Chewie, you’re not arguing with me on most of those! What I’m asking is a bit more practical:
For the Balkans question, assume it’s April 1941. Everything past then is in the past, there is only TODAY that can be changed. And Hitler more or less needs to invade Yugoslavia and Greece to secure his southern flank. Now we both know this is Adolf Hitler and he has no personality reason to do anything differently. THat’s the ideological component.
BUT, if we are to condemn the horror show of what happened in Yugoslavia and Greece in areas of German occupation, we need to know what he COULD have done, within the scope of his plans and needs. I would say that wiping out the Soviet Union was not simply an ideological obsession but a national security requirement given Bolshevism’s ideology, it’s lawlessness, it’s willingness to kill ANYONE to achieve it’s goals sane or not. Putting it off for a year to invade Turkey and the Middle East and secure a separate, secondary, and largely untouchable (by the Red Army) source of oil would have done a LOT to secure Germany’s long term position, and they’d have another year and a half of their oil supply to make do even if the British did the worst to the oil fields.
ANd free up the bulk of the Afrika Corps, which was a significant chunk of their motor pool capacity once they rolled up Egypt. Send in a bunch of Cavalry and armored cars and they could probably take the Sudan, get back into the horn and seal up the Red Sea with minimal forces IF they could get decent division numbers through Turkey which I have no doubts, cause they didn’t in Yugoslavia either.
Now all of this is about delaying Barbarossa, and your bits are about treating the people better, at least till you win then the jaws of the flytrap close if you wish. Or not. If nothing else similar policies of gentle pacification could have been pursued on grounds of not fighting enemies wherever you go, rather than “Nazi humanism.”
Even in that light, even with all the plenty o bad the Nazis had done at this point April 41, there had to have been a way to step back from the brink in this sector. The question is, how much could they step back? If Yugoslavia was a tinderbox of ethnic hatreds full of angry irrational people, then it sounds like the Germans could not avoid a brutal occupation no matter what they did.
I do think the Italians provide a model. They weren’t perfect, but given the limited resources of the regime (unlike the endless post-war supplies the American occupation could get) they acquitted themselves very well. But they also didn’t have to reign in the Utasha and they didn’t govern the most violent areas of Yugoslavia. But they did a lot to not inflame the problems and the locals generally decided to not fight back because they weren’t being robbed.