The Balkans are located between mainland Europe and the Near East. The Balkans’ mountainous geography very much lends itself to its identity and violent history. During World War II, the Balkans War began because of Italy’s attempts to create a larger Italian state. In 1939, Italy invaded Albania, and demanded for Greece to surrender in 1940. Much to the Italians’ dismay, the Greek Prime Minister, Ioannis Metaxas, defied their attempts to rule Greece in 1940. Metaxas started the Greco-Italian Balkans’ War which lasted for nine difficult months of fighting before Germany intervened to attain victory.
After the fall of Sarajevo, now the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to Nazi Germany on April 16, 1941, Yugoslavian provinces, too, became Nazi satellite states. The Nazis created the Handschar Division and worked alongside Ustase and Chetniks for the approaching battle against the Yugoslav Partisans.
The Yugoslav minorities and Hungary helped the Nazis to conquer Yugoslavia within a month before joining forces with Bulgaria to invade Greece. Though the Greek forces continued to resist, their split forces in Albania led to their downfall after a month, except for Crete. After 11 days of intense warfare, however, the Grecian island eventually collapsed under the Nazis’ paratrooper forces.
This resulted in the reshuffling of the Balkan frontiers, creating the states of Croatia and Montenegro, including the Albanian expansion within Yugoslavia and Greece, as well as the Bulgarian annexation of Northern Greek territories. Moreover, the Balkans War resulted in the creation of the Vlach state as well as the annexation of the Ionian Islands and a section of the Aegean Islands into the new Italy.