Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This Day in WWII History: Mar 25, 1941: Yugoslavia joins the Axis

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On this day, Yugoslavia, despite an early declaration of neutrality, signs the Tripartite Pact, forming an alliance with Axis powers Germany, Italy, and Japan.

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 File:Tripartite Pact 27 September 1940.jpg

A unified nation of Yugoslavia, an uneasy federation of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, was a response to the collapse of the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires at the close of World War I, both of which had previously contained parts of what became Yugoslavia. A constitutional monarchy, Yugoslavia built friendships with France and Czechoslovakia during the years between the world wars.


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With the outbreak of World War II, and the Anschluss ("union") between Austria and Germany, pressure was placed on Yugoslavia to more closely ally itself Germany, despite Yugoslavia's declared neutrality. But fear of an invasion like that suffered by France pushed Yugoslavia into signing a "Friendship Treaty"—something short of a formal political alliance—on December 11, 1940.

Datoteka:Hapsenje Dragise Cvetkovica 1941.jpg

 
With the war spreading to the Balkans after the invasion of Greece by Italy, it was important to Hitler that the Axis powers have an ally in the region that would act as a bulwark against Allied encroachment on Axis territory.

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Meeting on February 14, 1941, Adolf Hitler proved unable to persuade Yugoslav Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic to formally join the Axis. The next day, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill contacted the Yugoslav regent, Prince Paul, in an effort to encourage him to remain firm in resisting further German blandishments. It was essential to the Allies that Yugoslavia cooperate with Anglo-Greek forces in fending off an Axis conquest of Greece.

 An order to Jews and Serbs from the Croatian nationalist Ustasa government to move out of certain city neighborhoods. Zagreb, Yugoslavia, 1941.

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But with King Boris of Bulgaria caving into Germany, Prince Paul felt the heat of the Nazis, and on March 20 he asked the Yugoslav Cabinet for their cooperation in allowing the Germans access to Greece through Yugoslavia. The Cabinet balked, and four ministers resigned in protest at the suggestion.

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This gesture failed to prevent Prime Minister Cvetkovic from finally signing the Tripartite Pact in Vienna on March 25, 1941.

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Within two days, the Cvetkovic government was overthrown by a unified front of peasants, the church, unions, and the military—an angry response to the alliance with Germany.

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 Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery, King Petar II of Yugoslavia, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Britain, 1944

Prince Paul was thrown from his throne in favor of his son, King Peter, only 17 years old. The new government, led by Air Force Gen. Dusan Simovic, immediately renounced the Tripartite Pact. In less than two weeks, Germany invaded the nation and occupied it by force.

Streetcar in Belgrade bearing the sign: "Forbidden to Jews." Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1941-1942

 Jews forced to clear rubble from streets following the bombardment of Belgrade. Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1941.
 A Jewish child wears the compulsory Star of David badge with the letter "Z" for Zidov, the Croatian word for Jew. Yugoslavia, probably 1941.
 The execution by hanging of Serbs and Jews in the Banat region. Yugoslavia, September 17, 1941.
 View of the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia. Jasenovac, Yugoslavia, 1941-1942.
 Ustasa (Croatian fascist) camp guards order a Jewish man to remove his ring before being shot. Jasenovac concentration camp, Yugoslavia, between 1941 and 1945.
 Deportation of Jews. Skopje, Yugoslavia, March 1943.

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Taken from:  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/yugoslavia-joins-the-axis [25.03.2014]

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