The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Greece & Yugoslavia
(Part 5 of 8)


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)


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