25.03.

1941: Yugoslavia Joins Hitler’s Tripartite Pact

1941: Yugoslavia Joins Hitler’s Tripartite Pact
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Tripartite Pact, 27 September 1940.

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 25 March 1941
  • Hitler gave Yugoslavia much more lenient terms than any other country that joined the Tripartite Pact. Namely, he wanted Yugoslavia to enter the German sphere of influence peacefully.

On this day the Kingdom of Yugoslavia joined the Tripartite Pact, whose membership included Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan.

The treaty was signed by representatives of Yugoslavia’s government, which was at that time led by Dragiša Cvetković and Vladko Maček. It is interesting to note that Hitler wanted Yugoslavia to enter the German sphere of influence peacefully.

Namely, at that time he was preparing his invasion of the USSR and needed to secure the German south flank from possible dangers from the Balkans.

In addition, Yugoslavia was Germany’s main provider of agricultural products. Due to all this, Hitler gave Yugoslavia much more lenient terms than any other country that joined the Tripartite Pact.

He guaranteed Yugoslavia its territorial integrity and sovereignty, promised not to send troops across it territory, did not require it to send any military assistance, and promised to keep in mind its territorial aspirations towards Thessaloniki.

However, the pact soon caused civil unrest in Yugoslavia (demonstrators chanted “Better the grave than a slave, better a war than the pact!”) and the government was overthrown in a military coup. This spoiled Hitler’s plans for a spring invasion of the USSR.

He was forced to first subdue the Balkans by force of arms, which caused the invasion of the USSR to be delayed until summer. This meant the German Army was caught in the Russian winter before it managed to reach Moscow, which doomed the German conquest of the USSR to failure.

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