4 Dec. 45

of 1939. Less than 2 months later, Hitler was giving his assurance to Yugoslavia that Germany only desired to live in peace and friendship with her, with the state, the liquidation of which by his Axis partner, he had himself so recently suggested.

Then came the Italian ultimatum to Greece and war against Greece and the Italian reverse.

We have found, amongst the captured documents, an undated letter from Hitler to Mussolini which must have been written about the time of the Italian aggression against Greece:

"Permit me" — Hitler said — "at the beginning of this letter to assure you that within the last 14 days my heart and my thoughts have been more than ever with you. Moreover, Duce, be assured of my determination to do everything on your behalf which might ease the present situation for you. When I asked you to receive me in Florence, I undertook the trip in the hope of being able to express my views prior to the beginning of the threatening conflict with Greece, about which I had received only general information. First, I wanted to request you to postpone the action, if at all possible, until a more favorable time of the year, at all events until after the American presidential election. But in any case, however, I wanted to request you, Duce, not to undertake this action without a previous lightning-like occupation of Crete and, for this purpose, I also wanted to submit to you some practical suggestions in regard to the employment of a German parachute division and a further airborne division . . . . Yugoslavia must become disinterested, if possible, however, from our point of view, interested in co-operating in the liquidation of the Greek question. Without assurances from Yugoslavia, it is useless to risk any successful operation in the Balkans. . . . Unfortunately, I must stress the fact that waging a war in the Balkans before March is impossible. Hence it would also serve to make any threatening influence upon Yugoslavia of no purpose, since the Serbian General Staff is well aware of the fact that no practical action could follow such a threat before March. Hence, Yugoslavia must, if at all possible, be won over by other means and in other ways."
On the 12th of November 1939, in his top-secret order, Hitler ordered the OKH to make preparations to occupy Greece and Bulgaria, if necessary. Apparently 10 divisions were to be used in order to prevent Turkish intervention. I think I said 1939; it should, of course, have been the 12th of November 1940. And to shorten the time, the German divisions in Romania were to be increased.