THE GERMAN CAMPAIGNS IN THE BALKANS (SPRING 1941),CMH Pub 104-4

This publication replaces DA Pam 20-260, November 1953
Facsimile Edition, 1984, 1986
CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
UNITED STATES ARMY
WASHINGTON, D.C

FOREWORD

The purpose of this study is to describe the German campaigns in the Balkans and the seizure of Crete within the framework of Hitler’s military policy during the second year of World War II. The study is the first of a series dealing with large-scale German military operations in Eastern Europe; other historical studies such as Germany and Finland–Allies and Enemies in World War II, The Axis Campaign in Russia, 1941-45: A Strategic Survey, and German Army Group Operations in Russia will follow.

«The German Campaigns in the Balkans» is written from the German point of view and is based mainly on original German records and postwar military writings by Dr. Helmut Greiner, General Burkharth. Mueller-Hillebrand, and the late General Hans von Greiffenberg. The lessons and conclusions following each narrative have been drawn from the same German sources. (These records and manuscripts are listed in appendix III.) Material taken from U.S. and Allied sources has been integrated into the text, but specific cross references have been made only in those instances where these sources deviate from the German documents. Συνέχεια

WW2 Balkan Campaign – Yugoslavia

The Yugoslav army was regarded for one of the strongest in Europe. Its prestige was strengthened by glorious traditions of the Serbian army from two Balkan and the First World wars. That was however the army of ethnically homogeneous Serbia whereas in 1941 the army was comprised of soldiers of multinational Yugoslavia and within its ranks occurred all the contradictions splitting this country.

During the peacetime the Yugoslav army numbered about 150,000 men divided among 20 divisions. Mobilization plans foresaw formation of 31 divisions (28 infantry and 3 cavalry ones) as well as many border, fortress and auxiliary units; altogether 1.7 million men.  This large force had inadequate armaments, especially in anti-tank, anti-aircraft weapons and vehicles (only two tank battalions were available, which possessed only one modern tank). Partially modernized air forces had about 520 aircraft, and smallish navy apart from the Adriatic fleet also had its own air force, coastal defence and a large riverine flotilla. Συνέχεια

German Antiguerrilla Operations in the Balkans (1941-1944) CMH Publication 104-18

TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWARD
Part One: THE BALKAN AREA AND ITS PEOPLES
•Chapter 1: Physical Geography
•I. Topography
•II. Climate
•Chapter 2: National States
•I. General
•II. Greece
•III. Yugoslavia
•IV. Albania
•V. Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Turkey
•Chapter 3: Transportation and Communication
•I. General
•II. Main Rail Lines
•III. Principal Highways
•IV. Waterways, Airfields, and Signal Facilities

Part Two: THE OCCUPATION OF THE BALKANS AND THE RISE OF THE GUERRILLA MOVEMENT (1941-44)
•Chapter 4: The Occupation Zone and Forces
•I. Division and Dismemberment
•II. The Italians
•III. The Germans
•IV. The Bulgarians and Hungarians
•V. The Puppet Governments
•Chapter 5. The Early Movement and Axis Countermeasures
•I. Yugoslavia
•II. Greece
•Chapter 6: Organization of Guerrilla Units
•I. Unit and Command Structure
•II. Communications and Supply
•III. Training and Tactics

Part Three. THE GUERRILLA MOVEMENT IN GREECE, YUGOSLAVIA, AND ALBANIA (1943-44)
•Chapter 7: Operations (January-August 1943)
•I. Yugoslavia
•II. Greece
•III. The German Situation by Mid-1943
•Chapter 8: The Defeat of Italy and Its Effects
•I. General
•II. Yugoslavia and Albania
•III. Greece
•Chapter 9: Operations to the End of 1943
•I. General
•II. Yugoslavia and Albania
•III. Greece
•Chapter 10: Operations in 1944
•I. General
•II. The Area of Army Group E
•III. The Area of Army Group F
•Chapter 11. GEMSBOCK and STEINADLER

Part Four: RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS

Συνέχεια

The German Campaign to Balkans, Department of the Army, 1953

PART ONE

THE MILITARY-POLITICAL SITUATION IN THE BALKANS

(October 1940-March 1941)

General Reference Map (451K)

During the latter half of 1940 the Balkans, always a notorious hotbed of intrigues, became the center of conflicting interests of Germany, Italy, Russia, and Great Britain. From the beginning of World War II Adolf Hitler had consistently stated that Germany had no territorial ambitions in the Balkans. Because his primary interest in that area was of an economic nature—Germany obtained vital oil and food supplies from the Balkan countries—he was prepared to do his utmost to preserve peace in that part of Europe. For this reason he attempted to keep in check Italy’s aggressive Balkan policy, to satisfy Hungarian and Bulgarian claims to Romanian territory by peaceful means, and to avoid any incident which might lead to Great Britain’s direct intervention in Greece. It was no easy task to synchronize so many divergent political actions at a time when Germany was preparing the invasion of the British Isles and later planning as alternate measures the capture of Gibraltar, the occupation of Egypt and the Suez Canal, and the attack on Russia. Συνέχεια

The Balkan Campaign (Betewwn a rock and a hard place)

Greek infantry fighting in the mountains. In the harsh weather conditions and forbidding terrain the Greeks repelled the Italian invasion, while a German invasion was being prepared in their rears.

The Greek intelligence became aware of the operation Marita quite soon. Greece had found itself in the position of a man, who, while fighting with one stooge, simultaneously has behind his back another stooge, pointing a gun at his head. The only solution of the situation was seen in creating some great coalition of the Balkan countries and Turkey, British support, and defeat of the Italian forces in Albania sooner than the Germans could manage to appear on the scene. The Greek prime minister, Ioánnis Metaxás, did not abandon any available option, but, being a sober man, he decided to face the German invasion even if left alone, for he realised that the Allied cause would eventually prevail. Since all the resources at that time were engaged in the war with Italy, Greece could put against the Germans only five weak divisions. It meant a fight purely for honour, for there was not the slightest chance to repel the invasion. Along those lines Metaxas rejected British support, if it had to be merely symbolical, since he rightfully realised that would only prompt Germans for further actions.

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