The invasion of Yugoslavia, also known as the April War[a] or Operation 25,[b] was a German-led attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II. The order for the invasion was put forward in “Führer Directive No. 25″, which Adolf Hitler issued on 27 March 1941, following the Yugoslav coup d’état.
In 1940 and early 1941, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria all agreed to adhere to the Tripartite Pact and thus join the Axis. Hitler then pressured Yugoslavia to join as well. The Regent, Prince Paul, yielded to this pressure, and declared Yugoslavia’s accession to the Pact on 25 March 1941. This move was highly unpopular with the Serb-dominated officer corps of the military and some segments of the public: a large part of the Serbian population, as well as liberals and Communists. Military officers (mainly Serbs) executed a coup d’état on 27 March 1941, and forced the Regent to resign, while King Peter II, though only 17, was declared of age.
Upon hearing news of the coup in Yugoslavia, Hitler called his military advisers to Berlin on 27 March. On the same day as the coup he issued Führer Directive 25, which called for Yugoslavia to be treated as a hostile state. Hitler took the coup as a personal insult, and was so angered that he was determined, in his words, “to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a state” (Jugoslawien militärisch und als Staatsgebilde zu zerschlagen), and to do so “with pitiless harshness” and “without waiting for possible declarations of loyalty of the new government”.
Bombing of Belgrade
Luftflotte 4 of the Luftwaffe, with a strength of seven Combat Formations (Kampfgruppen) had been committed to the campaign in the Balkans. At 07:00 on 6 April the Luftwaffe opened the assault on Yugoslavia by conducting a saturation-type bombing raid on the capital, “Operation Retribution” (Unternehmen Strafgericht). Flying in relays from airfields in Austria and Romania, 300 aircraft, of which a quarter were Junkers Ju 87 Stukas, protected by a heavy fighter escort began the attack. The dive-bombers were to silence the Yugoslav anti-aircraft defences while the medium bombers consisting mainly Dornier Do 17s and Junkers Ju 88 attacked the city. The initial raid was carried out at 15-minute intervals in three distinct waves, each lasting for approximately 20 minutes. Thus, the city was subjected to a rain of bombs for almost one and a half hours. The German bombers directed their main effort against the center of the city, where the principal government buildings were located. The medium bomber Kampfgruppen continued their attack on the city for several days while the Stuka dive bomber wings (Stukageschwader) were soon diverted to Yugoslav airfields.
When the attack was over, some 4,000 inhabitants lay dead under the debris.
Youtube notes: Unique historic footage from Belgrade during wwII filmed by a german “occupational” soldier. We see street scenes, demolition and war damage caused by german air raids. German soldiers guard prisoners of war working in the rubble. Damaged buildings, german authorities official public announcements in the streets. One is about sniper attacks on german soldiers. The Commander of the German Wehrmacht declares that in case of further attacks, hostages would be taken and killed. The second poster is an announcement by the Chief of the task force, security police and the S.D. in Belgrade: “On April 19th at 8 O clock, all Jews have to register personally at the municipal police …. Jews who won´t follow that command, will be shot.” Damaged buildings and damaged bridge at danube river.