The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Greece & Yugoslavia
(Part 4 of 8)

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

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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

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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.

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

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