The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Opening Address for the United Kingdom
(Part 14 of 17)

On 6 April 1941 German armed forces invaded Greece and Yugoslavia. Again the blow was struck without warning and with the cowardice and deceit which the World now fully expected from the self-styled "Herrenvolk". It was a breach of the Hague Convention of 1899. It was a breach of the Pact of Paris of 1928. It was a breach of a specific assurance given by Hitler on 6 October 1939.

"Immediately after the completion of the Anschluss", he said, "I informed Yugoslavia that, from now on, the frontier with this country will also be an unalterable one and that we only desire to live in Peace and Friendship with her". (TC-43)

But the plan for aggression against Yugoslavia had, of course, been in hand well before that. In the aggressive action eastward towards the Ukraine and the Soviet territories security of the Southern flank and the lines of communication had already been considered.

The history of events leading up to the invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany is well known. At 3 o'clock on the morning of 28 October 1940 a 3-hour ultimatum had been presented by the Italian Government to the Greek Government and the presentation of this ultimatum was followed by the aerial bombardment of Greek provincial towns and the advance of Italian troops into Greek territory. The Greeks, not prepared for such an assault, were at first forced to withdraw. Later the Italian advance was first checked, then driven towards the Albanian frontier, and by the end of 1940 the Italian Army had suffered severe reverses at Greek hands.

Of German intentions there is the evidence of what occurred when, on 12 August 1939, Hitler held his meeting with Ciano.

You will remember Hitler said:

"Generally speaking, the best thing to happen would be for the neutrals to be liquidated one after the other. This process could be carried out more easily if on every occasion one partner of the Axis covered the other while it was dealing with an uncertain neutral. Italy might well regard Yugoslavia as a neutral of this kind." (TC-77)

Later again on the second day of the conversation, 13th August, he said:

"In general, however, from success by one of the Axis partners not only strategical but also psychological strengthening of the other partner and also of the whole Axis would ensue.

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Italy carried through a number of successful operations in Abyssinia, Spain and Albania and each time against the wishes of the Democratic Entente. These individual actions have not only strengthened Italian local interests but have also reinforced her general position. The same was the case with German action in Austria and Czechoslovakia. *** The strengthening of the Axis by these individual operations was of the greatest importance for the unavoidable clash with the Western Powers."

Once again we see the same procedure being followed. That meeting had taken place on the 12 August 1939 --13 August 1939. Less than two months later, on 6 October 139 Hitler was giving his assurance to Yugoslavia that Germany only desired to live in peace and friendship with the Yugoslav State, the liquidation of which by his Axis partner he had himself suggested.

On 28 October 1940 the Italians presented a 3 hour ultimatum to Greece and commenced war against her. Eventually the advance was checked, then driven back, and the Italians suffered considerable reverses at Greek hands.

We have an undated letter from Hitler to Mussolini which must have been written about the time of the Italian aggression against Greece. (2762-PS)

"Permit me at the beginning of this letter to assure you that within the last 14 days my heart and my thoughts have been more than ever with you. Moreover, Duce, be assured of my determination to do everything on your behalf which might ease the present situation for you. *** When I asked you to receive me in Florence, I undertook the trip in the hope of being able to express my views prior to the beginning of the threatening conflict with Greece, about which I had only received general information. First, I wanted to request you to postpone the action, if possible until a more favorable time of year, at all events, however, until after the American presidential election. But in any case, however, I wanted to request you, Duce, not to undertake this action without a previous lightning- like occupation of Crete and. for this purpose, I also wanted to submit to you some practical suggestions in regard to the employment of a German parachute division and a further airborne division. *** Yugoslavia 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

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war in the Balkans before March is impossible. Hence it would also serve to make any threatening influence upon Yugoslavia of no purpose, since the Serbian General Staff is well aware of the fact that no practical action could follow such a threat before March. Here Yugoslavia must, if at all possible, be won over by other means and other ways."

On the 12th November in his Top Secret Order No. 18 Hitler ordered the OKH to make preparations to occupy Greece and Bulgaria if necessary. Approximately 10 divisions were to be used in order to prevent Turkish intervention. To shorten the time the German divisions in Rumania were to be increased. On 13 October 1940 Hitler issued an order to OKW, OKL, OKH, OKM and General Staff on the operation Marita, which was the invasion of Greece. In that order it is stated that the invasion of Greece is planned and is to commence as soon as the weather becomes advantageous. Further orders were issued on the 13th December and 11th January. (448-PS; 1541-PS)

On the 28th January Hitler saw Mussolini. Jodl, Keitel, and Ribbentrop were present at the meeting and it is from Jodl's notes of what took place that we know that Hitler stated that one of the purposes of German troop concentrations in Rumania was for use in his plan for the operation against Greece.

On 1 March 1941 German troops entered Bulgaria and moved towards the Greek frontier. In the face of this threat of an attack on Greece by German as well as Italian forces British forces were landed in Greece on the 3d March in accordance with the declaration which had been given by the British Government on 13 April 1939 that Great Britain would feel bound to give Greece and Rumania respectively all the support in her power in the event of either country becoming the victim of aggression and resisting such aggression. Already the Italian aggression had made this pledge operative.

On 25 March 1941 Yugoslavia joined the 3-Power Pact which had already been signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan. The preamble of the Pact stated that the 3 Powers would stand side by side and work together.

On the same day Ribbentrop wrote two notes to the Yugoslav Prime Minister assuring him of Germany's full intention to respect the sovereignty and independence of his country. That declaration was yet another example of the treachery employed by German diplomacy. We have seen already the preparations that had been made. We have seen Hitler's efforts to tempt the Italians into an aggression against Yugoslavia. We have seen in January his orders for his own preparation to invade Yugoslavia

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and Greece and now on the 25th March he is signing a pact with that country and his Foreign Minister is writing assurances of respect for her sovereignty and territorial integrity.

As a result of the signing of that Pact the anti-Nazi element in Yugoslavia immediately accomplished a coup d'etat and established a new Government. Thereupon the decision was taken to invade immediately and on the 27th March, two days after the 3-Power Pact had been signed by Yugoslavia, Hitler issued instructions that Yugoslavia was to be invaded and used as a base for the continuance of the combined German and Italian offensive against Greece. (C-127)

Following this, further deployment and other instructions for the action Marita were issued by Von Brauchitsch on 30 March 1941. (R-95)

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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