Western campaign

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Western campaign
Battle of France collage.jpg
date May 10 to June 25, 1940
place France, Benelux
output German victory
Parties to the conflict

FranceFrance France Belgium United Kingdom Canada Netherlands Exile Poland Luxembourg Exile Czechoslovaks
United KingdomUnited Kingdom 
Canada 1921Canada 
Czech RepublicCzech Republic 

German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) German Empire Italy (from June 10th)
Italy 1861Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) 


FranceFrance Maurice Gamelin Maxime Weygand Lord Gort Leopold III. Henri Winkelman Władysław Sikorski
United KingdomUnited Kingdom

German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era) Gerd von Rundstedt Fedor von Bock Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb Umberto of Savoy
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)
Italy 1861Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946)

Troop strength
144 divisions,
2,862,000 soldiers,
13,974 guns,
3,384 tanks,
4,469 aircraft,
300,000 trucks (French only)
141 divisions,
3,350,000 soldiers,
7,378 guns,
2,445 tanks,
3,578 aircraft,
120,000 trucks

360,000 dead or wounded,
1,900,000 prisoners
,? Tanks,
1,921 aircraft

27,074–49,000 dead,
110,034 wounded,
18,384 missing;
714 tanks,
1,559 aircraft

Found in 1944 :

  • 46,059 dead ( army )
  • approx. 3,200 dead and missing ( air force )
  • 600–700 dead and missing ( Kriegsmarine )
  • a total of around 49,000 dead
The initial situation at the end of 1939
Course and result of the fighting in the spring and summer of 1940
Adolf Hitler at the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Field Marshal von Brauchitsch (1940). V. l. No. at the card table: Wilhelm Keitel , Walther von Brauchitsch , Hitler, Franz Halder

The western campaign of the German Wehrmacht in World War II , also known as the French campaign with reference to the main objective, is the successful offensive from May 10 to June 25, 1940 against the four western neighboring states. Part of the offensive is known as the raid on the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg .

The campaign, often referred to as " Blitzkrieg ", led to the defeat and occupation of the previously neutral states of the Netherlands , Belgium and Luxembourg (yellow case) as well as France (red case) within a few weeks. The final point was the Compiègne armistice with France on June 22, which came into force three days later. Unexpectedly, the operational success of the tanks and the air force led to a war of movement , which marked a turning point in the history of war with its rapid progress. The war against Great Britain could now be continued directly from the coast of the English Channel with the Battle of Britain and the Sea War ( Atlantic Battle ).


Course of the Maginot Line
British troops passing a drawbridge on the Maginot Line at Fort de Sainghain near the Belgian border

France in Hitler's strategic calculation

Adolf Hitler's long-term war goal since the 1920s was the conquest of " Lebensraum in the east ". In his programmatic writing Mein Kampf , he had called for the elimination of France as a condition for this to protect the campaign against the Soviet Union . He also announced this objective on February 28, 1934 in a speech in the Reich Chancellery to Reichswehr officers, declaring that "short decisive blows first to the west, then to the east" would be used to gain new living space . But Hitler remained flexible as to where he wanted to start the war; In a speech to the Commander-in-Chief on November 23, 1939, he confessed : "For a long time I doubted whether I should strike first in the East and then in the West." Finally he decided to attack Poland .

Despite the targeted rearmament of the Wehrmacht by Hitler from 1935 onwards, the principles of appeasement initially prevailed in the politics of France and the United Kingdom . Their representatives were ready to tolerate revisions of the Treaty of Versailles for a tension-free coexistence of the large Central European states . Under this aspect, u. a. the German-British fleet agreement , the tolerance of the occupation of the Rhineland and the "Anschluss" of Austria as well as the Munich Agreement . The “ smashing of the rest of the Czech Republic ”, contrary to the contract, ended the appeasement policy. France and Great Britain tried to build an alliance system to prevent further expansion of the German Reich: On March 31, 1939, the Anglo-French guarantee for Poland was issued, a similar declaration for Romania and Greece followed on April 13, 1939 Turkey and the Soviet Union negotiated assistance agreements. The British government was the driving force. With the conclusion of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in August 1939, it became clear that these attempts at containment were unsuccessful.

Hitler had accepted the concessions of the Western powers as a weakness of states which - if not attacked themselves - would avoid a military confrontation with Germany in the future. This assessment, ultimately shared only with Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop , led Hitler to be convinced until the British ultimatum of September 3, 1939 that there would be no military confrontation with the Western powers because of Poland. After Poland was defeated, Hitler could turn to the elimination of France.

Tactical basics

The operational post-war thinking in France was shaped by Marshal Philippe Pétain , the inspector general of the French army. In view of the horrific losses France suffered in its offensive operations in World War I and based on personal defensive successes (“Hero of Verdun ”), he gave defense priority and pushed for the construction of a strong defensive wall, the Maginot Line . On the role of Panzerwaffe its policy directives contained in 1921 only the sentence: "Tank support the actions of the infantry by low struggles of field fortifications and stubborn resistance of the infantry." The young tank officer Charles de Gaulle , however, suggested in his book Vers l'Armée de métier ago to recruit highly mobile, armored groups of professional soldiers as the core of the land forces, who are looking for the decision in the attack. With these ideas, however, he was only able to assert himself after Hitler's victory in Poland; Until the beginning of the Western campaign, there was no significant implementation of the new strategy .

Under the impression of Hitler's occupation of the Rhineland and the inactivity of France, Belgium declared its neutrality on October 14, 1936 . The mutual assistance pact with the Western powers was replaced by a rough secret agreement to jointly offer resistance in the event of a German invasion in the "Dyle Breda position". This line ran along the Belgian Maas to Namur , then over the so-called "Gap from Gembloux" to Wavre and from there along the Dyle via Antwerp and Breda to Moerdijk with a connection to the so-called Fortress Holland .

In the German Reich, the tactics were determined by Colonel General Hans von Seeckt , who led the Reichswehr from 1920 . He was convinced that the wars of the future would be won by well-trained, highly mobile armies supported by airmen . Since Germany had been denied such an army in Versailles (ban on armored vehicles and aircraft, restriction to 100,000 professional soldiers), he wanted at least to create the conditions for this. To ensure rapid expansion by increasing the number of troops after the restrictions were abolished, the bulk of the Reichswehr soldiers received training as managers or specialists that went far beyond their current function. With regard to the development of modern weapon systems, cooperation with foreign countries was sought. The German-Soviet cooperation that ran from 1922 to 1933 (tanks, fighter planes , poison gas) was particularly important . The restrictions fell on March 17, 1935; the formation of German offensive forces began. Their tactics: Armored forces force the breakthrough together with the infantry and with air force support and then quickly advance into the depths of the battlefield . The (motorized) infantry followed, switched off pockets of resistance and secured the flanks of the advance with the help of anti-tank guns.

Starting position

"Seat war"

November 1939: Members of the British Expeditionary Force and the French Air Force in front of a shed called “No. 10 Downing Street "(the address of the British Prime Minister)

Two days after the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, France and the United Kingdom declared war on the German Reich; however, no serious offensive to relieve the Poles, who were under heavy pressure, took place either on the ground or in the air. France limited itself to advancing up to a few kilometers from the Siegfried Line (" Saar Offensive ") and troops of the British Expeditionary Corps (BEF) began to be transferred to northern France. Attacks on targets in Germany planned by the Royal Air Force (RAF) were banned by the French with reference to possible counter-attacks. After Poland's military defeat, the French Commander-in-Chief Maurice Gamelin took his troops back to the Maginot Line by mid-October 1939.

The following months were referred to as the time of the seated war ( French la drôle de guerre ; English Phoney War ), as the activities on both sides were limited to the reconnaissance. In France, which was deeply divided politically, the opposition to war continued to grow. The political about-face of the Soviet Union played a major role in this. Josef Stalin on September 8, 1939 in front of Vyacheslav Molotov , Andrei Schdanow and Georgi Dimitrov :

“The war is waged between two groups of capitalist states - (poor and rich in terms of colonies, raw materials, etc.) for the redivision of the world, for world domination! We don't mind that they hit each other hard and weaken each other. Not bad if Germany were to shake the situation of the richest capitalist countries (especially England). Hitler himself disrupts and undermines the capitalist system without understanding or wanting it. [...] The communists of the capitalist countries must take a resolute stand against their governments, against the war. "

The Communist Party of France (PCF) then received instructions from the Comintern to dissolve the Popular Front alliance with the Socialists and to sabotage the country's war efforts . Alleged acts of sabotage in the French arms industry served as an excuse to ban the PCF in all of France by September 26, 1939. The actual extent of the sabotage of the French defense efforts is estimated to be extremely small. There was no communist organization within the army, nor was there any organized acts of sabotage. In fact, only one case is known at the aircraft manufacturer Farman , in which communists committed sabotage on their own in early 1940. The government blamed communist propaganda for the deterioration in morale and the lack of enthusiasm for war, although it neither spread defeatism nor encouraged its members to desert or fraternize with the enemy.



The Allied strategy was determined by the French. They planned not to carry out any cross-border operations before the early summer of 1941. German attacks were to be repulsed on the Maginot Line stretching from the border with Switzerland to Sedan , in which Army Groups 2 ( Prételat ) and 3 ( Besson ) were deployed. The aim was to stop an attack over Belgium in the Dyle Breda position . Army Group 1 ( Billotte ) was to be deployed in it together with the British Expeditionary Corps (9 divisions) and parts of the Belgian and Dutch armies.

Command structure: On January 6, 1940, Commander-in-Chief Gamelin handed over responsibility for the northeast front (Army Groups 1–3) to his deputy, General Alphonse Georges ; the coordination of the operation of the French Army Group 1, the British Expeditionary Corps and the Belgian and Dutch armed forces was transferred to General Billotte after the invasion of Belgium.

Belgium and the Netherlands

The Belgians had three fortified places with Liège , Antwerp and Namur ; the bulk of the army (20 divisions ) was to be deployed in the border positions with Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands as well as in the depths of the Albert Canal . The expansion of a third line of defense, the K.W.-position (Koningshooikt-Wavre position), designated by the Allies as the Dyle-Breda position, did not begin until August 1939.

In the Netherlands, they hoped to maintain their neutrality status , as in World War I , and were therefore unwilling to enter into defense arrangements. Their own defense was planned along the Maas and IJssel ; the Peel-Raam and Grebbe positions were planned as the second line . The " Fortress Holland " (area Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague) was to be defended on the " New Waterline " at the level of Utrecht . The development of these lines was poor compared to that of the Belgians; The level of training of the Dutch troops was also worse than that of the Belgians.


Neutral and unarmed Luxembourg only had a small volunteer corps of 461 men, so that armed resistance was unthinkable. The cobbler line was built along the border with Germany . It was named after the construction manager Schuster and was intended to hinder the advance of German troops with steel gates and concrete blocks.


Various designs for the western campaign

When Hitler announced his decision on September 27, 1939 to attack the Western powers immediately after the end of the Polish campaign , this triggered “great horror” among the general staff due to the strength ratio. After Hitler had rejected all counter arguments, planning began. In the first three draft operations, the focus was on the north ( Army Group B ). As a counter-proposal, the then Chief of Staff of Army Group A , Lieutenant General Erich von Manstein , presented the sickle-cut plan he had developed together with General of the Panzer Troop Heinz Guderian , the core of which was a surprise attack by Army Group A through the Ardennes. This plan was not well received by the Chief of Staff, Franz Halder, because of the key area in the Ardennes, which was poor in armor. He put the uncomfortable Manstein in a rather insignificant position as commanding general of a newly formed corps in Schwerin .

Hitler's decision to attack in the West became definitive when there was no positive response to his “ peace speech ” on October 6th. As early as October 9, when the effect of his speech could not yet be seen, Hitler had completed a memorandum on the subject of the necessity of an immediate attack and issued Directive No. 6 for the conduct of the war (Geheime Kommandosache, OKW No. 172/39). Shortly afterwards, he named the time between November 15 and 20 as the date of the attack. In a speech on November 23, 1939, he informed the generals of his "irreversible decision" to attack England and France "at the most favorable and quickest time".

Old and new plans

However, on January 10, 1940, the entire previous plan became obsolete due to a bizarre incident when the Air Force officer Major Helmut Reinberger was stopped in Münster with explosive files on the trip to a staff meeting scheduled in Cologne . He decided to accept the offer to fly with them in a courier plane the Air Force to save the long drive to the night express, though he so against a unique command Hermann Goering violated, classified not to deliver by air. His briefcase contained the top secret plan for an important part of the German invasion of France and the Netherlands.

Messerschmitt Bf 108

Soon after the Messerschmitt Bf 108 took off from Münster- Loddenheide airfield , thin veils of fog condensed to form a closed cloud cover, and a strong easterly wind caused a wind displacement of around 30 degrees. The Rhine , an important orientation line, was overflown unnoticed when visibility was poor. The pilot, Major Erich Hönmanns, finally sighted a river and realized that it couldn't be the Rhine. In the damp, ice-cold air, the wings and the carburetor of her engine froze; then the engine stopped. Hönmanns found a small field just in time to make an emergency landing. Unharmed, the two Wehrmacht officers had to recognize that they had flown over the Maas and crash landed 80 kilometers west of Cologne near Vucht in Belgium (today: Maasmechelen ).

Reinberger wanted to burn the papers immediately. But since neither of the two matches had with them, they borrowed a lighter from a farmer who had rushed over. Just when Reinberger had managed to set the papers on fire despite the strong wind, Belgian gendarmes arrived and put out the flames.

The same evening the legible documents were presented to the Belgian General Staff, which immediately ordered the mobilization of the Belgian armed forces. The Belgians also sent the French and British armies in northern France a summary of the contents of the documents found at Reinberger. From this operational plan it emerged that the German army should advance through Belgium into France in an encircling movement - similar to the Schlieffen Plan .

Hitler heavily reproached Göring and ordered the courier to be shot on his return, which never happened because the Reinberger and Hönmanns spent the entire war in a Canadian prisoner-of-war camp. The circumstances, however, led to the very important decision to work out a completely new German plan of attack.

Erich von Manstein did this; he rejected the old plan of a major thrust leading through Belgium, which the Allies could now predict at the latest, and worked out a plan later known as the sickle-cut plan. As he explained to Hitler on February 17, 1940, the German focus of attack should instead be in the Ardennes , an impenetrable, wooded mountainous area in the border area between Belgium, France and Luxembourg: the unexpected direction of attack not only gave the Germans the advantage of surprise on their side, they also faced the most defensive section of the French border. The German tanks were supposed to penetrate the French positions at Sedan (which they later succeeded in doing surprisingly quickly), drive a wedge to the English Channel and split up the Anglo-French armies. The superior air force of the German Air Force was supposed to protect the columns of tanks and vehicles as they marched through the narrow Ardennes roads and then lay a carpet of bombs in front of the tanks when they advanced into France. The project was very risky, as the flanks of the German troops would initially be largely unprotected, so that they themselves ran the risk of being surrounded .

Occupation of Denmark and Norway

Denmark and Norway remained neutral in World War I. Following the proposals of the German High Command of the Navy (OKM) regarding the occupation of these two countries, Hitler gave the "green light" for the planning on December 14th. The main objective was to secure the war-important Swedish iron ore supplies . After the invasion of Finland by Soviet troops (November 30, 1939), the British and French also developed plans to become involved in this area. In addition to opening an overland route to support the Finns, they also wanted to stop Swedish ore deliveries to Germany via Narvik . After the Finnish capitulation and the Finnish-Soviet peace treaty of March 12, 1940 , it was decided to send troops to Norway at the beginning of April, even for the ore. Almost at the same time, the Wehrmacht started the Weser Exercise company on April 9, 1940 . The Royal Navy inflicted considerable losses on invading forces advancing in bulk by sea. However, they could not prevent any of the landings and had to withdraw from the coastal area after air attacks. The British ground troops landing in Narvik and central Norway on April 15 remained isolated and had to be evacuated after a few weeks.

In France as in Great Britain, the invasion of Norway sparked government crises. In France, Paul Reynaud became Prime Minister, Édouard Daladier took over the army department. British Prime Minister Arthur Neville Chamberlain also had to accept serious allegations because of the implementation of the Norway company. Although he won the vote of confidence - albeit narrowly - he resigned. He was succeeded on May 10, 1940 by Winston Churchill , who formed an all-party government .

Comparison of the armed forces

British artillery piece during the inspection by the French general Alphonse Georges in the market square of the northern French city of Béthune on April 23, 1940

Land Forces

Total strength (northeast front)

three armored divisions (a fourth division in formation), three light mechanized divisions (a fourth division in formation NAf.), five light cavalry divisions, one cavalry brigade , three recreational brigades , infantry: seven motorized -, one mountain -, one light - 64 Field (including 14 colonial divisions) and twelve fortress divisions with fortress troops.
United Kingdom
eleven fully motorized infantry divisions, including one division in the area of ​​the Maginot Line. A tank brigade, Maginot Line (later also a tank division and another infantry division, with a Canadian regiment).
18 infantry divisions, two fighter divisions, two cavalry divisions and one mechanized cavalry brigade.
eight infantry divisions, a light division, a border division and several independent brigades and regiments. Low mobility. Armored forces minimal.
an infantry division (three more in formation) and a mechanized cavalry brigade integrated into the French army.
German Empire
117 infantry divisions (including 41 army reserves), including a mountain troop, a hunter, an airborne and a paratrooper division, six motorized divisions (including two Waffen SS ), a motorized rifle brigade, a motorized rifle Regiment (“ Greater Germany ”), two motorized Waffen SS regiments, ten tank divisions and one cavalry division. For the organization of the forces, see the schematic structure of the armed forces on May 10, 1940 .

Armored troops

Allied tanks
Disabled British cruiser tank, May 30, 1940
Allied tanks
Type Main armament Armor (max.) number
United Kingdom
Mark II Matilda 40 mm 80 mm about 160
Cruiser Mark IIA 40 mm 30 mm approx. 240
Cruiser Mark IIIA 40 mm 14 mm approx. 240
Renault FT 37 mm 30 mm 278
AMR 35
AMC 35
25/47 mm 40 mm 450
FCM 36 37 mm 40 mm 100
Renault R-35 37 mm 45 mm 900
Hotchkiss H-39 37 mm 45 mm 770
Char D1 / D2 47 mm 40 mm 145
Somua S-35 47 mm 55 mm 300
Char B1 to 47 mm + 75 mm 60 mm 274
T13 / T15 47 mm 60 mm 270
Landverk 40
total approx. 4200

With the strong Renault Char B1 (1935) and the fast Somua S-35 (1936), the French had tanks that were convincing in terms of armament and tank strength. Due to their basic concept (the Char B1 as an infantry companion), however, they were only of limited suitability for war on the move . Disadvantage:

  • The Char B1 had too small fuel tanks: frequent refueling breaks.
  • One-man turrets: The tank commander also had to act as a loader and gunner, which meant that the overview was lost.
  • Shortage of radio equipment on the S 35: Only the vehicles from the company commander upwards were equipped with radio equipment. Conclusion: communication within the units and with support weapons remained severely restricted.

With a view to the type of rearmament in the German Reich , a mechanization program was decided in September 1936. One goal: to set up three light mechanized divisions (DLM) and two armored divisions (DCR). The program was expanded at the beginning of the war. The mobile forces, increased to twenty mechanized divisions, were to form the core of a new offensive war doctrine, on the basis of which the Allies wanted to take the offensive against the German Reich in the summer of 1941. In May 1940, however, the majority of armored vehicles were still in service with the infantry and the slow, systematic approach without a clear focus was still a characteristic of French tank attacks.

Support weapons: The artillery was very strong, but like the weak anti-aircraft defense, neither tactics nor traction means were prepared for war on the move. With the anti-tank gun Canon antichar de 47 mm modèle 1937 , the French anti-tank defense had a modern weapon, which, however, was too immobile due to the horse covering. There were enough anti-tank mines ; the relocation was delayed again and again due to the endangerment of own troops and the civilian population and finally did not take place for reasons of time.

German tanks

The superiority of the German tank weapon in the western campaign in 1940 was based on the fact that the commanders had already received intensive training in the Reichswehr in the management and execution of rapid, well-coordinated movements on the battlefield and some had combat experience from the Polish campaign . The commanders up to the division carried out their formations from advanced, mobile command posts and were therefore able to react quickly to changes in the situation. Among other things, 14 units of the Panzerbefehlfahrzeug 35 (t) and 64 unarmed Panzerbefehlfahrzeug III were available at the beginning of the offensive .

German tanks (as of June 10, 1940)
Type Main armament Armor (max.) number
Tank I. 7.92 mm MG 13 mm 523
Panzer II 20 mm 14.5 mm 955
Panzer III 37 mm 30 mm 398
Panzer IV 75 mm short 30 mm 280
Panzer 35 (t) 37 mm 25 mm 118
Panzer 38 (t) 37 mm 25 mm 228
Total: 2502

The cooperation with the motorized infantry , the anti-aircraft defense, the artillery and the air force (see also Combat of Combined Arms ) was significantly better than with the Allies . In addition, you could rely on well-rehearsed repair and supply troops . These advantages offset the sometimes blatant inferiority in the areas of armor and firepower , which attempts were made to compensate - mostly successfully - by using support weapons , bypassing resistance cores and using the surprise effect.

Air Force

RAF Fairey Battles and French Armée de l'air Curtiss P-36 flying in formation, February 1940

Armée de l'air

The Armée de l'air possessed at the beginning of the campaign in the west more than 2,400 fighters, 1,160 bombers and reconnaissance aircraft in 1464, thus more than 5,000 aircraft. Among them were about 1,000 single-seat fighter of modern design ( Dewoitine D.520 351 to the surrender produced Curtiss P-36 produced in the US: about 290, Bloch MB.152 : about 500). There were also around 1000 Morane-Saulnier MS.406s . This fighter was freshly developed, but underpowered (860 hp). Nevertheless, the MS.406 won a large number of French aerial victories. Your opponent, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 E , had a Daimler-Benz engine (DB 601 A-1) with a starting power of around 990 hp (15% more).

In the field of bombers, they were equipped with modern combat aircraft of the types LeO 451 , Amiot 351/354 , Douglas DB-7 (later referred to as "Boston" by the British), Glenn-Martin 167 , Bloch MB.174 and Breguet 691/693 started recently. Nevertheless, by the surrender on June 22, 1940 , the French bomber squadrons received a total of almost 800 modern bombers (around 370 LeO 451, around 200 Breguet 691/693 , around 80 Glenn-Martin 167 , around 70 Amiot 351/354, around 70 Douglas DB- 7 , 25 Bloch MB.174).

Only the French Navy had dive bombers : two squadrons Loire-Nieuport LN.40 1/402 and two squadrons Vought V-156 , a total of about 50 units.

At the beginning of the Western campaign on May 10, 1940, only about 25% of the Armée de l'air's available resources were in use on the Western Front. The proportion of British fighters stationed in northern France, at 30% (of the total number of fighters in France), was greater than the proportion of French (25%).

When a Franco-German control commission found 4,268 operational aircraft in unoccupied France alone after the armistice , including 1,800 aircraft in North Africa , the question arose as to why so few aircraft had been deployed at the front. This was attributed to the partial mobilization of the Armée de l'air, which had prepared itself for a longer war. The coordination of combat between the traditionally independent air force and the combat troops also proved to be completely inadequate.

The telecommunications of the French army in general and the Armée de l'Air in particular were inadequate.

The French air defense was essentially still based on the same means and the same early warning systems as in the First World War. The reporting system based on the inadequate French telephone network was ineffective and slow. The British radar chain established in northern France proved to be immature and of little use over land.

Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force (RAF) was divided into Jagdwaffe ( Fighter Command ) , Bomber ( Bomber Command ) and Naval Aviation ( Coastal Command ) . In early 1940, the command of the British Air Forces in France was formed under Air Marshal Arthur Barratt. At the beginning of the western campaign, 456 machines (262 fighters, 135 bombers, and 60 reconnaissance planes) were deployed on the continent. Some of the hunting associations were still equipped with the Gloster Gladiator biplane and the majority with the modern Hawker Hurricane . The British refused to send any additional fighters from May 15, so as not to further weaken the island's air defenses, which were already below the 52 squadrons required by Hugh Dowding . In the final phase, units stationed in southern England intervened, some of which were equipped with the Spitfire , whose fighting power was at least as good as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 .

As attack aircraft , the RAF continued as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force the outdated single-engine Fairey Battle one; it had to be withdrawn after heavy losses. With the Vickers Wellington and the Handley Page Hampden , the Bomber Command had modern bombers for tactical air support .

Air Force of the Benelux countries

A Dutch Fokker GI in flight

In May 1940, the Dutch Koninklijke Luchtmacht had around 140 aircraft in the Netherlands , around 90 of which could be regarded as reasonably modern. The hunting associations consisted of 36 single-engine Fokker D.XXI (low- wing aircraft with still rigid landing gear) and 27 twin-engine Fokker GI . The bomber force was essentially represented by 16 medium-sized Fokker TV bombers , of which only nine were airworthy. In addition, 18 Douglas DB-8A light bombers were delivered from the United States of America , but they were not used. The rest of the Air Force was composed of older observation aircraft of various types.

The air forces in Belgium could muster little more . The bulk of their equipment consisted of 154 obsolete light reconnaissance bombers of the Fairey Fox type . They also had 20 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I fighters, 22 Gloster Gladiator fighters and 27 Italian Fiat CR.42 fighters . The only reasonably modern bombers were 16 single-engine Fairey Battle bombers. There were also around 100 observation and training aircraft of various types. The Brewster B-339 fighters (40 pieces) and Douglas DB-7 bombers (16 pieces) ordered in the USA could not be delivered on time before May 1940.

Luxembourg had no air force whatsoever .

In total, the Netherlands and Belgium had about 130 fighters and 40 bombers, which in terms of their modernity were comparable to British, French and German designs, but overall relatively outdated.

air force

Junkers Ju 88 shot down in France between May 12 and 14, 1940, is dismantled by the salvage team

At the beginning of the war, the focus of German air armaments was on aircraft to achieve air superiority and to support highly mobile troops on the battlefield. When it came to fighter aircraft, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 , which was tried and tested in the Spanish Civil War as part of the Condor Legion , was delivered in the Bf 109-E version from 1939. The battle destroyer Messerschmitt Bf 110 was supposed to pave a way for the bombers through enemy fighter protection and shoot down bombers. The Henschel Hs 123 biplane , which was also tested in Spain and was used both as an attack aircraft and as a dive bomber, was used for direct battlefield support . Even before the Western campaign, the Hs 123 was replaced as a dive bomber by the more powerful Junkers Ju 87 . The combat squadrons were equipped with twin-engine bombers of the types Heinkel He 111 , Dornier Do 17 and Junkers Ju 88 . In the area of ​​troop transport and supply, the Air Force relied on the tried and tested Junkers Ju 52 .

In the area of ​​Army Group B, Luftflotte 2 under General Albert Kesselring was responsible for air support . The Airborne Corps under General Student , which consisted of the 7th Airborne Division ( paratroopers ) and the 22nd (Airborne) Infantry Division, as well as the II. Flak Corps under General Deßloch , should also be deployed here. The Luftflotte 3 under General Hugo Sperrle was the army group A assigned and possessed the Fliegerkorps I (Grauert), V (Greim), II (Loerzer), the associations of the fighter guide 3 as well as an anti-aircraft forces.

Around 900 Bf 109 fighters, around 220 Bf 110 destroyer aircraft, around 1100 twin-engined combat aircraft and around 320 Ju 87 attack aircraft and 45 Hs 123 attack aircraft were available for the western campaign.

Air forces in comparison

In the late 1930s, almost all industrialized nations had excessive expectations of the decisive impact of an air war . This also applied to the German Reich; but one could not afford to develop a strategic air fleet for economic reasons. The focus was therefore on optimizing the tactical air force, which was also expected to have operational effects. In addition to the standard fighter Messerschmitt Bf 109 and new dive fighter aircraft , the construction of comparatively light, fast twin-engine horizontal bombers was promoted, which could be produced in relatively high numbers in a relatively short time. In Nazi propaganda , these aircraft were praised as "lightning bombers" because they supposedly exceeded the speed of the Allied interceptors. This applied to individual types, but not to fully loaded formations flying in formation at attack height. Sufficient defensive armament also had to be dispensed with for weight reasons.

The lack of strategic bombers made it impossible to conduct a strategic air war, but at short notice enabled the formation of large tactical units. Many crews had already gained operational experience in the Spanish Civil War and the attack on Poland, which led, among other things, to the conversion of the narrow formation flight from the time of the First World War to a wide swarm, similar to the outstretched fingers of a hand, which from 1941 was also used by the Allies as a " Finger four " was adopted. This made it possible to lead fast fighters in large groups of up to 40 machines without the risk of collision.

On the other hand, the modernization of the air force in France was slowed down by the priority of expanding the Maginot Line and by political and social tensions within the country. Allegedly the production of the Hunter Bloch MB.152 was delayed by sabotage by communist workers. On a trench warfare concentrated defense doctrine was after winning the First World War created a realistic threat image; Only the clearly visible German air armament from 1935 onwards led to attempts at modernization in order not to fall behind the underestimated Germans. The measures, which included ordering up to 3000 Dewoitine D.520 , did not start until 1940; At the time of the surrender, with 351 units, only a fraction of them were technically operational, and the broad base of fighter pilots practically lacked experience.

The Royal Air Force also ran a modernization program since 1935, mainly aimed at defending the British Isles. The use of radar with the then new methods of operational research was made possible in 1940 (see Chain Home ). The operations of the land forces on the continent were to be carried out using visual positioning methods as they were at the time of the First World War. The use of light bombers for tactical support of the ground troops was practiced, but failed due to modern anti-aircraft guns and German air superiority, and the Fairey Battle, which was not capable of combat, was only an inadequate aircraft for this purpose. It was only in the course of the African campaign up to 1943 that powerful tactical units were created, which made a decisive contribution to the success of the Allies during the landing in Normandy .

Although the allied air forces had a total of around 1,300 fighters in France and the Benelux countries, these forces could never be used in a coordinated manner against the German air force. Even if an attack group could be localized, a maximum of 20 to 24 Allied fighters met around 40 German Messerschmitt Bf 109s , which corresponded to a typical fighter group. Due to the close formation of the Allies, they often hindered themselves in combat, plus the Allied language problems. Nevertheless, the Allied fighters of the German Air Force won over 500 aerial victories in the course of the western campaign , which, if the campaign had lasted for a longer period, would have led to wear and tear to the detriment of the Luftwaffe. Due to the rapid ground offensive, this did not have an open effect. The euphoria for victory and the Nazi propaganda distracted from the fact that the recovery phase of the air force up to the "Battle of Britain" was too short.

Fall yellow

Notes of the German government

The German Foreign Ministry had drawn up a diplomatic note on May 9, 1940 , which was given to the Belgian and Dutch ambassadors at 5:45 a.m. the following day. It alleged that Belgium and the Netherlands "completely unilaterally favored Germany's opponents of the war and encouraged their intentions". It was therefore "given the order to ensure the neutrality of these countries with all military means of power of the empire." It was further asserted, "that Germany does not intend, by this measure, the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, nor the European nor to encroach on the non-European acquis of these countries now or in the future. ”The Luxembourg government was informed in a note that the imperial government was forced to extend the operations it had initiated“ also to Luxembourg territory ”.

Invasion of the Netherlands and the Dyle Breda Plan

German measures

German and allied plans
May 10, 1940: German paratroopers land near The Hague

In the morning hours of May 10, 1940, Hitler moved into the previously expanded Fuehrer's headquarters Felsennest in Bad Münstereifel- Rodert in the northern Eifel . From there he led the first phase of the western campaign, the attack on the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and northern France. A few kilometers from Rodert, a headquarters for the Army High Command under Colonel General Walther von Brauchitsch was set up in the Hülloch forester's lodge .

On May 10, 1940 at 5:35 a.m., the case of Yellow began with the attack by Army Group B. Paratrooper units under General Kurt Student were deployed over the Netherlands and Belgium in order to occupy strategically important bridges and airfields in the depths of the area. Rapid access was intended to prevent Allied intervention, at least in the Netherlands, and to split up the defense forces. The targets were taken almost everywhere, but often only with heavy losses. In the area of ​​the government seat of The Hague on the airfields of Ockenburg , Ypenburg and Valkenburg , parts of the 22nd Infantry Division lost two thirds of their strength and the airfields had to be abandoned. The 7th Flieger Division's parachute deployment was not without losses, but it was possible to take possession of and keep the bridges over the Hollandsch Diep near Moerdijk , across the Noord near Dordrecht and the New Maas near Rotterdam intact. The Nijmegen Waal Bridge and the Arnhem Bridge (which was to be the target of Operation Market Garden in 1944 ) were blown up before the German invasion. German paratroopers succeeded in Belgium on 10/11. May an important victory with the capture of the Belgian fort Eben-Emael in the Liège fortress ring . As a result of the conquest, important bridges over the Albert Canal could be taken undamaged and the forces of the 18th Army managed to advance without delay ( Battle of Fort Eben-Emael ).

Due to the rapid advance of the 18th Army, which reached the IJsselmeer on the first day , and the 9th Panzer Division to Moerdijk, the Netherlands was cut off by land. Since the French 7th Army (General Henri Giraud ) could only support the Netherlands by sea, Giraud limited himself to the defense of the Westerschelde coast from the Canal to Antwerp.

Destruction in Rotterdam after the bombing

On May 13, 1940, there was still fighting over Rotterdam, one of the cornerstones of " Fortress Holland ". The German paratroopers faced an elite force with the Mariniers (naval commandos). When an attempt on May 14th failed to persuade the Dutch city commander, Colonel Pieter Scharroo , to surrender the city, the Commander-in-Chief of the 18th Army, General Georg von Küchler , ordered the defenders of Rotterdam to threaten a 3 p.m. bombing raid . The negotiations with the city commandant continued to be slow due to the instructions of the Dutch commander-in-chief Henri Winkelman ; It was agreed around 2 p.m. to extend the ceasefire until 6 p.m. However, Kampfgeschwader 54 , which was already approaching Rotterdam , could no longer be reached by radio and the light signals agreed for this case to break off the attack were only recognized by the second wave of German bombers attack. For example, 57 out of a hundred bombers dropped a total of 97 tons of high-explosive bombs, assuming that their order to attack was still in place. The defenses on the river bank were hardly hit, but the old town was destroyed, killing 814 civilians. This event - in addition to the threat of another attack on Utrecht, which was also tenaciously defended, and the almost hopeless overall military situation - is seen as decisive for the decision to surrender the Dutch armed forces in the motherland as a whole. It was broadcast on May 14 at 8:30 p.m.

Allied action

Dutch Defense Lines 1940

Since the Allies suspected the German attack center in northern Belgium, they began on May 10 with the advance planned for this case to the Dyle-Breda position. On May 12th, a historic meeting took place near Mons , at which the Belgian King Leopold III. , French Defense Minister Daladier and General Georges agreed that General Gaston Billotte would take over the coordination of the fighting in Belgium. At this point in time, the British Expeditionary Army (BEF) had already occupied the section between Leuven (25 km east of Brussels) and Wavre (25 km south of Leuven) and the French 1st Army had already occupied the section from Wavre to the Maasknie near Namur and with the Position expansion started. The French 9th Army had advanced its left wing as far as the Belgian Meuse and Namur. The French 7th Army was approaching Antwerp.

The key area of ​​the Dyle position was the "Trouée de Gembloux", the Gembloux gap, where the defenders could not rely on any natural obstacles. In order to give the 1st Army time to expand its positions, the "Korps Prioux" (2nd and 3rd light mechanized division), which is comparable to a German tank corps, with its more than 400 modern tanks was deployed in advance. In the Battle of Hannut on May 12, Prioux was able to stop the Hoepner Panzer Corps, which was advancing towards Gembloux via Liège , and inflict heavy losses on its predominantly light tank units. However, since Prioux had set up his forces linearly and without establishing a focus, Hoepner managed to break through the resistance line on the following day through focus formation and air force support, which was followed by the advance on the Gembloux position and the break into it.

Hoepner's thrust was an important part of the red herring that Liddell Hart compared to a bullfight:

Army Group B in the north represented the capa, the red cloth of the torero. It was supposed to stimulate the Allied intervention troops to rush to Belgium like an angry bull - into the trap. Because now the armored divisions concentrated in Army Group A could thrust into the exposed right flank like the sword of the torero. "

On May 15, General Henri Winkelman signed the surrender of the Dutch army. Queen Wilhelmina and her family had previously left the country (May 13th) and traveled to London; she announced a continuation of the resistance.

The dyle position was broken on May 16; a day later, Brussels was occupied without a fight. The Belgian army was encircled in the Bruges area and ceased fire on May 28 at 4:00 a.m. Leopold III. signed the surrender of the Belgian army and went into captivity with his soldiers .

Through the Ardennes

German measures

10-16 May: conquest of the Netherlands and attack by the Ardennes
German Panzer I and Panzer II in a forest in May 1940

The chances of success of the Ardennes Fault were closely related to the time factor. Success depended on the fact that the Belgian and French forces did not have time to coordinate their operations in the Ardennes, bring in reinforcements and attack the German flanks. So gave the leader of the top of the attack, General of the Panzer Troop Heinz Guderian , at his XIX. Army Corps (1st, 2nd and 10th Panzer Divisions, Infantry Regiment "Greater Germany") the motto: "In three days to the Maas, on the fourth day over the Maas." In these three days the attacking head should have 170 km of winding roads often in deeply cut valleys, whereby, in addition to the Luxembourg border barriers, two Belgian and one French fortification lines had to be overcome. Only then did the real challenge, the formation of a bridgehead south of the Meuse, come with overcoming the Maas and the strong fortifications in the Sedan area.

The German planning of the march only lasted one day. An alleged flank threat forced reclassifications; Numerous bridges and streets were blown up to slow down the march. Since the Panzer Group had been denied its own combat patrol, infantry formations of the following armies repeatedly forced themselves into the marching columns of the Panzer Group. This led to a traffic jam, which at times was 250 km long. Despite these frictions , Guderian's peaks reached the Meuse near Sedan on the evening of May 12th, 57 hours after the start of the attack .

Allied action

The Belgians had deployed group "K" (1st Ardennes Hunter Division ( Chasseurs ardennais ) , 1st Cavalry Division, engineer units ) to secure the Ardennes . Their task was to trigger the numerous prepared barriers or to blow up bridges and, after brief battles near Liège, to withdraw behind the Meuse and to defend the Belgian "Réduit" there together with the main forces. They succeeded in blowing up all the bridges provided for this purpose , except for one bridge ( Bütgenbach near Malmedy). There was local resistance from Belgian troops in Bodange , Martelange , Léglise , Witry , Chabrehez and Bastogne .

Destroyed French Char B1 tank near Namur on May 14, 1940

The French army had not made any detailed arrangements with the Belgians regarding the defense of the Ardennes, which could not be made up in the time available. There was therefore no significant cooperation between Group "K" and the French 5th Light Cavalry Division, which had been entrusted with monitoring the approach to the Meuse defense. The cavalry division proved to be less stable despite the favorable terrain.

On May 12, French light mechanized units were withdrawn and all bridges over the Meuse were blown up - with the exception of Mézières , where French fortress troops were supposed to hold both sides of the Meuse. In the course of the day advance detachments of the three German tank corps reached the Meuse in a three-day advance of 120 km. Their line extended from Dinant to Sedan over a length of 130 kilometers. The French 7th Army (General Giraud) came under heavy pressure from the German 9th Panzer Division and " Stukas " and withdrew from Breda and Tilburg to Antwerp.

Crossing the Meuse

German attack

Units of the 1st Panzer Division cross the Maas on a pontoon bridge.

The attack across the Meuse ( Battle of Sedan 1940 ) was scheduled for May 13th by General Kleist . It was initiated with heavy air raids by the Luftwaffe. In the last 90 minutes before the start of the ground offensive (4:00 p.m.), 750 horizontal bombers and Stukas were deployed. After the deployment of the air missions in the depths, the infantry and the storm pioneers of the 1st Panzer Division quickly succeeded in building bridgeheads over the Meuse and bringing them to the dominant heights of Marfée (two kilometers south of the river) by dusk. to expand. The storm pioneers of the 10th Panzer Division , however, required several approaches to gain a foothold on the south bank; the 2nd Panzer Division only succeeded in this during the course of the night. In the morning hours of May 14th, the first tanks rolled over the pontoon bridge built near Sedan . On this day, 60,000 men and 22,000 vehicles (including 850 tanks) crossed the Meuse . In addition to the Guderian Corps, the Reinhardt Panzer Corps also crossed the Maas that day at Monthermé . The Hoth Panzer Corps had already successfully crossed 30 km further north on May 12th. On May 13th, this bridgehead was expanded considerably by the 7th Panzer Division ( Rommel ).

Defense attorney reactions

Since the conviction that the Ardennes were impassable for tanks ("Les Ardennes sont impérmeables aux chars!") Had become the dogma of the French army, the commander in chief of the territorially responsible 2nd Army (General Huntziger ) had expected that the Wehrmacht could only make a serious attempt to cross the Maas three weeks after the start of the attack. This section of the front was therefore given rather little importance, and with the 55th Infantry Division (General Henri Jean Lafontaine, 1882–1966) only a category B division (reservists over 30 years) was deployed. Even the unexpectedly rapid advance of the Germans through the Ardennes did not initially worry the French leadership. Even the aerial bombardment could not shake confidence as the strong fortifications withstood the bombardment. The only major failures were the unprotected field artillery. From this area, however, there was a false tank alarm, which led to parts of the 55th Infantry Division fleeing. It triggered the relocation of the commanders of the 55th and 71st Infantry Divisions with the resulting interruption of connections to the front, which finally led to the "Panic of Bulson", of which not only the bulk of the 19th, but also parts of the neighboring 71 Infantry Division and which collapsed the Allied Meuse defense at Sedan on the night of May 14th.

Before this panic broke out, General Lafontaine had been assigned the corps reserve (two infantry regiments, two tank battalions) with the task of removing the German bridgehead immediately. Lafontaine did not attack immediately, but only 15 hours later, where he encountered German tanks before the heights of Marfée. The battle was decided after heavy losses on both sides by German 8.8 cm cannons .

On the afternoon of May 14th, the reinforced XXI. Army Corps (Flavigny) lead the operational counter-attack. The chances of the six predominantly mobile divisions, including the 3rd Panzer Division, to push in the German bridgehead were actually excellent. Since Guderian had already pushed on with the bulk of his corps, there were only 30 Panzer IVs of the 10th Panzer Division and weak infantry forces against the more than 300 Flavigny's tanks at the time of the attack . General Jean Flavigny was so impressed by the descriptions of the situation from the defeated corps reserve that he spread his forces to a width of 20 km and had them defended. His justification: “I wanted to avoid a catastrophe at all costs!” After he reported this and received the order again on the night of May 15 to attack immediately, he tried in vain for the whole of May 15 to regain his scattered forces to collect. The attack did not take place; Flavigny's divisions got bogged down in individual actions, the focus of which was again and again the exposed village of Stonne , which changed hands seventeen times from May 15th to 17th.

Allied political reactions

After Churchill received a call from French Prime Minister Reynaud on the morning of May 15 that “the battle was lost”, he flew to Paris the following day and met Reynaud, War Minister Daladier and Commander-in-Chief Gamelin. After Gamelin's presentation of the situation, which confirmed Reynaud's statement, Churchill asked about the operational reserves. It was answered by Gamelin with “Aucune” (“None!”). Churchill could hardly believe that and initially thought that the general had misunderstood him. He asked the question again in French.

Advance to the Channel Coast

German measures

May 16 to May 21: Advance to the Channel Coast
German soldiers on the advance in France in the summer of 1940

The detailed planning of the case of Gelb ended with the capture of Sedan. At least on May 14th, all of General Kleist's commanders in charge were of the opinion that consolidating the bridgehead was an absolute priority. According to Army Group A, this consolidation was to be ensured by the 12th Army (Colonel General List ), to which the Kleist Panzer Group was also subordinate. Kleist resisted both the submission and the watering down of the sickle-cut plan, which provided for a quick, uncompromising push to the coast. Now only a fait accompli could restore the Panzer Group's independence. The Panzer Corps also accommodated Kleist's intentions. Not only did they advance with approved reconnaissance, but massively further westward. So Guderian left behind only the 10th Panzer Division and some infantry to protect the Sedan bridgehead and advanced with the 1st and 2nd Panzer Divisions on Montcornet , where on May 16 he met the Reinhard Panzer Corps, which ran the place had already taken the day before. Further north, on May 15, the Hoth Panzer Corps wiped out the 1st French Panzer Division at Flavion ; On the night of May 17, Rommel pushed through to Le Cateau , which dealt the fatal blow to the French 9th Army (Corap), which was struggling to consolidate. During this phase there was also a change in mood among top management. While the High Command of the Army (OKH) suddenly began to feel confident about victory and slowed down, Hitler's fear of flank attacks grew, as did his anger over disobedient tank commanders. Franz Halder (Chief of the Army General Staff from September 1938 to September 1942) noted in his war diary on May 17, 1940:

“A pretty unpleasant day. The Führer is extremely nervous. He is afraid of his own success. He rages and yells that they are on the way to spoil the whole operation. "

This excitement led to the (short-term) removal of the command of Guderian , who was too fast, on May 17th and to the " stop order from Montcornet", which was only lifted on May 18th at 6:00 pm. Two days later the 6th Panzer Division reached the Channel coast at Noyelles without serious resistance. The 7th Panzer Division, on the other hand, was involved in a violent but poorly coordinated counterattack (also known as the Battle of Arras ) by the BEF near Arras on May 20, which could be repulsed - not without considerable losses. On May 24th, the German units had come within 15 kilometers of Dunkirk . Parts of it had already passed the last natural obstacle, the Aa Canal . There were no Allied formations worth mentioning between them and the only remaining Allied canal port; the mass of these still stood about 100 kilometers inland in combat with the 6th Army and the 18th Army . In the early afternoon the second order to stop came, that of Dunkirk.

Allied action

The Allies had sufficient reserves at the start of the German attack. In addition to the 7th Army (Giraud), the strong Prioux cavalry corps and four tank divisions were made available at short notice for counter attacks. When it was believed that the center of gravity was in the north, the cavalry corps and a little later - despite the protests of General Georges - the 7th Army marched north. The fate of the remaining reserves:

  • The 1st Panzer Division (General Bruneau ) was surprised with 167 modern tanks, including 65 Char B , on the morning of May 15 at Flavion von Rommel's 7th Panzer Division while refueling and was crushed by the 31st Panzer Regiment of the 5th Panzer Division although this association only had 30 Type III and IV tanks.
  • The 2nd Panzer Division (Bruché) received five different operational orders between May 11th and 15th. Since the tracked vehicles were moved by rail and the hawser on the road, the unit was split up and ultimately paralyzed. Quote from the report of the parliamentary commission of inquiry:

“On May 16, there is no longer a 2nd Panzer Division, but only scattered units, the leaders of which are doing their utmost to maintain order, comply with amendment orders, dodging air strikes and German armored spearheads, while command posts of all kinds are fighting over them and causing confusion multiply. "

  • The 3rd Panzer Division ( Brocard ) missed the time window for a counterstrike at Sedan and then got bogged down in the battles for Stonne .
  • The 4th Panzer Division (de Gaulle) caused the German leadership the greatest concern. On the morning of May 17, it attacked northwards from the Aisne and rolled over columns of German vehicles. It was only on the outskirts of Montcornet that anti-tank guns and 8.8 cm guns managed to stop them. After air raids and a counterattack by the 10th Panzer Division, the division had to withdraw after heavy losses. Two days later it was used again at Crécy-sur-Serre . There the battle was decided primarily through the deployment of the air force . De Gaulle was later accused of not having requested air support .

After the last significant mobile reserves had been broken up, Commander-in-Chief Gamelin intervened personally in the battle for the first time. On May 19, he ordered an attack, which would be led simultaneously from the north and south and cut off the German armored spearheads. It was not implemented because Gamelin was replaced on the same day by General Weygand , who immediately revoked this directive. After time-consuming personal consultations in Belgium and France, the new commander in chief announced his "Weygand Plan" on May 22nd. This envisaged a pincer attack of Army Group 1 (Billotte) from the north and the (newly created) Army Group 3 (Besson) from the south. Churchill said:

"It will be seen that Weygand's new plan differed only in its energetic formulation from the revoked Order Number 12 Gamelins."

In the meantime, a British initiative had already launched a counterattack near Arras. The purely British attack inflicted losses on the German forces (especially Rommel's 7th Panzer Division), but failed because of inadequate coordination with the French and the support arms. The time to implement the actual Weygand plan was postponed several times and finally shelved on May 27th .

“Riddle” Dunkirk

May 21 to June 4: encirclement of the allied northern group near Dunkirk
RAF reconnaissance aircraft approaching the port of Dunkirk, which was badly hit by air strikes by the German Air Force
British soldiers captured in Veules-les-Roses in June 1940

After the failure of the counterattacks on Sedan, there was a change of heart in the OKH. Colonel-General Brauchitsch and his Chief of Staff Halder were now ready to accept all the risks of the sickle-cut plan and pleaded for a rapid, unchecked advance to the canal and the immediate containment and destruction of the Allied forces north of the Somme. Hitler and Colonel General Gerd von Rundstedt did not want to take the risk of unrestrained action. On May 23, they were reinforced by a report issued by Panzergruppe Kleist that "after losing up to 50% of tanks against a 'strong' enemy, they were not strong enough to attack to the east."

This message, which can be interpreted as an annoyed reaction to the assignment of several secondary orders, took the Army Group as a welcome occasion for the "unlocking order", which ordered the tank units to interrupt the attack for a period of 24 hours on May 23. Annoyed by Rundstedt's delaying tactics, Brauchitsch intervened personally for the first time and withdrew from Army Group A, which had meanwhile grown to 71 divisions, command of the 4th Army (von Kluge), to which all armored divisions of Army Group were subordinate, and transferred it to Army Group B ( 21 divisions). Army Group B was now solely responsible for the rapid containment and destruction of the Allied forces located in the Belgian-French border area, while Army Group A was solely responsible for building a front southwards.

Hitler had not been informed of this operationally sensible measure because he was on his way to the front. He was only informed of this order on the following day, May 24th, through Rundstedt, an outspoken opponent of this measure. Seriously annoyed about the “arbitrariness” of the Army High Command, Hitler revoked the subordination order and also made a decision that was almost unique in the history of the war. Not the High Command of the Army, but Army Group A should decide when the attack on Dunkirk would continue. So it was not Hitler but Rundstedt who gave the famous stop order on May 24th at 12:45 p.m. and it was also Rundstedt who lifted this stop order three days and eight hours later. During this time all attempts to persuade Hitler and Rundstedt to continue the attack failed. During these days the British and French built a defensive ring around the port city using several divisions. He was supposed to ensure " Operation Dynamo ", the evacuation of the troops trapped near Dunkirk. Although this operation did not start practically until May 28, a total of around 338,000 soldiers had been transferred to Great Britain by June 4, 193,000 of them British. Together with the soldiers evacuated from other ports, this number rose to around 370,000 men, including around 250,000 British soldiers. The special importance of rescuing the BEF lay in the fact that the rescued soldiers were exclusively professional soldiers , without whom the rapid establishment of a powerful army on the basis of general conscription would have been difficult to imagine.

Why the halt order was issued that allowed the British to evacuate their trapped troops is not known for sure. Various explanations are discussed by historians: Hans Umbreit rejects Rundstedt's post-war assertion that it was a matter of sparing the British in order to induce them to conclude a peace treaty as a retrospective protection claim. On the other hand, he thinks it is possible that Hitler hoped to get closer to this goal through the aerial warfare and thus believed that he could spare the German tank units with a view to the future. Karl-Heinz Frieser , however, attributes the order to the fact that Hitler wanted to demonstrate in front of Rundstedt and the Army High Command that he, as Commander in Chief of the Wehrmacht, had made and are taking all important decisions; not least with regard to the attribution of merits after the foreseeable victory over France. Richard J. Evans also thinks this is possible, who also mentions Göring's optimism about the Luftwaffe and Rundstedt's plan to give his soldiers a break.

Hitler's attitude was undoubtedly strengthened by Göring, who assured him on May 23 that he (Göring) with “his” air force alone could deliver the “coup de grace” to the Allies in Dunkirk. He couldn't keep this promise. Since periods of bad weather also hampered the use of the Luftwaffe, Göring's overall balance sheet remained far from his ambitious goal. The British shot down 132 German aircraft in the airspace over Dunkirk, not without losing 177 aircraft themselves.

At 4 a.m. on May 28, the Belgian army ceased fire (with the exception of some isolated sections that fought until May 29). The Belgian Prime Minister Pierlot gave a radio address to the Belgians from Paris on May 28th. He stated that the Belgians had been taken by surprise by the surrender of King Leopold (commander in chief of the Belgian army); he acted against the instructions of the government. Therefore he no longer has any power to govern; the Belgian cabinet assumed all of its official powers.

The fall of the Belgians opened a gap about 32 km wide on the left flank of the Anglo-French pocket around Dunkirk. British units (armored cars of the 12th Lancers and artillerymen and supply personnel deployed as infantrymen) succeeded in closing this gap at Nieuwpoort after heavy fighting with the German 256th Infantry Division . The French 1st Army (six divisions) was surrounded by seven German divisions near Lille .

Fall red

Course of the red case

German attack

The "Fall Rot" was the second major operation of the western campaign, in which on the one hand the Allied southern wing along the Maginot Line from Sedan to Switzerland was to be included. On the other hand, it was planned that strong forces should push into France at the same time. After the Battle of Dunkirk, the French army had practically no chance of turning things around, because the balance of power had reversed since the beginning of the campaign. Army Group B was to carry out the attack between Reims and the Channel coast from Belgium to Paris. Army Group A stood ready to attack between Reims and Sedan. It was given the task of advancing with the Guderian Panzer Group ahead along the Marne in the direction of the Swiss border. Army Group C waited to the right of the Rhine.

The Allies could only  oppose the new Army Group 3 (consisting of 6th , 7th and 10th Army), which had hardly any armored forces. The bulk of the 66 Allied divisions still available remained bound in the Maginot Line . The Wehrmacht, on the other hand, was able to muster 104 divisions; another 19 large associations were available as reserves.

German parade on Avenue Foch in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on June 14, 1940

In May and June, the Army Group B by beating in three consecutive battles to Montcornet , at the Ailette and the Aisne called the French defense " Weygand Line " at Somme and Aisne . However, it was initially stuck with heavy losses, as the French put up bitter resistance. Instead of their previous "linear" battle management, they now organized a staggered defense in depth, to which the Germans first had to adjust. After the breakthrough, however, the German troops quickly pushed into the interior of France. On June 14th, units of the 18th Army marched into Paris, which had been declared an open city . Rommel's 7th Panzer Division advanced 150 miles on one day, June 17th.

Army Group A opened its offensive after regrouping on June 9th. Guderian and his associations reached the Swiss border faster than expected on June 17th. The 7th Army of Army Group C , which had crossed the Rhine at Breisach and pierced the Maginot Line, united with parts of the Guderian Panzer Group at Belfort on June 19 . Thus three French armies with around 500,000 soldiers were trapped in the "Trap of Lorraine" between Nancy and Belfort.

Italy's invasion of southern France

Italian attack on Mentone

On June 21, Mussolini ordered the Italian army to attack southern France, whereupon the offensive began in the Alps to strengthen its own negotiating position. Against bitter French resistance, only minimal Italian gains were made. For reasons of axis policy, the German leadership finally arranged that their armistice with France only came into effect as soon as France had also surrendered to Italy - a regulation that was perceived as humiliating in both Paris and Rome. In view of the unsuccessful offensive, doubts about the combat strength of the Italian armed forces arose for the first time in the German General Staff .

After the campaign


Road to armistice

France after the armistice

At the end of May, Prime Minister Paul Reynaud appointed the 84-year-old Marshal Pétain as his deputy. When Reynaud pleaded on June 17 for the continuation of the military struggle and for the Anglo -French alliance proposed by Churchill (including common citizenship and currency ), he remained in the minority in the cabinet. He resigned; his deputy Pétain became the new prime minister and asked Germany for a ceasefire. The next day, June 18, Charles de Gaulle called on the French people from Radio Londres to continue the resistance with the “ Appeal of June 18 ”.

The armistice was signed in Compiègne on June 22nd and came into effect on June 25th at 1:35 a.m. The terms of the armistice:

  • Around 60 percent of the country remains occupied (Article II.) , But the occupation is to be reduced to a minimum after a victory over England (Article III.) . Alsace-Lorraine is placed under German administration.
  • The French state must bear the costs of the occupation (Article XVIII.)
  • The French prisoners of war remain prisoners of war until a peace treaty (Article XX.)
  • The French troops are massively demobilized and disarmed (Article IV.) , The Vichy government is granted troops in France with a strength of 100,000 men, the armed forces in the overseas territories are retained.
  • Disarmament of the French fleet under German supervision in home waters

On June 24, 1940, the Italian-French armistice was signed in Rome .

France after the armistice

French warship under fire from British ships during Operation Catapult, July 3, 1940

Even before the armistice, the heaviest units of the strong French fleet had been relocated to the naval port of Mers-el-Kébir ( Algeria ) under the command of Admiral François Darlan in order to withdraw them from German access. Since the British cabinet did not want to take any risks despite the French promise not to hand over any ships to the Germans, Operation Catapult was carried out on July 3 . The French naval association in Mers-el-Kébir was ultimately asked by the British Force H under the leadership of Admiral Somerville to surrender. When the French naval command let the ultimatum pass, a large number of the ships at anchor were sunk or damaged. 1297 French sailors died and 350 were wounded. Similar missions by Force H took place on July 3rd off Oran and on July 8th in Dakar . The Pétain government then broke off diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom.

On July 10th, the parliament gave Pétain the power to draft a new constitution. On this basis, the marshal was elected “Chef de l'Etat” of the Vichy regime on July 17th, with far-reaching powers. He declared his country neutral and on October 24th rejected Hitler's proposal to wage war together against the United Kingdom.

De Gaulle was recognized by Churchill on June 28th as a "Leader of all Free Frenchmen", but he was not allowed to establish a government against the Vichy regime until June 3rd, 1943: after he had gained a foothold in Algiers , he founded it together with Henri Giraud founded the Comité français de la Liberation nationale (CFLN) and soon took over its management alone.


The German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop assured on May 10, 1940 that the territorial and political independence of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg would not be affected. Initially, Luxembourg was actually placed under military administration until August 2nd. Then it was Germanized as the CdZ area of ​​Luxembourg under Gustav Simon on Hitler's orders and annexed in violation of international law . Simon initiated the persecution of the Jews, introduced the Reich Labor Service for young Luxembourgers and 10,211 Luxembourgers were forced to do military service in the armed forces or the SS, which was contrary to international law.


Hanns Albin Rauter , Hendrik Alexander Seyffardt (NSB), Seyß-Inquart, Wilhelm Harster and Anton Mussert (NSB), October 11, 1941

On May 18, 1940 Arthur Seyß-Inquart was appointed Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands. General Friedrich Christiansen became Wehrmacht commander in chief for the Netherlands . Under German rule, compulsory labor and the persecution of Jews were introduced. With the help of the Dutch National Socialist Movement (NSB) under Anton Mussert , attempts were made to nazify the related Germanic people and after the war the Netherlands should be integrated into a Greater Germanic Empire.

Queen Wilhelmina and the government fled to London and formed a government in exile there. The Dutch navy and parts of the air force escaped German access and continued to fight on the side of the Allies. Dutch East Indies with the Royal Dutch Indian Army submitted to the government in exile and later fought as part of the ABDACOM on the side of the Americans, Australians and British against the attacking Japanese in Southeast Asia.


Annexation of East Belgium

Belgium after the western campaign

Before the surrender of the Belgian army on May 28th, with the Führer decree of May 18th, East Belgium  - the areas of Eupen , Malmedy and Moresnet  - was annexed in violation of international law and incorporated into the Cologne-Aachen district. The German-speaking population welcomed the move, but was also forcibly recruited by the German Reich from 1941 to serve in the armed forces or the SS . After the liberation of Belgium by the Western Allies, the Belgian collaboration laws were applied to them too.

Government in exile

The Hubert Pierlot government fled into exile via Limoges to London and was able to continue the fight with the free Belgian armed forces (Forces belges libres). The Belgian Force Publique (Congolese colonial army) fought in North Africa and the East Africa campaign, and in England, in addition to the Piron Brigade, air force units were also formed. King Leopold III. stayed in Belgium and was held in the forced residence at Schloss Laken .

Belgium and Northern France

With the military commander Alexander von Falkenhausen and the head of administration Eggert Reeder , the military administration was set up in Belgium and northern France , which pursued a nationality and Flemish policy and worked with the Flemish national association , the Rexists and the civil administration found there. Under German rule, compulsory labor and the persecution of Jews were introduced. On July 18, 1944, Josef Grohé became head of the Reich Commission for Belgium and Northern France and Falkenhausen was recalled.

Balance sheet

Hitler is stylized as the " greatest general of all time " in the Nazi media. Reception in Berlin, Nationalblatt July 8, 1940
Paramedics take care of wounded Wehrmacht soldiers
French prisoners of war in Northern France May 1940.

The western campaign was hailed by German propaganda as a breakthrough to a new, revolutionary tactic. This form of fighting was given the name " Blitzkrieg ". This representation was accepted by the vanquished because the appearance of revolutionary innovations made their own mistakes and omissions appear more excusable. Although the western campaign was conceived as a rapid war of movement, after Manstein's departure with Rundstedt and his chief of staff Sodenstern, implementation lay in the hands of more conservative thinkers, who saw their armored divisions merely as advance divisions of the actual combat units that were advancing on foot. The success of the campaign is not least due to the tank commanders who, like Guderian and Rommel, acted against orders.

Success was also made possible by the opposing side's defense concept. The rigid Maginot thinking with its defensive orientation was the greatest weakness of the Allies, in contrast to which the Germans, with their fluid blitzkrieg, had the operational superiority. The Allied leadership organization, which was oriented towards trench warfare, was just as unable to cope with the demands of a war of movement as the tactical principles of its mobile forces.

The German armored armor could reduce its numerical weakness as well as the weaker armament and armor of its vehicles by combining the tanks in the armored divisions, by better management, better communication, by a more effective supply and repair organization as well as by close cooperation with the support weapons on the ground and in the air more than make up for it. The German generals were at the front with their troops, while General Gamelin maintained contact with the French parliament far in the rear.

The situation was similar with the Air Force. Due to the close cooperation of the German air fleets with the army groups down to the tactical level, it was possible to provide rapid and effective air support and to compensate for the numerical weakness by establishing a focus.

The Allies recognized their own deficits, but the brevity of the campaign did not allow them to be eliminated.

Material losses

The German Wehrmacht lost 714 tanks, 428 of which were Type I and II. 1236 aircraft were lost and another 323 were damaged.

The British and French lost the majority of their armored vehicles, the British lost 1,020 aircraft, including 477 fighter planes. The French lost around 800 aircraft.

Personnel losses and consequences of the western campaign

French prisoners of war in May 1940

According to recent findings, almost 60,000 French soldiers (excluding the navy) fell between May 10 and the armistice.

Of the 1.6 million French prisoners of war, around one million remained in German captivity until the end of the war, where they were mainly used as slave labor. About 40,000 of them were killed.

Jewish prisoners of war were segregated in the main camps and were forced to wear a special mark. Only the intervention of the International Committee of the Red Cross resulted in a ban on labeling.

Of the 720,000 forced laborers deployed in Germany as part of the “Service du Travail Obligatoire” (STO) of the Vichy regime, around 40,000 were also killed. But this is only a small fraction of the 350,000 French civilian war victims.

Of the 75,721 French Jews deported (mostly to Auschwitz ) , only 2566 returned. Together with the 3,000 people who died in the French internment camps, the Shoah in France totals around 80,000.

20,000 members of the French resistance movement ( Résistance ) died in combat, 30,000 were executed and 60,000 were locked in concentration camps; less than half of these returned. Others died in the course of fighting or fell victim to repression by the occupiers or the Vichy regime.

29,662 French died in hostage shootings.

These figures do not include the 70,000 Jews or the similar number of people of other denominations who fled to France and were extradited by the French authorities.

After the war, around 11,000 alleged or real “ collaborators ” were killed in the course of the “ épuration sauvage ” (“wild cleaning phase”) , over 6,000 were sentenced to death in ordinary court proceedings, and others received prison sentences and / or lost their French citizenship.

Interned Polish soldiers in Switzerland

In June 1940, over 12,000 soldiers of the 2nd Polish Infantry Rifle Division under the command of General Bronisław Prugar-Ketling (1891–1948) in France were cut off from their supplies and pushed to the Swiss border . To avoid capture, the soldiers crossed the border and were interned until the end of the war . There they did voluntary work, in almost all of Switzerland, especially in the construction of roads as part of national defense. The roads built are mostly referred to as Poland Roads or Poland Paths to this day .

Legal processing

War crimes

In the course of the campaign and immediately after the armistice, numerous war crimes were committed against both prisoners of war and civilians . German troops had already carried out a massacre in Vinkt on May 27, 1940 , in which over 130 civilians were killed. In Oignies and Courrières a total of 114 civilians were murdered the following day because German troops believed they were being attacked by franc tireurs. The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler murdered between 80 and 97 British and French soldiers in the Wormhout massacre on the same day . The SS Totenkopf division is also responsible for numerous murders of prisoners of war, such as the Le Paradis massacre of 99 British soldiers or the murder of black African prisoners of war. An estimated 1500 to 3000 members of the Tirailleurs sénégalais and other French colonial troops who fell into the hands of German troops during the campaign were murdered.

According to an order from the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW), Reich Germans (i.e. emigrants or Austrians) and former Czechoslovak nationals in French or British uniforms who had become prisoners of war were to be shot dead in the prisoner collection points. Implementation regulations for this order were no longer issued before the armistice on June 22, 1940, after which the order was no longer carried out. The French army command also withdrew soldiers at risk from the German front.
In connection with the OKW order of June 1940, contrary to international law, Raul Hilberg claimed that German Jews who served in units of the French army were mostly segregated and murdered soon after their capture, before they were transported to the main camps. Other authors agreed with this statement.

Crimes committed by the Allies were documented by the Wehrmacht investigative body . These are mainly cases of alleged mistreatment of pilots who had landed in a plane and the robbery of prisoners of war. A French first lieutenant was sentenced to death by a German field war tribunal on October 27, 1940 for allegedly causing the deaths of two German prisoners of war. The sentence was later commuted to imprisonment.

Crimes against peace

The planning and implementation of the unprovoked war of aggression against the neutral states of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg was accused in the Nuremberg trial of the main war criminals of the military and political leadership as a leadership crime and condemned as such.


German Empire

  • Hitler's self-confidence and status as a strategist increased due to the successful implementation of the Manstein Plan, which was rejected by the General Staff. ( Wilhelm Keitel described Hitler at victory celebrations as the " Greatest General of All Time ").
  • Resistance of the General Staff to an attack on the USSR decreased.
  • The German political resistance, which predicted the failure of the Western campaign, suffered a severe setback, as popular support for Hitler's policy also increased.
  • The German Empire gained access to the extensive raw material reserves and the industrial potential of France.
  • Germany strove to form a “continental alliance” with Italy, Spain and France for the common struggle against Great Britain, which failed not least because of competing territorial claims.
  • The prerequisites for waging a sea and air war against Great Britain had improved significantly, and several French Atlantic ports were converted into submarine bases. The Battle of Britain was supposed to prepare Sea Lion to invade Great Britain.
  • The German tank tactics became the new tank doctrine that is still internationally valid today.


  • The Vichy regime declared itself to be neutral and was ready to cooperate with the Germans in the “reorganization of Europe”.
  • On June 20, 1940, France had to grant the Japanese bases and marching rights in Indochina .

United Kingdom

  • The British were initially alone in the West in the fight against the German Reich, but were able to rely on material and military help ( convoy protection ) from the USA. The Vichy government was recognized that open war with France should be avoided as the resources for it were insufficient. In any case, the Germans' access to the French fleet (British attack on Oran - see Operation Catapult ), Syria (oil interests in Iraq) and the use of the ports of Dakar (→  Battle of Dakar ) and Diego Suarez (Madagascar) should be prevented .
  • Instead of Paris, London became the center of European policy in exile; Neutral Sweden developed into the hub of numerous national secret services .


United States of America

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt mobilized political forces in order to be able to support Great Britain, contrary to the basic neutralist mood in the USA. In February 1941 the lending and leasing law was passed . By escorting convoys to Great Britain, the USA was already in a state of war with Germany in the Atlantic from September 1940.

Soviet Union

  • The Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov congratulated the German Reich on June 17 on its victory over France, and on the same day Soviet troops occupied the Baltic states .


See also


  • JRM Butler: History of the Second World War. Grand Strategy. Volume II, London 1957.
  • Hans-Adolf Jacobsen (Ed.): Documents on the western campaign in 1940. Musterschmidt, Göttingen 1960.
  • Hans Umbreit: The struggle for supremacy in Western Europe. In: The German Reich and the Second World War. Volume 2, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 3-421-01935-5 .
  • Karl-Heinz Frieser : Blitzkrieg legend. The western campaign in 1940 (=  operations of the Second World War. Volume 2). 3. Edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-486-56124-3 .
  • Julian Jackson: The fall of France: the Nazi invasion of 1940. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2003, ISBN 0-19-280300-X .
  • Alistair Horne: To lose a battle. France 1940. Penguin, Middlesex 1969.
  • Jean-Paul Pallud: Blitzkrieg in the West then and now. Battle of Britain prints, London 1991, ISBN 0-900913-68-1 .

Web links

Commons : Fall Gelb  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Karl-Heinz Frieser : Blitzkrieg legend. 2nd edition, Munich 1996, p. 57.
  2. a b Frieser, p. 35.
  3. The initial number of 27,074 deaths is probably too small, as the wounded still died, the missing were declared dead and there were other non-combat-related losses.
  4. ^ Rüdiger Overmans : German military losses in World War II. 3rd edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2004, p. 54.
  5. Olaf Groehler : History of the air war. 5th edition, Berlin (East) 1981, p. 246.
  6. The German Reich and the Second World War . Volume 2, Stuttgart 1979, p. 307.
  7. ^ Karl-Heinz Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. 2nd edition, Munich 1996, p. 400.
  8. ^ Manfred Messerschmidt: Hitler's "Program" and the continuity problem. In: Wilhelm Deist, Manfred Messerschmidt, Hans-Erich Volkmann, Wolfram Wette: Causes and conditions of the Second World War. Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 652.
  9. ^ Klaus Hildebrand : German Foreign Policy 1933–1945. Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne / Mainz 1976, p. 38.
  10. Hans-Adolf Jacobsen : 1939–1945. The Second World War in chronicles and documents. Darmstadt 1961, p. 133 ff.
  11. Full text of the declaration (PDF; 12 kB)
  12. Klaus Schönherr : Neutrality, "Nonbelligerence" or War. Turkey in the field of tension between the European powers 1939 to 1941. In: Bernd Wegner (Ed.): Two ways to Moscow - From the Hitler-Stalin Pact to "Operation Barbarossa". Munich / Zurich 1991, pp. 504–508.
  13. Walther Hofer : The unleashing of the Second World War. Lit Verlag, Münster 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-0383-4 , p. 51 ff.
  14. ^ Paul Schmidt : Extra on the diplomatic stage. Bonn 1953, p. 473.
  15. Alistair Horne: To lose a battle. France 1940. New York 1979.
  16. The German Reich and the Second World War. Volume 2, Stuttgart 1979, p. 272.
  17. From the diary of the General Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Communist International GM Dimitrov, entries from September 7th and 8th, 1939. In: 100 (0) key documents on Russian and Soviet history.
  18. Alistair Horne: To lose a battle. Penguin 1979, p. 147.
  19. Tablot Imlay: Mind the Gap. The Perception And Reality of Communist Sabotage of French War Production During the Phoney War. In: Past and Present. No. 189, Nov. 2005, pp. 179-234; Joel Blatt: The French Defeat of 1940. Reassessments. Berghahn Books, Oxford 1998, ISBN 1-57181-226-1 , p. 141.
  20. ^ Thomas Rodney Christofferson, Michael Scott Christofferson: France During World War II: From Defeat to Liberation. Fordham University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8232-2562-3 , p. 20.
  21. ^ Julian Jackson: The Fall of France. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2003, ISBN 0-19-280300-X , pp. 154 f.
  22. Hans Umbreit: The German Empire and the Second World War. The struggle for supremacy in Western Europe. Volume 2.
  23. Michel John: Jean John, the first dead person on Luxembourg territory during the German invasion, on May 10, 1940. ( Memento of December 27, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Bulletin Greg, accessed on December 27, 2015.
  24. ^ A b Karl-Heinz Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. The western campaign in 1940. Oldenbourg, Munich 1995.
  25. Martin Göhring : Bismarck's heirs 1890-1945. 2nd edition, Steiner, 1959 ( online ( memento from March 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ))
  26. printed by Walther Hubatsch (ed.): Hitler's instructions for warfare 1939–1945. Documents of the High Command of the Wehrmacht. 2nd edition, Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Koblenz 1983, p. 32 f.
  27. ^ Hans-Adolf Jacobsen: Introduction. In: Percy Ernst Schramm (ed.): War diary of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (Wehrmacht leadership staff). Volume 1. August 1, 1940 to August 31, 1941. Bernard & Graefe, Frankfurt am Main 1965, p. 50 E.
  28. Lissaraque Christienne: Histoire de l'aviation militaire française. P. 373 ff.
  29. ^ Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Faris R. Kirkland, USAF : The French Air Force In 1940 - Was It Defeated by the Luftwaffe or by Politics? Air University Review, October 1985.
  30. Pierre Cot: En 40 où etaient nos avions? In: Icare. No. 57/71.
  31. ^ In addition Philippe Garraud: L'action de l'armée de l'air en 1939-1940: facteurs structurels et conjoncturels d'une défaite. In: Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains. 2/2001, (n ° 202-203), ISBN 2-13-052721-3 , pp. 7-31 (French).
  32. ↑ on this Ernst Stilla (Diss. 2005), p. 73. / Footnote 321: An example of this is the equipping of the French general headquarters in Briare with just one telephone, which was also used between 12 and 2 p.m. while the operator was having lunch , was not in operation.
  33. Ernst Stilla (Diss. 2005), 73. . Stilla mentions Lee Kennet, German Air Superiority in the Westfeldzug, 1940 , in FXJ Homer, Larry Wilcox (Ed.), Germany and Europe in the Era of the Two World Wars: Essays in Honor of Own James Hale (University Press of Virginia, 1986), pp. 143 (141-155).
  34. Alignment of the figures from: Liss: Westfront ; Charles: Forces armées belges - Service Historique de l'Armée der Terre. Les grandes unités françaises ; Buffotot / Ogier: L'Armée de l'Air.
  35. ^ Battle of Britain Historical Society webpage, document 7.
  36. Laddie Lucas: Flying Colors: The epic story of Douglas Bader. Wordsworth Editions, Ware 2000/2001, ISBN 1-84022-248-4 .
  37. Armée de'Air, Ordre de Bataille au 10 May 1940 .
  38. Mike Spick: Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: The Jagdflieger and their Tactics and Techniques. Ivy Books, 1997, ISBN 0-8041-1696-2 .
  39. For the quotations of the entire paragraph: Manfred Overesch , Friedrich Wilhelm Saal: Das III. Rich. A daily chronicle of politics, economy, culture. Volume 2: 1939-1945. Weltbild Verlag, Augsburg 1991, ISBN 3-89350-349-8 , p. 80 (first Droste, Düsseldorf 1983).
  40. ^ Cajus Becker: Attack height 4000. Oldenburg 1964.
  41. a b War Diary, pp. 1164/65
  42. ^ Belgian Foreign Ministry (ed.): Belgium: The Official Account of What Happened 1939-1940. London 1941. Free download from Archive.org ( link ).
  43. Communication from General a. D. Graf von Kielmannsegg, in: Frieser: Blitzkrieg-Legende. P. 129.
  44. This bridge was saved from being blown up by a German advance command, cf. Etienne Verhoeyen: Spies aan de achterdeur: de Duitse Abwehr in België, 1936–1945. 2011, p. 280 (online) .
  45. ^ Karl-Heinz Frieser: Le Mythe de la guerre éclair. La campagne de l'Ouest de 1940. Ed. Belin, Paris 2003 (German: Blitzkrieg legend: Der Westfeldzug 1940. 18th edition 2012), p. 130.
  46. Liddell Hart: Now you can talk. P. 189 f.
  47. ^ Pierre Le Goyet: Contre-attaques manquées. In: Revue Historique des armées. 4/1962, p. 111.
  48. a b Winston Churchill: The Second World War. 3rd edition, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-596-16113-4 .
  49. ^ Franz Halder: War diary. Volume 1, Stuttgart 1962.
  50. Quoted in Hoth: Fate of the French tank weapon. P. 376.
  51. Sven Felix Kellerhoff: Dunkirk - why Hitler gave away his victory . Interview with Karl-Heinz Frieser on Welt Online on May 17, 2013, accessed on January 2, 2016.
  52. ^ Numbers according to Antony Beevor: The Second World War. Munich 2014, p. 138.
  53. ^ Christian Hartmann : Halder. Chief of Staff of Hitler 1938–1942. Schöningh, Paderborn 1991, p. 196.
  54. Hans Umbreit: The struggle for supremacy in Western Europe. In: The German Reich and the Second World War , Volume 2: The establishment of hegemony on the European continent . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1979, p. 296 f.
  55. ^ Richard J. Evans: The Third Reich, Volume III: War . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2009, p. 169 f.
  56. ^ David Divine: The Nine Days of Dunkirk. White Lion Publrs., 1976, ISBN 0-7274-0195-5 , p. 265.
  57. ^ Richard Collier: Dunkirk. Heyne Verlag, 1982, ISBN 3-453-01164-3 , p. 331.
  58. ^ Karl-Heinz Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. The western campaign in 1940. Oldenbourg, Munich 2005, p. 395.
  59. Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. P. 397.
  60. Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. P. 397 f.
  61. Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. P. 398.
  62. Malte König: Cooperation as a power struggle. The fascist axis alliance Berlin-Rome in the war 1940/41. Cologne 2007, p. 24 f.
  63. During de Gaulle's time in Algiers, see “La vie de la France sous l'Occupation”. Hoover Institution , Librairie Plon, 1957, Volume II, pp. 728-746.
  64. ^ Emile Krier: Luxembourg at the end of the occupation and the new beginning. Regionalgeschichte.net, accessed December 27, 2015.
  65. ^ War Diary. Appendix D, Date 5/18, p. 1164.
  66. ^ Ulrich Tiedau: The legal situation of the German-speaking population in Belgium. In: Manfred Kittel (Ed.): German-speaking minorities 1945. A European comparison. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58002-0 , p. 452 ff.
  67. Peter M. Quadflieg : "Zwangssoldaten" and "Ons Jongen": Eupen-Malmedy and Luxembourg as recruiting areas for the German Wehrmacht in World War II. (= Aachen studies on economic and social history ). 2008, ISBN 978-3-8322-7078-0 .
  68. ^ Michael Fahlbusch: German politics and West German research community. In: Reach to the West. Part 2, Waxmann Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-8309-6144-8 .
  69. Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. P. 400.
  70. archive.wikiwix.com Service historique de la Défense (archived version, accessed on November 20, 2017).
  71. ^ Yves Durand: The fate of the French prisoners of war in German custody (1939-1945). In: Günter Bischof, Rüdiger Overmans: Captivity in the Second World War. Ternitz 1999.
  72. ^ Raul Hilberg : The annihilation of the European Jews. Volume II, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-596-10612-5 , p. 659.
  73. Figures from L'association des Fils et Filles des déportés juifs de France (Chairman: Serge Klarsfeld ), 1985.
  74. See also Résistance intérieure française .
  75. Figures of the French chief prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials .
  76. Peter Lieb : Conventional War or Nazi Weltanschauung war. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, p. 518.
  77. ^ Raffael Scheck: Hitler's African victims. The German Army massacres of Black French soldiers in 1940. Cambridge UP, Cambridge 2006, ISBN 0-521-85799-6 , p. 165; Hitler's African victims. The Wehrmacht massacre of black French soldiers. German by Georg Felix Harsch, Association A, Berlin 2009. Review by Bernhard Schmid, in “Dschungel”, supplement to Jungle World Jan. 14, 2010, pp. 2–6 ( English content ).
  78. See e.g. B. AOK 16, Section Ic of June 17, 1940, signed Model.
  79. ^ Article by Jürgen Förster. In: Wolfram Wette , Gerd R. Ueberschär (Ed.): War crimes in the 20th century. Darmstadt 2001, p. 139; Footnote 8 refers to: TU Berlin, Center for Research on Antisemitism.
  80. ^ Raffael Scheck: Hitler's African Victims. Berlin 2009, p. 163.
  81. ^ Raul Hilberg: The annihilation of the European Jews. Volume II, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-596-10612-5 , pp. 658 f .; also z. B. Vicki Caron: Uneasy Asylum: France and the Jewish Refugee Crisis 1933–1942. Stanford University Press, Stanford 1999, ISBN 0-8047-4377-0 , p. 263.
  82. Alfred de Zayas : The Wehrmacht Investigation Office. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1987, pp. 180-188 and 254-261.
  83. Alfred M. de Zayas: The Wehrmacht Investigation Center. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1987, p. 187 f.
  84. Jump up ↑ Judgment - The Joint Plan for Conspiracy and War of Aggression. Nuremberg Trial, zeno.org, accessed on February 4, 2016.
  85. ^ Gerhard Werle, Florian Jessberger: Völkerstrafrecht. Mohr Siebeck 2007, ISBN 978-3-16-149372-0 , p. 533 ff.
  86. Percy E. Schramm (Ed.): War Diary of the High Command of the Wehrmacht 1944–1945. Part 1, ISBN 3-7637-5933-6 .
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on February 27, 2006 .