DIRECTIVE NO. 25
The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander
Fuehrer Headquarters of the Armed Forces 27 Mar. 1941
OKW/WFSt/Abt.L(I Op) Er. 44379/41 g.K.Chefs. No. 2 of twelve copies
Directive No. 25
1. The military coup in Yugoslavia has changed the political situation in the Balkans, Yugoslavia is to be regarded as an enemy. Even if she were to affirm her loyalty to us she would still have to be destroyed as quickly as possible.
2. It Is my intention to break Into Yugoslavia with a concentric operation moving in the general direction of Belgrade and the south, one arm coming from the Fiume-Graz area and the other from the area around Sofia; to administer a crushing defeat to the Yugoslav armed forces; and, in addition, to detach the southernmost portion of Yugoslavia from the rest of the country and to use It as a base for continuing the German-Italian offensive against Greece. The early reopening of Danube traffic and the seizure of the copper mines at Bor are Important for the war economy. We must attempt to induce Hungary and Bulgaria to participate in the operations by extending to them the hope of regaining Banat and Macedonia. Political promises made to the Croats.will render the internal .tension in Yugoslavia more acute.
3. My detailed orders are as follows:
a. As soon as sufficient forces are available and the weather situation permits, the Air Force is to destroy the city of Belgrade and the ground organization of the Yugoslav air force by means of continuous day and night attacks.
b. If possible at about the same time - certainly not earlier - operation "Marita” Is to begin, with the limited objective, for the time being; of occupying the Salonika basin and getting a foothold on: the heights of Edessa (Vodena). The XVIII Army Corps can move into position for this attack by way of Yugoslav territory. In order to prevent the enemy from establishing an organized front between Mount Olympus and the heights of Edessa (Vodena) we must make use of any favorable opportunities which offer themselves.
c. All forces still available in Bulgaria and Rumania may be utilized for the attacks which are to be launched toward the northwest from the region around Sofia, and toward the vest from the region of Kynstendil-Gorna Dzhumaya, except that a force of the approximate size of a division (in addition to antt-aircraft troops) must remain for the protectfon of the Rumanian oil fields. For the time being. the protection of the Turkish boundary is to be left to the Bulgarians. A German formation, a panzer division if possible, is to be kept in readiness behind them as a reserve.
d. The attack coming from the general direction of Graz and moving southeastward Is to be launched as soon as the necessary forces have been assembled. The decision as to whether Hungarian soil will be used for the push against the Yugoslav border will be left up to the Army. Security measures at the Yugoslav frontier are to be strengthened at once.
Important points may be seized at the Yugoslav border Just as on the Bulgarian borders even before the general attack begins. These actions should be timed to coincide with the air attack on Belgrade.
e. Two attack groups of the Air Force are to support the operations or the 12th Army and those of the assault group to be formed in the Graz area, concentrating the forces according to the progress of the Army operations. The Hungarian ground organization can be utilized for assembly and the actual operation. It is to be investigated whether the X Air Corps should be employed, based on Italian territory. However, escort of the transports to Africa must be assured. Preparations for the occupation of Lemnos island should be continued; however, it should not be executed until I issue the order. Adequate anti-aircraft protection should be provided for Graz, Klagenfurt Villach, Leoben, and Vienna.
4. Basic agreements with Italy will be reached by the Armed Forces High Command to begin with. The Army is to provide for liaison staffs for the Italian 2nd Army and for Hungary. The Air Force is empowered to reach agreements at the present time with the Italian and Hungarian Air Forces concerning borders of the air operations areas. Preparations can be made at once to set aside the supplies for the Hungarian ground organization.
5. The Commanders in Chief will report to me through the Armed Forces High Command concerning the planned operations and the related command questions.
signed: Adolf Hitler
SOURCE NOTE: Directive 25 was obtained from Naval History Division, "Fuehrer Directives and Other Top- Level Directives of the German Armed Forces, 1939-1941,9 Vol. 1, Washington: Office of the CNO, 1948, 161-163.