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SECOND WORLD WAR 1939-1945
First shots were fired yet before the midnight on 5 April !" : #erman assault groups attacked se$eral ob%ect along the &ugosla$ borders. At 2:'' a #erman engineer group took by surprise the &ugosla$ side of the (ron #ate and $oided the &ugosla$ plan to block the shipping on the )anube. At 5:'' #erman and (talian air forces set off for the action* and at 5: 5 started the #erman attack on +kop%e* ,eles and +trumica. At -:.' first aircraft from the #erman "th Air Fleet flew o$er Belgrade. /he raid on Belgrade was conducted in se$eral wa$es. /he weak anti0aircraft artillery fought gallantly until it was o$erwhelmed. 1ilots from the &ugosla$ 5th Fighter 2egiment* which flew on #erman planes Messerschmitt Bf-109* also fought gallantly and shot down ' #erman machines* but due to the in$aders3 superiority they lost 5 planes. (t could not sa$e the city bombed by se$eral hundred of aircraft. 4ntire city quarters were le$elled. /he gas and electricity supplies were interrupted. At least 2'*''' inhabitants died* many more were wounded. /he #erman air forces repeated air raids on the city at the night of 5 April and on 5 and 6 April. /hose raids disorgani7ed the work of the &ugosla$ administration* which under bombs was lea$ing in hurry to the places designated by the defence plans. (t was not until 2 :'' that the go$ernment gathered in 87ice to proclaim the general mobili7ation and to agree upon the appeal to the nation. /hat appeal though could not be broadcast* because the radio0 station in Belgrade was destroyed. /he +upreme 9ommand started its mobili7ation in the morning in Belgrade and it was not until 5:'' that it reached Ban%a :o$ilaca* from where it attempted to contact subordinated units. 8nfortunately* the command3s own signals battalion was not completely mobili7ed yet* and could not pro$ide a fully operational ser$ice. /hrough the attach; in Athens there was sent an appeal to #en. Al;<andros 1apagos to start an offensi$e in Albania* and to #en. =enry >aitland ?ilson to start operations in the $alley of +trumica. (n Athens it was estimated yet before the midnight that the #erman aggression was %ust a matter of hours* and the supreme command readied the troops concentrated on the Bulgarian frontier. At 5:'' the #erman ambassador* ,iktor $on 4rbach 7u +ch@nberg* demanded an immediate audience from prime0 minister Al;<andros :ory7is. /he prime0minister understood $ery well what the 1russian aristocrat in Aa7i ser$ice was going to bring. =e let the #erman wait .' minutes* and meanwhile notified the king and the supreme commander. As soon as $on 4rbach was recei$ed* he started reading the note* but :ory7is interrupted saying that #reece would fight. At -:'' the radio0station in Athens interrupted broadcasting the +unday religious ser$ice* and announced the official communiqu; about the #erman aggression* as well as the king and prime0minister3s declaration. /he people3s reaction though this time was different than on 26 Bctober !"'. /he will to fight mi<ed with the con$iction that #reece had no forces to stand the mighty power. /he basic military e$ents of the first* decisi$e stage of the war took place in south0east &ugosla$ia* which played the key role to both sides. =olding there* combined with an
Bnly in the northern Albania the &ugosla$s achie$ed some local successes in the $icinity of +hkodra.offensi$e in Albania* would influence reali7ation of the &ugosla$ defence plan* which foresaw a possibility to retreat towarts the #reek border.rd Army )istrict fought along a wide defence front counting on fa$ourable terrain conditions.eles* and +trumica. /o the #reeks it also created possibility to win time till the full concentration of the British 4<peditionary 9orpsC the corps would be then used to support the troops fighting in the first line* or co$er their retreat to a new defence position. /his way it cut the Army Eastern Macedonia's land communications with the rest of the country. Bnly on the +a$a #erman motori7ed troops sei7ed bridgeheads.rd Army* despite of its weakness* on 5 April undertook offensi$e operations in the $icinity of the lakes +hkodra in the north and Bhrid in the south* where it co0operated with the #reek Army Western Macedonia. :onstantinos Bakopoulos* capitulated. Bnly on the left wing of the #reek forces in the :erkini DB%elasnicaE mountains the #ermans mounted a substantial superiority in numbers and dro$e the #reeks to the rear position at :rusia.eles and +trumica. >eanwhile the &ugosla$ units from the . /he e$ents on the Bulgarian frontier also decided about the fate of the %oint #reco0&ugosla$ offensi$e against the (talians in Albania. (n those circumstances the commander of the army* #en. /he left wing of the ad$ancing #erman 2th Army* from the $ery moment it crossed the #reek border* encountered a stubborn defence of the Army Eastern Macedonia deployed on the system of permanent fortifications. Attempts to organi7e defence on new positions failed due to collapse of the army. (ts e$acuation by sea was out of question due to lack of ships and the #erman superiority in the air. But the #erman 2th Army was fully prepared for combat* while the Allies lacked co0ordination and uniform command* and operated in se$eral groupings. (t rolled the #reek rear troops* and before e$ening reached +alonika. (n most of the sectors their ad$ance stalled and split into a series of fights for indi$idual forts* especially in the areas of Ae$rokopion and the 2upel pass. #reek forts3 crews* supported by field units* as a rule used to let the enemies to approach at close distance in order to destroy them with well0 organi7ed fire. Bn 6 April the situation rapidly changed: along the a<is +ofia 0 Belgrade struck the #erman . ?ithin ne<t three days the #ermans met the (talians on the lake Bhrid* and broke the #reek defence in the $icinity of +alonika. &et the #ermans got to the &ugosla$ rears and paralysed the #reco0&ugosla$ operation. /he o$erall situation though was determined by the e$ents* which took place in the area of +trumica. Against south0east &ugosla$ia from Bulgaria struck the core of the 2th Army. >eanwhile on the other sectors of the borders with Bulgaria* 2omania* =ungary* #ermany and (taly e$erything was quiet yet 0 both sides were still concentrating their forces. Already in the e$ening of 5 April the command of the Army Eastern Macedonia recei$ed from there alarming news about the enemy successes* and on 6 April from there struck the enemy 2nd Armoured )i$ision. /he strength of such organi7ed defence made the #ermans an unpleasant surprise. (t focused its effort on three routes leading to +kop%e* . But the #erman assault grouping already on the first day o$ercame the units detached from &ugosla$ di$isions to the border defence* and on 5 April their forces took +kop%e* . /o the in$aders occupation of that area meant separation of the &ugosla$ and #reek forces* remo$ing the menace of an (talian defeat in Albania* and creation of the basis for the offensi$e against #reece along a broad front. /he &ugosla$ "th Army counter0 attacked to liquidate them* but without a success. +o both sides concentrated in that area substantial forces. /he &ugosla$ . /he &ugosla$ defence became disorgani7ed.
(ndi$idual &ugosla$ units fought gallantly* but without anti0tank and anti0air defence they ine$itably had to succumb to the enemy3s %oint air and armoured strikes. Already on the first day of the ad$ance it broke the defence of the &ugosla$ 5th Army and took 1irot. (n this situation the &ugosla$ command decided to mo$e the -th Army from the 2omanian frontier to the eastern bank of >ora$a in order to create a new defence position along the line 2udnik >ountains 0 Arand%elo$ac 0 >ladeno$ac 0 #rocka. (n $iew of the successful ad$ance of the 2th Army as well as internal situation in &ugosla$ia the supreme command ordered the 2nd Army to start its ad$ance on +ara%e$o without waiting for the units* which were still in the process of concentration. /hose appeals acti$i7ed fascist and capitulationist elements in 9roatia. /he #erman ad$ance became the signal for the fascist elements to raise their heads. /he e$ents in 9roatia isolated +lo$enia from the rest of the country. +la$ko :$aternik* broadcast by the radio the proclamation of so0called (ndependent +tate of 9roatia DA)=E.E /hey fought to the last man. /he manager of a local factory summoned his workers and said: Germans are coming. /here was an officer school in Fagodina.st Armoured #roup commanded by #en. /he cadets had deli$ered a stubborn defence. Bne #erman soldier noted in his diaries: All the hamlets along on the road to :ragu%ewat7 are simultaneously the reminiscences of hard fights. 4$en eight days after taking :ragu%e$ac by the #ermans* fights still lasted there* and the #ermans had losses in killed and wounded. Aleksinat7* /schupri%a* Fagodina. /he road to Belgrade was open.' without a trouble entered Iagreb. /here too fascists and . /hen was broadcast the statement of )r.. We should show them the traditional Serbian courage. . G H ?hen the #ermans approached :ragu%e$ac* defences were hastily built and anti0air guns were placed to fire at blank point. /he #ermans in &ugosla$ia had to take many towns in hea$y street fights. 9i$ilians were surprised by the swift pace of the campaign* but e$erywhere* where time and means permitted* were formed $olunteer units to support fighting troops. (n retaliation they shot 5*''' city3s inhabitants. /his strike cut the 5th Army in hal$es* which became isolated in the mountains. /he th )i$ision meanwhile continued its ad$ance and wedged into the 7one of the &ugosla$ concentration. /here* according to a secret agreement concluded yet before the war* the leader of the local usta i* 9ol.. /hey ceased fighting with the #ermans* and in many cases also disarmed the soldiers of the +erbian nationality. =owe$er* there was no power to organi7e that spontaneous impulse while the army was too disorgani7ed to use that help. Ae$ertheless* they conducted precise fire at motorcyclists and infantry. /he &ugosla$ "th Army* where ser$ed a lot of pro0fascist 9roats* %ust disappeared and so the #erman ad$anced troops at !:. A dangerous crisis meanwhile mounted in western &ugosla$ia. D.latko >aJek Dstill the deputy prime0minister in the go$ernment of )uKan +imo$iLE* which supported the declaration of creation of the A)=. Bn ' April it took 1aracin* 9upri%a* Fagodina* and approached >arko$ec* where it encountered a stout defence of the 6th (nfantry 2egiment. =e called upon the 9roats* especially soldiers* to plead allegiance to A)=. /he operation started on ' April and from the beginning it assumed une<pected dimensions.. G2H But armed workers could not do much against the tanks. /hey started to take o$er the administration and demorali7e units* where most of the soldiers were the 9roats. Ae<t day the th Armoured )i$ision de$eloped the success and sei7ed Ais* Aleksinac* and reached 2o7an%. 4wald $on :leist. /hose were already Belgrade3s far approaches..
Bn . Against them on April struck the =ungarian 2nd Army* which after se$eral clashes occupied Bachka and Baranya. /he orders though were issued too late.' the supreme command issued the defeatist directi$e Ao. /he 2nd Army dispersed without a battle* and in the st Army only few units managed to get to the southern bank of +a$a. =e e<pected that it would be possible to obtain conditions similar to those* which were granted to France. /he centre of gra$ity of their operations was now Belgrade* to which from the south0 east was approaching the st Armoured #roup with the th Armoured )i$ision in frontC from the west was ad$ancing the MN.( 9orps* and from the nearby Banate 0 the MN( 9orps. /he 5th Army* formed mostly of the +lo$enes* ceased to e<ist as a combat unit under the orders of the supreme command. /wo days later the same di$ision took 2al%e. /he ad$ance of the MN. At !:. 5!* which played the same role as 1. Bn April the th )i$ision o$ercame the 6th (nfantry 2egiment and took /opola by surprise.H .. >enwhile usta i were sei7ing power in almost whole 9roatia. (t was not until ' April that the &ugosla$ +upreme 9ommand* which so far estimated the situation rather optimistically* saw the signs of catastrophe. /he &ugosla$s had a lot of troops around Belgrade* but they were disorgani7ed and without a proper command.. &et the border and fortress units were still holding their positions. :alafato$iL assumed his new duties on " April at !:'' and immediately undertook preparations for cease0fire. /he #ermans without a trouble reached Ban%a Nuka* and the (talian 2nd Army entered N%ubl%ana and met the #ermans at :arlo$ac. (n those circumstances the commander of the &ugosla$ -th Army decided that a defence of Belgrade would be pointless and ordered withdrawal of his troops to the left bank of the ri$er /opcider. Bn 2 April at 5:'' the MN( 9orps without fights entered into the city* and on the ne<t day the th )i$ision reached it from the south0east* and the 6th (nfantry )i$ision from the MN. /he #erman 2nd Army was de$eloping its ad$ance on +ara%e$o.capitulationists declared se$erance with Belgrade and tried to contact the #ermans. +imultaneously it was decided to organi7e the defence farther in the hinterland and around Belgrade. /he orders were issued to all the units to fight without waiting for direct orders from abo$e. Bn ' and April #erman forces* now also acti$ely supported by =ungarian and (talian troops* were running ahead. (n this situation gen. +imo$iL* while remaining the prime0minister* handed the duties of the chief of staff of the supreme command o$er to #en. #en.tain3s appeal of 5 Fune !"': (n result of defeat on all the fronts* in result of a complete disintegration of our troops in 9roatia* )almatia and +lo$enia* and after a comprehensi$e e<amination of our political and military situation we ha$e come to the conclusion* that any further resistance is impossible and may only bring about the unnecessary bloodshed* without any prospect of a successC furthermore as neither our nation nor its military leadership wanted the war* we ha$e resol$ed D. /he whole armies cesed to e<ist.( 9orps dri$en from the west to the east in between +a$a and )ra$a ri$ers menaced the flanks and the rears of the retreating st and 2nd Armies. )anilo :alafato$iL* and authori7ed him to enter negotiations with the #ermans concerning a cease0fire.( 9orps from the west. G. /hey counted on the -th Army3s ability to regroup and halt the enemy ad$ancing from +ofia* and on the st and 2nd Armies* which had to withdraw from Bachka and Baranya and strengthen the defence in the south.E to ask the #erman and (talian commands to cease the hostilities. April the &ugosla$ army was practically defeated* although some troops kept fighting.
/he main reason howe$er is that the members of the &ugosla$ legation in +ofia maintained contacts with sub$ersi$e elements* which were preparing riots and a coup d3. G"H Bn 5 April* in result of the partial cease0fire agreement with the commander of the MMM. Aleksandar 9incar0>arko$iL and #en 2adi$o%e Fanko$iL in $an was trnsported by a #erman bomber from +ara%e$o to Iemun. 2. 8ntil then the military operations had to be continued.( Army 9orps* the &ugosla$ command ordered the commanders of the 2nd Army #roup and the "th Army to cease hostilities. Assaults from the air of the &ugosla$ a$iation on Bulgarian cities* during which killed were ci$ilians 0 especially women and children 0 although Bulgaria was aside the conflict. (n the afternoon the &ugosla$ go$ernment held the last conference on the nati$e soil in Aiksic.. (n result in the whole Bosia* north to the line .tat. /he cease0fire was in effect in the west of the road I$ornik 0 +ara%e$o. /hey were gi$en half an hour to make any formal remarks concerning the presented te<t. Bn the same day the Bulgarian /elegraph Agency issued the following statement: /oday the go$ernment of Bulgaria se$ered diplomatic relations with &ugosla$ia. At 2':'' they were recei$ed in the building of the former 97echoslo$ak embassy in Belgrade by the commander of the #erman 2nd Army* #en. /he king and the go$enment had to go to #reece to continue the war abroadC they flew to #reece the same night. =e announced to the &ugosla$ delegation* that &ugosla$ia had been defeated* and called upon the delegation to sign the act of unconditional capitulation. Also north0eastern parts of +lo$enia* so0called Nower +tyria and 8pper 9arinthia* were subordinated to the #erman administration. /h troops were ordered not to resist the #ermans* but not to lay their arms down either. Assaults* which the troops of the &ugosla$ forces ha$e committed without a reason since the beginning of the current month. 9ontrary* if we capitulate as a country* as a state* and the go$ernment confirms the capitulation* then this way we will deem oursel$es $anquished* and the country and the state will assume certain liabilities before the winners. But on the same day Adolf =itler* obsessed with the idea of destruction of &ugosla$ia as a country* demanded an unconditional capitulation.(n the e$ening :alafato$iL sent his plenipotentiary en$oys to the command of the #erman 2nd Army to undergo cease0fire talks. /he deputy prime0minister +lobodan Fo$ano$iL e<plained it as follows: (f the army capitulates* then &ugosla$ia as a state will ha$e no liabilities before the winners.isegrad 0 +ara%e$o 0 Bugo%no ceased any resistance. (n the note presented to the &ugosla$ en$oy it has been stated* that such a decision was influenced by following reasons: . /he document stated that the &ugosla$ armed forces unconditionally capitulated and surrendered. >a<imilian $on ?eichs. G5H Bn 5 April in the morning a &ugosla$ delegation with )r. (t was resol$ed that &ugosla$ia would not capitulate as a state* but only the armed forces would sign the act of surrender. /hus started the partitions of &ugosla$ia. For that the troops had to gather in their respecti$e units* and until the arri$al of the #ermans the &ugosla$ officers were responsible for the order and discipline. +oldiers* . Bn 5 April Berlin and 2ome recogni7ed the (ndependent +tate of 9roatia. .
/he rests of the &ugosla$ army surrendered or dispersed. /hey did it at 2 :''.6: :. As many as . . 2.85. /01234. . Bn ! April Bulgarian troops entered into southern &ugosla$ia. ". N. +ome non0+erbs were soon released* so effecti$ely about 2''*''' soldiers D!'O +erbsE remained prisoners of war. /he cease0fire was in effect since ne<t day* 6 April at 2:''.. All the weapon and equipment* as well as the archi$es of the prime0minister* foreign office* army* and na$y had to be handed o$er to the #ermans.who after the surrender left their units would be punished by death. >eanwhile in &ugosla$ia the #erman* (talian and =ungarian troops began the occupation of the country. WXYRZ* 9. Bn 5 April during a conference in Athens the &ugosla$ go$ernment issued an appeal to the nation* which stated that &ugosla$ia was still in war and would continue the struggle alongside the Allies until the final $ictory. (t was a brutal dictate* humiliating in its form and contents..5678 Q. +oldiers were forbidden to lea$e the country.. 2endulic* Ge!"m#ft$ gesiegt$ geschlagen . 1a$lo$ic* .a<go&ori sa Slobodanom %o&ano&icem$ 19(1-19() . +trugar* %ugosla&i'a 19(1-19() P. Bn 2" April at 2:'' ceased its e<istence the &ugosla$ +upreme 9ommand. /he &ugosla$ delegation had no choice but to sign it..55*''' soldiers marched into capti$ity. 5. QRSTUTV* *+.. +t.