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Yugoslavia joins the Axis Powers

Yugoslavia joins the Axis Powers

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

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. 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 with 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.

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. 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.

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

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. 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.


Axis powers

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Axis powers, coalition headed by Germany, Italy, and Japan that opposed the Allied powers in World War II. The alliance originated in a series of agreements between Germany and Italy, followed by the proclamation of an “axis” binding Rome and Berlin (October 25, 1936), with the two powers claiming that the world would henceforth rotate on the Rome-Berlin axis. This was followed by the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact against the Soviet Union (November 25, 1936).

Hostile acts of expansionism by the three countries during the 1930s sowed the seeds of world war. Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia on October 3, 1935. Imperial Japan, which had occupied Manchuria (Northeast China) since 1931, engaged Chinese troops near Beijing on July 7, 1937, thus launching full-scale warfare there. Nazi Germany occupied the Rhineland in 1936 and annexed Austria and the Sudetenland two years later.

On September 13, 1936, as he began to set his sights on the Soviet Union, German dictator Adolf Hitler boasted of the blind obedience that he would be able to command from the German people in a struggle against bolshevism. Hitler’s tirades against bolshevism were delivered not only in order to justify German intervention on the side of the fascist-oriented Falange in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) but also to prepare the ground for alliance with Japan, where nationalism and militarism had been ascendant since Japan’s occupation of Manchuria. On November 25, 1936, Germany’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Japan’s ambassador in Berlin, Count Mushakoji, signed an agreement, the so-called Anti-Comintern Pact: since the Comintern, or Third International, based in Moscow, existed in order “to disintegrate and subdue existing states,” Germany and Japan undertook “to consult with one another on the necessary preventive measures and to carry these through in close collaboration.”

Germany had not enacted any sanctions against Italy during the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–36): firmly resolved on annexing Austria to Germany, Hitler was waiting until Italy’s war was over before making his next move on the international chessboard. Then, after a bitter campaign in the Nazi press against the Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, German diplomat Franz von Papen, in May 1936, started negotiations with Schuschnigg for a modus vivendi. A draft agreement between Germany and Austria was submitted to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, whose approval was obtained on June 5. An official communique published in Berlin and in Vienna on July 11 stated that the German Reich recognized Austria’s full sovereignty and that Austria undertook, “both in general and toward the German Reich,” to pursue the policy of “a German state.” A visit by Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law and minister of foreign affairs, to Hitler at Berchtesgaden on October 24 was followed by Germany’s becoming the first power to recognize Italy’s annexation of Ethiopia. On November 1, in Milan, Mussolini completed the bargain by proclaiming the Rome-Berlin Axis and by violently attacking communism.

In the last week of September 1937, when he paid a state visit to Germany, Mussolini received a spectacular welcome. Convinced that in a forthcoming war the Nazi Reich would be victorious, he formally subscribed to the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact on November 6 of that year, and on December 11 he withdrew Italy from the League of Nations. Germany, Italy, and Japan now formed a triangle.

The connections among the Axis powers were strengthened by a full military and political alliance between Germany and Italy (the Pact of Steel, May 22, 1939) and by the Tripartite Pact, signed by all three powers on September 27, 1940, one year after Germany’s invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II. During the war a number of other countries joined the Axis, induced by coercion or promises of territory or protection by the Axis powers. They included Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia (after Czechoslovakia had divided in 1939) in November 1940, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in March 1941, and, after the wartime breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia (June 1941). Finland, although it did not formally join the Tripartite Pact, cooperated with the Axis because of its opposition to the Soviet Union (to which Finland had been forced to cede territory in 1940) and entered the war in 1941.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.


On This Day – Yugoslavia Surrenders to the Axis Powers

Yugoslavian Infantry Surrendering. Photo courtesy of Gofferjé, Leander.

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_ On this day in 1941, Yugoslavia surrendered to the Axis Powers after being invaded by Germany and after just eleven days of fighting. Foreign Minister Aleksander Cincar-Markovic and General Milojko Jankovic signed the armistice that unconditionally surrendered all Yugoslav troops and went into effect the next day at noon.

The invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis Powers began on 6 April, and commenced with a huge overwhelming air attack on Belgrade known as Operation Castigo. On this one day alone, 17,000 civilians were killed and the invasion was over much quicker than was anticipated, largely due to Yugoslavia being unprepared for the violent assault. The reasons for the invasion seem to lie in Yugoslavia’s announcement that it would not honour its ‘obligations’ to join the Axis Powers and allow transit through its territory for German troops heading to Greece. Instead, it desired to side with the Allied forces.

After the surrender, Yugoslavia was divided between Germany, Hungary, Italy and Bulgaria, with most of Serbia being occupied by Germany. Once the war had ended, the Yugoslav Union was reestablished under Communist rule, though relationships with the Soviet Union had all but disintegrated by 1948. Between 1991 and 1992, it dissolved again, this time as the result of an impending civil war that led Slovenia and Croatia to declare their independence.

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The second Yugoslavia

Socialist Yugoslavia was formed in 1946 after Josip Broz Tito and his communist-led Partisans had helped liberate the country from German rule in 1944–45. This second Yugoslavia covered much the same territory as its predecessor, with the addition of land acquired from Italy in Istria and Dalmatia. The kingdom was replaced by a federation of six nominally equal republics: Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. In Serbia the two provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina were given autonomous status in order to acknowledge the specific interests of Albanians and Magyars, respectively.

Despite this federal form, the new state was at first highly centralized both politically and economically, with power held firmly by Tito’s Communist Party of Yugoslavia and a constitution closely modeled on that of the Soviet Union. In 1953, 1963, and 1974, however, a succession of new constitutions created an ever more loosely coordinated union, the locus of power being steadily shifted downward from the federal level to economic enterprises, municipalities, and republic-level apparatuses of the Communist Party (renamed the League of Communists of Yugoslavia). Throughout this complex evolution, the Yugoslav system consisted of three levels of government: the communes (opštine), the republics, and the federation. The 500 communes were direct agents for the collection of most government revenue, and they also provided social services.

Under the constitution of 1974, the assemblies of the communes, republics, and autonomous provinces consisted of three chambers. The Chamber of Associated Labour was formed from delegations representing self-managing work organizations the Chamber of Local Communities consisted of citizens drawn from territorial constituencies and the Sociopolitical Chamber was elected from members of the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Yugoslavia, the League of Communists, the trade unions, and organizations of war veterans, women, and youth. The federal assembly (Skupština) had only two chambers: the Federal Chamber, consisting of 220 delegates from work organizations, communes, and sociopolitical bodies and the Chamber of Republics and Provinces, containing 88 delegates from republican and provincial assemblies.

The executive functions of government were carried out by the Federal Executive Council, which consisted of a president, members representing the republics and provinces, and officials representing various administrative agencies. In 1974 the presidency of the federation was vested for life in Tito following his death in 1980, it was transferred to an unwieldy rotating collective presidency of regional representatives.

After 1945 the communist government nationalized large landholdings, industrial enterprises, public utilities, and other resources and launched a strenuous process of industrialization. After a split with the Soviet Union in 1948, Yugoslavia had by the 1960s come to place greater reliance on market mechanisms. A distinctive feature of this new “Yugoslav system” was “ workers’ self-management,” which reached its fullest form in the 1976 Law on Associated Labour. Under this law, individuals participated in Yugoslav enterprise management through the work organizations into which they were divided. Work organizations might be either “Basic Organizations of Associated Labour” (the subdivisions of a single enterprise) or “Complex Organizations of Associated Labour” uniting different segments of an overall activity (e.g., manufacture and distribution). Each work organization was governed by a workers’ council, which elected a board of management to run the enterprise. Managers were nominally the servants of the workers’ councils, although in practice their training and access to information and other resources gave them a significant advantage over ordinary workers.

Under the new system, remarkable growth was achieved between 1953 and 1965, but development subsequently slowed. In the absence of real stimulus to efficiency, workers’ councils often raised wage levels above the true earning capacities of their organizations, usually with the connivance of local banks and political officials. Inflation and unemployment emerged as serious problems, particularly during the 1980s, and productivity remained low. Such defects in the system were patched over by massive and uncoordinated foreign borrowing, but after 1983 the International Monetary Fund demanded extensive economic restructuring as a precondition for further support. The conflict over how to meet this demand resurrected old animosities between the wealthier northern and western regions, which were required to contribute funds to federally administered development programs, and the poorer southern and eastern regions, where these funds were frequently invested in relatively inefficient enterprises or in unproductive prestige projects. Such differences contributed directly to the disintegration of the second Yugoslavia.


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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


Collaboration in Yugoslavia

In addition to the puppet Nedic government in Serbia, which had both a gendarmerie and a political police department, the Germans relied on Albanian bureaucrats, Bulgarian military and police officials, Hungarian gendarmes, and the Croat government establishment along with the Ustasa militia to implement German policy in occupied and dismembered Yugoslavia. All were involved in the deportation and/or murder of Jews, Roma, Communists, and other political opponents in Yugoslavia. In combating the Communist-led partisans, the Germans and especially the Italians were able to count on some collaboration from Mihailovic's Cetniks, whose leaders, as it became clear that Germany would lose the war, sought to inflict damage on the Communists rather than the Axis.

German authorities recruited extensively for the Waffen SS among ethnic Germans in the Banat, the Backa, Baranja, and Croatia. In the Banat and Slovenia, ethnic Germans were subject to the German draft, though many volunteered for service in the Waffen SS or in the German SS and police forces in the Banat and Serbia. Some ethnic Germans were conscripted—in some cases involving the use of force. In the spring of 1943, the SS recruited among Bosnian Moslems for the proposed 13th Waffen SS Mountain Division Handžar, though the 13th Division could only be deployed in Bosnia between February and October 1944 due to the unreliability of the Muslim recruits operating outside their home base.

When German troops occupied Italy in September 1943, the SS and Police apparatus in Trieste had the task of rounding up and transporting Jews from northeastern Italy and Italian-annexed Slovenia to Auschwitz. To implement this operation, to which nearly 5,000 Jews fell victim, German SS and police authorities recruited and deploy police authorities, including some Slovenes recruited from Italian-occupied Slovenia.


Contents

Prior to the outbreak of war, the government of Milan Stojadinović (1935–1939) tried to navigate between the Axis Powers and the imperial powers by seeking neutral status, signing a non-aggression treaty with Italy and extending its treaty of friendship with France. In the same time, the country was destabilized by internal tensions, as Croatian leaders demanded a greater level of autonomy. Stojadinović was sacked by the regent Prince Paul in 1939 and replaced by Dragiša Cvetković, who negotiated a compromise with Croatian leader Vladko Maček in 1939, resulting in the formation of the Banovina of Croatia.

However, rather than reducing tensions, the agreement only reinforced the crisis in the country's governance. [29] Groups from both sides of the political spectrum were not satisfied: the pro-fascist Ustaše sought an independent Croatia allied with the Axis, Serbian public and military circles preferred alliance with the Western European empires, while the then-banned Communist Party of Yugoslavia saw the Soviet Union as a natural ally.

After the fall of France to Nazi Germany in May 1940, the UK was the only empire in conflict with the Axis powers, and Prince Paul and the government saw no way of saving Yugoslavia except through adopting policies of accommodation with the Axis powers. Although Hitler was not particularly interested in creating another front in the Balkans, and Yugoslavia itself remained at peace during the first year of the war, Benito Mussolini's Italy had invaded Albania in April 1939 and launched the rather unsuccessful Italo-Greek War in October 1940. These events resulted in Yugoslavia's geographical isolation from potential Allied support. The government tried to negotiate with the Axis on cooperation with as few concessions as possible, while attempting secret negotiations with the Allies and the Soviet Union, but those moves would fail to keep the country out of the war. [30] A secret mission to the US, led by the influential Serbian-Jewish Captain David Albala with the purpose of obtaining funding to buy arms for the expected invasion went nowhere, while Stalin expelled Yugoslav Ambassador Gavrilovic just one month after agreeing a treaty of friendship with Yugoslavia. [31]

Having steadily fallen within the orbit of the Axis during 1940 after events such as the Second Vienna Award, Yugoslavia followed Bulgaria and formally joined the Axis powers by signing the Tripartite Pact on 25 March 1941. Air force officers opposed to the move staged a coup d'état and took over in the following days. These events were viewed with great apprehension in Berlin, and as it was preparing to help its Italian ally in its war against Greece anyway, the plans were modified to include Yugoslavia as well.

Invasion Edit

On 6 April 1941 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded from all sides by the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and their ally Hungary. During the invasion, Belgrade was bombed by the German air force (Luftwaffe). The invasion lasted little more than ten days, ending with the unconditional surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army on 17 April. Besides being hopelessly ill-equipped when compared to the German Army (Heer), the Yugoslav army attempted to defend all borders but only managed to thinly spread the limited resources available. Also, large numbers of the population refused to fight, instead welcoming the Germans as liberators from government oppression. However, as this meant each individual ethnic group would turn to movements opposed to the unity promoted by the South Slavic state, two different concepts of resistance emerged, the royalist Chetniks, and the communist Partisans. [32]

Two of the principal constituent national groups, Slovenes and Croats, were not prepared to fight in defense of a Yugoslav state with a continued Serb monarchy. The only effective opposition to the invasion was from units wholly from Serbia itself. [33] The Serbian General Staff was united on the question of Yugoslavia as a "Greater Serbia" ruled, in one way or another, by Serbia. On the eve of the invasion, there were 165 generals on the Yugoslav active list. Of these, all but four were Serbs. [34]

The terms of the capitulation were extremely severe, as the Axis proceeded to dismember Yugoslavia. Germany annexed northern Slovenia, while retaining direct occupation over a rump Serbian state, and considerable influence over its newly created puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia, which extended over much of today's Croatia and contained all of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mussolini's Italy gained the remainder of Slovenia, Kosovo, coastal and inland areas of the Croatian Littoral and large chunks of the coastal Dalmatia region (along with nearly all of the Adriatic islands and the Bay of Kotor). It also gained control over the Italian governorate of Montenegro, and was granted the kingship in the Independent State of Croatia, though wielding little real power within it although it did (alongside Germany) maintain a de facto zone of influence within the borders of the NDH. Hungary dispatched the Hungarian Third Army to occupy Vojvodina in northern Serbia, and later forcibly annexed sections of Baranja, Bačka, Međimurje, and Prekmurje. [35]

The Bulgarian army moved in on 19 April 1941, occupying nearly all of modern-day North Macedonia and some districts of eastern Serbia which, with Greek western Thrace and eastern Macedonia (the Aegean Province), were annexed by Bulgaria on 14 May. [36]

The government in exile was now only recognized by the Allied powers. [37] The Axis had recognized the territorial acquisitions of their allied states. [38] [39]

Early resistance Edit

Various military formations more or less linked to the general liberation movement were involved in armed confrontations with Axis forces which erupted in various areas of Yugoslavia in the ensuing weeks.

In the beginning there had been two resistance movements in Yugoslavia, the Chetniks and the Partisans. The resistance of the Chetniks had lasted only until the autumn of 1941, their leaders then going over to the enemy or returning to passivity. [40]

From the start, the Yugoslav resistance forces consisted of two factions: the Partisans, a communist-led movement propagating pan-Yugoslav tolerance ("brotherhood and unity") and incorporating republican, left-wing and liberal elements of Yugoslav politics, on one hand, and the Chetniks, a conservative royalist and nationalist force, enjoying support almost exclusively from the Serbian population in occupied Yugoslavia, on the other hand. Initially the Chetniks received recognition from the Western Allies, while the Partisans were supported by the Soviet Union.

At the very beginning, the Partisan forces were relatively small, poorly armed, and without any infrastructure. But they had two major advantages over other military and paramilitary formations in former Yugoslavia: the first and most immediate advantage was a small but valuable cadre of Spanish Civil War veterans. Unlike some of the other military and paramilitary formations, these veterans had experience with a modern war fought in circumstances quite similar to those found in World War II Yugoslavia. In Slovenia, the Partisans likewise drew on the experienced TIGR members to train troops.

Their other major advantage, which became more apparent in later stages of War, was in the Partisans being founded on a communist ideology rather than ethnicity. Therefore, they won support that crossed national lines, meaning they could expect at least some levels of support in almost any corner of the country, unlike other paramilitary formations limited to territories with Croat or Serb majority. This allowed their units to be more mobile and fill their ranks with a larger pool of potential recruits.

Although the activity of the Macedonian and Slovene Partisans were part of the Yugoslav People's Liberation War, the specific conditions in Macedonia and Slovenia, due to the strong autonomist tendencies of the local communists, led to the creation of separate sub-armies called the People's Liberation Army of Macedonia, and Slovene Partisans led by Liberation Front of the Slovene People, respectively.

The most numerous local force, besides the four second-line German Wehrmacht infantry divisions assigned to occupation duties was the Croatian Home Guard (Hrvatsko domobranstvo), founded in April 1941, a few days after the founding of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) itself. It was done with the authorisation of German occupation authorities. The task of the new Croatian armed forces was to defend the new state against both foreign and domestic enemies. [42]

The Croatian Home Guard was originally limited to 16 infantry battalions and 2 cavalry squadrons – 16,000 men in total. The original 16 battalions were soon enlarged to 15 infantry regiments of two battalions each between May and June 1941, organised into five divisional commands, some 55,000 enlisted men. [43] Support units included 35 light tanks supplied by Italy, [44] 10 artillery battalions (equipped with captured Royal Yugoslav Army weapons of Czech origin), a cavalry regiment in Zagreb and an independent cavalry battalion at Sarajevo. Two independent motorized infantry battalions were based at Zagreb and Sarajevo respectively. [45] Several regiments of Ustaše militia were also formed at this time, which operated under a separate command structure to, and independently from, the Croatian Home Guard, until late 1944. [46] The Home Guard crushed the Serb revolt in Eastern Herzegovina in June 1941, and in July they fought in Eastern and Western Bosnia. They fought in Eastern Herzegovina again, when Croatian-Dalmatian and Slavonian battalions reinforced local units. [45]

The Italian High Command assigned 24 divisions and three coastal brigades to occupation duties in Yugoslavia from 1941. These units were located from Slovenia, Croatia and Dalmatia through to Montenegro and Kosovo. [47]

From 1931 to 1939, the Soviet Union had prepared communists for a guerrilla war in Yugoslavia. On the eve of the war, hundreds of future prominent Yugoslav communist leaders completed special "partisan courses" organised by the Soviet military intelligence in the Soviet Union and Spain. [48] Operation Barbarossa, the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, began on 22 June 1941. [49] On the same day, Yugoslav Partisans formed the 1st Sisak Partisan Detachment, was the first armed anti-fascist resistance unit formed by a resistance movement in occupied Yugoslavia during World War II. [50] Founded in the Brezovica Forest near Sisak, Croatia, its creation marked the beginning of anti-Axis resistance in occupied Yugoslavia. [50]

After the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia formally decided to launch an armed uprising on 4 July 1941, a date which was later marked as Fighter's Day – a public holiday in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the village of Bela Crkva, Spanish veteran Žikica Jovanović Španac shot the first bullet of the campaign on 7 July 1941, a date that later became known as the "Day of Uprising of the Socialist Republic of Serbia". On 10 August 1941 in Stanulović, a mountain village, the Partisans formed the Kopaonik Partisan Detachment Headquarters. Their liberated area, consisting of nearby villages and called the "Miners Republic", was the first in Yugoslavia, and lasted 42 days. The resistance fighters formally joined the ranks of the Partisans later on.

The Chetnik movement was organised after the surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army by some of the remaining Yugoslav soldiers. This force was organised in the Ravna Gora district of western Serbia under Colonel Draža Mihailović. However, unlike the Partisans, Mihailović's forces were almost entirely ethnic Serbs. He directed his units to arm themselves and await his orders for the final push. Mihailović avoided direct action against the Axis, which he judged were of low strategic importance.

The royalist Chetniks (officially the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland, JVUO), under the command of General Draža Mihailović, drew primarily from the scattered remnants of the Royal Yugoslav Army, relying overwhelmingly on the ethnic Serbian population for support. They were formed soon after the invasion of Yugoslavia and the surrender of the government on 17 April 1941. The Chetniks were initially the only resistance movement recognized by the Yugoslav government-in-exile and the Western Allies. The Partisans and Chetniks attempted to cooperate early during the conflict, but this quickly fell apart.

In September 1941, Partisans organised sabotage at the General Post Office in Zagreb. As the levels of resistance to its occupation grew, the Axis Powers responded with numerous minor offensives. There were also seven major Axis operations specifically aimed at eliminating all or most Yugoslav Partisan resistance. These major offensives were typically combined efforts by the German Wehrmacht and SS, Italy, Chetniks, the Independent State of Croatia, the Serbian collaborationist government, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

The First Anti-Partisan Offensive was the attack conducted by the Axis in autumn of 1941 against the "Republic of Užice", a liberated territory the Partisans established in western Serbia. In November 1941, German troops attacked and reoccupied this territory, with the majority of Partisan forces escaping towards Bosnia. It was during this offensive that tenuous collaboration between the Partisans and the royalist Chetnik movement broke down and turned into open hostility.

After fruitless negotiations, the Chetnik leader, General Mihailović, turned against the Partisans as his main enemy. According to him, the reason was humanitarian: the prevention of German reprisals against Serbs. [51] This however, did not stop the activities of the Partisan resistance, and Chetnik units attacked the Partisans in November 1941, while increasingly receiving supplies and cooperating with the Germans and Italians in this. The British liaison to Mihailović advised London to stop supplying the Chetniks after the Užice attack (see First Anti-Partisan Offensive), but Britain continued to do so. [52]

On 22 December 1941 the Partisans formed the 1st Proletarian Assault Brigade (1. Proleterska Udarna Brigada) – the first regular Partisan military unit capable of operating outside its local area. 22 December became the "Day of the Yugoslav People's Army".


February 1940

-February 13 th , 1940: Albanian forces manage to take Skopje, the capital of the Vardar Banovina.

-February 14 th , 1940: Prime Minister Milan Nedić of the Kingdom of Serbia in response to the loss of Serbian Krajina and Skopje calls for the ethnic cleansing of all Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo.

-February 17 th , 1940: Illyrian forces manage to retake Serbian Krajina and its eastern territory.

-February 28 th , 1940: Greek forces finally manage to push through the Rhodopes Mountains separating southern Bulgaria from Greece and take the cities of Smolyan and Kardzhali.


  1. Germany and Italy signed an alliance on October 25, 1936, and Mussolini, the Italian dictator, soon boasted that Europe would rotate around the “ Rome-Berlin Axis ."
  2. The Anti-Comintern Pact between Germany and Japan was signed on November 26, 1936 as an anti-Communist alliance against the Soviet Union.
  3. The Pact of Steel agreement was signed by Germany and Italy on May 22, 1939. The alliance was specifically to counter the British-French alliance.
  4. Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact on September 27, 1940. Following this the German-Italian-Japanese alliance began being called “The Axis Powers."
  1. Hungary joined the Axis on September 27, 1940.
  2. Romania joined the Axis on November 23, 1940.
  3. Slovakia joined the Axis on November 24, 1940 (Slovakia was a “client" state Germany, only coming into existence after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939. Because of this, Slovakia or the “Slovak State" is not always considered a full Axis member).
  4. Bulgaria joined the Axis on March 1, 1941.
  5. *Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite Pact on March 25, 1941, but two days later, the pro-Axis government was overthrown, and Yugoslavia left the Axis. Yugoslavia was then invaded and conquered by Germany, Italy, and Hungary.

Expand the Shipyards branch [ edit ]

Naval branch of the Yugoslavian national focus tree.
Clicking on a national focus icon leads to the appropriate table row.

  • One of the following must be true:
    • Has full control of Dalmatia (103)
    • Any other country:
      • One of the following must be true:
        • Is in Faction with  Yugoslavia
        • Is a subject of  Yugoslavia
        • Dalmatia (103):
          • Add 2 Building Slots
          • Add 2 Naval Dockyard
          • Requires Expand the Split Shipyards
          • Any owned state:
            • Is coastal
            • 2x100% Research bonus for: Naval Doctrine
            • Requires Contest the Adriatic
            • Any owned state:
              • Is coastal
              • 1x100% Research bonus for: Light Cruiser models
              • Requires Replace the Dalmacija
              • Any owned state:
                • Is coastal
                • 1x100% Research bonus for: Heavy Cruiser models
                • One of the following must be true:
                  • Has full control of Montenegro (105)
                  • Any other country:
                    • One of the following must be true:
                      • Is in Faction with  Yugoslavia
                      • Is a subject of  Yugoslavia
                      • Montenegro (105):
                        • Add 2 Building Slots
                        • Add 2 Naval Dockyard
                        • Requires Expand the Serbian Shipyards
                        • One of the following must be true:
                          • Has full control of Dalmatia (103)
                          • Any other country:
                            • One of the following must be true:
                              • Is in Faction with  Yugoslavia
                              • Is a subject of  Yugoslavia
                              • One of the following must be true:
                                • Is in Faction with  Yugoslavia
                                • Is a subject of  Yugoslavia
                                • Dalmatia (103):
                                  • Add 2 Coastal Forts on the coastline
                                  • Add 1 Coastal Fort to Naval Base locations
                                  • Add 2 Coastal Forts on the coastline
                                  • Add 1 Coastal Fort to Naval Base locations
                                  • Requires one of the following focuses:
                                      Contest the Adriatic Coastal Defense
                                    • Is coastal
                                    • 1x100% Research bonus for: Naval Bomber models
                                    • Requires Naval Bombers
                                    • Any owned state:
                                      • Is coastal
                                      • 1x100% Research bonus for: Destroyer models
                                      • Requires Coastal Defense
                                      • Any owned state:
                                        • Is coastal
                                        • 1x100% Research bonus for: Submarine models


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