Nazis in the Balkans - The Invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia - WW2 - 085 - April 11, 1941

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Nazis in the Balkans - The Invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia - WW2 - 085 - April 11, 1941 5

This week, the German Army invades Greece and Yugoslavia as it launches Operation Marita and Operation 25 respectively. They also take some remarkable captives in North-Africa.

Written and Hosted by: Indy Neidell
Produced and Directed by: Spartacus Olsson and Astrid Deinhard
Executive Producers: Bodo Rittenauer, Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson
Creative Producer: Joram Appel
Post-Production Director: Wieke Kapteijns
Research by: Indy Neidell
Edited by: Iryna Dulka

Colorizations by:
- Daniel Weiss

- FDR Presidential Library & Museum
- Bundesarchiv
- Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe
- Side cap and veteran icons by Andrei Yushchenko from the Noun Project
- IWM: E 2961, E 4702, E 2987, A 9796

A TimeGhost chronological documentary produced by OnLion Entertainment GmbH.

💬 Comments on the video

Cheers, Joram

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Author — World War Two


I come from a small town in Minnesota near another small town named Belgrade. When the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia the radio reported that the Nazis had taken Belgrade one of the locals went to the hardware store in Sunburg Minnesota and started to buy up all ammunition they had for his deer rifle; he stated they may have take Belgrade, but they will never Get Sunburg . The great grandson of the man in the story currently owns the hardware store in Sunburg.

Author — Marvin Carlson


- Refuses to trade 6 Italian captured generals for O'Connor
- Releases Greeks POW because of how they managed to beat the Italian invasion

Even Germany who was an ally was mocking Italian incompetence back then.

Author — Luis Costa


"He who defends everything defends nothing." - Frederick the Great

Author — Valdagast


"Let them come"
Germany: *comes*

Stalin: *supriced picachu face*



"Hey Greece, remember how hard you owned my ally? That was pretty sick, your soldiers are free to go."
-Adolf Hitler

Author — Oskar Rasmussen


These map animations are so beautiful.

Author — Montgomery G.


Sergeant *Dimitrios Itsios* (April 5, 1906 - April 6, 1941) is the most famous soldier of the Battle of Greece.

He was born in Ano Poroia, a village in Macedonia, in 1906. After October 28, 1940, he was mobilized from the reserves as a sergeant and was stationed on mount Belles, on the westernmost fortresses of the Metaxas Line.
His position was two kilometers from the borders, where there were nine concrete machine-gun positions, along the second defensive line. Their orders were to defend until the withdrawal of the first line Rhodopolis subdivision to the Kroussia mountains and shortly thereafter all of them would retreat further back, as they had the advantage of excellent knowledge of the area.
During the German attack against Beles on April 6, 1941, Sergeant Itsios was found to be in charge of the machine gun post P8. Opposite of him was the Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 141 of the 6th Mountain Division, headed by the commander of the division himself, the hardline, even by Nazi standards, General *Ferdinand Schörner*, known by his German colleagues as “Die Ungeheuer in Uniform” (“The Monster in uniform”).
According to the testimonies of the soldiers who were with him, Itsios was ordered to retreat after gaining an extra time, but the Germans managed to encircle his post. For five hours he kept fighting, forcing Schörner to order his heavy artillery (still in Bulgaria) and his Stuka pilots to concentrate their fire on the positions of his battalion. Itsios ordered his subordinates to leave him. They obeyed, except from two other privates, who were from his village. For the next four hours, the three of them fought the Germans, allowing the rest Greek units to withdraw.
Itsios fought until he run out of ammunition. He fired 33, 000 bullets killing 232 Germans, along with Oberstleutnant *Eberhard Ebeling*, one of the planners and leaders of the attack and the highest German officer KIA at Metaxas Line. This resistance shocked the rest of the Germans who believed they would advance without significant casualties. As was said after the Battle of Greece, Itsios alone killed more Germans than the entire Yugoslavia killed during the German invasion against her (151 Germans KIA).
Ιf we accept the actual loss figures presented by the German 18th Mountain Corps (in which the 6th Mountain Division was subordinated), in the zone of which the Belles Mountains were located (555 killed, 2, 134 wounded, 170 missing. Source, Greek translation of German original: “Der Deutsche Griechenland Feldzug, Alex Büchner, Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, Heidelberg 1957”, Athens, 1961, page 189), then Itsios alone inflicted half of all the losses of this corps on the Metaxas Line.

When the three of them surrendered, they conversed like this:

- Schörner (through a translator): Who is your commander at the machine-gun post?

- Itsios: I am.
- Schörner: There is no officer?
- Itsios: No.
- Schörner: Do you know that because of you I’ve lost a Lieutenant Colonel and 232 soldiers?
- Itsios: I’ve done my duty.
- Schörner: Now I will do my duty.

Immediately after this, Schörner gave the order to his men to present arms towards Sergeant Itsios as an homage, and right away he ordered a sergeant of his to execute him on the spot with his revolver.
Itsios was buried on the spot and the two other soldiers were freed by the general, as they were executing Itsios’ orders. They returned to their village, and through them we know what happened.

The area of the battle came under Bulgarian control until October 1944. After the liberation of Greece, Itsios’ wife found his body, in 1946, and reburied it in his village. A statue was erected in his honor, he was promoted posthumously to the rank of Master Sergeant and he was awarded the Silver Cross of Valour.

The official report of Itsios’ unit, Battalion 111/70, by his commander, Major Nicholas Nousakis concludes: _“…Brave Dimitrios Itsios, with his cruel death, entered the pantheon of heroes and history will write his name as an example for the generations to come”._ (source of the report: Hellenic Army General Staff / Army History Directorate, file 712/C.3 page 46)

Author — V. Athanasiou


Me: *hears double length*
Me: *starts dancing*

Author — Wilmer Holmqvist


Germany: we come to help Greece in the name of European Community.
Greece: every f.. time.

Author — Jacek Łu


" Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks."
-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Author — Czechoslovak Patriot


Hitler:Let's prepare the invasion of USSR!
Mussolini:Can you help me with Greece, they fight back!
Hitler:You had one job!

Author — Haid


"We will give you any six captured Italian Generals if you return O'Conner to us."
*laughs in German*

Author — Runi


This week is marked by the German invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece. I will concentrate my posts solely on the events in the Greek campaign:

On Sunday, April 6, at 0530 hours, Prince Victor zu Erbach-Schönberg, the German ambassador to Athens, presented a note to the Greek Premier Alexandros Koryzis informing him that the Third Reich was at war with the Kingdom of Greece.

Meanwhile, at 0515 hours, the Germans had already crossed the border and invaded Greece through Bulgaria, according to the plans of 'Unternehmen Marita' (Operation Marita), with 6. Gebirgs (Mountain)-Division in the right, 5. Gebirgs-Division plus Infantry-Rgt 125. in the centre, and with 72. Infantry-Division in the left.

The German plan anticipated that:

-XL. Panzer-Corps (Lt. Gen. Georg Stumme) was to invade Yugoslavia, pivot southward from Skopje to Monastir, and launch an immediate attack across the Greek border on the Greek defences, and the Greek town of Florina near the Greco-Yugoslav border. Other Panzer-Corps elements were to make contact with the Italians along the Albanian border.
-XVIII. Mountain-Corps (Lt. Gen. Franz Böhme) was to make a surprise thrust across the Greek border from Bulgaria, with its two mountain divisions (5. and 6.) and 72. Infantry-Division, and capture the vital road crossing, in the narrow valley, known as the Roupel Pass. Its 2. Panzer-Division was to follow the course of the Strymon river, turn southward, and drive towards Salonika.
-XXX. Army-Corps (Lt. Gen. Eugen Ott) was to reach the Aegean coast by the shortest route and attack from the E the fortifications of the 'Metaxas Line' that were situated behind the Nestos river, in the Greek Western Thrace.

The Germans had a difficult task. Bunker for bunker, all Greek 21 independent fortification complexes along the 'Metaxas Line' had to be knocked out. The line took its name from the man who envisioned it and constructed it in late '30's as a deterrent against Bulgaria, the Greek Premier Ioannis Metaxas. The whole chain of fortifications belonged to T.S.A.M ('Eastern Macedonia Army Section') a corps-sized formation under the overall command of Lt. Gen. Constantine Bakopoulos. In reality, T.S.A.M was severely undermanned as it was only 8, 500-strong, because the mass of the Greek Army was fighting against the Italians in Albania. The largest fortification was 'Fort Roupel' with 27 officers and 950 other ranks, which covered 6.1 km (3.8 mi) out of the 155 km-long (96 mi), Metaxas line.

The Greek XVIII Infantry Division (Maj. Gen. Leonidas Sterghiopoulos), an only in name division with just five battalions and one infantry company as reserve force, was deployed to the E and S banks of the Strymon river, manned bunkers Istibey, Kelkaya, Arpalouki and Paliouriones, and combined three subsectors.
The crucial 'Rodopolis subsector' was under Lt. Col. Loukas Kitsos, composed of II/70, II/91 infantry battalions, one mountain battery of St-Étienne 65 mm Mle 1906 guns, a section of two Schneider 85 mm Mle 1927 guns, one 3.7 cm Pak 36 AT gun, and was ordered to cover the exposed left flank of the 'Metaxas Line'. More specifically, two companies from II/91 btn, with one mortar section of 81 mm mortars, and the 37 mm AT gun, were ordered to defend a 6 km-long (3, 7 mi), line.

The battle began at 0515 hours on April 6. The battalions of Gebirgsjäger (Mountain-Hunter)-Rgt 141. (Lt. Col. Eberhard Ebeling) from 6. Gebirgs-Division, reached the Greek defensive line through snow-covered mountainous passes that were considered as inaccessible by the Greeks but, as soon as they crossed the border, received heavy fire from all sides. The Germans had to clear the resistance of the Greeks who had occupied strong positions.
At Hill 1079 one Greek platoon under the CO of II/70 Btn, 1st Lt Christos Maroudis, held for three hours the Germans. The last Greek soldier fell at 1000 hours. Not one Greek defender survived.
Αt Hill 1120, Maj. Constantine Yiakoumis managed to gather two platoons from II/70 btn, a MG section of four Chauchat M1915 CSRG, and a mortar section with two 81 mm mortars. The Greeks put up an obstinate resistance with a spirit of sacrifice, but eventually, they succumbed to the larger German force. Only four Greeks were standing after the battle. Maj. Yiakoumis was KIA.
The Greek II/91 btn (Maj. Stylianus Kallonas) offered obstinate resistance to wave after wave of German attacks at Hill 1521. The battle there was brutal. The Greeks held until 1030 hours, when they were ordered by the division to regroup at Hill 989. II/90's casualties amounted to 51 KIA, 150 WIA.
As the German Gebirgsjäger succeeded in overcoming Greek resistance in the sector, fire from unrecognized camouflaged Greek MG-pillboxes began. Gebirgsjäger-Rgt 141. lost its CO Lt. Col. Eberhard Ebeling (KIA) from machine-gun fire that came from the pillboxes Π7, Π8 and Π9 located on a hill called 'Beautiful slope'.
Each one of the three pillboxes was manned by a machine-gun squad operating the 13.2 mm Hotchkiss ΗΜG. MG-Pillbox Π8 was under Sgt. Dimitrios Itsios. As the German assaults continued, it became obvious to Itsios that eventually he and his men wouldn't be able to stop the Germans, so he ordered them to leave, while he would stay alone and cover their retreat. Two of his men disobeyed his orders and stayed with him. He and the two men fought for another four hours manning the MG-pillbox Π8. Eventually, after firing more than 38, 000 rounds, Π8 went silent as they ran out of ammo. When the Germans arrested the two Greek soldiers and Sergeant Itsios, the CO of 6. Gebirgs-Division Maj. Gen. Ferdinand Schörner, along with a German officer who spoke Greek and acted as a translator, came face to face with him. Gen. Schörner congratulated Itsios on the obstinate resistance he offered that had cost him 238 casualties, ordered his men to present arms as a sign of respect, and then ordered Itsios' execution. Sgt. Dimitrios Itsios was 34 yo.

The Greek VII Fortress Brigade (Col. Georgios Salvanos), organic element of XIV Infantry Division (Maj. Gen. Constantine Papaconstantinou) occupied the area between the Ε bank of Strymon river and the W reaches of the Lower Nevrokop plateau, approximately 80 kilometres (48 mi) in length. The Sector combined two Subsectors:
-the 'Siderokastron subsector' to the W (including the Roupel Fort, among others), and,
-the 'Karadag Subsector' to the E, which included the forts of Babazoras, Maliagha, Perithori, and Persek.
The German assault on the Karadag Subsector began at 0515 hours in the morning of April 6, 1941 without artillery preparation. The Germans encountered stiff resistance and at 0700 hours, they requested immediate artillery support. For three hours the two Greek forts of Perithori and Babazoras received heavy artillery bombardment with no effect. At 1100 hours the battalions of German Infantry-Rgt. 105. (Col. Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller) advanced against the smaller forts of Lisse and Pyramidoid, but they received heavy fire from all sides and their advance was stalled. The Germans then assaulted Fort Perithori, where a fierce battle ensued, but soon Greek obstinate resistance foiled the German effort.

Meanwhile, in order to help the advance, I./125. Gebirgsjägerbataillon (Mountain-Hunter-Battalion under Maj. Ernst Sonntag) was ordered to cross the Strymon (Struma) river with assault boats. The battalion's Pionier-Sturmboot-Kompanie (Battle Engineer-Assault boat-Company) boarded assault boats and started paddling across the river, while dozens of Junkers Ju 87 ground-attack aircraft, pounded the Greek fortifications.
At the confluence of the Strymon and Axios (Vardar) rivers, the boats received heavy machine-gun fire. Many engineers were killed or wounded. Some severely wounded were drowned. The survivors reached the riverbank and made contact with the forward elements of the advancing Infantry-Regiment 125. (Col. Erich Petersen).

Also on April 6, Sq. Ldr Marmaduke Pattle shot down two Luftwaffe Messerschmitt BF-109E over the Roupel gorge. He'd claim eight more victories by April 12, and two more Bf 109E fighters on the ground, subsequently claiming five in a day on April 14 and during five sorties, and six more on April 19.

The first day ended without a significant success for the Germans as none of the bunkers was captured, despite local isolated successes.

On Monday, April 7, 1941, the Greeks in Albania opened a powerful full-scale offensive against the Italians with the aim of linking up with the Yugoslav army. The Greeks took some Italian fortified positions, captured hundreds of prisoners and a quantity of equipment and ammunition.

Along the Metaxas Line, the advance of Gebirgsjäger-Rgt 85. was checked, and its III./85. GebJgBtl (Maj. Albin Esch) was badly shaken, suffering 181 casualties, while its I/85. GebJgBtl (Maj. Erhard Gnaden) reported 192 KIA, WIA by 1600 hours. A company from I/85. GebJgBtl was pinned down at Roupesko hill by accurate Greek arty fire.

Greek artillery fire from the bunker Kelkaya pounded Gebirgsjäger-Rgt 100. (Col. Willibald Utz) and as it advanced, fire from rear positions and from the northern hillside of the bunker Istibey started. The regiment was pinned down between the surface fortifications of Kelkaya and the hillside of Istibey. I/100. GebJgBtl (Lt. Col. Max Schrank) lost 102 men.

(End of Part1)

Author — Αποστόλης Μ.


Italy: and you are?

Greece: better than you.

Author — JLaneboy5


"Dobar dan there!" "Generalni Kenobi!"

Author — Yours Truly


The thing that should be mentioned is the German bombing of the national library of Serbia(then Yugoslavia) in Belgrade. The library burned for 3 days and it burned to the ground. It was not an accident, it was done on purpose and by Hitler's orders on the first day of bombing, 6th of april even though that Belgrade was declared an open city so no army was in it and every attack should be considered a war crime.
So many books and scripts were lost that day and only one book survived since it was not in the building. Some examples include cyrillic scripts from 12th century, ottoman scripts about Serbia (Turks ruled over Serbia from 1459 to 1804).
The library had over half a million books, papers, maps, personal libraries of some of the greatest Serbs of 19th century and it was the biggest one in this part of Europe.

Author — Boško Delić


Where were the Turks in WWII? Oh wait, at first they were allies with the Nazis and at the end of the war they declared war on Germany. Turkish heroism...

Author — Plethon Dimos


War: starts in Yugoslavia
Balkan people: well, here we go again

Author — Ivan Šarić


Hitler recognises Greece as the cradle of European civilisation and burns Europe.
The Italian generals are not safe from humiliation even in captivity, any 6 for 1?

Author — Beach Boy