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World War I and the birth of Yugoslavia
On 28 June 1914 the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Gavrilo Princip (a South Slav unionist, Austrian citizen and member of Young Bosnia) led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Kingdom of Serbia. In defense of its ally Serbia the Russian Empire started to mobilize its troops , which resulted in the German Empire declaring war on Russia (in support of Austria-Hungary). The retaliation by Austria-Hungary against Serbia activated a series of military alliances that set off a chain reaction of war declarations across the continent in what would become World War I within a month period.

The Serbian Army won several major victories against Austria-Hungary at the beginning of World War I, such as the Battle of Cer and Battle of Kolubara - marking the first Allied victories against the Central Powers in WWI.Despite initial success eventually it was overpowered by the joint forces of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria in 1915. Most of its army and some people went to exile to Greece and Corfu where it healed, regrouped and returned to Macedonian front (World War I) to lead a final breakthrough through enemy lines on 15 September 1918, freeing Serbia again and defeating Austro-Hungarian Empire and Bulgaria.Serbia (with its major campaign) was a member of the Entente which won World War I in November 1918. The country was militarilly classified as minor Entente power.

Prior to the war, the Kingdom of Serbia had 4.5 million inhabitants.According to the New York Times, in 1915 alone 150,000 people are estimated to have died during the worst typhus epidemics in world's history; aided by the American Red Cross and 44 foreign governments, the disease was supressed by the end of the year.According to, the number of civilian deaths is estimated at 650,000, primarily due to the typhus outbreak and famine, but also direct clashes with the occupiers.Kingdom of Serbia ranked first among the Entente powers by the percentage of military deaths; 8% of the total Entente military deaths or 58% of the Serbian Army (420,000 strong) has perished during the conflict.The total number of casualties ranges anywhere between 700,000 and 900,000- over 20% of Serbia's prewar size, and over ⅓ of its male population. L.A.Times and N.Y.Times placed the figure at over one million in their respective articles.

The extent of the Serbian demographic disaster can be illustrated by the statement of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Vasil Radoslavov: "Serbia ceased to exist" In July 1918 the US Secretary of State Robert Lansing urged the Americans of all religions to pray for Serbia in their respective churches.

World War II

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was in a precarious position in World War II. Fearing an invasion by Nazi Germany, Yugoslav Regent Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact with the Axis powers on 25 March 1941, triggering massive demonstrations in Belgrade. On March 27, Prince Paul was overthrown by a military coup d'état and replaced with the 17-year-old King Peter II. General Dušan Simović became Peter's Prime Minister and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia withdrew its support for the Axis.

In response to this Adolf Hitler launched an invasion of Yugoslavia on April 6. By 17 April, an unconditional surrender was signed in Belgrade. After the invasion, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was dissolved and Serbia was set up as a Nazi German-occupied puppet state. In 1941, Serbia included present-day Central Serbia and the Banat. This German client state was popularly known as "Nedić's Serbia" due to its head of state, Milan Nedić. While this state formally recognized King Peter II of Yugoslavia as its monarch, he instead headed the Yugoslav government in exile which was generally recognized by the Allies.

Not all of what is present-day Serbia was included as part of "Nedić's Serbia." Some of the contemporary Republic of Serbia was occupied by the Kingdom of Croatia, the Regency of Hungary, the Kingdom of Bulgaria, the Kingdom of Albania, and Fascist Italy. In addition to being occupied by the Wehrmacht, from 1941 to 1945, Serbia was the scene of a civil war between Royalist Chetniks commanded by Draža Mihailović and Communist Partisans commanded by Josip Broz Tito. Against these forces were arrayed Nedić's relatively weak units of the Serbian Volunteer Corps and Serbian State Guard.

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