Syrmian Front

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Syrmian Front
Part of World War II in Yugoslavia
Syrmian frontline (far south-east) as a part of the European Eastern Front in April 1945.
Date21 October 1944 – 12 April 1945 [1]
Result Allied (Yugoslav) victory
Yugoslav Partisans flag (1942-1945).svg Partisans
(including Italian partisans)
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union
Flag of the Bulgarian Homeland Front.svg Bulgaria
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Flag of Independent State of Croatia.svg  Croatia
Commanders and leaders
Yugoslav Partisans flag (1942-1945).svg Josip Broz Tito Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Alexander Löhr
Casualties and losses
Yugoslav Partisans flag (1942-1945).svg 13,500+ killed [2]
(including Flag of Italy.svg 163 killed)
Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg 1,100 killed
Flag of the Bulgarian Homeland Front.svg 630 killed
Total 30,000 killed [2]

The Syrmian Front (Serbo-Croatian : Srijemski front/Sremski front) was an Axis line of defense during World War II. It was established as part of the Eastern Front in late October 1944 in Syrmia and east Slavonia, northwest of Belgrade.

Axis powers Alliance of countries defeated in World War II

The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Eastern Front (World War II) theatre of World War II - war between Germany and USSR 1941-1945

The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.


After the Yugoslav Partisans and the Red Army expelled the Germans from Belgrade in the Belgrade Offensive, the retreating Wehrmacht and the Croatian Armed Forces used fortifications to protect the withdrawal of German Army Group E from the Balkans. With help from their Soviet allies, the Partisans (by then recognized as the Yugoslav army), joined by Bulgarian and Italian forces, fought a difficult winter campaign and finally broke through the front on 12 April 1945.

Yugoslav Partisans Yugoslavian resistance movement

The Yugoslav Partisans, or the National Liberation Army, officially the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, was the Communist-led resistance to the Axis powers in occupied Yugoslavia during World War II.

Red Army Soviet army and air force from 1917–1946

The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army, was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991. The former official name Red Army continued to be used as a nickname by both sides throughout the Cold War.

Belgrade Offensive 1944 Second World War battle

The Belgrade Offensive or the Belgrade Strategic Offensive Operation was a military operation in which Belgrade was liberated from the German Wehrmacht through the joint efforts of the Soviet Red Army, Yugoslav Partisans, and the Bulgarian Army. Soviet forces and local militias launched separate but loosely cooperative operations that undermined German control of Belgrade and ultimately forced a retreat. Martial planning was coordinated evenly among command leaders, and the operation was largely enabled through tactical cooperation between Josip Broz Tito and Joseph Stalin that began in September 1944. These martial provisions allowed Bulgarian forces to engage in operations throughout Yugoslav territory, which furthered tactical success while increasing diplomatic friction.

After the Syrmian front was broken, occupied Yugoslavia was liberated. [3]

Operative background and significance

After the September advance through Romania and Bulgaria in October 1944, The Red Army, together with Yugoslav forces, took Belgrade (central communication node of the Balkans) in the Belgrade Offensive. Due to Yugoslav partisan activity, [4] the Yugoslav-Allied Operation Ratweek, and pressure from the Bulgarian Army, the Germans failed to prevent this while they awaited the redeployment of Army Group E troops from Greece. The Red Army decided to exploit this delay and continued to advance with the 3rd Ukrainian Front from Belgrade to south-west Hungary. The aim of the advance was to separate and protect their main attack in Hungary from attacks on the flank by Army Group E from the south.

Balkans Geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe

The BalkansBAWL-kənz, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The northern border of the peninsula is variously defined. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala, 2,925 metres (9,596 ft), in the Rila mountain range, Bulgaria.

Launched on 1 September 1944, Operation Ratweek was a series of coordinated attacks on the civilian population of Serbia and Chetniks, with the aim to aid Tito's rise to power. Attack was led by the combined operations units of Land Forces Adriatic, the heavy bombers of the 15th Air Force and the light and medium bombers of the Balkan Air Force.

Army Group E was a German Army Group active during World War II.

From September 1944 to January 1945, Army Group E pushed its way through Macedonia, Kosovo, Sanjak, and Bosnia, and soon their sole available escape route was in a line between Sarajevo and Slavonski Brod. For this reason, it was of vital significance for the Germans to defend the zone around Slavonski Brod, which was threatened by the Soviet-Yugoslav advance through Syrmia. To prevent Army Group E from being cut off, the German South-East command prepared seven successive fortified defense lines between the Danube and Sava river from Ruma to Vinkovci. The Syrmian Front campaign consisted of Yugoslavian attempts to break through these lines of defense.

Macedonia (region) geographical and historical region in southeastern Europe, today forming parts of Greece and North Macedonia

Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time; however, it came to be defined as the modern geographical region by the mid 19th century. Today the region is considered to include parts of six Balkan countries: Greece, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo. It covers approximately 67,000 square kilometres (25,869 sq mi) and has a population of 4.76 million.

Kosovo Partially-recognised state in Southeast Europe

Kosovo, officially the Republic of Kosovo, is a partially recognized state and disputed territory in Southeastern Europe.

Sanjaks were administrative divisions of the Ottoman Empire. Sanjak, and the variant spellings sandjak, sanjaq, and sinjaq, are English transliterations of the Turkish word sancak, meaning district,banner, or flag. Sanjaks were also called by the Arabic word for banner or flag: لواء liwa.


In the trenches of the Syrmian Front, December 1944. Syrmian Front.jpg
In the trenches of the Syrmian Front, December 1944.

The Syrmian Front saw some of the most difficult fighting in Yugoslavia in World War II. It lasted for almost six months. As the bulk of the Red Army involved in the Belgrade operation continued their offensive in Hungary, the Yugoslav Army, accustomed to guerrilla warfare in the mountainous terrain of the Dinaric Alps, remained to fight the entrenched front line heavily contested by the Axis on the flat ground of the Pannonian plain. [5] Young men from Vojvodina and Central Serbia, many from freshly liberated regions, were drafted en masse and sent to the front, and the amount of training they received and their casualty levels remain in dispute. [6]

Budapest Offensive military offensive

The Budapest Offensive was the general attack by Soviet and Romanian armies against Nazi Germany and their Axis allies from Hungary. The offensive lasted from 29 October 1944 until the fall of Budapest on 13 February 1945. This was one of the most difficult and complicated offensives that the Soviet Army carried on in Central Europe. It resulted in a decisive victory for the USSR, as it disabled the last European political ally of Nazi Germany and greatly sped up the ending of World War II in Europe.

Guerrilla warfare form of irregular warfare

Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military. Guerrilla groups are a type of violent non-state actor.

Dinaric Alps mountain range in Southeastern Europe

The Dinaric Alps, also commonly Dinarides, are a mountain range in Southern and Southeastern Europe, separating the continental Balkan Peninsula from the Adriatic Sea. They stretch from Italy in the northwest through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo to Albania in the southeast.

Although mostly stationary, the front moved several times, generally westward, as the Axis forces were pushed back. The fighting started east of Ruma and stabilized in January 1945 west of Šid after the town changed hands due to Axis counterattacks. In late March and early April 1945, Yugoslav Army units mounted a general offensive on all fronts. The Yugoslav First Army, commanded by Peko Dapčević, broke through German XXXIV Corps defenses in Syrmia on 12 April, quickly capturing the cities of Vukovar, Vinkovci, and Županja, and enabling further advances through Slavonia toward Slavonski Brod and Zagreb in the last month of the war.

The campaign can be divided into four distinct phases:

Syrmian Front memorial Sremski front Memorial.jpg
Syrmian Front memorial

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  1. 62nd Anniversary announcement Archived 7 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine , B92, 2007.
  2. 1 2 Stratište srpske mladosti, Vlada Arsić, 2008. (in Serbian)
  3. »Sremski front 1944–1945«, n. f. str. 42, 166, 200 i 285.
  4. Report of the Commander in Chief of the South-East to Army Headquarters, 20. September 1944, NAW T311, roll 191, frames 637–642
  5. Đilas 1977, p. 440.
  6. Pavlowitch 2008, p. 258.
  7. Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: Sremski Front 1944–1945, BIGZ, Belgrade 1979, chapter II – Uspostavljanje Sremskog fronta i borbe u Sremu do kraja 1944. (in Serbian)
  8. Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: Sremski Front 1944–1945, chapter V – Nemačke ofanzivne operacije na Sremskom frontu u januaru 1945. (in Serbian)
  9. Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: Sremski Front 1944–1945, chapter VII – Period zatišja i priprema za prolećne ofanzivne operacije (in Serbian)
  10. Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: Sremski Front 1944–1945, chapter XI – Plan proboja Sremske utvrđene zone, chapter XII – Prva armija u proboju utvrđene zone and chapter XIV – Od Srema do Austrije (in Serbian)