Eve of Barbarossa

World War II: Blitzkrieg

Europe 1941.0621

Eve of Barbarossa

World War II in Europe from the fall of Poland to Stalingrad (21 June 1941)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

British forces successfully ended German influence in Iraq and Syria, but narrowly failed to defeat a German airborne invasion of Crete. For Hitler though, this was all a sideshow - his focus was now on his 3 million man military build-up for the invasion of the Soviet Union.

Main Events

Territory of Military Commander in Serbia

As part of the dismantling of Yugoslavia, Serbia and the Banat is placed under the supreme authority of the German military commander in Serbia, with the day-to-day administration of the territory under the control of the chief of the military administration staff. Bulgarian troops assisted in the occupation and two weak puppet governments carried out administrative tasks under German supervision: the Commissioner Administration (30 April - 29 August 1941) and the Government of National Salvation (29 August 1941 - October 1944).

Anglo-Iraqi War

On 1 May 1941 the RAF airbase at Habbaniyah discovers it is being surrounded by Iraqi forces with artillery and responds with airstrikes the following day, driving back the Iraqis by 6 May. Meanwhile, under German orders, Vichy Syria begins supplying arms to Iraq while the British in Transjordan and Basra launch a full scale invasion. The British capture Baghdad on 31 May, bringing the war to an end just days after the pro-Axis Prime Minister Rashid Ali's escape to Iran.

Treaties of Rome

The Independent State of Croatia signed the three Treaties of Rome with the Kingdom of Italy at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome. The treaties recognized Croatia as a sovereign state under Italian protection and defined its borders with Italy, allowing for the creation of the Italian Governorate of Dalmatia and completing the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.

Battle of Crete

On the morning of 20 May 1941, Germany begins an airborne invasion of the island of Crete - where Greek and Allied forces have gathered following the German conquest of mainland Greece. The battle sees the first mass use of paratroops, with German Fallschirmjäger seizing control of Maleme airfield on 21 May despite suffering heavy casualties. Forced south in the face of German reinforcements, the Allies evacuate the island on 28 May - 1 June.

British sink the German battleship Bismarck

German troops begin arriving in Petsamo, Finland

Operation Exporter

In Operation Exporter, British, Australian, Indian, and Free French forces under Archibald Wavell cross the Palestine border into Vichy French Syria and Lebanon. At the same time, British troops from Iraq invade Syria from the east. Damascus falls on 12 June, but the local Vichy French leader General Henri Dentz holds out in the north for another month before surrendering.

Final Preparations for Barbarossa

After a gradual build up starting in 1940, on 30 April 1941 Adolf Hitler set the launch date of Operation Barbarossa to 22 June 1941. On 15 June this date and the time of 0330 were confirmed to the German higher formation commanders and German units began moving into forward positions for the invasion of the Soviet Union. The Soviets responded by ordering a black-out in cities along the border and deploying troops in forward positions, but did not deploy for defense.

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