Military Review

How it started: “Bloody Easter” over Belgrade 70 years ago

How it started: “Bloody Easter” over Belgrade 70 years ago

Seventy years ago, Belgrade residents became victims of fighter raids by the Anglo-American aviation. On Orthodox Easter Day on April 16, 1944, US and British aircraft bombed Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia. This event has entered history called "Bloody Easter." Then, more than a thousand Serb civilians died ... Massive raids on the Yugoslav capital continued until September 18, 1944. The command of the Western allies justified the bombing of Belgrade with the need to destroy the large transport center of the German troops in the Balkans on the way to the war-ravaged Greece, as well as the large port on the Danube, which was used to transport oil from the Romanian fields to Germany.

However, blasphemous for the Serbs, who themselves fought the German occupiers, the choice of the date of commencement of the bombing, as well as the nature of the victims and the devastation, spoke of something else.

The main role in the bombings that began during Easter services was assigned to the American B-24 Liberator (Liberator) bombers, which were equipped with two-ton bombs. The 16 bombers took part in the April 600 raid. Air defense systems quickly tracked the aircraft and sent an air-raid alarm. However, residents of the city at the first moment poured into the streets, greeting the allied planes of the Yugoslav partisans. Rumors circulated among Belgrade that planes were flying to bomb Romanian oil terminals. However, the bombs began to fall on Belgrade.

And they fell not only and not so much on industrial and military transport facilities. Here are just a short list of targets hit by 16-17 on April 1944: the central quarters of Terrazia and Slavia, the central city streets of Princess Natalia, Milos the Great, Nemani, Sarajevo, New Market, People’s Theater, Zeleni Venac, a prison camp for Old Prisoners. In this camp, the Germans held prisoners of war of the Yugoslav People's Liberation Army. The victims of the bombing of the camp were about 150 people. As for the military facilities used by Germany, only one of them was destroyed - the building of the Belgrade Gestapo department. The loss of 16 on April 1944 of the civilian population of Belgrade amounted to about 1160 people, and among the Germans stationed in the Yugoslav capital about 200 people.

Remarkable detail. In the American military squadron that bombed Belgrade, four Serbian crews served. The command of the Allies gave them leave for the period of the bombing, without devoting pilots to their plans.

The bombings on the Orthodox Easter holiday caused bitterness and indignation among the Serbs. The then Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Gabriel, declared that the Anglo-American coalition had lost its "sense of Christian love." It would be more accurate to ask when this feeling led the actions of American and British politicians at all. Note that at the time of Easter and Christmas, even the fighting of the partisans and the Germans, but not the Americans and the British, was suspended.

The bombing of Belgrade and the operational situation on the Yugoslav fronts were not dictated. By that time, there was a turning point in the fighting in favor of the partisans. In January-February, 1944, they broke through into the territory of Serbia and by April switched to conducting military operations against the Nazis and their accomplices practically throughout the entire Serbian territory.

A definite answer to the question of the reasons why the Anglo-American command began regular bombing of Belgrade since April 1994 lies in changing the balance of power in the Yugoslav people's liberation movement. By the beginning of 1944, his leadership had already developed the structure of the structure of the future power in post-war Yugoslavia. In particular, at the second meeting of the Anti-Fascist Popular Liberation Council of Yugoslavia (AVNOI) in November 1943 in the city of Jajce, it was decided that this particular assembly would be the highest authority in Yugoslavia until the end of the war. Its leadership includes members of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, led by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. The people's liberation committees were recognized as the only legitimate authorities in the entire territory of Yugoslavia. At the same time, the Yugoslav government in exile, on which they were staking in Washington and London, was declared illegal, while King Peter II of Karageorgievich was forbidden to return to the country altogether.

And one more important moment. In December 1943, the leadership of the USSR declared its support for the decisions of AVNOY. And in February 1944, the Soviet mission arrived in Yugoslavia.

So in the spring of 1944, the United States and Great Britain began to consider Yugoslavia no longer as their ally in the fight against Nazi Germany, but as a future geopolitical adversary.

In Serbia itself, the victims of April 1944 of the year are traditionally commemorated in prayers, as are those killed in the even more terrible bombings of 1999 of the year. Both became victims of Western policies towards the Slavic peoples of South-Eastern Europe.
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  1. Alez
    Alez April 28 2014 08: 53
    The plan to destroy the Slavs and Christianity, as you can see, has been operating for a long time. They do not shun anything, they destroyed the civilian population under the guise of war. The Slavs are at war, and America is a mother.
  2. Ingvar 72
    Ingvar 72 April 28 2014 09: 47
    In 1999 also bombed for Easter. An accident? It is unlikely, more likely targeted mockery. am
  3. pinecone
    pinecone April 28 2014 10: 04
    On May 5, 1944, on the eve of St. George's Day, American aircraft bombarded the Montenegrin cities of Podgorica, Niksic and Danilovgrad.
    Some Serbian historians suggest that the objectives of the air raids in Yugoslav cities with the Orthodox population were determined by the military-political leadership of AVNOY, led by the Croatian Tito, in consultation with the British mission staff at his headquarters. Archives related to these events remain closed.
  4. serg_russ
    serg_russ April 28 2014 10: 10
    If the Germans remember correctly in 1941 also began the bombing of Yugoslavia on Easter?
    This is such a "continuity" ...
    1. Roman 1977
      Roman 1977 April 28 2014 13: 05
      The war of the Reich against the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (the German code name for the operation is "Operation Punishment") began on April 6, 1941. The commander of the 4th VF Oberst Alexander Ler personally received Hitler's order to erase Belgrade. As a result, in the first strike at 5:15 am, the planes first struck at the Petrovac airfield, then the Ju-87 "Stuka" at the government quarter and the royal palace. Well, the benefit was the blow of 160 Ju-88 and Do-17 on the power plant, the buildings of the Ministry of Defense, the General Staff, the military academy, the command of the gendarmerie and other military facilities. Then they bombed all day until nightfall in smaller groups of aircraft. A total of 360 tons of bombs were dropped. 714 buildings were destroyed, almost 9000 were damaged. 2770 civilians were killed and over 10000 wounded. As a result of the attack of Hitler's "Third Reich" on Belgrade, which had the status of an open city, hospitals and densely populated areas were destroyed and the building of the National Library of Serbia, built in 1832, was completely destroyed. It was the only national library deliberately destroyed during the Second World War, and the entire library stock, which consisted of some 350 books, including priceless medieval manuscripts, burned down in a fire caused by incendiary bombs. The Library also contained a collection of Turkish manuscripts, over 000 printed books of the 200th and 15th centuries, old maps, engravings, paintings, newspapers, as well as all the books published in Serbia and neighboring countries since 17.
      Yugoslav pilots and anti-aircraft gunners fought bravely, but the forces were not equal, so the commander of the 112 fighter squadron, the son of Russian White emigrants Konstantin Ermakov, when he ran out of ammunition, rammed and shot down a German Bf110 from II / ZG26 with his outdated English Hauker Fury fighter.

      Konstantin Ermakov and his Hawker Fury fighter
  5. Good cat
    Good cat April 28 2014 10: 19
    The strategy and tactics of our "partners and allies" have not changed over the years. They do not like to fight, bombing civilians is a favorite thing.
  6. pinecone
    pinecone April 28 2014 13: 13
    Harris was only a zealous executor of instructions from Churchill and the London bankers who stood behind him.
  7. Cossacks
    Cossacks April 28 2014 13: 19
    The USA has a tradition of bombing Serbia like that. Perhaps it was impossible to Russian, and the Serbs are closest to us, well, at least somehow.
  8. silberwolf88
    silberwolf88 April 29 2014 01: 30
    The bombing of British and US aircraft in peaceful cities and objects during World War II was a war crime.

    It can be understood that in Berlin, the buildings occupied by the structures of the NSDAP, the RSHA, the Armed Forces were among residential quarters ... and civilian losses were inevitable BUT the barbaric bombing of hundreds of settlements that did not bear any strategic significance cannot be justified by the need for wartime.

    Yugoslavia is just one of many examples ... and the operation carried out with special cynicism.
  9. Zomanus
    Zomanus 2 May 2014 02: 21
    Hmm. This should also be printed in textbooks. And then the younger generation is of the opinion that the Americans helped us with lend-lease and saved us from the Yap. Well, they helped Hitler to win. And by the way, not only young people have this. We have a fleet museum in Vladivostok, it seems so. Well, I went there recently to see an outdoor exposition. Cannons / tanks and other oversized items. And out of the corner of my ear I caught the story of the guide. Oh, how he licked amers' opa. And they gave us guns and provisions, and in general, if not for them, we would never have defeated the Germans with our ram weapons. This is the dude who is considered an expert and whose words people listen to. And, accordingly, the excursion looked like praising and licking amerovskih cannons, they simply gave up on our armament, as on "and other domestic slag." So more articles and films about atrocities are needed as fashionably. which were created by the Western "allies" during the war.