German Forces Seize Thessaloniki

On the dawn of April 6, the German armies invaded Greece, while the Luftwaffe began an intensive bombardment of Belgrade.

The XL Panzer Corps—which had been intended for use in an attack across southern Yugoslavia—began their assault at 05:30 a.m., and made thrusts across the Bulgarian frontier at two separate points. By the evening of April 8, the 1st SS Division Adolf Hitler captured Prilep, thus severing an important rail line between Belgrade and Thessaloniki, and isolating Yugoslavia from its allies. The Germans were now in possession of terrain which was favorable to the continuation of the offensive. On the evening of April 9, General Stumme deployed his forces north of Monastir, in preparation for the extension of the attack across the Greek border toward Florina. This position threatened to encircle the Greeks in Albania and W Force in the area of Florina, Edessa, and Katerini. While weak security detachments covered the rear of his corps against a surprise attack from central Yugoslavia, elements of the 9th Panzer Division drove westward to link up with the Italians at the Albanian border.

The 2nd Panzer Division (XVIII Mountain troops) entered Yugoslavia from the east on the morning of April 6, and advanced westward through the Strimon Valley. It encountered little enemy resistance, but was delayed by road clearance demolitions, land mines, and muddy roads. Nevertheless, the division was able to reach the objective of the day, the town of Strumica. On April 7, a Yugoslav counter attack against the northern flank of the division was repelled, and the following day the division forced its way across the mountains and overran the Greek 19th Motorized Infantry Division Units stationed south of Doiran lake. Despite many delays along the narrow mountain roads, an armored advance guard dispatched in the direction of Thessaloniki succeeded in entering the city by the morning of April 9. The seizure of Thessaloniki took place without struggle, following the collapse of the Greek Second Army.

After seizing Thessaloniki, German occupation forces initiated an anti-Semitic propaganda campaign, banned the Jewish media, ordered all Jews to turn in their radios, banned them from entering cafes, etc. During 1941-1942, it is estimated that 60 Thessaloniki Jews died daily due to famine.