On April 6,
1941, Hitler’s forces, in alliance with the Hungarians and the
Bulgarians, invaded Yugoslavia and Greece. Hitler intervened in the
war in this fashion to secure his southern flank in anticipation of
the imminent invasion of the Soviet Union.
refrained from joining the Axis until March 25, 1941, when it made
this move under duress. Two days later, a pro-Western military coup
took place in Belgrade and Yugoslavia’s alliance with the Axis was
aborted. The invasion of Yugoslavia by German, Hungarian and
Bulgarian forces began a week and a half later (April 6), and the
Yugoslav army lay down its arms on April 18.
Prime Minister of Greece, General Ioannis Metaxas, attempted to
maintain neutrality until the war began. On October 28, 1940,
however, the Italians invaded his country. Metaxas died in January
1941. When the Germans invaded Greece on April 6, 1941, the Greek
army, despite valiant resistance aided by a small British force,
could not arrest the onslaught. On April 18, 1941, Greek Prime
Minister Alexandros Koryzis committed suicide, the Greek army and
king fled to Crete, and the Germans closed in on Athens. Most of the
British forces were evacuated.