The Syrmian Front (Bosnian and Croatian: Srijemski front; Serbian: Сремски фронт, Sremski front) was an Axis line of defense during World War II. It was established in late October 1944 in Syrmia and east Slavonia, northwest of Belgrade.
After the Yugoslav Partisans and the Red Army expelled Germans from Belgrade, the retreating Wehrmacht and the Croatian Armed Forces used fortifications to protect the withdrawal of German troops from the Balkans. The Yugoslav Army, with some help from allied Soviet, Bulgarian and Italian forces fought a difficult winter campaign and finally broke through the front on April 12th 1945.
After the Syrmian front was broken, occupied Yugoslavia was liberated.
Operative background and significance 
After the September advance through Romania and Bulgaria in October 1944, The Red Army together with Yugoslav forces took Belgrade, central communication node of the Balkans. Due to the activity of Yugoslav partisans, and the combined Yugoslav-Allies operation Ratweek, and pressure of Bulgarian Army, Germans failed to prevent this with deployment of strong Army Group E troops from Greece. The Red Army decided to exploit this delay of Army Group E forces and to continue advancement with 3rd Ukrainian Front from Belgrade to south-west Hungary. The aim of the combined Soviet-Yugoslav forces advancement through Syrmia was to separate and protect this main attack in Hungary from the lateral pressure of the Army Group E from the south.
From September 1944 to January 1945, German Army Group E pushed its way through Macedonia, Kosovo, Sanjak and Bosnia, and at the time found itself vitally dependent of the sole available escape route communication Sarajevo - Slavonski Brod. For this reason, it was of vital significance for Germans to defend the zone of Slavonski Brod which was threatened by Soviet-Yugoslav advancement through Syrmia. To prevent cutting off of Army Group E forces, German South-East command prepared seven successive fortified defense lines between Danube and Sava river from Ruma to Vinkovci. The Syrmian Front campaign consisted of Yugoslavian attempts to break through and German struggle to defend these lines of defense.
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)
The Syrmian Front saw some of the most difficult fighting in Yugoslavia in World War II. It lasted for almost six months. As the bulk of the Red Army involved in the Belgrade operation continued their offensive in Hungary, the Yugoslavian Army, used to guerrilla warfare in the mountainous terrain of the Dinaric Alps, remained to fight the entrenched front line heavily contested by the Axis on the flat ground of the Pannonian plain. Young men from Vojvodina and Central Serbia, many from freshly liberated regions, were drafted en masse and sent to the front, and the amount of training they received and casualty levels remain in dispute.
Although mostly stationary, the front moved several times, generally westward as the Axis forces were pushed back. The fighting started east of Ruma and stabilized in January 1945 west of Šid, after the town changed hands due to Axis counterattacks. In late March and early April 1945, Yugoslav Army units mounted a general offensive on all fronts. The Yugoslav 1st Army, commanded by Peko Dapčević, broke through German XXXIV Corps defenses in Syrmia on 12 April, quickly capturing the cities of Vukovar, Vinkovci and Županja, and enabling further advance through Slavonia toward Slavonski Brod and Zagreb in the last month of the war.
The campaign can be in four distinctive phases:
- First phase lasted from October 24 to the end of December 1944, and is characterized by slow but steady advancement of Yugoslav and Soviet forces from the first to the last, seventh German fortified line of defense through fierce battles and heavy losses on both sides.
- In second phase, from January 3 to January 26, 1945, Germans with the finally arrived strong forces of XXXIV Army Corps of the Army Group E performed a successive counterattack (Operation Winter Storm), and succeeded in winning back the main line of defense in Syrmia ("Nibelung Line") by inflicting heavy losses to Yugoslav Army.
- The third phase was the stalemate period form January 26 to April 12, 1945. In this period both sides performed only limited reconnaissance activities.
- The last, fourth phase started with the break of the Yugoslav forces through German defense lines on April 12, with heavy German losses and fierce battles with retreating Army Group E.
Mobilization motives 
||This section relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (January 2013)
According to Serbian historian Srđan Cvetković, the Partisans used the front as an alternative to reprisals against individuals perceived to be collaborators or holding various values opposed to Communism (the "enemies of the people"), which resulted in the deaths of thousands of bourgeois young men from Belgrade and other recently captured Serbian cities and other people who were sent to the front rather than explicitly liquidated.
- ^ 62nd Anniversary announcement, B92, 2007.
- ^ a b Stratište srpske mladosti, Vlada Arsić, 2008. (Serbian)
- ^ »Sremski front 1944-1945«, n. f. str. 42, 166, 200 i 285.
- ^ Report of the Commander in Chief of the South-East to Army Headquarters, 20. September 1944, NAW T311, roll 191, frames 637-642
- ^ Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: SREMSKI FRONT 1944-1945, BIGZ, Belgrade 1979, chapter II - Uspostavljanje Sremskog fronta i borbe u Sremu do kraja 1944. (Serbian)
- ^ Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: SREMSKI FRONT 1944-1945, chapter V - Nemačke ofanzivne operacije na Sremskom frontu u januaru 1945. (Serbian)
- ^ Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: SREMSKI FRONT 1944-1945, chapter VII - Period zatišja i priprema za prolećne ofanzivne operacije (Serbian)
- ^ Ljubivoje Pajović, Dušan Uzelac, Milovan Dželebdžić: SREMSKI FRONT 1944-1945, chapter XI - Plan proboja Sremske utvrđene zone, chapter XII - Prva armija u proboju utvrđene zone and chapter XIV - Od Srema do Austrije (Serbian)
- Cvetković, Srđan (2005). Između srpa i čekića (in Serbian). Belgrade: Institut za savremenu istoriju. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
See also