Archive/File: imt/nca/nca-01/nca-01-09-aggression-11 Last-Modified: 1996/06/05 Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume One, Chapter Nine [Page 775] 11. AGGRESSION AGAINST GREECE AND YUGOSLAVIA A. Treaties and Assurances Breached. The invasions of Greece and of Yugoslavia by the Germans, which took place in the early hours of the morning of 6 April 1941, constituted direct breaches of The Hague Convention of 1899 on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, and of the Kellog-Briand Pact of 1928. In the case of Yugoslavia, the invasion further constituted a breach of an express assurance by the Nazis. [Page 776] The assurance was originally given in a German Foreign Offlce release made in Berlin on 28 April 1938 (2719-PS), but was subsequently repeated by Hitler himself on 6 October 1939 in a speech he made in the Reichstag. The German Foreign Office release on 28 April 1938 reads, in part: "Berlin, 28 April 1938. The State Secretary of the German Foreign Office to the German Diplomatic Representatives. "As a consequence of the reunion of Austria with the Reich, we have now new frontiers with Italy, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Hungary. These frontiers are regarded by us as final and inviolable. On this point the following special declarations have been made:" ******* "3. Yugoslavia. "The Yugoslav Government have been informed by authoritative German quarters that German policy has no aims beyond Austria, and that the Yugoslav frontier would in any case remain untouched. In his speech made at Graz on 3 April, the Fuehrer and Chancellor stated that, in regard to the reunion of Austria, Yugoslavia and Hungary had adopted the same attitude as Italy. We were happy to have frontiers there which relieved us of all anxiety about providing military protection for them." (2719-PS) In a speech made on the occasion of the dinner in honor of the Prince Regent of Yugoslavia on 1 June 1939, Hitler declared: "The German friendship for the Yugoslav nation is not only a spontaneous one. It gained depth-and durability in the midst of the tragic confusion of the world war. The German soldier then learned to appreciate and respect his extremely brave opponent. I believe that this feeling was reciprocated. This mutual respect finds confirmation in common political, cultural and economic interests. We therefore look upon your Royal Highness's present visit as a living proof of the accuracy of our view and at the same time on that account we derive from it the hope that German-Yugoslav friendship may continue further to develop in the future and to grow ever closer. "In the presence of your Royal Highness, however, we also perceive a happy opportunity for a frank and friendly exchange of views which, and of this I am convinced, in this sense can only be fruitful to our two peoples and States. I believe this all the more because a firmly established reliable relationship of Germany to Yugoslavia, now that, owing to historical events, we have become neighbors with common boundaries [Page 777] fixed for all time, will not only guarantee lasting peace between our two peoples and countries, but can also represent an element of calm to our nerve-wracked continent. This peace is the goal of all who are disposed to perform really constructive work." (TC-92) As is now known this speech was made at the time when Hitler had already decided upon the European war. It occurred a week after the Reichschancellery conference recorded in the Schmundt note (L-79). The reference to "nerve-wracked continent" might perhaps be attributed to the war of nerves which Hitler had himself been conducting for many months. The German Assurance to Yugoslavia on 6 October 1939 was in these terms: "Immediately after the completion of the Anschluss I informed Yugoslavia that, from now on, the frontier with this country would also be an unalterable one, and that we only desire to live in peace and friendship with her." (TC-43) B. Planning for Invasion: Collaboration with Italy and Bulgaria. Despite the obligation of Germany under the Convention of 1899, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and under the foregoing Assurance which I have read, the fate of both Greece and Yugoslavia had, as is now known, been sealed ever since the meeting between Hitler, Ribbentrop, and Ciano at Obersalzberg, 12 August 1939 and 13 August 1939 (TC-77). The effect of the meeting was that Hitler and Ribbentrop, only two months after the dinner to the Prince Regent, were seeking to persuade Italy to make war on Yugoslavia at the same time that Germany was to commence hostilities against Poland, which Hitler had decided to do in the very near future. Ciano while evidently in entire agreement with Hitler and Ribbentrop as to the desirability of liquidating Yugoslavia, and while himself anxious to secure Salonika, stated that Italy was not yet ready for a general European war. Thus, despite all the persuasion which Hitler and Ribbentrop exerted at the meeting, it became necessary for the Nazi conspirators to reassure their intended victim, Yugoslavia, since in fact Italy -maintained its position and did not enter the war when Germany invaded Poland, and since the Germans themselves were not yet ready to strike in the Balkans. It was apparently for this reason that on 6 October, through Hitler's speech, the Nazis repeated the assurance they had made in April 1938. It is a matter of history that after the defeat of the Allied Armies in May and June 1940, the Italian Government declared war on France and that subsequently, at three o'clock in the morning on 28 October [Page 778] 1940, the Italian Minister at Athens presented the Greek Government with a 3 hour ultimatum, upon the expiration of which Italian troops were already invading the soil of Greece. This event was reported by the British Minister at Athens in these words: "The president of the council has assured himself an outstanding place in Greek history and, whatever the future may bring, his foresight in quietly preparing his country for war and his courage in rejecting without demur the Italian ultimatum when delivered in the small hours of that October morning, will surely obtain an honorable mention in the story of European statecraft. He means to fight until Italy is completely defeated and this reflects the purpose of the whole Greek nation." A letter from Hitler to Mussolini, which is undated but which -- this is clear from the contents -- must have been written shortly after the Italian invasion of Greece on 28 November 1940, contained these sentiments: "Jugoslavia must become disinterested, if possible however from our point of view interested in cooperating in the liquidation of the Greek question. Without assurances from Yugoslavia, it is useless to risk any successful operation in the Balkans. "Unfortunately, I must stress the fact that waging a war in the Balkans before March is impossible. Therefore, any threatening move towards Jugoslavia would be useless, since the impossibility of a materialization of such threats before March is well known to the Serbian general staff. Therefore, Jugoslavia must, if at all possible, be won over by other means and other ways." (2762-PS) It was at this time that Hitler was making his plans for the offensive in the Spring of 1941, which included the invasion of Greece from the north. It was an integral part of those plans that Yugoslavia should be induced to cooperate in them or at least to maintain a disinterested attitude towards the liquidation of the other Balkan States. These facts are disclosed in a "Top Secret Directive" issued from the Fuehrer's Headquarters, signed by Hitler, initialed by Jodl, and dated 12 November 1940. This order reads, in part: "Directive No. 18. "The preparatory measures of Supreme HQ for the prosecution of the war in the near future are to be made along the following lines.***" (444-PS) [Page 779] After sections dealing with operations against Gibraltar and an offensive against Egypt, the order continues: "The commanders-in-chief of the Army will make preparations for occupying the Greek mainland north of the Aegean Sea in case of need, entering through Bulgaria, and thus make possible the use of German air force units against targets in the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular against those English air bases which are threatening the Rumanian oil area. "In order to be able to face all eventualities and to keep Turkey in check, the use of an army group of an approximate strength of ten divisions is to be the basis for the planning and the calculations of deployment. It will not be possible to count on the railway, leading through Yugoslavia, for moving these forces into position. "So as to shorten the time needed for the deployment, preparations will be made for an early increase in the German Army mission in Roumania, the extent of which must be submitted to me. "The commander-in-chief of the Air Force will make preparations for the use of German Air Force units in the South East Balkans and for aerial reconnaissance on the southern border of Bulgaria, in accordance with the intended ground operations." (444-PS) The positions of the Italian invading forces in Greece in December 1940 may be summarized in the words in which the British Minister reported to Foreign Secretary Eden: "The morale of the Greek Army throughout has been of the highest, and our own naval and land successes at Tarento and in the Western Desert have done much to maintain it. With relatively poor armaments and the minimum of equipment and modern facilities they have driven back or captured superior Italian forces more frequently than not at the point of the bayonet. The modern Greeks have thus shown that they are not unworthy of the ancient tradition of their country and that they, like their distant forbears, are prepared to fight against odds to maintain their freedom." In fact, the Italians were getting the worst of it, and it was time that Hitler came to the rescue with the order for the German attack on Greece. This Directive of 13 December 1940, which is Top Secret Directive number 20, dealing with Operation Marta, bears a [Page 780] distribution list which shows that copies vent to the Commander of the Navy (Raeder), to the Commander of the Air Force (Goering), to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Keitel), and to the Command Staff (Jodl). The first two paragraphs state: "The result of the battles in Albania is not yet decisive. Because of a dangerous situation in Albania it is doubly necessary that the British endeavour be foiled to create air bases under the protection of a Balkan- front, which would be dangerous above all to Italy as well as to the Rumanian oil fields. "My plan, therefore, is (a) to form a slowly increasing task force in Southern Rumania within the next months. (b) After the setting in of favorable weather, probably in March, to send the task force for the occupation of the Aegean North coast by way of Bulgaria, and if necessary to occupy the entire Greek mainland (Operation Marita). The support of Bulgaria is to be expected." (1541-PS) The next paragraph gives the forces for the operation, and paragraph 4 deals with the operation Marita itself. Paragraph 5 states: "The Military preparations which will produce exceptional political results in the Balkans demand the exact control of all the necessary measures by the General Staff. The transport through Hungary and the arrival in Rumania will be reported step by step by the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and are to be explained at first as a strengthening of the German Army mission in Rumania. "Consultations with the Rumanians or the Bulgarians which may point to our intentions as well as notification of the Italians are each subject to my consent, also the sending of scouting missions and advanced parties." (1541-PS) Another "Top Secret Directive" carries the plan a little farther. It deals with decisive action in support of the Italian forces in Tripoli and in Albania. The first short paragraph reads: "The situation in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations demands for strategical political and psychological reasons German assistance, due to employment of superior forces by England against our allies." (448-PS) Paragraph three, after dealing with the forces to be transferred to Albania, sets out what the duties of the German forces will be: "a. To serve in Albania for the time being as a reserve for an emergency case, should new crises arise there. [Page 781] "b. To ease the burden of the Italian Army group when later attacking with the aim: "To tear open the Greek defense front on a decisive point for a far-reaching operation. "To open up the straits west of Salonika from the back in order to support thereby the frontal attack of List's Army." (448-PS) That directive was signed by Hitler, and, as shown on the original, was initialed by both Keitel and Jodl. A copy went to Raeder, and the copy sent to Foreign Intelligence presumably reached Ribbentrop. A conference took place on 19 and 20 January between Keitel and the Italian General, Guzzoni. This was followed by a meeting between Hitler and Mussolini, at which Ribbentrop, Keitel, and Jodl were present. In the speech which the Fuehrer made on 20 January 1941, after the conference with the Italians, he declared: "*** The massing of troops in Roumania serves a threefold purpose: "a. An operation against Greece. "b. Protection of Bulgaria against Russia and Turkey. "c. Safeguarding the guarantee to Roumania. "Each of these tasks requires its own group of forces, altogether therefore very strong forces whose deployment far from our base requires a long time. "Desirable that this deployment is completed without interference from the enemy. Therefore discIose the game as late as possible. The tendency will be to cross the Danube at the last possible moment and to line up for attack at the earliest possible moment." (C-134) At a conference between Field Marshal List and the Bulgarians, 8 February, the following plans were discussed: "Minutes of questions discussed between the representatives of the Royal Bulgarian General Staff and the German Supreme Command -- General Field Marshal List -- in connection with the possible movement of German troops through Bulgaria and their commitment against Greece and possibly against Turkey, if she should involve herself in the war." ******* "*** The Bulgarian and the German general staff will take all measures in order to camouflage the preparation of the operations and to assure in this way the most favorable conditions for the execution of the German operations as planned. [Page 782] "The representatives of the two general staffs consider it to be suitable to inform their governments that it will be good to take the necessity of secrecy and surprise into consideration when the three-power treaty is signed by Bulgaria, in order to assure the success of the military operations." (1746-PS) A further top secret directive of 19 February sets the date for the Operation Marita (C-59). It states that the bridge across the Danube is to be begun on 28 February, the river crossed on 2 March, and the final orders to be issued on 26 February at the latest. On the original of this order the actual dates are filled in in the handwriting of Keitel. The position of Bulgaria at this moment was this: Bulgaria adhered to the Three-Power Pact on 1 March 1941. On the same day the entry of German troops into Bulgaria began in accordance with the Plan Marta and associated directives already referred to. The landing of British troops in Greece on 3 March, in accordance with the guarantee given in the spring of 1939 by the British Government, may have accelerated the movement of the German forces. In any event, as has been shown, the invasion of Greece had been planned long beforehand and was already in progress at this time. A short extract from a report by Raeder on an interview with Hitler, which the original shows took place in the presence of Keitel and Jodl at 1600 hours on 18 March, shows the ruthless nature of the German intentions: "The C in C of the Navy asks for confirmation that the whole of Greece will have to be occupied even in the event of a peaceful settlement. "Fuehrer: The complete occupation is a prerequisite of any settlement." (C-167) This report shows, it seems clear, that the Nazi conspirators, in accordance with their principle of liquidating any neutral which did not remain disinterested, had made every preparation by the end of January and were at this date in the process of moving the necessary troops to ensure the final liquidation of Greece, which was already at war with, and getting the better of their Italian allies. C. Lulling the Unsuspecting Victim. They were not yet, however, ready to deal with Yugoslavia, towards which their policy accordingly remained one of lulling the unsuspecting victim. On 25 March, in accordance with this policy, the adherence of Yugoslavia to the Three- Power Pact [Page 783] was secured. This adherence followed a visit on 15 February 1941 by the Yugoslav Premier Cvetkovic and the Foreign Minister Cinkar-Markvic to Ribbentrop at Salzburg and subsequently to Hitler at Berchtesgaden, after which these ministers were induced to sign the Pact at Vienna on 25 March. On this occasion Ribbentrop wrote the two letters of assurance. The first made this guarantee: "Notes of the Axis Governments to Belgrade. "At the same time, when the protocol on the entry of Yugoslavia to the Tri-Partite Pact was signed, the governments of the Axis Powers sent to the Yugoslavian Government the following identical notes: " Mr. Prime Minister: " 'In the name of the German Government and at its behest, I have the honor to inform Your Excellency of the following: " 'On the occasion of the Yugoslavian entry today into the Tri-Partite Pact, the German Government confirms its determination to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia at all times.' " (2450-PS) That letter was signed by Ribbentrop, who was present at the meeting in August 1939 when he and Hitler tried to persuade the Italians to invade Yugoslavia. It was in fact 11 days after this letter was written that the Germans did invade Yugoslavia, and two days after the letter was written that they issued the necessary order. The second letter reads: "Mr. Prime Minister: "With reference to the conversations that occurred in connection with the Yugoslavian entry into the Tri-Partite Pact, I have the honor to confirm to Your Excellency herewith in the name of the Reich Cabinet [Reichsregierung], that in the agreement between the Axis powers and the Royal Yugoslavian Government, the governments of the Axis powers during this war will not direct a demand to Yugoslavia to permit the march or transportation of troops through Yugoslavian national territory." (2450- PS) The position at this stage, 25 March 1941, was therefore that German troops were already in Bulgaria moving towards the Greek frontier, while Yugoslavia had, to use Hitler's own term in his letter to Mussolini, "become disinterested" in the cleaning up of the Greek question. The importance of the adherence of Yugoslavia to the Three- Power Pact appears very clearly from an extract from the [Page 784] minutes of a meeting between Hitler and Ciano. The first paragraph states: "The Fuehrer first expressed his satisfaction with Yugoslavia's joining the Tri-Partite Pact and the resulting definition of her position. This is of special importance in view of the proposed military action against Greece, for, if one considers that for 350 to 400 kilometers the important line of communication through Bulgaria runs within 20 kilometers of the Yugoslav border, one can judge that with a dubious attitude of Yugoslavia an undertaking against Greece would have been militarily an extremely foolhardy venture." (2765-PS) Again, it is a matter of history that on the night of 26 March 1941, when the two Yugoslav ministers returned to Belgrade, General Simovic and his colleagues effected their removal by a coup 'etat, and Yugoslavia emerged on the morning of 27 March ready to defend, if need be, its independence. D. Further Planning for Attack. The Nazis reacted rapidly to this altered situation, and the immediate liquidation of Yugoslavia was decided on. A conference of Hitler and the German High Command on the situation in Yugoslavia took place on 27 March 1941. Those present included the Fuehrer; the Reich Marshall (Goering); Chief, OKW, (Keitel); and the Chief of the Wehrmacht Fuehrungstab, (Jodl). A report of the conference notes that "later on the following persons were added," and among them is included Ribbentrop (1746-PS). Hitler's statement proceeded as follows: "The Fuehrer describes Yugoslavia's situation after the coup d'etat. Statement that Yugoslavia was an uncertain factor in regard to the coming Marita action and even more in regard to the Barbarossa undertaking later on. Serbs and Slovenes were never pro-German." ******* "The present moment is for political and military reasons favorable for us to ascertain the actual situation in the country and the country's attitude toward us, for if the overthrow of the Government would have happened during the Barbarossa action, the consequences for us probably would have been considerably more serious." ******* "The Fuehrer is determined, without waiting for possible loyalty declarations of the new government, to make all preparations in order to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a [Page 785] national unit. No diplomatic inquiries will be made nor ultimatums presented. Assurances of the YugosIav government, which cannot be trusted anyhow in the future will be taken note of. The attack will start as soon as the means and troops suitable for it are ready. "It is important that actions will be taken as fast as possible. An attempt will be made to let the bordering states participate in a suitable way. An actual military support against Yugoslavia is to be requested of Italy, Hungary, and in certain respects of Bulgaria too. Roumania's main task is the protection against Russia. The Hungarian and the Bulgarian ambassador have already been notified. During the day a message will still be addressed to the Duce. "Politically, it is especially important that the blow against Yugoslavia is carried out with unmerciful harshness and that the military destruction is done in a lightning-like undertaking. In this way, Turkey would become sufficiently frightened and the campaign against Greece later on would be influenced in a favorable way. It can be assumed that the Croats will come to our side when we attack. A corresponding political treatment (autonomy later on) will be assured to them. The war against Yugoslavia should be very popular in Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria, as territorial acquisitions are to be promised to these states; the Adriatic coast for Italy, the Banat for Hungary, and Macedonia for Bulgaria. "This plan assumes that we speed up the schedule of all preparations and use such strong forces that the Yugoslav collapse will take place within the shortest time." (1746-PS) Thus it appears that two days after Yugoslavia had signed the Tri-Partite Pact and the Nazis had given assurances, simply because there had been a coup d'etat and it was possible that the operations against Greece might be affected, the destruction of Yugoslavia was decided on without any question of taking the trouble to ascertain the views of the new Government. The report of the meeting continues: "5. The main task of the Air Force is to start as early as possible with the destruction of the Yugoslavian Air Force ground installations and to destroy the capital Belgrade in attacks by waves." (1746-PS) It is again a matter of history that the residential areas of Belgrade were bombed at 7 o'clock-on the following Sunday morning, 6 April 1941. At that same meeting of 27 March 1941 a tentative plan, drawn up by Jodl, was offered: [Page 786] "In the event that the political development requires an armed intervention against Yugoslavia, it is the German intention to attack Yugoslavia in a concentric way as soon as possible, to destroy her armed forces, and to dissolve her national territory." (1746-PS) An order (Directive No. 25) was issued after the meeting of 27 March. The first paragraph reads: "The military putsch in Yugoslavia has altered the political situation in the Balkans. Yugoslavia must, in spite of her protestations of loyalty, for the time being be considered as an enemy and therefore be crushed as speedily as possible." (C-127) As another result of the meeting, a telegram, containing a letter from Hitler to Mussolini, was forwarded to the German Ambassador in Rome by Hitler and Ribbentrop. It was written to advise Mussolini of the course decided on, and under the guise of somewhat tiresome language the Duce was given his orders. The first five paragraphs read: "Duce, Events force me to give you, Duce, by this the quickest means, my estimation of the situation and the consequences which may result from it. "(1) From the beginning I have regarded Yugoslavia as a dangerous factor in the controversy with Greece. Considered from the purely military point of view, German intervention in the war in Thrace would not be at all justified, as long as the attitude of Yugoslavia remains ambiguous and she could threaten the left flank of the advancing columns, on our enormous front. "(2) For this reason I have done everything and honestly have endeavored to bring Yugoslavia into our community bound together by mutual interests. Unfortunately these endeavors did not meet with success, or they were begun too late to produce any definite result. Today's reports leave no doubt as to the imminent turn in the foreign policy of Yugoslavia. "(3) I don't consider this situation as being catastrophic, but nevertheless a difficult one, and we on our part must avoid any mistake if we do not want in the end to endanger our whole position. "(4) Therefore I have already arranged for all necessary measures in order to meet a critical development with necessary military means. The change in the deployment of our troops has been ordered also in Bulgaria. Now I would cordially request you, Duce, not to undertake any further opera- [Page 787] tions in Albania in the course of the next few days. I consider it necessary that you should cover and screen the most important passes from Yugoslavia into Albania with all available forces. "These measures should not be considered as designed for a long period of time, but as auxiliary measures designed to prevent for at least fourteen days to three weeks a crisis arising. "I also consider it necessary, Duce, that you should reinforce your forces on the Italian-Yugoslav front with all available means and with utmost speed. "(5) I also consider it necessary, Duce, that everything which we do and order be shrouded in absolute secrecy and that only personalities who necessarily must be notified know anything about them. These measures will completely lose their value should they become known." (1835-PS) Hitler continues with a further emphasis on the importance of secrecy. An operational order (R-95) followed, which was signed by General von Brauchitsch, and which merely passed to the Armies the orders contained in Directive No. 2. (C- 127) E. Explanations. The invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia took place in the morning of 6 April 1941. On that day Hitler issued a proclamation (TC-93). The following passage is an extract: "From the beginning of the struggle it has been England's steadfast endeavor to make the Balkans a theatre of war. British diplomacy did, in fact, using the model of the World War, succeed in first ensnaring Greece by a guarantee offered to her, and then finally in misusing her for Britain's purposes. "The documents published today [the German 'White Book'] afford a glimpse of a practice which, in accordance with very old British recipes, is a constant attempt to induce others to fight and bleed for British interests. "In the face of this I have always emphasized that: "(1) The German people have no antagonism to the Greek people but that "(2) We shall never, as in the World War, tolerate a power establishing itself on Greek territory with the object at a given time of being able to advance thence from the southeast into German living space. We have swept the northern flank free of the English; we are resolved not to tolerate such a threat in the south." ******* [Page 788] "In the interests of a genuine consolidation of Europe it has been my endeavor since the day of my assumption of power above all to establish a friendly relationship with Yugoslavia. I have consciously put out of mind everything that once took place between Germany and Serbia. I have not only offered the Serbian people the hand of the German people, but in addition have made efforts as an honest broker to assist in bridging all difficulties which existed between the Yugoslav State and various Nations allied to Germany." (TC-93) One can only think that when he issued that proclamation Hitler must momentarily have forgotten the meeting with Ciano in August 1939, and the meeting with Ribbentrop and the others on 27 March, a few days earlier. In a lecture delivered by Jodl on 7 November 1943, he sets out his views, two and a half years later on the action taken in April, 1941. In Paragraph 11 he stated: "What was, however, less acceptable was the necessity of affording our assistance as an Ally in the Balkans in consequence of the 'extra-turn' of the Italians against Greece. The attack, which they launched in the autumn of 1940 from Albania with totally inadequate means was contrary to all agreement but in the end led to a decision on our part which -- taking a long view of the matter -- would have become necessary in any case sooner or later. The planned attack on Greece from the North was not executed merely as an operation in aid of an ally. Its real purpose was to prevent the British from gaining a foothold in Greece and from menacing our Roumanian oil area from that country." (L-172) F. Summary To summarize: The invasion of Greece was decided on at least as early as November or December 1940 and was scheduled for the end of March or the beginning of April, 1941. No consideration was at any time given to any obligations under treaties or conventions which might make such invasion a breach of International Law. Care was taken to conceal the preparations so that the German Forces might have an unsuspecting victim. In the meanwhile, Yugoslavia, although to be liquidated in due course, was clearly better left for a later stage. Every effort was made to secure her cooperation for the offensive against Greece, or at least to ensure that she would abstain from any interference. The coup d'etat of General Simovic upset this plan and it was [Page 789] then decided that, irrespective of whether or not his Government had any hostile intentions towards Germany, or even of supporting the Greeks, Yugoslavia must be liquidated. It was not worth while to the Nazis to take any steps to ascertain Yugoslavia's intentions, for it would be so little trouble, now that the German troops were deployed, to destroy her militarily and as a national unit. Accordingly, in the early hours of Sunday morning, 6 April 1941, German troops marched into Yugoslavia without warning and into Greece simultaneously. The formality was observed of handing a note to the Greek Minister in Berlin, informing him that the German forces were entering Greece to drive out the British. M. Koryzis, the Greek Minister, in replying to information of the invasion from the German Embassy, replied that history was repeating itself and that Greece was being attacked by Germany in the same way as by Italy. Greece returned, he said, the same reply as it had given to the Italians in the preceding October. G. The Pattern of Aggression. There is one common factor which runs through the whole of the Nazi aggressions. It is an element in the diplomatic technique of aggression, which was used with singular consistency, not only by the Nazis themselves, but also by their Italian friends. Their technique was essentially based upon securing the maximum advantage from surprise, even though only a few hours of unopposed military advance into the country of the unsuspecting victim could thus be secured. Thus, there was, of course, no declaration of war in the case of Poland. The invasion of Norway and of Denmark began in the small hours of the night of 8 April 1940-9 April 1940, and was well under way as a military operation, before the diplomatic explanations and excuses were presented to the Danish Foreign Minister, at 4 :20 a. m. on the morning of the 9th, and to the Norwegian Minister, between half past four and five on that morning. The invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland began not later than five o'clock, in the small hours of 10 May 1940, while the formal ultimatum, delivered in each case with the diplomatic excuses and explanations, was not presented until afterwards. In the case of Holland the invasion began between three and four in the morning. It was not until about six, when The Hague had already been bombed, that the German Minister asked to see M. van Kleffens. In the case of Belgium, where the bombing began at five, the German Minister did not see M. Spaak [Page 790] until eight. The invasion of Luxembourg began at four and it was at seven when the German Minister asked to see M. Beck. Mussolini copied this technique. It was 3 o'clock on the morning of 28 October 1940 when his Minister in Athens presented a three hour ultimatum to General Metaxas. The invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia, also, both began in the small hours of 6 April 1941. In the case of Yugoslavia no diplomatic exchange took place even after the event, but a proclamation was issued by Hitler at five o'clock that Sunday morning, some two hours before Belgrade was bombed. In the case of Greece, it was at twenty minutes past five that M. Koryzis was informed that German troops were entering Greek territory. The manner in which this long series of aggressions was carried out is, in itself, further evidence of the essentially aggressive and treacherous character of the Nazi regime: to attack without warning at night to secure an initial advantage, and to proffer excuses or reasons afterwards. This is clearly the method of the State which has no respect for its own pledged word, nor for the rights of any people but its own. It is impossible not to speculate whether this technique was evolved by the "honest broker" himself or by his honest clerk, Ribbentrop. LEGAL REFERENCES AND LIST OF DOCUMENTS RELATING TO AGGRESSION AGAINST GREECE AND YUGOSLAVIA Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Article 6 (a). Vol. I Pg. 5 International Military Tribunal, Indictment Number 1, Sections IV (F) 5; V. Vol. I. Pg. 27,29 [Note: A single asterisk (*) before a document indicates that the document was received in evidence at the Nurnberg trial. A double asterisk (**) before a document number indicates that the document was referred to during the trial but was not formally received in evidence, for the reason given in parentheses following the description of the document. The USA series number, given in parentheses following the description of the document, is the official exhibit number assigned by the court.] [Page 791] *444-PS; Original Directive No. 18 from Fuehrer's Headquarters signed by Hitler and initialed by Jodl, 12 November 1940, concerning plans for prosecution of war in Mediterranean Area and occupation of Greece. (GB 116) Vol. III. Pg. 403 *448-PS; Hitler Order No. 22, initialed by Keitel and Jodl, 11 January 1941, concerning participation of German Forces in the Fighting in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. (GB 118) Vol. III. Pg. 413 *1195-PS; Keitel Order, 12 April 1941, for provisional directions for partition of Yugoslavia. (GB 144) Vol. III. Pg. 838 *1541-PS; Directive No. 20, Operation Marita, 13 December 1940. (GB 117) Vol. IV. Pg. 101 [Page 792] *1746-PS; Conference between German and Bulgarian Generals, 8 February 1941; speech by Hitler to German High Command on situation in Yugoslavia, 27 March 1941; plan for invasion of Yugoslavia, 28 March 1941. (GB 120) Vol. IV. Pg. 272 *1834-PS; Report on conference between Ribbentrop and Oshima, 23 February 1941. (USA 129) Vol. IV. Pg. 469 *1835-PS; Letter from Hitler to Mussolini, 28 March 1941. (GB 126) Vol. IV. Pg. 475 *1842-PS; Meeting of Mussolini and Ribbentrop in Rome, 19 September 1940. (GB 143) Vol. IV. Pg. 477 *1871-PS; Report on Hitler and Ciano meeting, 12 August 1939. (GB 142) Vol. IV. Pg. 508 *2450-PS; Two letters from Ribbentrop to Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, as published in Voelkischer Beobachter, Munich Edition, 26 March 1941. (GB 123) Vol. V. Pg. 186 2719-PS; German assurance to Yugoslavia; official announcement by German Foreign Office, 28 April 1938, to German Diplomatic Representatives, published in Documents of the Origin of War, 1939, No. 2, p. 324. Vol. V. Pg. 378 *2762-PS; Letter from Hitler to Mussolini (probably early November 1940). (GB 115) Vol. V. Pg. 410 *2765-PS; Extract from notes of conference between Hitler and Ciano in Vienna, 25 March 1941. (GB 124) Vol. V. Pg. 411 *2987-PS; Entries in diary of Count Ciano. (USA 166) Vol. V. Pg. 689 *3054-PS; "The Nazi Plan", script of a motion picture composed of captured German film. (USA 167) Vol. V. Pg. 801 *C-59; Order signed by Warlimont for execution of operation "Marita", 19 February 1941. (GB 121) Vol. VI. Pg. 879 [Page 793] *C-127; Extract from Directive No. 25 by Hitler, 27 March 1941. (GB 125) Vol. VI. Pg. 938 *C-134; Letter from Jodl enclosing memorandum on conference between German and Italian Generals on 19 January and subsequent speech by Hitler, 20 January 1941. (GB 119) Vol. VI. Pg. 939 C-147; Extracts from Directive No. 18, signed by Hitler, 12 November 1940. Vol. VI. Pg. 957 *C-167; Report of meeting between Raeder and Hitler, 18 March 1941. (GB 122) Vol. VI. Pg. 977 *L-79; Minutes of conference, 23 May 1939, "Indoctrination on the political situation and future aims". (USA 27) Vol. VII. Pg. 847 *R-95; Army Order signed by von Brauchitsch, 30 March 1941, concerning deployment instructions for "Action 25" and supplementary instruction for action "Marita" (GB 127) Vol. VIII. Pg. 70 TC-43; German assurance to Yugoslavia 6 October 1939, from Documents of German Politics, Vol. VII, p. 352. Vol. VIII. Pg. 386 *TC-77; Memorandum of conversation between Hitler, Ribbentrop and Ciano, 12 August 1939. (GB 48) Vol. VIII. Pg. 516 *TC-92; Hitler's address at dinner for Prince Regent of Yugoslavia, 1 June 1939. (GB 114) Vol. VIII. Pg. 536 *TC-93; Proclamation of the Fuehrer to the German people, 6 April 1941, from Documents Concerning the Conflict with Yugoslavia and Greece. (GB 114) Vol. VIII. Pg. 537
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