The Royal Government resisted German demands, but finally joined the Axis. A student led coup over throw the Goverment. A furious Hitler orders an invasion and the terror bombing of Belgrade (April 1941). The Wehrmach rapidly moves through the country, experiencing little resistance from the Yugoslav Army. The Germans are enthusiatically greeted by the Croats. The Yugoslav and Greek campaign, however, forced Hitler to delay Barbarossa. The NAZIs annex part of Slovenia to the Reich. The Italians annex the rest of Slovenia and other areas of the country. The initial lack of resistance caused Hitler to assume that the Balkans would be a compliant area in the NAZI New Order. He was suprised later when a major resistance movement developed. Hitler set up a Croatian puppet state and grants the Croats "honorary Aryan" status. The Croatian Fascists (Ustashis) targeted Serb civilians, Jews, and Gipsies. Bosnia granted by the NAZIS to Croatia in particular becomes a killing field. Even the German occupation authorities were shocked by the savagery of Ustashi attrocities. The Ustashi is led by Dr. Ante Pavelic. Unlike the NAZIs, the Ustashi, left an extensive photographic record of their atrocities. Whole villages were whiped out. The Germans also commited attrocities, often in retalitation for resistance operations. The Jasenovac concentration camp was he third largest camp in NAZI occupied Europe. Yugoslav Jews were targeted by the NAZIs as well as the Ustashi and Serbian Chetniks who often cooperated with the Germans. The German's Italian allies, however, did not cooperate with the NAZIs. Bosnian Moslems volunteered to form a SS division. The Allies at first supported the Chetniks. The German reprisals on civilians after Chetnik attacks were so horific that Chetnik commanders hesitated to attack the Germans. Tito's partisans had no such scruples. The Allies after concluding that they were not attacking the Germans and in some cases cooperating with them, shifted support to Tito's Communist Partisans. After the War, Tito did not need the Soviet Red army to install a Communist regime.
Yugoslavia was formed after World War as a monarchy with the pre-War Srbian royal family. The most populace province was Serbia, but other provinces, primarily former Austrian territories were added to form the new cuntry. Some of the provinces, especially Croatia chafed under Serbian domination which made the country very difficult to govern. Alexandar I was crowned King in 1921 after the death of his father King Alexander I, who had acted as Regent for his ailing father since 1914, had earned national fame as a soldier in the Balkan Wars and the First World War. He married Princess Marie of Romania in 1922. They had three sons: Crown Prince Peter, Prince Tomislav, and Prince Andrej. I have little information on how the princes were raised and dressed. Peter I had one younger brother, Arsen Karadjordjevic born in 1859 who lived until 1938. Arsen had one son, Paul Kara-Georgevic (1893- ), who became Prince Regent of Yugoslavia in 1929. He died in 1976. King Alexander's son, Crown Prince Peter, was only 11 years old at the time of his fathr's death when he became King. Three Regents were appointed. His great-uncle Prince Paul--married to Princess Olga of the Hellenes (Greece)-- became the Prince Regent. Constant pressure from The German Government after the NAZI rise to power brought Yugoslavia increasingly into the German orbit through a series of trade and diplomatic agreements. This policy was unpopular, especially with the Serbs. The Royal Government under Prince Paul resisted German demands to join the Axis.
Hitler seized power in Germany (1933). The counties of the Balkans were gradually forced into the NAZI orbit. Prince Paul resisted more than most other Balkan countries. Constant pressure from The German Government after the NAZI rise to power brought Yugoslavia increasingly into the German orbit through a series of trade and diplomatic agreements. Germany even after World War I was the largest economy in Europe. Neigboring countries had to trade with Germany and the NAZIs were able to use this economic power to force concessions from countries like Yugoslavia. Hitler's policy was to bring the Balkans into the NAZI orbit through economic and diplomatic methods. The countries involved resisted to varying degrees. Resistance was possible before Munich (1938). After Munich it was much more difficult.
Germany invaded Poland, launching World War II (September 1939). The Yugoslavian Government, like the other Balkan states, sought to remain neutral. After the fall of France (1940), however, the NAZIs were able to greatly intensify pressure on the Balkans. The NAZIs wee able to more flagerently threaten military action. Hitler still hoped to accomplish his goals with out invading the Balkans. Here his diplomatic offensive was complicated by Mussolini who invaded Greece (October 1940). The Italian invasion pushed the Greeks into seeking British aid. What Hitler wanted was to secure his soithern flank for the upcoming onvasion of the Soviet Union. Romania offered oil. Yugoslavia had many important natural resources, especially non-ferrous metals need by Germany indusxtry. This NAZI policy policy of coopting Yugoslavia was unpopular, especially with the Serbs who had fought Austria and Germany in World War I. The NAZIs by 1940 were pressed the Balkan countries to adhere to the Axis. Prince Paul attempted to resist the NAZIs.
Mussolini from the beginning of his rule wanted territory along the Adriatic Balkans coast . This was in fact a continuatioin of Italy's World War I war aims. Beginning in the 1920s, Fascist Italy covertly supported insurgent groups in Yugoslavia, especially the Croats. Here he ran afoul of Hitler who did not want Yugoslaviadismantled, seeing it as auseful structure through which he could evebntyally exploit the country. [Glenny] Mussolini's invasion of Albania (1939) and Greece (1940) had destabilized the Balkans. Mussolini's actions were launched without any consultation with Hitler. Had it not been for these actions, Germany's southern flank would have been secure. Nussolini, however, turned the Balkans into a war zone. This created the potential for the British to intervene which would have brought the Romanian oilfields, Germany's most important oil resource, within range of allied bombers.
Yugoslavia finally joined the Axis. the Regent, Prince Paul was summoned by Hitler to the Berghof. This was a treatment given by Hitler to other recalitrant neighbors. Prince Paul traveled in total secrecy (March 4-5, 1941). At the Berhof threatened Prince Paul with what would happen if he continued to defy him. He was also offered the emducement of the Greek port of Salonika if he cooperated. Hitler was adroit in offering the territory of other countries to those who cooperated with him. The Royal Government was fully aware of the reaction in Serbia to a pact with the NAZIs. Yugoslav Premier, Dragisha Cvetkovic, and Foreign Minister Aleksander Cincer-Markovic, departed Belgrade in secrecy for Vienna (March 25). They know that public announcement of an impending pact with the NAZIs would provoke demonstrations if not riots. In Vienna they met with Hitler and Ribbentrop and formally signed the documents acceding to the Axis (Tripartite Pact) (March 25). The Yugoslav officials were given written assurance by Ribbentrop assuring them that Germany would to respect "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia at all times" and that the Axis would not insist on transit rights across Yugoslavia "during this war". [Schrier, p 823.] After the War, historians have debated the importance of Salonika. Was this enducement really important in the Government's decesion to to join the Axis or was it Hitler's threat of invasion. Prince Paul and his adbisors may have thought that the acquisition of Salonika might make the arrangement more palitable to Yugoslav nationalists. If so, they misjudged the situation in Belgrade.
Hitler unlike Mussolini, did not want to dismember Yugoslavia, at least not in 1941. This is a good example of the total lack of coordination among the Axis parners. Mussolini was doing his best todestabilize the Balkans and Hitler wanted stability. This can be seen in the deal he imposed on Prince Paul at Bertchesgarten. Hitler wanted to maintain the Yugoslav federal structure because it would be useful in imposing his will on the country and exploiting its resources. [Glenny] Only after the coup did he oversee the dismantling of the country. Some authors maintain with some accuracy that the coup and confronting Hitler was adisaster for the Yugoslkav people. The country did become one of the worst killingfields of the War. One should recall, however, that Hitler wanted stability in the Balkans to secure the southern flank for Barbarossa and so the resources of the region could be expolited for the German war effort. But thinking Europeans by 1941 were aware of just how much trust could be placed in Hitler's word. Hitler was thinking about Barbarossa. Once the Soviet Union was destroyed and Hitler controlled Europe, he could whatever he wanted with Yugoslavia and the people of the Balkans.
Yugoslavia finally joined the Axis. the Regent, Prince Paul was summoned by Hitler to the Berghof. This was a treatment given by Hitler to other recalitrant neighbors. Prince Paul traveled in total secrecy (March 4-5, 1941). At the Berhof threatened Prince Paul with what would happen if he continued to defy him. He was also offered the emducement of the Greek port of Salonika if he cooperated. Hitler was adroit in offering the territory of other countries to those who cooperated with him. The Royal Government was fully aware of the reaction in Serbia to a pact with the NAZIs. Yugoslav Premier, Dragisha Cvetkovic, and Foreign Minister Aleksander Cincer-Markovic, depart Belgrade in secrecy for Vienna (March 25). They know that public announcement of an impending pact with the NAZIs would provoke demonstrations if not riots. In Vienna they meet with Hitler and Ribbentrop and formally sign the documents acceding to the Tripartite Pact (March 25). The Yugoslav officials were given written assurance by Ribbentrop assuring them that Germany would to respect "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia at all times" and that the Axis would not insist on transit rights across Yugoslavia "during this war". [Schrier, p 823.]
Prince Paul's decesion to join the Axis caused a violent reaction in Yugoslavia. Salonika did not sway public opinion. The Slavs wanted nothing to do with Hitler. One of the participants in the coup wrote after the War that Salonika made it a matter of honor. [Tsvetkovitch] It was one thing to be forced into the Axis. It was another matter to become an active participant in the desmemberment of a neigboring state. I am not sure how strongly this issue was felt, but it is clear that many Serbs and other Yugoslavs, especially the Slovebnes, did not want to join the Axis. (Other Yugoslavs especially the Croats who the Italians had been courting were less hostile.) The reaction of the Serbs was immediate and violent. News of the alliance with the Germans caused riots in Belgrade. Massive riots broke out in Belgrade. Students played an umportant role. He was unseated in a coup d'état (March, 27 1941). Tito and the Communists claimed after the War that they had played the central role in the coup. [Politika] The new government was formed by pro-British officers and middle class politicians. I am not sure what role young King Peter played in the coup. Peter II was declared of age. King Peter at the time was only 17 years of age. The overhrow of the Government gives rise to celebrations in Belgrade. Crowds spit on the German ambassador's car. [Schrier, p 824.] The British supported the coup and new Government. General Dušan Simović was appointed prime minister. The new Goverment opposed the NAZIs, but realised that the British could offer not effective support if Hitler invaded the country. Thus they moderated their statesments and attempted to placate Hitler by not renoucing Prince Paul's decesion to join the Axis in a vain effort to avoid Hitler's rath.
When news of the Belgrade coup reached Hitler, he went into a wild rage. One historian describes it as "one of the wildest rages of his entire life". [Schrier, p 824.] He apparently took the coup as a personal affront and his emotions led him to seek revenge. It is interesting that before the fall of France Hitler had been a calculating and enormously successful politican. The assessment of Hitler and World War II is a fascinating topic. After the fall of France, political calculation disappeared from his agenda, rather he seems tgo have concluded that he no longer needed to use artiface to achieve his objectives, rather they could be achieved by force of arms and terror. Hitler's illtempered reaction was to punish the Serbs and punish them badly. Undobtedly Hitler's reaction was that the Sebs were the southern branch od the Slavs he so hated.
Hitler ordered his military commanders for an emergency meeting at the Chancellery (March 27). Those summoned had difficulty arriving at the meeting on time. Brauchitsch, Halder and Ribbentrop all were late. Hitler was still in a rage and furiously demanded revenge on the presumtous Yugoslavs. He told the assembled commanders that he wanted "to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a nation. No diplomatic inquiries will be made," he ordered, "and no ultimatums presented." Yugoslavia he demanded would be destroyed with "unmerciful harshness." [Schrier, p. 824.] Among the assembed military commander was Luftwaffe chief Herman Güring. He commanded Güring to "destroy Belgrade in attacks by waves". He issued Directive No. 25 which ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia and told Keitel and Jodl to immediately begin preparing the the military operation. Ribentrop had been summoned because of the need to involved the Axis partners. Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria had all been drawn into the Axis and had German military units stationed there which would be used for the operation. Each were offered a section of Croatia. The one part of Yugoslavia that would retain a degree of autinomy was Croatia which had a string Fascist movement. The level of Hitler's rage can be seen by his decessiuon that to teach the Serbs a lesson they would never forget that he would delay Barbarossa--his plan to invade and destroy the Soviet Union and ultimately the Slavic people. Sent the Luftwafee's failure over Britain, hisentiire focus had been on Barbarossa. It had indded been his focus even before his seizure of power. When Hitler discusses Lebensraum it is land in the East that he means--the vast lands of the Urraine and other areas of the Soviet Union. Hitler than announced to his military commanders, "The beginninig of the Barbarossa opreration will have to be postponed up to four weeks." (It had initially been projected for May 15.) [Schrier, p. 824.] Note that he did not discuss with his military commanders the possible ramifications of delaying Barbarossa. He simply ordered them to do so.
German Führer Adolf Hitler was by 1941 intent on his invasion of the Soviet Union. He thought he had the Balkans sorted out to provide a secure southern front. He had to be concerned with the vital Ploesti oil fields in Romania. Hitler forced the Yugoslav governent to adhere to the Axis. A popular revolt occured in Belgrade against joining the NAZI-dominated Axis. The revolt led by students overthrew the regency under Prince Paul. They installed the youthful King Michael and rejected the treaty that Prince Paul had signed with the NAZIs. Hitler was enraged with the coup. He decided to punish and cow the Serbs by desrtoying Belgrade by a Luftwaffe terror bombing. Wehrmact and Luftwaffe military units had already been positioned in the Reich and and allied states (Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria) for such an intervention, although the target was believed to be Greece. Hitler called the invasion, occupation and dismemberment of Yugoslavia “Operation Punishment” or “Operation 25.” Belgrade was subjected to Luftwaffe terror bombing for rejecting the alliance with the NAZIs. Unlike World War I, militart resistance in Yugodlavia quickly collapsed and in some areas the NAZIs were treated as liberators. Mussolini's actions at complicated Hitler's plans in the Balkans. The attack on Yugoslavia provided the excuse for attacking Greece as well. The quick collapse of the Yugoslave Army allowed the NAZIs to concentrate in Greece. The Wehrmact called the invasion and occupation of Greece “Operation Marita. Unlike Yugoslavia, the Wehrmacht had to fight in Greece, primarily because Churchill had rushed troops from Egypt to support his Greek Ally. Even so, Greece fell within only a few weeks. Hitler followed his Balkan victories with a successful, but costly parachute assault on Crete. Not all Yugoslavs saw the Germans as invaders. The Germans were enthusiatically greeted by the Croats.
The Yugoslav and Greek campaign was over quickly and seemed to the world to demonstrate the emense power of German arms and inefectual British military efforts. The Balkans became a backwater of the War, but the Balkans campaign may in fact have had a critical impact on the War. The need to secure Germany's southern flank and the critical Romanian oil fields may have had a critical impact on Barbarossa. It is unclear just to what extent the Balkans campaign delayed Barbarossa, but it may have been as much as 3-4 weeks. When it is realized that the German Panzers were at the gates of Moscow when stopped, the Balkans campaign may well have been decisive.
King Peter II, with the Yugoslav Government, made his way to Athens, but when the NAZIs moved in on Athens, he fleed to Jerusalem and Cairo. Finally he reached London (June 1941.) There he set up the Yugoslav Government in exile. This as one of several governments in exile organized to resist NAZI occupation of their countries. President Roosevelt sent a nessage to King Peter at the onset of the NAZI invasion, "The people of the United States have been profoundly shocked by the unprovoked and ruthless aggression upon the people of Yugoslavia. The Government and people of the United States are witnessing with admiration the courageous self-defense of the Yugoslav people, which constitutes one more shining example of their traditional bravery. As I have assured Your Majesty's Government, the United States will speedily furnish all material assistance possible in accordance with its existing statutes. I send Your Majesty my most earnest hopes for a successful resistance to this criminal assault upon the independence and integrity of your country." (April 8, 1941). [Department of State Bulletin] America at the time was still neutral, but was assisting Britain through the new Lend Lease progam. Some of that assistance would flow to the guerillas resisting gthe NAZIs in Yugoslavia.
King Peter continued his education at Cambridge University. After graduating from Cambridge University, King Peter joined the Royal Air Force. King Peter married Princess Alexandra of Greece while in London (1944). A son, Crown Prince Alexander, was born in London (1945).
Many German soldiers took their cameras to war with them. They were not suposed to do this at the front, but this order was widely ignored and there was no restriction on real areas. Most of the photographs they took were of their friends, equipment, and vehicles. But they took pgotographs at what ever caught their eye and this varied from soldier to soldier. As a result there are many war time photographic records. More so than is the case for any country. Many German soldiers were very proud of what Germany was doing and their role in it and thus were keen to compile a photographic record. This was especially the case in te early years when Germany achieved impressive victories with very little casualties. We see quite a few photographs from the Balkans where Germany eventually had to deploy more than a million men. One of the subjects that were popular were the children the German soldiers encounteted. The same occurred in the east after the invadion of the Soviet Union. As a result we have a record of children in the Balkans.
Yugoslavia was one of the worst killing fields of World War II. The actual pattern varied from reguon to region. The fate of occupied Yugoslavia varied signidicantly from region to region. Here there were variations which depended on whether they were occupied by the Germans or Italians. Also the ethnicity and religion were factors as well as the politicalmorientation of local authorities. The Croats with a strong Fascist movement were treated lightly by the NAZIS. Yugoslavia with the pent up natioanlist feelings before the War fueled by NAZI genocidal occupation policies became perhaps the greatest killing field of World War II. Perhaps no other European nation except Poland suffered more and tragically it was the Yugoslavs themselves more than the Germans that did much of the killing.
The initial lack of resistance caused Hitler to assume that the Balkans would be a compliant area in the NAZI New Order. He was suprised later when a major resistance movement developed. A guerilla war began began between the NAZIs and the two Yugoslavians partisan groups (Tito and Mihajlovic) and the Greek guerillas. Tito the communist was a Croat and Mihajlovic was a Serb. The ethnic disputes had begun before the War and with NAZI encouragement, Yugoslavia became a vast killing field. The Yugoslaves and the Greeks managed to tie down almost 1 million German soldiers. Mihaljlovic partisans saved over 500 American airmen in Operation Halyard and got them back safely to the Allies. Just for the record, The NAZIs were shooting 100 civilians for every German soldier killed. My friend John Roberts who was saved by the Serbs when his B-24 was shot down. John told me his story how the Serbs hid him and later was put on a boat in the Adriatic sea and was picked up by a US Navy ship. After the war John contacted the Serbs who help him and was told about one hundred civilians from that village were shot to death. John past away a few years ago and he was one of the 500 airmen that were saved in the Operation Halyard pipeline. The Allies at first supported the Chetniks. The German reprisals on civilians after Chetnik attacks were so horific that Chetnik commanders hesitated to attack the Germans. Tito's partisans had no such scruples. The Allies after concluding that they were not attacking the Germans and in some cases cooperating with them, shifted support to Tito's Communist Partisans. By late 1944 the Germand were withdrawing from Greece through Yugoslavia and back to the Reich. Tito's partisans carried out successful attacks on the Germans and managed to liberate and gain control of much of Yugoslavia by the end of the War. Their tactics and substantial supplies of Allied war material enable Tito's Communist Partisans gain control of the country with limited support from the Red Army--unlike the situation in the rest of Eastern Europe where it was Soviet tanks which drove out the Germnas. Tito's Partisans carried out mass executions of tens of thousands of Croat and Slovene militiamen who surrendered to them at the end of the War. After the War, Tito did not need the Soviet Red army to install a Communist regime.
Hitler was furious when his carefully crafted plans in the Balkans were undone by rioting Serbian students in Belgrade and other Serbian cities. Prince Paul's decesion to join the Axis caused a violent reaction in Yugoslavia (March 26-27). Hitler decided not only to seize control of the country, but to punish the people of Belgrade. The Axis invasion of Yugosalvia commenced with Luftflotte IV commencing the terror bombing of Belgrade (April 6). It woyld leave the center of the city a smoldering wreck and 17,000 people dead. The small, obsolete Royal Yugoslav Air Force was largely destroyed the first day of the invasion. Axis armies (Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Italian) invaded Yugoslavia from all sides. The major invading force was the Germans. The Yugoslav Army desintegrated. The Croations received the Germans as liberators. Foreign Minister, Aleksander Cincar-Markovic along with General Jankovic, the deputy Chief of Staff, signed the surrender document dictated by the Germans (April 17). King Peter II boarded a British Sunderland flying boat which took him safely to Egypt. This ended the active Yugoslav resistance, but not the air war in the Balkans. As the resistance grew in Yugoslavia, German and Italian air units were used in efforts to destroy the resustance fighters, especially the partisans. The Germans supplied their Croatian puppets a variety of obsolete aircraft, creating the
Air Force of Independent State of Croatia (1941). Yugoslavia became a backwater, albeit a bloody blackwater, of World War II which was being determined on other battlefields. This a wide variety of obsolete aircraft that the Royal Yugoslav Air force operated or that the Germans captured in other countries found their way to the Axis occupied Balkans. As the Axis forces in occupied Yugoslavia faced no active air oppodsition, obsolete aircraft could be used in anti-partisan opetations. The country's airfields became a virtual museum of World War II aircraft. Keeping so many aircraft types flying proved to be a virtual nightmare. Allied air drops helped supply the resistance. And Allied advances in North Africa, Socily, and Italy increased the ability to supply the resistance. Yugoslavia and Albania was the cloest Balkan counries to the new Allied bases in Italy. Yugoslavia was an occupied ally, unlike Bulgaria, Romnia, and Hungary. And unlike those countries a major guerilla war was underway which grew in strength after the Italian surrender. So the Allied mission was in part to support the guerillas agsainst the NAZIs. The Allied air campaign increasingly focused on petroleum and the major source was Ploesti. Many Allied air attacks on Ploesti had to be flown over Yugoslavia. The Allies staged several raids on Belgrade. We are not sure at this time just what the goal of these raids were. I think they were to disrupt German supply lines, but this needs to be confirmed. The Allies bombed Belgrade on Orthodox Easter (April 16 and 17, 1944). The primary force was the American 15th Air Force, based in Foggia in southern Italy. One report describes carpet bombing carried out by 600 bombers--a fairly important raid. The city authorities reported 1,160 civilian casualties and 18 Germans killed. Other raids were staged (April 21, April 24, May 18, June 6, and July 8). The last raid (September 3, 1944), just a few weeks before the Partisans liberated the city. Eventually the Partisans managed to piece together a small airforce of their own.
The Germans also commited atrocities, often in retalitation for resistance operations. Against the Jews there was no need for provications. The Jasenovac concentration camp was he third largest camp in NAZI occupied Europe. Yugoslav Jews were targeted by the NAZIs as well as the Ustashi and Serbian Chetniks who often cooperated with the Germans. The German's Italian allies, however, did not cooperate with the NAZIs.
Yugoslavia was an ehnic killing field during World War II. The Croatians who had been disatisfied with Serb dominance of the Yugoslav Goverment formed the Ushachi and joined the Germans and began killing Serbs and Moslems in Bosnia. Serb guerrillas called Chetnicks began killing Croats in response, as well as Jews and Moslems. In many cases it was not a matter of rounding Jews up and turning them over to the Germans. The Croats and many Serbs (both Chetniks and collaborationists) were willing to kill Jews themselves. Only with Titos partisans could Jews seek refuge, but this was only the able-bodied who succeeded in finding a partisan group. Few Jewish children survived in Yugoslavia.
Yugoslavia was one of the country's most devestated by World War II. The Communist Government faced an enormous job of relief and reconstruction. The damage began with the German invasion (April 1941). Hitler was furious that the Yugoslavs overthrew the Government he forced to sign the Axis Pact. He decided to punish the Yugoslavs by the terror bombing of Belgrade. About 17,000 people were killed in the Luftwaffe terror bombing of a largely undefended city. The ensuing German invasion quickly suceeded and left the country in Axis hands. The country was occupied by Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, and Italy. The Germans granted a kind of independence to Croatia. The occupation progressed differently in these various zones. The Germans distrusted tghe Serbs because they had fought with the Allies in World War I and for racial reasons. They quickly round up the Jews. About 70,000 were killed even before the death camps in Poland were opened. It was the Serbs who were killed in large numbers. The Germans reacted viciously to acts of resistance. But even more deadly than the Germans were the Croat Ustaše. A complicated civil war developed in addition to the Resistance. Milohailovic's Chetniks and Tito's Partisans fought the Axis occupiers, primarily the Germans and Italians. The Axis occupiers executed large numbers of civilians in retaliation for attacks and sabotage, especially when Axis soldiers were casualties. But the Chetniks and Partisans also fought each other. The Albanians/Kosovars were also targeted by both the Serbs and Croats. The Ustaše allied themselves with the Germans and targeted civilians by launching an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Serb people. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs were murderedd in the most brutal manner. Whole villages were destroyed in the Axis anti-partisan campaigns and the Ustaše ethnic cleaning operations. Large areas of the country were devestated. Relatively little damage except in Belgrade was done in the initial German invasion. There were also Allied air raids. Much more damage was done during the partisan struggle and the fighting as the partisans with Soviet help pursued the Germans at the end of the War. As in the East, the retreating Germans destoyed much of the country's infrastructure and industrial base. In addition to war casuaklties and deliberate killing operations, large numbers of people died because of food shortages, famine, and disease. Accounts vary but as many as 1.7 million Yugoslavs perished in the War out of a total population of 15.0 million people. Large numbers of people were left homeless and many children displaced and abandoned.
Unlike the rest of Eastern Europe, the Yugoslavs were actually liberated rather than exchanging NAZI for Soviet tyranny. It was the Communist Partisans that suceeded in liberting Yugoslavia, but largely because the Soviet Red rmy and the Western Allies sucessfully demolished the German war machine. Even so, the war in Yigoslavia was the most complicated of all the World war II beligerants, because it was three wars in one. The first war was the war between the Facscist occupiers (Germny and Italy) and Yugoslavia. The second war was the vicious war between the the various ethnic groups in Yugoslavia (Croats, Muslims, Slovenes, Serbs, and others) as well as the NAZI Holocaust aginst the Jews). The third war was over the future of the country fought out between the different resistanbce groups, primarily the multi-ethnic Communist Partisans and the Serb-dominted Royalist Chetniks. the Partisans emerged the victors becuse they were able to generate broad multi-ethnic appeal and they were able to obtain support from both the Soviets and Western Allies. The Partisans managed to liberate substantial areas of the country (1943). It was the Allied destruction of the German 7th Army in France (July 1944) and the Soviet destruction of Army Group Center in Poland (June-August 1944) that made possible the liberation of the Balkans. With the Reich itseld threatened, OKW ordered a withdrawl from the Balkans as the Red Army advance into Romania threatened to cut off German forces (September 1944). Even Hitler could not disagree. The withdrawl began in secret from Greece, but was in full swing by October. There were not any major battles as the Germans were intent on one thing, withdrawing north and getting back to the Reich. The Germans fought only if attacked by the Partisans or were in danger of being cut off. he Partisans with Red Army assiatance liberated Belgrade (October 20). The Yugoslav Partisans were thus able to expel the Axis from Serbia (Fall and Winter 1944) and the north of Yugoslavia (Spring 1945. The Red Army provided some limited assistance, especilly with the liberation of Belgrade and unlike the rest of Eastern Europe, withdrew after the war. The Partisans linked up with the advancing Allied forces bryond the borders of pre-War Yugoslabia (May 1945). The Partisans had moved into Trieste and parts of the southern Austrian provinces of Styria and Carinthia. The Partisans withdrew from Trieste (June 1945).
Yugoslavia was devestated by World War II. Relatively little damage was done during the Germn invasion as it occured so swiftly. And Yugoslavia was not heavily bombed bybthe Allies. The resulting guerilla struggle was a different matter. This became both a complicated struggle struggle with the Axis occupiers, between resistnce grouos, and among the various ethnic groups which for centuries had lived with each other in relative harmony. Yugoslavia was not hevilt industrialized or urbanized. Most of the popultion lived in rual areas or small villages in n economy based on peasant agriculture. This mean that unlike a country like German, the physical pant of the country while heavily damaged was not destroyed and within the capacity of the population to repair and rebuild. Wholevillages had been destroyed, but a relatively small part of the country's willages. And while many farm buildings had been destroyed, again a rather small percentage and the land itself could immeiately be returned to full agricultural prosperity. The major loss of the War was the large numbers of people killed in the fighting and here Yugoslavia was among the countries suffering the greatest losses. As a result of the Partisan victory, the country was left in the hands of Tito and the Communists. Tito refused to recognize King Peter and the Royal Government in Exile. Chetnik leader Mihailović was executed. There were immediate problems with the llied armies in Austria where the Partisns had entered. The status of Trieste became a major issue. Another imporant issue was the sttus of the anti-Coomunist Yugoslav forces that attempted to surrender to the Allies. Tito set up a brutal Communist Government, but from the beginning there were problems. The country was primarily liberated by the Particans, but ny 1944, Soviet troops also participted in military operations. nd asin Germany, there was widespread rape by Red Army soldiers. In adition, Tito rejected some of the advise of Soviet advisers, especially Soviet-style collectivization. This and other issues would eventually lead a few years after the War to a break with Stalin, a very dangerous step for a European Communist. For the time being, however, Yugoslavia was a part of the Soviet Bloc and the took the most aggressive posture toward theWrstrn allies who had aided them during the War. This only changed as a result of the split with Stalin.
Tito unlike the other Eastern European countries took over a country that was not occupied by the Soviet Union. He conducted a vicious campaign against political opponents, especially those associated with the Chetnkiks. He set up Soviet-style concentration camps in which large numbers of people were killed. Despite Allied assistance during the War, he took a hard line approach to the Allies. Several Allied air craft were shot down and the bordr closed. Stalin was, however, not entirely satisfied and attempted to gain control of Yugoslavia as he had in the rest of Eastern Europe (1947-48). It looked for a while that Stalin might order the Red Army to launch a military invasion, but he never did so. The outcome was the Tito-Stalin rift. The Western Allies began courting Tito. There was even talk of NATO membership. Closer relations were disrupted, however, when a crisis developed over Trieste (1953). The death of Stalin and Khruchev's de-Stalinization campaign made it possible for a resumption of relations with the Soviets, but on the clar basis of Yugoslav independence (1956). Ironically this was also the year the Soviets supressed the independence movement in neighboring Hungary. Gradually Tito and Yugoslavia adopted a non-aligned foreign policy and a mixed economy.
Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Natioanlism, War and the Great POwers, 1804-1999 (Viking: New York, , 1999).
Paris, Edmond. Genocide in Satellite Croatia 1941 - 1945.
Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1960).
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