|Free State of Serbia (Government of National Salvation)
Cлободная државе Србије (Влада народног спаса)
|Anthem: Oh Serbia, Dear Mother
Serbian territory was often contested by Hungary, Romania, and Croatia, which occupied parts of it
|-||Prime Minister||Milan Nedic|
|-||Declaration||29 August 1941|
|-||Reformation||23 September 1944|
The Free State of Serbia, formerly the Government of National Salvation (Serbian: Слободная државе Србије, Влада народног спаса) was a puppet state established in Serbia by Nazi Germany after their invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941. The Prime Minister was a former Royal Yugoslav Army general named Milan Nedic. The government of the Free State had little power during World War II, though was given some more authority after the war ended in 1944 with an Axis victory and the peace negotiations in Berlin.
The little authority given to the Serbian government was largely due to Hitler's views of Slavic people. He considered the Serbs to be among the most "inferior" of them, due to the fact that the Serbians dominated the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (the preceding government). Prime Minister Nedic took up the job in an attempt to improve Serbia's placed in "Hitler's New Order", as he put it on Belgrade Radio.
After the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, several puppet governments were installed, to make Axis occupation seem more legitimate. Those included the Independent States of Croatia and Montenegro. However, the territory of Serbia remained under military administration of the Germans. The Wehrmacht commander entrusted a former Royal Yugoslav Army general named Milan Nedic with leading the new government, who was under house arrest. Nedic accepted the offer, as he wished to make Axis occupation as painless as possible for the Serbian people.
He announced on Radio Belgrade for the people to comply with the Nazi occupiers' orders, and that for every German soldier wounded, fifty Serbs would be killed, and for every German killed, one hundred Serbs would be executed. The people, originally, did not really support the new government, which Nedic named the Government of National Salvation. To fix the problem, Nedic argued with German commanders that his government needed more authority. It was the least powerful of the puppet governments set up in former Yugoslavia. His requests were initially denied, but as communist resistance grew, Nedic was allowed to set up his own, Serb-commanded State Guard. It saw action against the communist partisans, and after the defeat of the Soviet Union in 1943, the Serbian government was granted more power.
The Germans ordered the Serbian government to create new administrative divisions in late 1941 for easier organization and communication. The Serbian government did so, organizing the country into five banovinas, Serb subdivisions of territory.
The Free State of Serbia founded a military arm, the Serbian State Guard (Srpska državna straža or SDS, Српска државна стража). It was formed from two former Yugoslav gendarmerie regiments, was created with the approval of the German military authorities, and for a long period was controlled by the Higher SS and Police Leader of the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia. The SDS was also known as the Nedićevci after General Milan Nedić, the prime minister of the Free State's government, who eventually gained control of its operations. As part of its role, it assisted the Germans to impose one of the most brutal occupation regimes in occupied Europe and helped guard and execute prisoners at the Banjica concentration camp in Belgrade. The force was purged by the Germans on several occasions for that reason.
As the communist resistance of the Yugoslav partisans intensified, the State Guard kept exclusively Serbian officers. It's training and equipment were improved with German help, and it became one of the best military forces in occupied countries.
Genocide and massacres
After the country's Axis occupation, a massacre of Jews occurred. They continued up until the end of the war, when few were left. In an attempt to stop insurgent attacks on German troops in the area, they executed fifty Serbs for every wounded German soldier, and one hundred Serbs for every killed German. In total, some ten thousand Serbians were killed as a result of it. More camps were built after the war, but for other purposes. Those included prisoner of war camps for former Red Army troops. Many former Soviets ended up settling in Serbia as a result.