Stratsin-Kumanovo operation

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Stratsin-Kumanovo operation
Part of World War II in Yugoslavia
Skopje on November 13, 1944.jpg
DateOctober 8 – November 14, 1944
Location
Result Allied victory
Belligerents
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Yugoslav Partisans

Nazi Germany Germany

Commanders and leaders
Bulgaria Vladimir Stoychev Nazi Germany August Schmidhuber
Units involved

1st Bulgarian Army

  • 1st Sophia Infantry Division
  • 2nd Thracian Infantry Division
  • 11th Infantry Division
  • 1st Sofia Guard Division
  • 2nd Cavalry Division
21st SS Skanderbeg
German paratroopers
Strength
100 guns and mortars
35–40 tanks and vehicles

The Stratsin-Kumanovo operation[1] (Bulgarian: Страцинско-Кумановска операция) was an offensive operation of the Bulgarian Army in Yugoslavia during the participation of Bulgaria in World War II against the Third Reich.

Development[edit]

It was held from 8 October to 14 November 1944 and was conducted in parallel with tree another Bulgarian offensive operations in Yugoslavia: the Niš operation; the Kosovo operation and the Bregalnitsa-Strumica operation. The operation was conducted in order to cross the road to retreat to a group of German armies "E" from Greece to central Europe. Bulgarian troops began an offensive on 8 October and the day entered into Kriva Palanka. Consistently they keep fighting for the Ridge of Strazhin (October 18) and the Stracin position, that was seized on October 25 with a paratroopers' attack. Fightings continues on the river Pčinja and in the city of Kumanovo (11 November) where parts of the Wehrmacht were defeated again. On 13[2][3][4][5] and 14 November parts of the First and Fourth Bulgarian Army entered Skopje, which performed their task. The onslaught continued as part of the Kosovo operation and on 19 November Bulgarian troops captured Pristina.[6]

In the autumn of 1944, the Bulgarian army was the real force behind the driving the Germans out of North Macedonia. However the official Yugoslav and later Macedonian historiography, has played down its role by political grounds, actually at the cost of historical deceptions. For example, because of the symbolic importance of the capital Skopje, according to Macedonian sources, Bulgarians did not participate in the operations for its capture, even as observers. According to them, Skopje was liberated by the Yugoslav partisans after several days of heavy fightings. Nevertheless the city was seized with the decisive role of the Bulgarian troops.[7][8][9]

Per the British commissioner in the Allied Commission in Sofia — General Walter Oxley, Skopje was seized after weak German resistance with Bulgarian Army concentric attacks, while the partisans stood waiting on the surrounding hills. They went just in time to support the Bulgarian entry into the city. The Bulgarians retained the POW-s, but they submitted the abandoned from the Germans weapons to the Tito's partisans.[10] Bulgarian sources maintain that the first unit, which entered Skopje on November 13, was the intelligence platoon of the Second infantry division of the 4th Bulgarian army at 6.30pm. In fact the city was already left from the main German forces. Afterwards the Second infantry division of the First Bulgarian Army took its southern and the eastern areas at 11pm. At the midnight the Bulgarians seized its center.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ivaylo Znepolski et al., Bulgaria under Communism Routledge Histories of Central and Eastern Europe, Routledge, 2018, ISBN 1351244892, chapter: Bulgaria in the shadow of Stalin, see also: Timeline of the People's Republic of Bulgaria.
  2. ^ Crawford, Steve. The Eastern Front Day by Day, 1941-45: A Photographic Chronology, Potomac Books, 2006, ISBN 1597970107, p. 170: "November 13, 1944: Greece, land war. The Bulgarian First Army ejects Army Group E from Skopje although, as most Axis forces have left Greece, this does not trap the army group."
  3. ^ Stone & Ston; An online database of World War II, books and information on the Web since 1995: War Diary for Monday, 13 November 1944: German forces withdraw from Skopje as Bulgarian 1st Army advances. Bulgarian 1st Army captures Skopje. Southern flank of the Russian Front, 1944-1945; Balkan campaigns, the Aegean, and the Adriatic, 1942-1945.
  4. ^ Alexander Perry Biddiscombe, The SS Hunter Battalions: The Hidden History of the Nazi Resistance Movement 1944-45, History Press Series, Tempus, 2006, ISBN 0752439383, p. 155. ..."By the late autumn of 1944, however, the Germans could no longer hold their base in Macedonia and they had to evacuate Skopje on 13 November, bringing covert operations against "Old Bulgaria" to a momentary hold."...
  5. ^ Sfetas, Spyridon. “The Bulgarian-Yugoslav Dispute over the Macedonian Question as a Reflection of the Soviet-Yugoslav Controversy (1968-1980)". Balcanica. 2012. 241-271. 10.2298/BALC1243241S... "Indeed, the Soviets contributed heavily to Belgrade’s liberation in October 1944, and Bulgarians, though undesirable for the Yugoslav partisans, fought in the battles for the liberation Skopje in November 1944."...
  6. ^ Великите битки и борби на българите след освобождението, Световна библиотека, София, 2007, стр.73 – 74.
  7. ^ Livanios, Dimitris, The Macedonian Question: Britain and the Southern Balkans 1939-1949, Oxford University Publishing, 2008, ISBN 0191528722, pp. 118-141.
  8. ^ Michael Palairet, Macedonia: A Voyage through History (Vol. 2), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016, ISBN 1443888494, p. 212.
  9. ^ Karl Hnilicka: Das Ende auf dem Balkan 1944/45 – Die militärische Räumung Jugoslaviens durch die deutsche Wehrmacht, Musterschmidt, Göttingen 1970. (Studien und Dokumente zur Geschichte des Zweiten Weltkrieges, Band 13) ìn German; pp. 90-91; 95.
  10. ^ Georgi Daskalov, Bulgarian-Yugoslav political relations, 1944-1945, Kliment Ohridski University Press, 1989, p. 114; (in Bulgarian).
  11. ^ The first unit, which entered at 18.30 Skopje, already left from the Germans under the pressure of the Bulgarian army, was the intelligence platoon of the Second infantry division of the 4th Bulgarian army. For the liberation of Skopje contributed also detachments of the Second infantry division of the First Bulgarian Army. They forced the withdrawing Nazi detachments to retreat the city and on November 13th at 11pm took under their control the southern and the southeastern areas of the city. At the midnight they seized also its center. Georgi Daskalov, Bulgarian-Yugoslav political relations, 1944-1945, Kliment Ohridski University Press, 1989, p. 113; (in Bulgarian).

Gallery[edit]