April 17

This Day in History

General Interest

Apr 17, 1941:

Yugoslavia surrenders

During World War II, representatives of Yugoslavia's various regions sign an armistice with Nazi Germany at Belgrade, ending 11 days of futile resistance against the invading German Wehrmacht. More than 300,000 Yugoslav officers and soldiers were taken prisoner. Only 200 Germans died in the conquest of Yugoslavia.

On March 27, 1941, two days after the Yugoslav government signed a controversial pact with the Axis powers, Yugoslav air officers, aided by the British secret services, toppled the country's pro-Axis regime. In response, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler launched a massive invasion of the country that began on April 6 with the bombing of Belgrade. The Yugoslav defenders, made up of various politically unstable nationalities, were routed by the hordes of German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian troops invading their country.

On April 17, Yugoslavia surrendered and was divided, with the exception of the puppet state of Croatia, between the four invading Axis powers. The occupying troops aggravated the traditional religious and national differences in the region, and the Serbs were especially brutalized. However, by the end of the year, two separate effective resistance movements had sprung up, one led by Colonel Dragolyub Mihailovich, which was loyal to the Yugoslav government-in-exile, and another led by Josip Broz Tito, which was made up of members of the illegal Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

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