Simovic, General Dusan, 1882-1962

Simovic was head of the Yugoslav government when Germany invaded in 1941. A staunch Serbian nationalist and anti-German, he became Chief of Army General Staff in 1939 and then Chief of Air Force Staff in 1940. From December 1940 he became a leader of resistance both to the Germans and to the impotent policies of the Yugoslav government then headed by the Regent, Prince PAUL. Urged by the Allies to resist and to attack the Italians in Albania and pressured by the Germans to join the Tripartite Pact, events came to a head when in February 1941 HITLER demanded the right to move military materials across Yugoslavia. Simovic openly warned Paul that the Serbian people would not accept his deferring to Hitler’s pressure. However the government signed a secret pact with the Axis on 25 March. Two days later in an efficient and bloodless coup the Army put Simovic at the head of the government and declared PETER II King. The Allies immediately pledged their support to Simovic and renewed their attempts to bring Yugoslavia into the war. Simovic however wanted to concentrate on internal problems and maintain strict neutrality so as not to antagonize Hitler. Hitler, on the other hand, decided to invade as soon as he heard news of the coup and postponed Barbarossa in order to send an Army which included seven Panzer divisions and 1000 aircraft to invade Yugoslavia on 6 April, two days after CHURCHILL’s personal appeal to Simovic to prepare a resistance. Belgrade fell on 13 April after intensive bombing and heavy casualties; the government fell on 17 April and resistance was over by 20 April. Simovic fled to Greece with Peter and served as Premier of the government-in-exile in London until his resignation in 1942. Although nominated by Peter to head his government after the war, he was rejected by TITO. He retired in May 1945.

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