Western campaign - the invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France

Period: May 10, - June 22, 1940

Quote: "Adolf Hitler in a speech to his generals on June 9, 1940: Gentlemen, you are about to see the biggest victory of all time

The six-month Phoney War ended on the night of 8 and April 9, 1940 when the German army invaded Denmark and Norway(Operation Weserübung). From then on everyone realized that it was only a matter of time before France, Belgium and Netherlands would be attacked.

That attack came a month later,on May 10, 1940, when the German army invaded Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (Operation Fall Gelb). To do this the Germans used the revolutionary Blitzkrieg-tactic invented by them - a combined attack from advancing armored divisions (motorized army with heavy artillery) and precision bombing by the air force.

The BlitzkriegThe Blitzkrieg tactic worked. The Dutch government capitulated on May 15 and Belgium on May 28. In late May after the German army had reached the North Sea coast and northern France had been taken, the German army turned to the south with the aim of taking the rest of France (Operation Fall Rot).

Again the German troops advanced rapidly, partly because they bypassed the French Maginot Line which had been built to protect France against Germany. So France's main means of defense had become obsolete. On June 22 the German and French armies signed a truce, with France ceding 60% of its territory to Germany. The signing of the armistice symbolically took place in the same railway carriage in which Germany had signed her surrender to the Allies in 1918. But now the tables were turned. Thanks to the Blitzkrieg-tactic.

Hitler paraded through Paris on June 23, 1940, a day after the French and Germans signed an armistice
Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H28708 / CC-BY-SA

It Happened In Paris: WWII Nazi Occupation (1942 & 1944)
source: British Pathé

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