultural institutions. The boys here seem to be a class or youth group. The conditions were harsh, but they were safe from the Germans.

There were not many German offensives in 1943, the only major one was shirt libed and failed at Kursk (July 1943). The Italian surrender to the Allies (September 8, 1943) created a problem for the Germans in the Balkans. The Italains has occupied the areas of Yugoslavia along the Adriatic Coast which included the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. This led to dramatic events along the Dalmatian coast and islands. All islands, including Hvar, were liberated by the Partisam National Liberation Army (NOV). Italian garrisons did not resist anf were disarmed, and the city of Split was freed on September 10. The poorly armed partisans managed to obrain a treadure trove of weaoons and amunition, although not the heavy weapons needed to effectiveky resust the Germans. Hitler decided that the Adriatic coast was too strategically important to lose. The liberation of Dalmatia thus was short-lived. The Germans launched an offensive into the Balkans with their dwindling resources. Fierece fighting followed, alththough the Partisans could not hold back heavily armed combat troops. They retook Split (September 27). And they gradually regained control of the entire coast along with the Peljesac Peninsula. They then began perpatations to take back the islands. Many civilians had fled the fighting to the islands as the Germans occuipied Dalmatia. The refugee situation on the islands was desperate. These islands had small populations which were having troubke feeding their own peole. The ffod simply did not exist to feed the many refigees. The islands' population was swelled by more than 15,000 refugees fleeing the Germans, most were on Hvar. The refugees would have to be evacuated to avoid a humnanitarian disaster. The British set out to save the threatened refugees. The fiurst thiught was to get themn to likbrrated areas of southern Italy. The first effort was made by the HMS Bakar which brought refugees from Vis to Bari (October 1, 1943). The British met with the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia (NKOJ) They agreed that 10,000 refugees could be cared for in Italy and the rest would be sentt to camps in North Africa, which were in more secure areas under British control. The Parusan NKOJ demabded full control over the camos with no access allowed for representatives of the Royal Yugoslav government abd the Mihailovic Chetniks. The camp would be overseen and supplied by the Allied Military Liaison. Thus many of the refugees spent 2 years in the Egyorian Desert the conditions were hsrsh, but they were safe from the Germans. [Mizej] The Germans landed on Korcula (December 21) and Hvar (January 19, 1944).


Muzej, Hrvatski Povijesni. "El Shatt, Zbjeg iz Hrvatske u Pustinji Sinaja, Egipat (1944-1946)."


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Created: 10:35 AM 7/6/2020
Last updated: 10:35 AM 7/6/2020