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Germans Move Into The Balkans: Invasion of Yugoslavia: WW2

  A Bulgarian farmer gives a German soldier some water to drink. 1941


The government of the Kingdom of Bulgaria under Prime Minister Bogdan Filov declared a position of neutrality upon the outbreak of World War II. Bulgaria was determined to observe it until the end of the war; but it hoped for bloodless territorial gains, especially in the lands with a significant Bulgarian population occupied by neighbouring countries after the Second Balkan War and World War I. However, it was clear that the central geopolitical position of Bulgaria in the Balkans would inevitably lead to strong external pressure by both World War II factions. Turkey had a non-aggression pact with Bulgaria. On 7 September 1940, Bulgaria succeeded in negotiating a recovery of Southern Dobruja in the Axis-sponsored Treaty of Craiova. Southern Dobruja had been part of Romania since 1913. This recovery of territory reinforced Bulgarian hopes for resolving other territorial problems without direct involvement in the War.

Bulgaria joined the Axis Powers in 1941, when German troops preparing to invade Yugoslavia and Greece reached the Bulgarian borders and demanded permission to pass through Bulgarian territory. On 1 March 1941, Bulgaria signed the Tripartite Pact and officially joined the Axis bloc. With the Soviet Union in a non-aggression pact with Germany, there was little popular opposition to the decision.

Germany leaned on Bulgaria for passage through it. Of course the Bulgaria was not the innocent victim. It joined Germany as it hoped to gain much from it.

On 6 April 1941, despite having officially joined the Axis Powers, the Bulgarian government maintained a course of military passivity during the initial stages of the invasion of Yugoslavia and the invasion of Greece. As German, Italian, and Hungarian troops crushed Yugoslavia and Greece, the Bulgarians remained on the side-lines. The Yugoslav government surrendered on 17 April and the Greek government surrendered on 30 April. Before the Greek government capitulated, on 20 April, the period of Bulgarian passivity ended when the Bulgarian Army entered Greece and Yugoslavia.

 Bulgarian Prime Minister Bogdan Filov signs the papers with which Bulgaria joins the Triple Axis. March 1, 1941
 The British embassy in Sofia on March 1, 1941
 Hitler meets the Bulgarian Tsar Boris The Third


 German Field Marshal Wilhelm List explains something to the Bugarian King Boris The Third

 Colonel General Ferdinand Schorner in Bulgaria. March 1, 1941
 The German embassy in Sofia. March 1, 1941

 Comrade-in-arms now. A German soldier with a Bulgarian soldier. 1941


 Invasion of Yugoslavia

In October 1940, Fascist Italy had attacked Greece only to be forced back into Albania. German dictator Adolf Hitler recognised the need to go to the aid of his ally, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Hitler did this not only to restore diminished Axis prestige, but also to prevent the United Kingdom from being able to bomb the Romanian oilfields from which Germany obtained most of her oil.

Following agreements with Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria that they would join the Axis, Hitler put pressure on Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite Pact. The Regent, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, succumbed to this pressure on 25 March 1941. However, this move was deeply unpopular amongst the anti-Axis Serbian public and military. A coup d'├ętat was launched on 27 March 1941 by anti-Paul Serbian military officers, and the Regent was replaced on the throne by King Peter II of Yugoslavia.

This is how British cartoonist Low saw the Balkan situation. In the background Greece has Mussolini on the run!

Upon hearing news of the coup in Yugoslavia, Hitler called his military advisers to Berlin on 27 March. Hitler took the coup as a personal insult, and was so angered that he was determined "without waiting for possible declarations of loyalty of the new government to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a nation.", despite the apparent readiness of the new Yugoslav rulers to maintain Yugoslavia's involvement in the Tripartite Pact.
The victor with the vanquished. Yugoslav Paul Karadjordjevic  with Hitler after the capitulation of Yugoslavia


When World War II broke out, Yugoslavia declared its neutrality. On March 25, 1941, Yugoslav government signed the Tripartite Pact with significant reservations as it received three notes. The first note obliged the Axis powers to respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia. In the second note the Axis promised not to ask Yugoslavia for any military assistance. In the third note they promised not to ask Yugoslavia for permission to move military forces across its territory during the war.

Two days later, Prince Paul was forcibly removed from power.

From this distance, the Prince Paul's foreign policy including the signing of the Tripartite Pact seems to have been best possible in the adverse circumstances. After the fall of France, after the rout of the British, Paul saw no way of saving the country, but to adopt policies of accommodation to the Axis powers. But even under those circumstances Prince Paul, outwardly neutral, remained determinedly pro-Allied. He aided Greece when Greece was invaded. He fostered military collaboration between Yugoslav Army and the French. And for almost three years he parried the Axis thrust toward Yugoslavia.

For the remainder of the war, Prince Paul was kept, with his family, under house arrest by the British in Kenya.

Belgrade after German planes bombed it. April, 1941

 Yugoslavia defeated and dismembered by Germany in April 1941
More destruction from the bombing


Germans move into Yugoslavia from Bulgaria. April 6, 1941

German Panzer 3 tank in Yugoslavia. April 1941
 German armored vehicles from the "SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" moving along the highway Monastir - Struga, Macedonia

Germans execute Yugoslav partisans on the way to Belgrade

The Yugoslav army capitulates to the Germans

 Top generals of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia arrested and taken to Berlin
Ribbentrop with Croatian extreme nationalist Ustashe leader Ante Pavelic

German military trucks roll on the roads of Belgrade


A partisan hanged from a lamp post in Belgrade by the Germans

German stooge, Serbian Preisdent Milan Nedic




Right, let’s look at the good stuff and there’s plenty of it. This 52 page book is primarily a photographic resource that documents German army personnel and equipment used in the particularly brief Yugoslavian campaign. Broken into sections devoted to infantry, artillery, air defence, armour and reconnaissance, pioneers, signals, transport and camp life the fascinating photographs are accompanied by insightful captions.

The author, Gordon Rottman, obviously knows his stuff and points out details that could be easily missed by the reader. He is particularly informative when discussing uniforms and equipment (although I’m not sure if it's absolutely necessary to point out the soles of hob-nail boots). As mentioned the photographs are uniformly excellent and often display the spectacular and atmospheric Yugoslavian mountains and forests to great effect which should provide some real inspiration for diorama makers. Also within the book are four colour paintings by Dmitry Zgonnik of a Panzer Crewman, Rifleman, Gebirgsjager and Waffen-SS Squad leader. These terrific paintings are a real bonus feature of this book and should provide an excellent reference for figure modellers.

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China after Deng's reform gave the chance to get rich but power is in the hands of an elite; the Communist Party of China. Membership to the party is at the whims of the local party bosses. This leaves out many people who crave political power dissatisfied and disgruntled. There in lies the roots of instability. The Party suppressed these demands once at Tiananmen in 1989. But force is hardly the way to deal with things like these.

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