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Invasion of the Balkans Timeline

Authored By Dan Alex | Last Updated: 3/19/2015

After Italy failed in its mission in the Balkans, Hitler and his German war machine moved in to put Yugoslavia and Greece in their place.

Italy utilized tens of thousands of soldiers in an attempt to take Greece, a move that proved initially successful but faltered against a dedicated resistance movement coupled with air support provided by the Royal Air Force. This sent the 200,000-strong Italian Army packing. Yugoslavia's Prince Paul signed a deal with the Axis but was overthrown from power by his own people several days later. Hitler enacted a plan - "Operation Marita" - to invade both Greece and Yugoslavia simultaneously in response to the events.


The invasion was handled in classic early-war German fashion, utilizing coordinated airborne elements with a fast-moving ground contigent. Constant bombardment of the Yugoslav capital cost countless of civilian lives. The Greek defenses began to falter and the Allies (a combined force of British, Australian, and New Zealand troops) were now in retreat. After the Yugoslav government and its army officially surrendered to the Germans, nothing stood between Germany and the conquer of Greece. The Allies were ultimately forced to evacuate through a passage in the south of Greece while Italian and German forces took Athens proper and, eventually, all of Greece.


The Axis invasion of the Balkans was now complete.


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There are a total of 19 the Invasion of the Balkans Timeline Events. Entries are listed below by date of occurrence.

1940
Monday
October 28th

An Italian force of 70,000 soldiers invades Greece.

1940
Sunday
November 10th

The Italian invasion force is in full retreat, repelled by a combined Greek resistance and RAF effort after just two weeks.

1941
Tuesday
March 25th

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia offers his allegiance to the Axis, signing the Tripartite Pact.

1941
Thursday
March 27th

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia is forceably removed from power via a coup led by Bora Mirkovic and Dusan Simovic. Simovic is installed as the new ruler of Yugoslavia and quickly makes an effort to break Yugoslavia's commitment to the Tripartite Pact with the Axis.

1941
Wednesday
March 26th

In Berlin, Hitler reportedly tells his high level officers "I have decided to destroy Yugoslavia".

1941
Sunday
April 6th

Operation Marita - the dual Germany invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia - is put into action. Twenty-four total divisions are involved, including some 1200 tanks.

1941
Tuesday
April 8th

A massive German bombing raid on the Yugoslavian capital city of Belgrade nets over 300,000 civilian casualties.

1941
Wednesday
April 9th

The German 12th Army encircles and defeats the Greek defensive line known as the "Metaxas Line".

1941
Wednesday
April 9th

The German Army moves on and captures the strategic port city of Salonika.

1941
Thursday
April 10th - April 16th

Three divisions of British, Australian and New Zealand troops at the Aliakmon Line in the Vermion Mountains are defeated.

1941
Saturday
April 12th

Vermion Line Allied troops are now redeployed to defensive positions around Mount Olympus.

1941
Saturday
April 12th

German forces launching from Romania, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria along with an Italian contigent from Albania capture and secure the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade.

1941
Monday
April 14th

The German Army destroys Yugoslavian forces at Monistar Gap, clearing a path into Greece. Greece units fighting in Albania are effectively cut off.

1941
Wednesday
April 16th

Allied forces in Greece are in full retreat at the request of Greek General Alexander Papagos who sees value is less fighting to save his country from total destruction. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill accepts the request.

1941
Thursday
April 17th

Yugoslavian leadership, along with the army, surrenders to the Germans.

1941
Sunday
April 20th

The Greek Army surrenders to the Germans and Italians.

1941
Saturday
April 26th

German airborne elements attempt to capture the bridge over the Corinth Canal in an attempt to encircle the retreating allies. The bridge is lost in the attack while the Allies have already moved on.

1941
Sunday
April 27th - April 30th

Operation Demon is activated, covering the evacuation of some 51,000 Allied troops from southern Greece via the Royal Navy.

1941
Sunday
April 27th

Axis forces officially occupy Athens, effectively signaling the end of Greek resistance.