Archive for April 6th, 2009

Prince Paul.  His picture there on the left makes him out to be pretty unhappy.  I don’t suppose he was unhappy all his life, but the stuff we’re going to talk about today is less than pleasant.

First, his cousin Alexander (the King of Yugoslavia) was assassinated in France in the mid 1930’s.  And because the King’s son (Peter II) was just 11 at the time and unprepared to assume the throne, Paul was thrust into the position of the Regency.  Not good.

But in March of 1941, His Royal Highness had more to worry about than being a “placeholder” for the real King.  With Tsar Boris III joining the Tripartite Pact on the 1st of March, the focus of Adolf Hitler’s attention turned squarely on Yugoslavia.  Feeling the pressure from Germany’s leader to join him, he knew that various anti-Axis and anti-German groups in his own country were were vehemently opposed to such action.  Not good.

And on March 25th, Paul caved…to Germany, and signed the Tripartite Pact.  Two days later, with the help of pro-British and anti-German elements, Peter II (the King-to-be) led an overthrow of Prince Paul and the Yugoslav government.  Really not good.

Adolf Hitler, used to getting his way, went as ballistic.  He immediately ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia and the complete destruction of Belgrade, its capital.  And on April 6, 1941, the occupation began.  Early in the morning, Belgrade was plastered by the first of several intense bombing raids the capital would experience over the next several days.  Simulaneously, the ground forces moved in.

In truth, German troops were outnumbered by their Yugoslavian counterparts.  But what they lacked in quantity was more than made up for in quality.  Most of the planes, artillery, and small weapons were of WWI-vintage and were thrust aside by the Germans, who (already finalizing their massive invasion of the Soviet Union) had assembled the most modern military in Europe.  Eleven days later, it was over and Yugoslavia was summarily broken into pieces and handed over to various countries.

And Prince Paul?  He was place under house arrest and sent to “as-far-from-the-War-as-possible” Kenya.  And he never returned to Yugoslavia again.  Yep, I’d say the frown in that photo is appropriate.

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