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What if #3 ....If Hitler wouldn't have invaded Yugoslavia?

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  • Member since
    July, 2008
  • From: Vancouver, the "wet coast"
What if #3 ....If Hitler wouldn't have invaded Yugoslavia?
Posted by castelnuovo on Saturday, April 06, 2013 2:29 PM

In April of 1940 Germany invaded Yugoslavia. The reason was that, after the Yugoslav government, under pressure by Hitler, joined the Tripartite Pact. This move was very unpopular with some of the military leaders and the public. A coupe d'etate was launched and the Yugoslav leader was replaced on the throne by an under-age prince, who was declared of age and proclaimed King Peter II of Yugoslavia.

Upon hearing news of the coup, Hitler took that as a personal insult, and was so angered that he was determined "without waiting for possible declarations of loyalty of the new government to destroy Yugoslavia militarily and as a nation.

So the invasion was "personal reasons". Yugoslavia was mainly agricultural country, not very rich at the time and, as far as I can tell, no threat to Germany. There also was nothing there that Germany could benefit from.

Over the following 4 years, Germany commited many, many resources for fighting the Yugoslav partisans and took heavy losses.

The what if: what if Hitler wouldn't have invaded Yugosalvia and instead commited the troops and equipment elsewhere? Say in North Afrika. Would he have captured Cairo and Suez?

Or maybe send them to Russia?

What would have been the fate of Yugoslavia?

 

  • Member since
    January, 2012
  • From: Barrie, Ontario
Posted by Cdn Colin on Saturday, April 06, 2013 3:34 PM

As I understand it, Hitler's invasion of Yugoslavia delayed Barbarossa by 3 or 4 months.  This would have been crucial, as the Wehrmacht could have captured Moscow before the winter set in.

I build 1/48 scale WW2 fighters.

Have fun.

  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • From: ON, Canada
Posted by jgeratic on Saturday, April 06, 2013 4:24 PM

I'm thinking more of a strategic move, which was the original intention  when the Yugoslav government was persuaded to go pro axis, thus securing his southern flank before fully focusing on Russia.   With the threat of a now pro allied government so close, and the Italian fiasco in Greece, Hitler had to take matters into his own hands.

Some say had the German war machine avoided this conflict, more troops and more time could of been devoted to the opening stages of Barbarossa.   Though during the spring of 1940, the eastern sector was experiencing more than usual heavy rains.  This would of impeded the mechanized aspect of the invasion, so this point might be mute.

As for sending more troops to North Africa, Hitler had already made it clear by this time that Rommel's army would not be bolstered with more units.  Even back in Oct. 1940, after von Thoma had surveyed the theater in person, and had recommended a minimum of 4 panzer divisions.

Post war thought - Croatia followed the Nazi ideal of concentration camps, where upwards of 750,000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies were killed during WW2.   This holocaust is believed to have been the backdrop, both historically and politically, for the civil war that broke out and the breaking up of the country in 1991-92.  Had they remained neutral during WW2, who knows...

regards,

Jack

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Goffstown, NH
Posted by New Hampshire on Sunday, April 07, 2013 8:48 AM

It is funny because I was going to pose a similar type of question in the near future.....great minds think alike! Big Smile

In general, if the Germans had had as little as 2 extra weeks things might have been very different.  Hans Von Luck has written about how his panzer units had gotten as far as some Moscow suburbs before things started going downhill.  My personal feelings of the Russians and the Russian army of that time aside, the fact is the defeat of Germany probably could not have been achieved without the Russian front.  Could the Russian government have formed a viable war resistance from the Eastern wilds of Russia?  Possibly, but I think it would have been closer to what we saw in World War 1 with a negotiated peace effectively removing Russia from the war.  No worry about heavy fighting in Russia meant that the Mediterranean offensives the Allies planned would have been much more difficult, and the main invasion of Europe (Normandy) probably much more precarious.  Redirecting the invasion from another less defended area (like perhaps the Middle East, or from Norway, which would have meant violating Swedish neutrality in the process) would have been possible, probably fairly successful, but would have made for a much MUCH longer and protracted war.

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Goffstown, NH
Posted by New Hampshire on Tuesday, April 09, 2013 7:14 PM

I have been re reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and as luck would have it I made my way through the chapter on Barbarossa.  I had forgotten another interesting point that bears directly on this discussion.  The German Army was actually poised to make the push on Moscow earlier than they did.  I had forgotten that Hitler had ordered, much against the loud  objections of his generals, ordered them to halt on Moscow and instead push towards Leningrad and Stalingrad because he wanted to secure those important industrial and agricultural areas before moving on to Moscow.  In his mind he felt denying Moscow this important area was going to deal them a big blow.  Frankly, by this point his megalomania was in full gear and despite what his much more strategy minded generals told him he made them go along with his orders.  Eventually the push to Moscow was started up again, but by then it had delayed them long enough for the autumn rains to start mud season, which quickly turned into the harsh winter.

So, having remembered this little bit of information it is clear that the delay with Yugoslavia was only one in a string of very bad decisions made about operation Barbarossa.  Frankly, if Hitler had just decided to cut his losses and postpone Barbarossa until the following late springtime while all the while keeping the facade of god relations with Russia it would have been an interesting situation in which America enters the war with Britain, but Russia, up until Germany would have invaded, would not become part of the Allies, and if the Germans could have actually completed the ruin of Russia it would have left America and Britain on their own.  Though to be fair to the Russians, they fought like cornered rattlesnakes with lasers on their heads.  It is a good bet they would have really really hurt the Germans very badly even in defeat allowing perhaps America and Britain to still eventually pull of their invasions of the various fronts.  As Shirer wrote in his book, the Germans grossly misjudged the Russian military strength when they kept having new division after new division appear out of nowhere and start attacking them.

  • Member since
    July, 2008
  • From: Vancouver, the "wet coast"
Posted by castelnuovo on Tuesday, April 09, 2013 10:00 PM

New Hampshire
 As Shirer wrote in his book, the Germans grossly misjudged the Russian military strength when they kept having new division after new division appear out of nowhere and start attacking them.

 

Or the Germas just didn't know about NKVD's blocking units...

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, April 12, 2013 4:44 PM

From the point of view of the Yugoslavians and in particular the citizens of Belgrade, a good thing if he had not.

I spent a fair amount of time there in 1988. The northern part very much considers itself (Styria) brethren with Austria and in fact has similar geography.

The middle (Croatia) considers itself kin with Italy, or more accurately east central Italy is close in culture with the Croats.

The south (Bosnia and Serbia) are Slavic, and the very south (Montenegro) akin to Albania.

I guess the first point is that the geopolitical borders prior to 1939 caused horrible conflicts, and that Hitler's invasion fits the pattern with Poland, Czechoslovakia and so forth. Any and all of those sideshows certainly impeded his progress in Russia, towards England and ultimately the U.S.

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Friday, April 12, 2013 6:39 PM

New Hampshire

I have been re reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and as luck would have it I made my way through the chapter on Barbarossa.  I had forgotten another interesting point that bears directly on this discussion.  The German Army was actually poised to make the push on Moscow earlier than they did.  I had forgotten that Hitler had ordered, much against the loud  objections of his generals, ordered them to halt on Moscow and instead push towards Leningrad and Stalingrad because he wanted to secure those important industrial and agricultural areas before moving on to Moscow.  In his mind he felt denying Moscow this important area was going to deal them a big blow.  Frankly, by this point his megalomania was in full gear and despite what his much more strategy minded generals told him he made them go along with his orders.  Eventually the push to Moscow was started up again, but by then it had delayed them long enough for the autumn rains to start mud season, which quickly turned into the harsh winter.

So, having remembered this little bit of information it is clear that the delay with Yugoslavia was only one in a string of very bad decisions made about operation Barbarossa.  Frankly, if Hitler had just decided to cut his losses and postpone Barbarossa until the following late springtime while all the while keeping the facade of god relations with Russia it would have been an interesting situation in which America enters the war with Britain, but Russia, up until Germany would have invaded, would not become part of the Allies, and if the Germans could have actually completed the ruin of Russia it would have left America and Britain on their own.  Though to be fair to the Russians, they fought like cornered rattlesnakes with lasers on their heads.  It is a good bet they would have really really hurt the Germans very badly even in defeat allowing perhaps America and Britain to still eventually pull of their invasions of the various fronts.  As Shirer wrote in his book, the Germans grossly misjudged the Russian military strength when they kept having new division after new division appear out of nowhere and start attacking them.

Actually,in 1941 Hitler was obessed with the Ukrainian breadbasket,and it was the diverting of armor units to the   Kiev encirclement in the south that postponed the attack on Moscow.Stalingrad did not come into play until the 1942 campaigns,and even then it wasn't till later that Hitler fixated on stalingrad

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Rain USA, Vancouver WA
Posted by tigerman on Sunday, April 14, 2013 1:51 PM

Truely a what if. If the Germans had taken Moscow, would the USSR collapsed? Maybe, but as long as the army was intact and the ruthless and draconian ways of Stalin and his commisars, they probably would have fought on. Napoleon took Moscow, but couldn't conquer the army and was stretched to the limits.

   http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y269/wing_nut_5o/PANZERJAGERGB.jpg

 Eric 

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