4 Dee. 45

will also be an unalterable one and that we desire only to live in peace and friendship with her."
But the plan for aggression against Yugoslavia had, of course, been in hand well before that. In the aggressive action eastward towards the Ukraine and the Soviet territories, security of the southern flank and the lines of communication had already been considered by the Germans.

The history of the events leading up to the invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany is well known. At 3 o'clock in the morning of the 28th of October 1940 a 3-hour ultimatum had been presented by the Italian Government to the Greek Government, and the presentation of that ultimatum was immediately followed by the aerial bombardment of Greek provincial towns and the advance of Italian troops into Greek territory. The Greeks were not prepared. They were at first forced to withdraw. But later the Italian advance was at first checked, then driven towards the Albanian frontier, and by the end of 1940 the Italian Army had suffered severe reverses at Greek hands.

Of the German position in the matter there is, of course, the evidence of what occurred when, on the 12th of August 1939, Hitler had this meeting with Ciano.

You will remember that Hitler said then:

"Generally speaking, the best thing to happen would be to liquidate false neutrals one after the other. This process could be carried out more easily if, on every occasion, one partner of the Axis covered the other while it was dealing with an uncertain neutral. Italy might well regard Yugoslavia as a neutral of this kind."
Then the conference went on and it met again on the 13th of August, and in the course of lengthy discussions, Hitler said this:

"In general, however, on success by one of the Axis partners, not only strategical but also psychological strengthening of the other partner and also of the whole Axis would ensue. Italy carried through a number of successful operations in Abyssinia, Spain, and Albania, and each time against the wishes of the democratic entente. These individual actions have not only strengthened Italian local interests, but have also . . . reinforced her general position. The same was the case with German action in Austria and Czechoslovakia . . . . The strengthening of the Axis by these individual operations was of the greatest importance for the unavoidable clash with the Western Powers."
And so once again we see the same procedure being followed. That meeting had taken place on the 12th and the 13th of August