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The Nazi Invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece

Axis military efforts in the Balkans, compared with the rest of Europe, had not gone well. Italy had invaded Greece in October 1940 but was pushed back into Albania. Germany then put pressure on Yugoslavia to join the Axis, as Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria had done earlier. Prince Regent Paul of Yugoslavia relented and signed the pact on March 25, 1941.

However, nationalist forces violently opposed the idea and carried out a coup. That led Hitler to view Yugoslavia as a hostile state; he decided to bomb Belgrade in retribution. On April 6, 1941, the Axis Powers (Hungary, Italy, led by Germany) invaded Yugoslavia, killing thousands of civilians and soldiers and capturing another quarter million; Yugoslav forces were unable to stop the bombardments or the advance of ground forces. The invasion ended with the unconditional surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army on April 17.

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Exit Somoza, Enter the Sandinistas

As violence and protests against Nicaragua’s despotic government increased, the U.S. and the Organization of American States (OAS) tried to hasten Anastasio Somoza’s exit from power and broker a peaceful transition to a more democratic form of government. In June 1979 Secretary of State Cyrus Vance called for the replacement of Somoza with a broadly based transition government of national reconciliation, the negotiation of a cease-fire, humanitarian aid, and an OAS peacekeeping force.

In Managua, Ambassador Lawrence Pezzullo pushed for an elaborate plan under which Somoza would resign and the Nicaraguan Congress would elect an interim successor. The successor would appoint a new head of the National Guard, call for a cease-fire, negotiate the gradual merger of the National Guard with Sandinista (FSLN) forces, and finally transfer power to a provisional government within 72 hours. Somoza departed for the United States on July 17. Read more