Sometimes seen as single operation but it lacked unified Soviet-Yugoslav command which would coordinate both armies making it more two parallel operations which merged during final phase. While goal, liberation of Belgrade, was agreed by highest authorities, Tito and Stalin, on the ground both armies maintained their own separate command structure and plans were made with little coordination especially during early phase of Soviet advance. Luckily for Red Army, Yugoslav Partisans command system at that time still wasn't as rigid as theirs allowing individual Partisan commanders to coordinate their actions with Red Army units without continually waiting for permissions (the fact that they were fighting together with fellow communists also helped).
Scope of operation is also another issues which is often debated, Yugoslav historiography limits operation to liberation of Belgrade while Soviet covers all operations of Red Army in Serbia. Another problem encountered by Yugoslav Partisans when first meeting with Red Army officers was that most of them had little knowledge on situation in Yugoslavia or even existence of the Yugoslav Partisans. While this problem would be corrected by instructions from Political Office of 3rd Ukrainian Front it showed paradox in which Yugoslav Partisans greeted their communist allies with open arms but got initially cold reception while at the same time Western Allies admired Partisans thanks to constant news report about their struggle but as Tito and Communist Party began to enforce communist rule in liberated area Partisans units were instructed to limit their cooperation with Western Allies.
Securing Belgrade and Serbia was goal for Partisans set by Tito already in late 1943 but Germans successfully blocked their attempts thanks to poor security of Partisans radio communications. Finally in August and September 1944, Partisans aided by Allied air supply managed to advance into Serbia.German plans
With Army Group E still dispersed over Greek islands and barely began to withdraw in September it was of vital importance for Army Group F to hold eastern Serbia in order to keep open railroad going from Belgrade through Great Morava river valley to Niš, Skopje, Salonica and finally Athens. With no reinforcements available from other theaters and virtually all Army Group F units spread piecemeal over a wide area to keep Partisan threat under control this become impossible task. To further complicate German defenses forces in Hungary were under command of HQ of Land Army (Heer - OKH), while Yugoslavia and Greece was under HQ of Armed Forces (OKW), this would prove fatal during Batina operation.
First weak link in German defense was Banat region northeast of Belgrade across Danube river. This flat agricultural area had large German minority but there were barley any units available to defend it forcing a quick retreat leaving Danube river open to Soviet Danube flotilla which could then land troops on opposite side at will.Soviet plans
In hopes of exploiting poor state of German defenses attack on Hungary and Serbia was planned.
Bulgarian army although still in disarray after change of government was given task of advancing into area which just weeks ago abandoned as Axis occupation power in order to guard Red Army advance into Hungary and Belgrade. Bulgarian slow advance made little problems for German rearguards and allowed Army Group E to escape destruction.
Orders of Battle
- Beogradska operacija
- Beogradska operacija, učesnici govore
- Earl F. Ziemke: Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East
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