Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression Volume I Chapter IX Aggression Against Greece & Yugoslavia

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Last-Modified: 1996/06/05

Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume One, Chapter Nine

[Page 775]


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

“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

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

[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

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-

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

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

“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-

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

“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.”

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

[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

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.


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.

*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.

*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