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Enlarged Photograph (57kB)

The war of the Axis against Greece

The German strategy: Plan 'Marita'
The choices of the Balkan countriesThe results

The war with Germany

The choices of the Balkan countries

Towards the end of the 1930s, Bulgaria had withdrawn from the bloc of the Balkan states. Her traditionally revisionist policy after 1919-20, her ambitions for access to the Aegean Sea and the inability of the Balkan Treaty to incorporate the country into a system of mutual respect for the territorial status quo in the Balkans made it almost a certainty that Bulgaria would be lured into the Axis camp very easily in return for concrete territorial concessions.

Indeed, on 8 February 1941 the German-Bulgarian Pact of Friendship was signed, allowing Bulgaria to expand into Thrace and eastern Macedonia. A month later, on 10 March, Bulgaria joined the Tripartite Treaty, which was a formal extension of the initial Axis alliance with the addition of, first, Japan and then of other sympathetic countries.

Yugoslavia, however, remained a big question mark for Britain. The fall of the Yugoslav Prime Minister Stojadinovic in early 1939 had brought Cvetkovic to power. He followed a policy of open options until the end of the winter of 1941, thus nurturing hopes that Yugoslavia would resist the impending German attack. However, given the expressed German determination to launch the operation Marita against the Balkans, Cvetkovic endeavoured to avoid his country's military encroachment and save it from a possible defeat by making approaches to Berlin. In the framework of this strategy, and upon intense German pressure, Yugoslavia signed the Treaty with the German Reich, stating the Yugoslav neutrality in case of a German attack but also allowing the passing of German troops through the Yugoslav territory.

As for Turkey, in spite of initial hopes of the Greek and British authorities, there was no systematic effort to lure the country to the logic of resistance to the Axis forces.

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