How adequate did the Greeks and Yugoslavs do when invaded by the Germans?

May 2019
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Northern and Western hemispheres
Did they put up a good fight or not? Or should they have done better?
 
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MG1962a

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Mar 2019
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Kansas
Did they put up a good fight or not? Or should they have done better?
I think for the Greeks, they may have been a little too fixated on kicking the Italians to death. Even to the point when the end came they only wanted to negotiate with the Germans, and cut the Italians out of the equation altogether lol.

On the plus side it is widely accepted that the stubborn resistance of the Greeks upset the final timetable for Barbarossa, which ultimately had catastrophic effects on the Germans
 

Maki

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Jan 2017
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Republika Srpska
Yugoslavia was divided from within. Croatian units did not resist the Germans and actually attacked the Yugoslav Army at some points.
 
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Maki

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Jan 2017
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On the plus side it is widely accepted that the stubborn resistance of the Greeks upset the final timetable for Barbarossa, which ultimately had catastrophic effects on the Germans
Actually the opinion is not so uniform. A number of historians have challenged this assertion which is based on the assumption that it was General Winter that defeated the Germans, not the Red Army. I have also read that the Germans could not have launched Barbarossa much earlier due to road conditions in the East.
 
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Solidaire

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Aug 2009
5,640
Athens, Greece
Well, the bulk of the Greek army was already engaged in fighting the Italians on the Albanian front. The defence against the German attack was limited to some 70,000 soldiers, a fraction of the army. Greece was a minor power, the fact that it had already defended successfully against the Italians was considered a small miracle, to manage to repel both the Italians and the Germans at the same time would have been a feat beyond imagination. Still, those men assigned to the defence against the Germans performed as best as they could, even exceeding expectations.

The main line of defence in the northern border was the Metaxas line, a series of forts similar to the Maginot line, sturdy, well-constructed and placed in very high ground, very difficult to reach. Yet, the project was not fully completed when they were attacked by the Germans, not reaching the extent it was designed to. It was also undermanned, as It was created to be defended by 200,000 men, while at the time of the German attack there were only 70,000 men, thinly spread out. Still, the forts held out, and had to be outflanked (like the Maginot line) and bypassed into mainland Greece.

German General Wilhelm List, who led the attack against the Metaxas Line, admired the bravery and courage of these soldiers. He refrained from taking the Greek soldiers prisoner and declared that the army was free to leave with their war flags, on condition that they surrender their arms and supplies. He also ordered his soldiers and officers to salute the Greek soldiers (Beevor 2005, p. 20). The line was also poorly manned as most of the Greek Army was fighting against the Italians, on the Albanian front.


I might be able to provide more detailed accounts of the battles there when I get more time. As to the Greek stubbornness regarding the Italians, it is to an extent correct. The fact that the Italian attack was successfully beaten back into Albania and with several Greek gains there, was so uplifting to the nation that the Greeks refused to let go of that "epos" (the epic tale) and felt that the German attack was cheating them out of a well-deserved glorious victory, as if breaking some imaginary unwritten rules of war. They stuck to their perceived victory over the Italians, even when the country capitulated unconditionally to the Axis. To this day, one of the two Greek national holidays related to history is the day the Greco-Italian war started, after the Greek rejection of the Italian ultimatum (OXI day).
 
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MG1962a

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Actually the opinion is not so uniform. A number of historians have challenged this assertion which is based on the assumption that it was General Winter that defeated the Germans, not the Red Army. I have also read that the Germans could not have launched Barbarossa much earlier due to road conditions in the East.
I would disagree. The planned jump off in Mid May would have been after the Spring rains, and would have eventually given German forces over three weeks to take Moscow rather than the 6 days they got.

General Winter stretched German logistics to breaking point, but the Rasputitsa stopped their offensive in its tracks.
 

MG1962a

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Greece was a minor power, the fact that it had already defended successfully against the Italians was considered a small miracle
I think you are being way to humble there. If I recall my history correctly. The Greeks actually managed to not only stop the Italian advance, but pushed the invading force well back beyond it starting points in Albania.
 
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Solidaire

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Aug 2009
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Athens, Greece
I think you are being way to humble there. If I recall my history correctly. The Greeks actually managed to not only stop the Italian advance, but pushed the invading force well back beyond it starting points in Albania.
Indeed, the Greek army had considerable territorial gains and entered victoriously several cities of southern Albania, to the absolute excitement of the Greek population living there. However, the Greco-Italian war lasted from late October 1940 to April 1941, when the Germans intervened. During these 6 months, the Greeks repelled the Italians back into Albania, counter-attacked capturing several cities and enough territory, then foiled another Italian effort to push them back, but by that time the front was largely stabilised, with neither side being able to push onward. The Greeks had almost reached the end of their logistical tether and requested urgent material support from the British. The Greeks had the morale and the determination to fight, but the Italians had a far greater industrial and logistical base, and a much larger manpower and reserves. If the Germans hadn't intervened and the British had managed to adequately resupply the Greek army, perhaps the Greeks could maintain their territorial gains, or perhaps the Italians might be able to push them back into the mountains of Epiros, back to the initial borders. Where the Greek army would defend every inch of home soil, if need be with bayonets alone and to the last man. In any case, the Greek cause was to defend the motherland from the Italian attack, which was successful up until the German intervention, and would remain so without it, unless the Italians attacked with equal resolve, and determination to suffer extreme casualties.

1575254810539.png

The Italian army invaded Greece on 28 October, before the Italian ultimatum had expired. The invasion was a disaster, the 140,000 troops of the Italian Army in Albania encountering an entrenched and determined enemy. The Italians had to contend with the mountainous terrain on the Albanian–Greek border and unexpectedly tenacious resistance by the Greek Army. By mid-November, the Greeks had stopped the Italian invasion just inside Greek territory. After completing their mobilization, the Greeks counter-attacked with the bulk of their army and pushed the Italians back into Albania – an advance which culminated in the Capture of Klisura Pass in January 1941, a few dozen kilometers inside the Albanian border. The defeat of the Italian invasion and the Greek counter-offensive of 1940 have been called the "first Axis setback of the entire war" by Mark Mazower, the Greeks "surprising everyone with the tenacity of their resistance". The front stabilized in February 1941, by which time the Italians had reinforced the Albanian front to 28 divisions against the Greeks' 14 divisions (though Greek divisions were larger). In March, the Italians conducted the unsuccessful Spring Offensive. At this point, losses were mutually costly, but the Greeks had far less ability than the Italians to replenish their losses in both men and materiel, and they were dangerously low on ammunition and other supplies. They also lacked the ability to rotate out their men and equipment, unlike the Italians.[4] Requests by the Greeks to the British for material aid only partly alleviated the situation, and by April 1941 the Greek Army only possessed 1 more month's worth of heavy artillery ammunition and was unable to properly equip and mobilize the bulk of its 200,000–300,000 strong reserves.[5]

As late as March 1941, when the German intervention was looming, an Italian officer summed up the Greeks' attitude for Mussolini with the words of a captured Greek officer: "we are sure that we will lose the war, but we will give you the spanking you need".
[99]

 
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Maki

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Jan 2017
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Republika Srpska
I would disagree. The planned jump off in Mid May would have been after the Spring rains, and would have eventually given German forces over three weeks to take Moscow rather than the 6 days they got.

General Winter stretched German logistics to breaking point, but the Rasputitsa stopped their offensive in its tracks.
It once again rests on the assumption that it was the weather that stopped the Germans and that, without the weather, the Germans would have won. That is highly debatable. By the start of the Battle of Moscow, the German army already suffered huge losses in both manpower and equipment, their supply lines were overextended and the Soviets had a lot of reinforcements available.
 

MG1962a

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Mar 2019
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Kansas
It once again rests on the assumption that it was the weather that stopped the Germans and that, without the weather, the Germans would have won. That is highly debatable. By the start of the Battle of Moscow, the German army already suffered huge losses in both manpower and equipment, their supply lines were overextended and the Soviets had a lot of reinforcements available.
So what is your explanation for the pause in operations from the 10th October to the 1st November.