Hitler’s war directive No. 25
Concerning preparations for invasion
27 March 1941
The Führer and the Supreme Commander Führer Headquarters
of the Armed Forces. 27th march 1941.
DIRECTIVE No. 25
1. The military revolt in Yugoslavia has changed the political position in the Balkans. Yugoslavia, even if it makes initial professions of loyalty, must be regarded as an enemy and beaten down as quickly as possible.
- It is my intention to break into Yugoslavia in the general direction of Belgrade and to the south by a concentric operation from the Fiume-Graz area on the one side, and the Sofia area on the other, and to deal an annihilating blow to the Yugoslav forces. Further, the extreme southern region of Yugoslavia will be cut off from the rest of the country and will be occupied as a base from which the German-Italian offensive against Greece can be continued.
The opening of the traffic on the Danube as soon as possible and the seizure of the Bor copper mines are important for the economic reasons.
Efforts will be made to induce Hungary and Bulgaria to take part in operations by offering them the prospect of regaining the Banat and Macedonia.
Internal tensions in Yugoslavia will be encouraged by giving political assurances to the Croats.
I issue the following detailed orders:
As soon as sufficient forces are available and the weather allows, the ground installations of the Yugoslav Air Force and the city of Belgrade will be destroyed from the air by continual day and night attack.
If possible simultaneously – but in no event earlier – «Undertaking Marita» will begin, with the temporarily limited objective of occupying Salonika basin and gaining foothold on the heights of Edessa. For this purpose, XVIII Army Corps can advance through Yugoslavia.
Favourable opportunities will be seized to prevent the creation of an organised front between Olympus and the Edessa highlands.
All forces still available in Bulgaria and Rumania will be committed to the attacks which will be carried out from the Sofia area to the North-west and from the Kyustendil- Gorna Dzhumaya area to the west, with the exception that a force of about one division, with air support, must remain to protect the Rumanian oilfields.
The protection of the Turkish frontier will, for the present, be left to the Bulgarians. A German formation consisting if possible of one armoured division will stand by in the rear in support.
The thrust from the general direction of Graz towards the south-east will be made as soon as the necessary forces have been assembled. The Army is free to decide whether the Hungarian territory should be crossed in breaching the frontier.
Security measures at the Yugoslav frontier are to be strengthened immediately.
As on the Bulgarian frontier, important objectives can be occupied even before the general offensive, simultaneously with the air attack on Belgrade.
The Air Force will support with two Groups the operations of the 12th Army and of the assault group now being formed in the Graz area, and will time the weight of its attack to coincide with the operations of the Army. The Hungarian ground organisation can be used for assembly and in action.
The possibility of bringing X Air Corps into action from Italian bases will be considered. The protection of convoys to Africa must however continue to be ensured. Preparations for the occupation of the island of Lemnos will be continued. I reserve the right to give orders for this operation.
Care must be taken to ensure adequate anti-aircraft protection for Graz, Klagenfurt, Villach, and Leoben, and also for Vienna.
Basic agreement with Italy will be reached, for the time being, by the High Command of the Armed Forces. The Army will detail liaison staffs with Italian 2nd Army and with the Hungarians.
The Air Force is authorised to begin immediate discussions with the Italian and Hungarian High Commands in order to delimit the area of the air forces of the three powers. The build-up of Hungarian ground installations can begin at once.
Commanders-in-Chief will inform me, through the High Command of the Armed Forces, of their plans for the operation, and of related problems.
signed: ADOLF HITLER