Hoe het die Weygand Line so vinnig in duie gestort?

Hoe het die Weygand Line so vinnig in duie gestort?



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Die Weygand Line waarna ek verwys, is die lyn wat Maxime Weygand gestig het in die nasleep van die uiters suksesvolle Val Gelb. Onmiddellik na die ontruiming van Duinkerke, word Franse soldate na Frankryk teruggeplaas en vermoedelik kennis en kundigheid oor die Duitser se taktiek saamgebring. Die Franse militêre tegnologie was ook gelyk aan die Duitsers, met beter tenks (soos die Somua S.35) en artillerie. Hulle lyne was ook geanker op die riviere Somme en Aisne. Die voordele wat die Duitsers gehad het, was die aantal afdelings (142 teenoor Weygand ~ 60) en die kwalitatiewe superioriteit van die Luftwaffe. Aansienlike voordele, maar dit het net drie weke geneem voordat die Franse leër heeltemal in duie gestort het.

Hoe het die Franse weermag so vinnig in duie gestort? Was die Duitse voordele in getalle en lug superioriteit die deurslaggewende?


Teen Junie 1940 was die Franse leër in drie ongeveer gelyke dele verdeel. 1) 'n Derde het verlore geraak (gevang) in die noorde toe die Duitsers die Engelse Kanaal suid van Duinkerke bereik het (byna al die Britte en Belge, maar slegs 'n paar Franse is ontruim), 'n derde op die Maginot -lyn en nog net 'n bietjie meer meer as 'n derde op die Weygand -lyn.

Nadat hulle in die noorde gewen het, konsentreer die Duitsers die grootste deel van hul leër (insluitend sommige teenoor die Maginot Line) teen die Weygand Line, wat hulle 'n byna twee tot een meerderwaardigheid in getalle en wapens gee.

Dit is waar dat die meerderjarige, outgunned Franse dapper geveg het en aanvanklik die Duitsers op 'die meeste' plekke weerhou het. Die probleem was dat hulle 'selde' gewen het terwyl hulle 'selde' op die Weygand Line verslaan is. Hulle kon byvoorbeeld nie een van die drie brugkoppe wat die Duitsers oor die Somme gestamp het, vernietig nie. Uiteindelik vind Rommel 'n opening, druk deur en wen. Gegewe die Duitse superioriteit van getalle, was een of twee deurbrake voldoende om die hele lyn in duie te laat stort.

Ek onthou 'n tafeltennis-speletjie wat ek as kind gespeel het. Elke punt het 15-20 rondes geduur. Oormatig deur 'n ouer speler het ek selde 'n punt verloor, maar nooit gewen nie. Die eindtelling was 21-0, na byna 400 rondes. Dit is wat met die Weygand Line gebeur het.


Hoe het Duitsland Frankryk so vinnig in 1940 verslaan?

Hitler wou nooit wegskram van hiperbool nie, maar Hitler het voorspel dat die naderende Duitse opmars in die weste 'die grootste oorwinning in die wêreldgeskiedenis' sou meebring en 'die lot van die Duitse nasie vir die volgende duisend jaar sou bepaal'.

Hierdie westelike offensief het gevolg op die Duitse gevangenes van Denemarke en Noorweë in die lig van relatief ondoeltreffende Geallieerde verset. Dit het ook saamgeval met politieke onrus in Frankryk en Brittanje.

Op die oggend van 9 Mei het Paul Reynaud sy bedanking as premier aan die Franse president aangebied, wat verwerp is, en die aand onthef Neville Chamberlain hom van sy pos as Britse premier. Churchill neem die volgende oggend sy plek in.


Vyand, bondgenote beïndruk deur die Franse weermag

Notas skrywer Ernest R. May in sy 2001 -rekening, Vreemde oorwinning: Hitler se verowering van Frankryk: "Hierdie indruk is gedeel deur elke buitelandse waarnemer - elkeen insluitend offisiere uit Duitsland en Italië en uit Brittanje en ander nasies wat voor lank Frankryk se bondgenote sou wees." Onder hulle was inderdaad Stalin, wat toe die Franse leër as die beste op aarde beskou het, en Winston Churchill, wat geglo het dat sy Verenigde Koninkryk veilig sou wees agter die sterk skild en skerp swaard van Galliese militêre krag. Het dieselfde koalisie van magte - plus die Verenigde State - immers nie die keiserlike Duitsland in die Groot Oorlog verslaan nie?

Die mite bestaan ​​inderdaad tot vandag toe dat die val van Frankryk en haar kontinentale bondgenote in 'n kaal ses weke in 1940 vooraf bepaal is, maar dit was eenvoudig nie die geval nie. Inderdaad, beide die Franse en haar geallieerde Britse generaals en leërs het ten volle verwag wen die oorlog, soos hulle die laaste een gehad het.


Die Nazi -inval van die Balkan en Joegoslavië en 'n duur oorwinning

Vroeg in 1941 kon Adolf Hitler na 'n kaart van Oos -Europa kyk en dink dat sy planne mooi vorder. Die inval in die Sowjetunie, operasie Barbarossa, kom binne 'n paar maande, Hongarye, Roemenië en Bulgarye het by die drieparty -verdrag aangesluit, en die regering van Joego -Slawië het op 25 Maart 1941 op dieselfde aangesluit.

Miskien was die enigste probleem dat die Italianers die inval van Griekeland uit Albanië, wat in Oktober 1940 begin het, gestop het. Trouens, die Griekse weermag het 'n teenaanval gehad en die Italianers goed teruggestoot in Albanië. Maar daar was reeds planne vir die Duitse weermag om uit Bulgarye in te vee en te sorg vir wat die Italianers nie kon kry nie. Hitler het geweet dat hy die Middellandse See -hawens moes beheer as die Noord -Afrika -veldtog gewen sou word.

Maar twee dae nadat Joego -Slawië die drieparty -verdrag onderteken het, was daar 'n staatsgreep deur die meestal Serwiese weermag wat solidariteit met Griekeland bevoordeel en nouer bande met die res van die geallieerde nasies bevoordeel het. Hitler voel persoonlik verkeerd en begin met 'n nuwe plan vir 'n gelyktydige inval in Joegoslavië en Griekeland, wat op 6 April 1941 begin het.

Duitse aanvallyne in Joegoslavië en Griekeland, 6 April 1941.

Die Duitse inval in hierdie twee lande, bekend as die Balkan -veldtog, het relatief vinnig en met groot sukses gebeur. Hitler het egter die noodsaaklikheid vir hierdie aksies blameer, want die Italianers kon Griekeland nie alleen verower nie, weens die mislukking van Operasie Barbarossa en die verlies vir Rusland.

Vernietig Joegoslaviese Renault NC tenk. Deur Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Joegoslavië, hoewel die regering en weermag oorheers deur die mense van Serwië, bestaan ​​ook uit die Slowenië en Kroaties. Al hierdie mense het nou hul eie nasies sowel as die ander klein nasies van die voormalige Joegoslavië. Selfs voor die Duitse inval het Kroate en Slowenië begin rebelleer teen Serwiese bewind. Kroasië het sy eie regering gevorm en in lyn met die Nazi's. Groot dele van die Joegoslavië se leër het met die inbraak begin.

Die inval het begin met 'n massiewe lugaanval op Belgrado waarin tienduisende burgerlikes dood is.

Baie min georganiseerde verset het die Duitsers ontmoet buite etniese Serwiërs wat in Serwië geveg het. Ondanks die feit dat 700 000 troepe, alhoewel baie swak opgelei en toegerus, voor die inval was, het die Joego -Slawiese weerstand baie vinnig verbrokkel en in slegs 12 dae geëindig.

Duitse Panzer IV van die 11de Panzer -afdeling wat uit Bulgarye na Joegoslavië gevorder het as deel van die Twaalfde Leër. Deur Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Joegoslavië het wel 'n dwingende strategie gehad as hy te kampe het met 'n oorweldigende Duitse inval: terugtrek van alle fronte behalwe die suidelike, vorder op die Italiaanse posisies in Albanië, ontmoet die Griekse leër en bou 'n aansienlike Suidfront. Maar as gevolg van die vinnige val van die land en onvoldoende winste teen die Italiaanse leër, het hierdie stap misluk en Joegoslavië het aan Duitsland oorgegee.

Die Grieke het ietwat beter gevaar as gevolg van 'n koninkryk wat baie minder verdeeld was en as gevolg van aansienlike steun van Britse keiserlike magte, waaronder Australië, Nieu -Seeland, Palestina en Ciprus.

Griekse soldate trek terug in April 1941. Deur Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Die Britte kon egter nie naastenby genoeg troepe tot die verdediging van Griekeland toewy nie, en die ontplooiing van meer as 60 000 mans is hewig gekritiseer en beskou as 'n grootliks simboliese gebaar van ondersteuning om 'n 'gentleman ’s' ere -oorlog te beveg sekerlik verlore.

Die Grieke het 'n formidabele verdediging van die frontlyn langs hul noordoostelike grens met Bulgarye gehad, die Metaxas Line genoem. Soortgelyk aan die Maginot -lyn in Frankryk, bevat dit bokse en ander versterkings. Maar die Grieke, wat die grootste deel van hul leër gehad het teen die Italianers in Albanië teen die Weste, was nie naastenby bereid om dit goed te verdedig nie. Hulle het dit in elk geval gedoen, ondanks Britse versoeke om 'n korter, meer gekonsentreerde lyn verder na die Griekse vasteland te vorm.

Duitse artillerie wat tydens die opmars deur Griekeland afgevuur het. Deur Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Die blitskriegoorlog van Duitsland het voor -voor langs die oostekant van Griekeland gedruk, en geleidelik die onbevoegde Grieke en numeries minderwaardige Britte oor 'n paar weke verslaan. Hulle het Athene op 27 April bereik.

Die pad na die oorwinning van die Ryk op die Griekse vasteland (Kreta val nie tot 1 Junie 1941 nie) sou baie stadiger gewees het as dit beter gegaan het met die Geallieerdes in die noorde en weste. Die vinnige ineenstorting van Joego -Slawië was nie te wagte nie en Duitse magte wat oor die grens ingesluip het, kon die Grieke en die Britse gevegte na die Ooste flank en die Griekse leër wat die Italianers in die Weste beveg.

Verwoesting na die Duitse bombardement op Piraeus.

Die Grieke, wat huiwerig was om toe te gee aan die Italiaanse leër teen wie hulle so goed gevaar het, sou nie hul voorkant terugtrek totdat dit te laat was nie en die Duitsers wat uit Joegoslavië opklim, hulle flank en hul oorgawe dwing.

Daar is 'n onbevestigde legende dat 'n Evzone -soldaat (elite Griekse infanterie) met die naam Konstantinos Koukidis die Griekse vlag laat sak het en geweier het om dit aan die Duitse offisier oor te gee, toe die Duitsers Athene binnegaan en na die Akropolis marsjeer. Hy het homself in die vlag toegedraai en van die Akropolis afgespring tot sy dood.

Met sulke verhale, 'n lang onlangse geskiedenis van volhoubare besetting deur lande van buite soos Venesië en die Ottomaanse Ryk, en optrede uit Duitsland, soos om die Griekse leër toe te gee aan hulle en nie Italië nie, en om te ontbind en huis toe te gaan in plaas van as gevangenes geneem te word , het Griekeland toegelaat om trots te red.

Duitse valskermsoldate land op Kreta. Deur Wiki-Ed – CC BY-SA 3.0

Volgens die 1995 boek Griekeland 1940-41: Ooggetuie, deur Maria Fafalios en Costas Hadjipateras, op die vooraand van die Duitsers wat die hoofstad binnekom, het Athene Radio hierdie boodskap uitgesaai:

U luister na die stem van Griekeland. Grieke, staan ​​vas, trots en waardig. U moet bewys dat u u geskiedenis waardig is. Die dapperheid en oorwinning van ons leër is reeds erken. Die geregtigheid van ons saak sal ook erken word. Ons het ons plig eerlik gedoen. Vriende! Hou Griekeland in u hart, leef geïnspireer met die vuur van haar laaste triomf en die heerlikheid van ons leër.

Griekeland sal weer lewe en wonderlik wees omdat sy eerlik vir 'n regverdige saak en vir vryheid geveg het. Broers! Hou moed en geduld. Wees stewig. Ons sal hierdie ontberings oorkom. Grieke! Met Griekeland in u gedagtes, moet u trots en waardig wees. Ons was 'n eerlike nasie en dapper soldate ”.


Myspace Collapse: hoe die sosiale netwerk uitmekaar val

Tom is nie meer iemand se vriend nie. Myspace, die eens beroemde knooppunt van sosiale aktiwiteite, skaamtelose promosie-promosies op die C-lys en 'n goeie plek vir die meeste musiekoptrede, word teen groot verlies verkoop deur die moedermaatskappy News Corp.

Net meer as drie jaar gelede, in die lente van 2008, was Myspace die beste hond. In April het die opkomende Facebook die voortou geneem en nooit weer teruggekyk nie. In die drie jaar het Myspace meer as veertig miljoen unieke besoekers per maand verloor, albei medestigters verloor, die oorgrote meerderheid van sy personeel afgedank en meer algemeen, tot 'n deurmekaar gedagte van die krag wat dit eens was.

Maar hoe het dinge so vinnig versuur? Kritici wys op die konsekwente administratiewe en strategiese foute van Myspace, gekombineer met 'n oënskynlike onvermoë om te ontwikkel met die sosiale web wat dit gehelp het om in te stel. Daardie sosiale web wat meer en meer deur mededingende Facebook gedomineer sal word, wat Myspace laat skarrel om by te bly.

"Myspace is geskep deur mense in die vermaaklikheidsbedryf, nie deur tegnologie -goeroes nie, daarom kon hulle nie innoveer in die tempo wat hulle nodig gehad het om te kompeteer nie," het Connie Chan, 'n ontleder van Chess Media Group, in 'n e -pos aan HuffPost gesê. "Toe Facebook op die toneel verskyn, verskyn 'n nuwer beter manier om met u vriende te netwerk - Facebook bied iets so basies as om u werklike vriende teenoor anonieme vriende te sien."

Myspace, wat in 2003 gestig is, het vinnig opgestyg en is in 2005 deur News Corp vir $ 580 miljoen gekoop. Teen 2006 was Myspace die beste sosiale netwerk in die land. 'N Paar jaar later sou dit die pos afstaan ​​aan Facebook, wat sy webwerf in September 2006 vir alle besoekers oopgemaak het, en Myspace in April 2008 sou inhaal.

Maar die aanneming deur News Corp het ook nie veel gehelp nie. Rupert Murdoch-een keer verheug oor sy nuwe koop-het gou sy aandag daarop gevestig om die Wall Street Journal te volg.

"Kultuur verander en word vinnig deur tegnologie moontlik gemaak," het Chan gesê. "News Corp se ou skooldenke en waarskynlik rompslomp was ook faktore in die val van Myspace."

'Ons moet erken dat ons die afgelope 3 of 4 jaar 'n paar groot foute begaan het,' het Murdoch gesê.

In 'n onderhoud met Businessweek het die voormalige stigter, Chris DeWolfe, Myspace se te veel entoesiasme en onderuitvoering aan die produkkant die skuld gegee vir baie van die webwerf se probleme.

'Ons het probeer om elke funksie in die wêreld te skep en gesê:' OK, ons kan dit doen, waarom moet ons 'n derde party dit laat doen? ' 'sê DeWolfe. 'Ons moes vyf tot tien sleutelfunksies gekies het waarop ons heeltemal gefokus het en ander mense laat innoveer oor alles anders.'

In plaas daarvan het Myspace 'n hele klompie produkte losgelaat wat karig en disfunksioneel was, gebruikers verwarrend en vervreem, terwyl hulle nie met Facebook se eie vordering kon meeding nie.

"[Myspace het misluk] om die produkontwikkeling uit te voer," het die voormalige Facebook -president, Sean Parker, in 'n onlangse onderhoud gesê. 'Hulle het nie daarin geslaag om die produk genoegsaam te herhaal en te ontwikkel nie; dit was basies hierdie gemors van slegte ontwerp wat baie jare lank voortduur. sou Facebook gewees het. Die netwerk -effekte, die skaaleffekte was enorm. Daar was soveel krag daar. "

Anders as Facebook, wat derdeparty-ontwikkelaars in 2007 programme op die webwerf laat skep het, het Myspace die idee vasgehou dat dit 'n geruime tyd sy eie produkte sou kon skep. Dit het byna 'n jaar geneem nadat Facebook die besluit geneem het dat Myspace uiteindelik instem om ontwikkelaars op die webwerf toe te laat. Natuurlik het programme-insluitend gewilde sosiale speletjies soos Farmville-baie bygedra tot die sukses van Facebook.

In 2006 het Peter Chernin, bedryfshoof van News Corp, getoon dat Myspace blind is vir die veranderings wat daar rondom plaasvind.

'As u na feitlik enige Web 2.0-toepassing kyk, of dit nou YouTube is, of dit nou Flickr is, of dit Photobucket of enige van die volgende generasie webtoepassings is, word byna almal werklik van die agterkant van Myspace afgedryf,' het Chernin gesê. na ReadWriteWeb. "Aangesien die meeste van hul verkeer van ons afkomstig is," het hy gesê, "as ons voldoende, indien nie beter mededingers bou nie, dink ek dat ons dit moet kan pas as ons dit nie oorskry nie."

Volgens Businessweek het die druk om inkomste te verhoog, toe ander ondernemings die luukse van waaggeld gebruik het om te skep en te verken, die moontlikheid verswak dat Myspace die asemhalingsruimte het wat nodig was om te innoveer. Bestuurders was eerder daarop ingestel om advertensiewins te probeer verhoog-'n missie wat eers verskerp het toe Google in 2006 $ 900 miljoen betaal het vir 'n advertensieooreenkoms van drie jaar wat afhang van die webwerf se verkeer.

"Daar was groot druk om inkomste te verhoog," het Shawn Gold, Myspace se voormalige hoof van bemarking en inhoud, aan Businessweek gesê. 'Daar was dinge wat ons geweet het dat die gebruiker meer doeltreffend sou wees, waarna ons nie dadelik opgetree het nie, omdat dit die aansig van die bladsye sou verminder, wat die resultaat sou benadeel.'

"Toe ons die Google -ooreenkoms doen, het ons die advertensies op ons webwerf basies verdubbel," het DeWolfe gesê. In vergelyking met Facebook se vaartbelynde aanbod, was die advertensiebelaaide, oorweldigend onberispelike uitleg van MsSpace 'n oogkans.

Myspace het ook te doen gehad met 'n openbare beeldprobleem. Die netwerk het begin oorstroom met skaars geklede toekomstige beroemdhede, wat die webwerf gevul het met hoogs seksualiseerde foto's wat gelei het tot die aantasting van die webwerf as 'n broeikas van onwelvoeglikheid. In Februarie 2006 het 'n ondersoek in Connecticut of Myspace minderjariges aan pornografie blootstel, die openbare mening bevestig dat Myspace nie veilig is nie.

Navorser Danah Boyd het gebruikersmigrasie van Myspace na Facebook vergelyk met witvlug, en dit is die geval dat Myspace as 'n 'digitale ghetto' beskou word, terwyl Facebook 'n veilige hawe was vir meer elite -gebruikers.

Ironies genoeg, het Myspace se wanhopige pogings om sy vorige sukses te herstel, gekom in die vorm van die navolging van Facebook, 'n webwerf wat hy ooit probeer onderskei het. Dit het die nuusvoer aanvaar wat Facebook gewild gemaak het, en die webwerf self opgeruim op 'n manier wat ook suggereer dat dit visuele leidrade van Zuckerberg se bladsy haal. In November 2010 het die webwerf met Facebook Connect geïntegreer en dit 'Mashup with Facebook' genoem.

Die laaste poging van Myspace was om homself te hermerk as 'n vermaaklikheidspunt, en dit het die sterk punte wat dit nog het, bevoordeel. Baie bands het nog steeds die webwerf gebruik as hul primêre metode om na aanhangers uit te saai. Volgens Reuters het Mike Jones, uitvoerende hoof van Myspace, dit duidelik gemaak dat die webwerf nie meer direk met Facebook meeding nie, maar eerder 'n aanvullende diens sou probeer lewer.

Maar dit was eenvoudig nie genoeg nie. Die webwerf, wat die afgelope twee jaar gemiddeld meer as 'n miljoen gebruikers per maand verloor het, was duidelik wankelrig. Mede-stigters DeWolfe en Tom Anderson verlaat die perseel in 2009. Die plaasvervanger Owen Van Natta vertrek minder as 'n jaar nadat hy oorgeneem het.

Myspace is uiteindelik deur Specific Media aangekoop vir $ 35 miljoen - $ 65 miljoen minder as die vraprys van News Corp, en meer as $ 500 miljoen minder as wat News Corp betaal het. Woensdag het Myspace meer as die helfte van die oorblywende 450 werknemers afgedank.


Junie: Frankryk

Die beste en mees moderne Franse leërs is noordwaarts gestuur en verlore gegaan in die gevolglike omsingeling, die Franse het baie van hul swaar wapens en hul beste gepantserde formasies verloor. Weygand het die vooruitsig gehad om 'n lang front te verdedig (wat van Sedan tot by die Kanaal strek), met 'n sterk uitgeputte Franse leër wat nie beduidende steun van die Geallieerdes ontbreek nie. 60 afdelings was nodig om die 600 km lange frontlyn te beman; Weygand het slegs 64 Franse en een oorblywende Britse afdeling beskikbaar. Daarom, in teenstelling met die Duitsers, het hy geen beduidende reserwes gehad om 'n deurbraak teë te werk of om troepe in die voorste linie te vervang nie, as hulle uit 'n lang geveg uitgeput raak. Sou die frontlyn verder suidwaarts gestoot word, sou dit noodwendig te lank word vir die Franse om dit te beman. Sommige elemente van die Franse leierskap het openlik moed verloor, veral toe die Britte die kontinent ontruim het. Die ontruiming van Duinkerken was 'n knou vir die Franse moraal, aangesien dit as 'n daad van verlating beskou word. As gevolg van hierdie ernstige situasie, het Italië op 10 Junie oorlog verklaar teen Frankryk en Brittanje.

Die Duitsers hernu hul offensief op 5 Junie op die Somme. 'N Aanval het die skaars reserwes wat Weygand tussen die Duitsers en die hoofstad geplaas het, verbreek, en op 10 Junie het die Franse regering na Bordeaux gevlug en Parys as 'n oop stad verklaar. Churchill keer op 11 Junie terug na Frankryk en ontmoet die Franse Oorlogsraad in Briare. Die Franse versoek dat Brittanje alle beskikbare vegvliegtuie voorsien om in die geveg te help. Met slegs 25 eskaders wat oorbly, weier Churchill, en glo op hierdie stadium dat die beslissende stryd oor Brittanje gevoer sou word (sien Slag van Brittanje). Churchill het tydens die vergadering die Franse admiraal Fran & ccedilois Darlan die versekering gekry dat die vloot nie in Duitse hande sou val nie. Op 14 Junie het Parys, waarvan die gevangenskap die Duitse leër in die Eerste Wêreldoorlog so ontwyk het, nadat dit tot 'n oop stad verklaar was, op die Wehrmacht geval, wat die tweede keer in minder as 100 jaar was dat Parys deur Duitser gevange geneem is magte (die voormalige wat tydens die Frans-Pruisiese oorlog van 1870-1871 plaasgevind het).

Die ontruiming van die tweede BEF het plaasgevind tydens Operasie Ariel gedurende die 15 - 25 Junie.

Die geveg het in die ooste voortgeduur totdat generaal Pretelat, onder bevel van die Franse Tweede Leërgroep, op 22 Junie gedwing is om oor te gee.


Hoe het die Weygand Line so vinnig in duie gestort? - Geskiedenis

Slag om België, wat ook bekend staan ​​as die Belgiese veldtog, het oor agtien dae plaasgevind in 'n deel van die Slag van Frankryk in 1940. Dit was 'n offensiewe operasie deur die Duitsers in WO2. Die geallieerde leërs het gedink dat hierdie geveg die hoofaanval van Duitsland was, en daarom het hulle probeer om die Duitsers in België te belemmer.

Die geveg eindig met die Duitsers wat België beset nadat die Belgiese leër oorgegee het. Die Belgiese veldtog sluit die Slag van Fort Eben-Emael in, wat die eerste taktiese operasie in die lug was deur valskermsoldate te gebruik. Dit het ook die eerste tenkgeveg (Slag van Hannut) van die oorlog ingesluit. Die ineenstorting van die Belg het daartoe gelei dat die Geallieerde magte hulle van kontinentale Europa onttrek het.

Belgiese neutraliteit

Voor die Tweede Wêreldoorlog pleit koning Leopold van België vir 'n meer onafhanklike buitelandse beleid vir België. By twee geleenthede pleit hy vir bemiddeling van die konflik tussen die Westerse bondgenote en Nazi -magte 'n paar maande voor en na die oorlog in 1939.

Alhoewel Duitsland België in 1914 binnegeval het, het België na die oorlog teruggekeer na 'n neutraliteitsbeleid. Voor die inval van 1940 bevorder koning Leopold die bou van belangrike defensiewe versterkings van Namen tot Antwerpen voor die grens van Duitsland. Die Duitsers het egter vinnig die verdediging ingeneem. Belge was ten volle ondersteun van Leopold se strategie van gewapende neutraliteit. Belge wou alleen en in vrede gelaat word.

Inval van Duitsland

Die Duitsers het België vir die tweede keer binnegeval op 10 Mei 1940. Die Duitsers het tegelykertyd Nederland en België getref, wat die begin was van die lang verwagte Duitse inval in die Weste. Hulle het hul westelike veldtog op 'n wye front teen die neutrale België, Nederland en Luxemburg begin.

Die Belgiese verdedigers

Aanvanklik het België aangesluit by die Geallieerdes van die Eerste Wêreldoorlog na die eerste Duitse inval. Toe die oorlog geëindig het, het die Belge egter besluit om veiligheid te soek deur middel van 'n neutraliteitsbeleid. Daar was geen militêre samewerking met Frankryk en Brittanje nie, aangesien Adolf Hitler geleidelik na die oorlog beweeg het.

Antiwar -sentiment was sterk in België, aangesien die Belge gedink het dat enige samewerking met die Geallieerdes die aggressie van die Duitsers sou lok. Om hierdie rede, toe Hitler die Tweede Wêreldoorlog aanhits, bevestig die regering van België haar neutraliteit en weier om die Franse en die Britte toe te laat om die land binne te kom om die verdediging van België te versterk.

Fort Eban-Emael

Dit was 'n groot ondergrondse fort wat oor drie goed beveiligde brûe oor die Albertkanaal gedomineer het. Die fort is op die Franse Maginot Line -forte geskoei en word as ondeurdringbaar beskou.

Meer as 1200 Belgiese soldate het die fort 24/7 beman. Ten spyte van hierdie sterk verdediging, het 'n 400-man Duitse sweeftuigmag die fort stilgemaak teen die dagbreek van 10 Mei 1940 en 9 sweeftuie direk op die top van die Fort geland. Hulle het toe deur die dakke na die geweerplekke gedwing en die gewere vinnig uitgeskakel.

Nadat die verdedigende artillerie vernietig is, het die res van die Duitse troepe 2 van die 3 lewensbelangrike brûe oor die kanaal beveilig. Dit het die Duitse pantsertroepe ook in staat gestel om binne 'n paar uur die goed versterkte Belgiese grens oor te steek sonder enige weerstand of geveg.

Die K-W lyn

Belge het van 10 tot 13 Mei alleen op die K-W-lyn gehou, wat 'n baie sterk verdediging bied. Op 13 Mei ontplooi die Duitsers die Panzer-afdeling wat deur Luftwaffe gesteun is en deur die geallieerde lyne in die Ardenne-woud breek.

Die Belge en die Franse was baie geskok hieroor, aangesien hulle geglo het dat die gebied waar die Maginot -lyn naby Sedan eindig, ondeurdringbaar is. Toe die Duitsers in die Sedan -gebied deurbreek, trek die Franse troepe terug. Dit het die Belgiese troepe gedwing om hul sterk verdedigingsposisie langs die K-W-lyn te laat vaar.

Britse magte ondersteun die Nederlanders in die Noorde

Na die inval van die Nazi's in Pole op 1 September 1939, bevestig Brittanje oorlog teen Duitsland. Die BEF (British Expeditionary Force) is na Frankryk gestuur en het hom langs die Belgiese grens geposisioneer. Die BEF is ondersteun deur Royal Air Force wat uit 500 vliegtuie bestaan ​​het. BEF was tydens die Duitse inval onder bevel van generaal Lord Gort.

Ondanks hul volledig gemeganiseerde mag, was die BEF nie voorbereid op Blitzkrieg toe die Duitse magte in die Weste toeslaan nie. By die besef van die aanval het Gort die BEF na die noorde gestuur om die Nederlanders en die Belge te help. Die Nederlanders het egter oorgegee ná die bombardement in Rotterdam, selfs voor die aankoms van die BEF. Op 20 Mei het die Duitsers die kanaal naby Abbeville bereik en koning Leopold en sy leër afgesny.

Dit het ook beteken dat België omring was en die Duitsers nader gekom het om België te beset. Die Duitsers het 'n paar pamflette laat val wat die Belgiese soldate ingelig het dat Leopold na Engeland vertrek het. Die koning het egter 'n boodskap aan sy soldate gestuur om hulle in kennis te stel dat hy hul lot sou deel, ongeag wat gebeur het.

Belgiese oorgawe

Op 28 Mei het Leopold, sonder enige konsultasie met die Geallieerdes of sy kabinet, sy leër oorgegee en hom aan die Duitsers toegegee. Die optrede van die koning was wydverspreid deur die Belge regoor die land. Die oorgawe het die BEF ook krities blootgestel, en die Britte moes uit die Belgiese hawe Duinkerke onttrek. Alhoewel die BEF naby Hitler se greep was, het hy sy magte beveel om die Britte nie verder te jaag nie. Dit het die BEF in staat gestel om hul manne sowel as baie Franse soldate te ontruim.

Daar is teenstrydige inligting oor die rede waarom Hitler die Britte toegelaat het om te vertrek sonder om hulle te benadeel. Sommige sê dat hy moes hergroepeer en voorberei op 'n groter geveg, terwyl sommige suggereer dat hy wou hê dat die gebaar die BEF moes oortuig. Aan die ander kant was die Franse Eerste leër omsingel, maar hulle het voortgegaan om te veg ondanks die oorgawe van die Belge. Hierdie weerstand was deurslaggewend in die sukses van die ontruiming in Duinkerken. Die Britte het alle beskikbare vliegtuie oor die kanaal geneem en gehelp om ongeveer 340 000 man te ontruim.

Slagoffers

Die presiese aantal ongevalle in die Belgiese veldtog is nie bekend nie. Die Belgiese slagoffers word egter geraam op 6,090 sterftes, 200,000 gevang en 15,000 beseer.

Gedurende die Belgiese veldtog het die Franse die volgende aantal ongevalle gely: 90,000 dood in aksie en 200,000 beseer.

Die Britte daarenteen het die volgende geraamde aantal slagoffers van 10 Mei tot 22 Junie opgedoen: 68 000 dood, gewond of gevang en 64 000 voertuie vernietig.

Die Duitsers het ook 10 232 mans deur die dood verloor, terwyl 8 463 soldate en offisiere as vermis aangemeld is. 42 500 soldate is beseer.

2 antwoorde op “Battle of Belgium ”

My pa, William Smith Dixon, was op 29 Mei 1940 nog in aksie om 'n kanaal in NE België te verdedig en is met sy militêre medalje bekroon vir sy dapperheid. , het hy op sy pos gebly totdat sy CO Lt Forbes gewond is, waarna hy hom teruggeneem het na 'n veldhospitaal voordat hy oor die land na Dunkirk vlug en na 'n troepeskip swem; later dien hy in Noord -Afrika waar hy sy reg verloor. arm by Tobruk. dit het daartoe gelei dat hy na Engeland teruggestuur is.

Op 20 Mei 1940, naby Abbeyville, was my groot oom, sers. Percy. 'N Gars (796842) het sy lewe verloor deur die agterkant te verdedig. Ongelukkig is hy dood in ACTION, sê sommige deur vriendelike vuur. Hy was lid van 52 swaar attilary Bedfordshire en Hampshire Yeomanry, onder bevel van 'n antitank -geweerspanne. Ons vergeet ten minste. Op 20ste het die Duitsers die kanaal bereik naby Abbeyville … Geplaas op die Dunkirk Memorial “God seën ons held ” ❤️


Churchill neem beheer

Teen 1940 lyk dit asof die hoë gety van Duitse oorwinnings 'n meedoënlose, nagmerrievolle Nazi -hegemonie oor die Europese vasteland voorspel, 'n moontlikheid wat Winston Churchill gewaarsku het die wêreld kan laat sink "in die afgrond van 'n nuwe donker era wat meer sinister en miskien meer uitgerek word deur die ligte van verdraaide wetenskap. ” Begin Julie het die nuwe premier egter 'n paar van die skrikwekkendste probleme opgelos wat 'n staatsman ooit gekonfronteer het: die ineenstorting van Frankryk, Britse politieke opposisie teen 'n voortsetting van die oorlog, betrekkinge met die Verenigde State en die tegnologiese bedreiging wat die Luftwaffe‘s blinde bombardemente. Churchill het Brittanje, en uiteindelik die Verenigde State, op 'n pad gesit na die vernietiging van Nazi -Duitsland.

9 Mei 1940. Laatmiddag kom drie van die magtigste politici van Brittanje - premier Neville Chamberlain, minister van buitelandse sake, Lord Halifax en eerste heer van die admiraliteit Winston Churchill - bymekaar in 'n kamer. Geen stenograwe is teenwoordig nie, maar Chamberlain se dagboek en die herinneringe van Halifax en Churchill skets hoe hul bespreking waarskynlik gevorder het. Die vergadering sou bepaal wie die volgende premier sou wees en sal dus die gevaarlike koers van Brittanje oor die komende jare en miskien vir dekades daarna bepaal.

Chamberlain het pas in vernedering toegekyk hoe meer as 100 konserwatiewe parlementslede teen sy regering stem. Dit is duidelik dat hy nie meer as die Britse leier kon dien nie. Maar wie sou hom opvolg? As hoof van die Konserwatiewe Party het Chamberlain die beslissende stem. In die vergadering bied hy eers die posisie aan Halifax, wat die regering se paaiingsbeleid ondersteun het gedurende die laat 1930's en aanspraak maak op wydverspreide steun onder die konserwatiewe meerderheid, wat sedert 1935 die House of Commons oorheers het.

Tog is die aanbod van die premier voorwaardelik: Chamberlain sou in die regering bly en die hoof van die laerhuis staan, terwyl Churchill die oorlog sou voer. Halifax sou die regering in die House of Lords lei. Hy sou in werklikheid 'n titulêre posisie inneem. Hy verwerp die aanbod. Soos Halifax later aan sir Alexander Cadogan, die nr. 2 in die ministerie van buitelandse sake, verduidelik het: 'As ek nie in beheer was van die oorlog nie, en as ek nie in die huis [van die laer] gelei het nie, sou ek 'n kodeerder moes wees . ” Chamberlain hou vas aan die hoop dat hy in die amp kan bly - dit wil sê totdat die leiers van die Arbeidersparty later die middag geweier het om by 'n eenheidsregering aan te sluit.

En so word Churchill premier onder die onaangenaamste omstandighede - 'n feit wat hy ten volle waardeer. Soos hy aan sy speurderwag opgemerk het nadat hy sy aanstelling van koning George VI ontvang het: “God weet hoe groot die [taak] is. Ek hoop dat dit nie te laat is nie. Ek is baie bang dat dit so is. Ons kan net ons bes doen. ”

Many of Britain’s elite are initially hostile to his assumption of office, including the king himself, Halifax, most of those who had supported Chamberlain’s dismal appeasement policy, many of Britain’s leading military figures, most Conservative members of parliament and others who simply mistrust the new PM’s judgment. The first time Churchill walks into the House as prime minister, the Conservative benches maintain a grim silence, while they greet Chamberlain with cheers. Churchill retorts by informing the party’s chief whip that a similar demonstration in future will force him to seek a popular election, which, given the Conservatives’ failed foreign policy, would result in a political disaster for them.

For the next two months, Churchill would tread warily through the political minefields while making a series of ruthless decisions, such as dropping arch appeaser Samuel Hoare from the cabinet and shipping him off to Spain as British ambassador. Ironically, one of Churchill’s major supporters would be Chamberlain, who came to realize Britain could reach no accord with Adolf Hitler, an opinion Halifax did not share—which may have played in Chamberlain’s offer of a nominal prime ministership.

But Churchill’s political difficulties would pale in comparison to what he was to confront in the strategic and military realms.

On May 10, 1940, the day Churchill took office, the Germans came west with a vengeance. Over the previous six years the West had lost every advantage it once held over Nazi Germany. Moreover, the refusal of Allied governments to undertake any significant military actions against the Reich since its declaration of war on Sept. 3, 1939, had allowed Germany to husband its strength for one great blow. That blow fell during Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), code name for the spring 1940 offensive. Though the Germans left less than half a dozen divisions along the border with Soviet-occupied Poland, the Soviets would stand by and watch the Western Front vanish.

Germany held only marginal advantages in ground strength, but the Luftwaffe boasted air superiority on the Continent, as many of the Allies’ most advanced aircraft were committed to the defense of the United Kingdom. One lasting myth is that France collapsed before the German onslaught with little opposition. In fact, most French soldiers fought tenaciously: More than 100,000 of them would die pour la patrie tydens die Slag van Frankryk. Due to appallingly bad leadership at every level of the French military, however, their efforts were for naught.

In March 1940, French commander in chief Maurice Gamelin, among the most arrogantly incompetent generals in French history, transferred the army’s main reserve from the Reims area, where it was ideally positioned to smash into the main German line of advance through the Ardennes, to the far west of the Allied line, where it was to play no significant role. On May 12, three German panzer corps arrived on the banks of the Meuse. Over the next three days, they achieved one of history’s most decisive tactical victories, which ultimately led to the Fall of France.

Churchill’s first inkling of the unfolding disaster came on May 15, when, as he later recalled in his memoirs, he received a despairing call from French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud: “We have been defeated. We are beaten. We have lost the battle. The road to Paris is open. We are defeated.” The British immediately dispatched to France four more Hurricane fighter squadrons. The next day, as bad news continued to pour in, Churchill flew to Paris to meet with Reynaud and Gamelin. Churchill first asked in English, “Where is the strategic reserve?” and then in his appallingly bad French, “Où est la masse de manoeuvre?” Gamelin’s one-word reply, “Aucune!” (none), was an admission of strategic and operational bankruptcy.

Churchill then faced the difficult task of bucking up a deeply discouraged French leadership that was certain of its pending defeat—a correct assumption at least as far as metropolitan France was concerned. That growing defeatism at the highest levels only deepened when Reynaud fired Gamelin, replaced him with General Maxime Weygand and recalled aged French Marshal Philippe Pétain from his position as French ambassador to Spain. Both soon participated in efforts to undermine the Reynaud government and seek an armistice with the Germans. Thus, Churchill also confronted the hard reality that Britain’s main ally was faltering in its willingness to pursue the war, while on the home front Halifax was insisting both within and outside the cabinet that the military situation was hopeless and Britain must cut a deal with the Nazis before it was too late.

The most obvious aid the British could provide was to send further fighter squadrons to reinforce a French air force that had begun its rearmament far too late, was being badly battered by the Luftwaffe and was losing bases in northern France to onrushing German panzer divisions. But every squadron Britain sent to France diminished its own defenses. Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, the head of Royal Air Force (RAF) Fighter Command, vehemently resisted sending his squadrons to France. On May 20, Churchill, who unlike U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt was never to overrule his military advisers during the course of the war, bowed to Dowding’s strong protests.

The issue came up again in early June, when desperate French appeals for air support led Churchill to re-approach the cabinet for additional air support. The most to which his colleagues would agree were three more squadrons of Hurricanes. Again Dowding spoke out strongly against the allotment, pointing out that between May 8 and 18, Fighter Command had lost 250 Hurricanes, with additional heavy losses among Spitfire squadrons on the Dunkirk perimeter.

Churchill also had to address a looming technological issue. R.V. Jones, a 29-year-old Cambridge-educated physicist, had been recently appointed the Air Ministry’s deputy director of intelligence research. On the basis of fairly flimsy evidence, Jones determined that the Germans were planning to use intersecting radio beams for blind bombing at night or in periods of bad weather. Virtually the entire RAF senior leadership and many of Britain’s leading physicists dismissed Jones’ theory as sheer nonsense, unworthy of further investigation.

Regardless, the matter went before the cabinet, and Jones was forced to defend his conclusions. No one in the room accepted his arguments—except the prime minister. Here Churchill proved his ability to divine what really mattered. Even if there were only a 5 percent chance Jones was correct, Britain could not afford to gamble. Churchill ordered the RAF to test Jones’ theory. Sure enough, on the second night of tests, an RAF aircraft equipped with sophisticated radio gear detected the German Knickebein (crooked leg) system. In the winter of 1940–41 the British were able to use countermeasures to distort the system, rendering ineffective most of the German night bombing raids at a time when the RAF had few other defenses.

May 20, the same day Churchill suspended further air reinforcements to France, the prime minister ordered the admiralty to begin gathering “a large number of vessels in readiness to proceed to ports and inlets on the French coast.” As the German drive curved toward Abbeville and the English Channel , the British were forced to consider how and when to save their army.

The French showed no interest in preparing for any such evacuation from the steadily forming pocket. In fact, General Weygand, the new commander of the French army, seemed bent on creating a morass even the British could not escape. He proposed a major drive, led by units of the British Expeditionary Force, from the Allied left in Belgium to the south, where they would supposedly meet up with nonexistent French forces driving north.

Here, Lord Gort, commander of the BEF, took matters into his own hands. Gort was not a great general, or even necessarily a competent one, but at the right moment he made the absolutely right decision. Initially, he was willing to launch a counterattack a British tank attack near Arras had caused the Germans some bad moments. But now, facing a German advance toward his rear and with no significant help from the French, Gort ordered his forces to retreat to the channel coast. It was a decision of great moral courage that made possible “the miracle of Dunkirk,” enabling the British army to fight another day.

Nevertheless, Gort’s decision caused Churchill great difficulties with the French. Weygand blamed the British for thwarting his plans to launch a counterattack. And now Allied forces were gathering along the channel coast to attempt the impossible—an amphibious evacuation of more than 300,000 men. To German and French generals, the channel was a realm where serious military operations simply did not take place.

But in grand British naval tradition, the world’s oceans comprised a great highway. As Churchill was to say later, wars are not won by evacuations, but Dunkirk represented a great moral victory, one that Churchill’s magnificent oratory further magnified.

Meanwhile, Churchill was shuttling back and forth in a desperate attempt to keep the French in the war, at one point suggesting to Reynaud a union of their two nations. But Pétain’s and Weygand’s infectious defeatism had spread, and no amount of Churchill’s persuasive rhetoric could dissuade the French leadership from its belief that all was lost. The collapse of French defenses along the Somme in early June forecast the impending fall of metropolitan France. Churchill urged the French to fight on from their territories in North Africa and elsewhere. But to French leaders like Pétain, there was nothing of worth outside la belle France. Moreover, they were convinced Britain, too, would soon fall to Hitler’s seemingly invincible legions. Or as Weygand put it, Britain would “soon have her neck wrung like a chicken.”

In a meeting with the French less than a week before they capitulated, Churchill urged them to at least pursue the option of guerrilla war, a suggestion Weygand rejected out of hand even though their ancestors had pursued precisely that course against the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War. Churchill underlined Britain’s intention to fight on no matter the cost. When Reynaud asked what the British would do when the might of the Wehrmacht fell on them, Churchill replied furiously, “Drown as many as possible on the way over, and then frapper sur la tête [strike on the head] anyone who managed to crawl ashore.”

That “certain eventuality,” as British chiefs of staff termed the Fall of France, became official on June 22, when Marshal Pétain’s government signed an armistice with Nazi Germany, ending the first phase of the conflict.

As France steadily succumbed, a new threat had reared its head: Fascist Italy. The worse the news was from France, the more obvious became Benito Mussolini’s desire to join his fellow dictator at feasting on the spoils of victory. The French leadership pleaded with its Allies to bribe “Il Duce” to stay out of the war. No one, Churchill included, recognized the incompetence that would undermine Italy’s ability to be anything but a drain on the Germans.

There had been an opportunity in late August 1939 to draw Mussolini’s regime into the war. At the time, Allied ground forces in Egypt and Tunisia could have savaged Italian forces in neighboring Libya while their navies drove the Italian navy into hiding. But Allied generals, admirals and politicians had been too pusillanimous to take the plunge. Chamberlain had actually raised the possibility of a preemptive strike, but the French and British chiefs of staff had talked the prime minister out of the idea even as the Blitzkrieg enveloped Poland.

On June 10, Mussolini made the first move, announcing from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia in central Rome to the bellowing multitudes below that Fascist Italy was entering the war on Germany’s side. Roosevelt summed up the move in a speech later that day at the University of Virginia: “The hand that held the dagger has struck into the back of its neighbor.”

In the week before the French quit, Mussolini launched a series of ill-planned attacks on southern France that resulted in tens of thousands of Italian casualties. Over the coming year the Italians would suffer further disastrous defeats at the hands of small British forces. But that was in the future.

As the situation on the Continent deteriorated, Halifax pressed Churchill to reach a deal with the Germans. The differences between the two boiled over during a May 27 cabinet meeting. The prime minister criticized France’s repeated attempts to drag Britain into negotiations with the Germans. “Under no conditions would we contemplate any course except fighting to the finish,” he insisted. Halifax suggested to colleagues that Britain should still entertain a German offer “which would save the country from avoidable disaster.” He pointed to Churchill’s own recent admission that peace might be possible should the Germans offer terms that would not compromise Britain’s independence.

As Halifax recorded in his diary: I thought he [Churchill] talked the most frightful rot, also [cabinet minister Arthur] Greenwood. And after bearing it for some time, I said exactly what I thought of them, adding that if that was their view, and if it came to the point, our ways would separate.

But there was never any indication Germany was willing to guarantee Britain’s sovereignty. And, of course, Hitler never had any intention of allowing Britain true autonomy. This would become clear in late June after Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Rab Butler slipped a message to the Swedish ambassador to London suggesting the British government was willing to deal with the Germans, should it receive any indication Hitler was willing to offer reasonable terms. Unfortunately for Butler and Halifax, who undoubtedly knew of the backdoor offer, the import of the message leaked out. Churchill sent a terse note to the Halifax, saying that he found Butler’s language “odd” and making clear that if push came to shove, Halifax would go the way Hoare had gone. The foreign secretary quickly replied that he had seen Butler’s notes on the conversation, and it all was a terrible misunderstanding.

Churchill was now in firm control of the political landscape. His rhetoric had reached deep into the soul of the British people. Even many Tory members of parliament, who might have supported Halifax in May when Churchill first took over, had by mid-June rallied around their prime minister. But Churchill still faced the most daunting question: How was Britain—standing alone, even if united—to win the war?

Here Churchill’s deep sense of history and human nature came into play. The prime minister recognized the Third Reich for what it was: not only a terrible strategic danger to Britain but also a moral one. There could be no compromise. From Churchill’s perspective, the strategic interests of the United States and the Soviet Union also could not allow Germany free rein over much of Europe. The prime minister had his work cut out for him with regard to the Soviet Union, given his longstanding, open animosity toward the Bolshevik regime. But the Soviets represented no immediate threat, while the Nazis were a clear and present danger. Churchill was willing to suspend his views on Bolshevism.

The prime minister sent Sir Stafford Cripps, the British ambassador to the Soviet Union and an ideological Marxist, to Moscow in an effort to persuade the Communists that their interests lay in opposing the Nazis. The Soviets, however, refused to see the obvious. On June 18, 1940, the day after France fell, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov extended to the German government “the warmest congratulations of the Soviet government on the splendid successes of the German Wehrmacht.” One year and four days later, on the morning of June 22, 1941, he would bemoan the onset of the German invasion of the Soviet Union to the German ambassador: “What have we done to deserve this?” In truth he was right the Soviet Union had done everything it could over the course of the past year to appease Nazi Germany, including massive infusions of raw materials into the German war economy. In fact, the last Soviet goods train would cross into German territory barely two hours before the start of Operation Barbarossa. While Churchill had not managed to thwart the misalliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, he had correctly forecast that their marriage of convenience would not last long.

Accord with the Americans represented a more pressing need. Britain would soon exhaust its foreign currency reserves, thus losing its ability to foot the enormous production costs the war was already imposing, much less the projected vast expansion of the RAF and Royal Navy. The United States alone possessed the financial and productive capacity to keep Britain in the war.

From the moment Churchill became prime minister, he engaged the Roosevelt administration in a delicate diplomatic dance. The U.S. president was himself in a precarious political position, as he was about to announce his candidacy for an unprecedented third term. Moreover, many Americans believed the United States should not entangle itself in Europe’s difficulties. Isolationist leaders like Charles Lindbergh vociferously denounced virtually every move the administration made to support the Allies. While more Americans believed the United States should support the British and French economically, many of them were also opposed to any direct American intervention in the war.

As the French free fall accelerated in late May 1940, Roosevelt and his chief advisers seemed to have concluded Britain would soon follow. Spurring this belief was Joseph Kennedy, the pro-appeasement American ambassador to the Court of St. James, who insisted the British had little chance against the Nazi war machine and would quit the minute the Churchill government folded. Roosevelt and his military advisers especially feared that the Axis might gain control of the Royal Navy and French fleet and add them to the Kriegsmarine and Italian navy. Such a force would threaten the U.S. Atlantic Fleet at the same time the Imperial Japanese Navy posed a significant threat in the Pacific. The United States had ramped up naval warship production in 1938, but the fruits of that effort wouldn’t be available until 1942 at the earliest. Thus, Roosevelt’s initial communications with Churchill urged the prime minister to send the Royal Navy to Canada to work in coordination with the U.S. Navy, if and when—emphasis on wanneer —the British position collapsed.

Churchill played hardball with his American cousins. He made it clear that as long as he was prime minister, Britain would remain committed to the war against the Third Reich. But his missives also suggested that without substantial American aid, Britain might not be able to continue the struggle. Kennedy was undoubtedly reporting that other British cabinet members desired to reach an accommodation with Nazi Germany. If they could drive Churchill from office, Britain would no longer be bound by any promises he might make to the U.S. Churchill admitted as much in a message to the Canadian prime minister that was deliberately forwarded to Roosevelt: Obviously, I cannot bind a future government which, if we were deserted by the United States and beaten down here, might very easily be a kind of [Norwegian collaborator Vidkun] Quisling affair, ready to accept German overlordship and protection. The warning was clear: Support us or face the possibility of a worldwide coalition of enemies with only Canada as an ally.

Churchill still had to persuade the Americans that Britain was in it for the long haul. His solution was as ruthless as it was strategically brilliant. In early July 1940, the Royal Navy determined to disarm the French fleet. The move was executed with minimum bloodshed in Alexandria and in British ports, but the main French fleet units in North Africa resisted the effort. On July 3, following fruitless negotiations at the Mers-el-Kébir naval base in Algeria, the Royal Navy’s Force H from Gibraltar unleashed a murderous salvo of 15-inch shells, destroying the French battleship Bretagne and heavily damaging the battleships Dunkerque en Provence , as well as the destroyer Mogador. Nearly 1,300 French sailors died in the attack. In retrospect, the British had probably overreacted, but given the exigencies of the moment, they had no choice.

Admiral Dudley Pound summed up the raison d’état of the British action to the French naval attaché shortly before the action: “The one action we had in view was winning the war.… All trivialities, such as questions of friendship…must be swept away.”

In a rousing speech before the House of Commons on July 4, the day after the attack, Churchill similarly defended the action—one that showed Britain could act as ruthlessly in defense of her interests as the Fascists and Nazis. The prime minister sat down to thunderous applause. The Conservative Party was now his. Moreover, Mers-el-Kébir proved Churchill’s mettle to the Americans. As Roosevelt adviser Harry Hopkins later confided to Churchill’s private secretary, John Colville, Mers-el-Kébir had persuaded the president that Britain would “stay in the fight, alone, and if necessary for years.” Teams of American officers would soon hold talks with British counterparts, while the administration took its first steps toward providing Britain with substantial aid.

Many challenges, including the Battle of Britain, lay before Churchill and his people. Nevertheless, in his first six weeks, the new prime minister had made a series of decisions that not only mobilized his own country to the terrible tasks that lay before it but also bolstered other democratic nations against the threat of Nazi tyranny. For that he certainly merits consideration as the 20th century’s greatest leader.

For further reading, Williamson Murray recommends: Winston S. Churchill: Finest Hour, 1939–1941 , by Martin Gilbert, and Ten Days to Destiny , by John Costello.

Sidebar: The Tragedy of the French Fleet

An excerpt from Churchill’s address to the House of Commons on July 4, 1940, the day after the attack on Mers-el-Kébir:

We are moving through a period of extreme danger and of splendid hope, when every virtue of our race will be tested, and all that we have and are will be freely staked. This is no time for doubt or weakness. It is the supreme hour to which we have been called.… [We shall] prosecute the war with the utmost vigor by all the means that are open to us until the righteous purposes for which we entered upon have been fulfilled.


The battle of Herleville (June 1940)

Plaas deur David Lehmann » 04 May 2006, 02:43

Here are two example of Renault UE tractors being used during counter-attacks.

I have developped the battle around Herleville in June 1940. It's a small battle compared to others but it shows how the French artillery could sometimes behave in front of German infantry assaults.
It's also a good example of the French tactic of strong points / hedgehogs in June 1940 (the best example remains of course the battle south of Amiens were it worked properly and blocked the German tanks efficiently).


1) 9e Régiment de Zouaves at Selens (June 5, 1940)

The information can be found in the book "La randonnée du 9e Zouaves 1939-1940" (Lieutenant-colonel Tasse). On June 5, the HQ from 9e RZ (Régiment de Zouaves) at Selens on the Ailette River is hard pressed by German infantry. The command staff is ready to fight to the last man but a NCO wants to launch a counter-attack with several volunteers and 4 Renault UE tractors.
The 2 first Renault UEs are advancing side by side with the men launching F1 (defensive) grenades, the 2 other chenillettes are on both sides and a bit on the rear, each with a FM 1924/1929 LMG. They attack like light tanks and the German soldiers are all KIA or fleeing. Encouraged by their initial success, they continue their advance but they are caught by German AT guns and 2 Renault UEs are destroyed. The men from one chenillette try to knock out a German AT gun with grenades but without success and have to withdraw. The 2 remaining tractors move back to the HQ.


2) The battle of Herleville (June 5, 1940)

The information about this battle can be found in the book "Souvenirs et témoignages sur les opérations et les combats de la 19e Division pendant la guerre 1939-1940" (Louis Bourdais) but also in the German and French sources quoted for example on this website (in German): http://members.aon.at/mgvriedlingsdorf/K5.html

After the defeat in the Belgian plains and the reduction of the pocket of Dunkirk the German troops will launch Fall Rot (the second stage of the 1940 western campaign) on June 5, 1940. On the allied side only 66 divisions (62 French, 2 Polish depending from the French army and 2 British divisions) are defending about 500 km front. They will have to face 136 German divisions (including 10 Panzerdivisionen, 6 motorized infantry divisions and 1 cavalry division).
On the 360 km long front of the Somme and Aisne Rivers, the so-called "Weygand Line", the French Army could deploy only 40 divisions and the remnants of 3-4 armored divisions to try to stop Heeresgruppe A and B, which had on their side 104 divisions including 10 Panzerdivisionen. The German air superiority is also striking. With such means only a small frontline on the Rivers can be defended, without significant reserves. Mathematically the campaign is lost, but the French troops will offer a fierce resistance during June 1940.

With General Weygand having replaced General Gamelin as the head of the French troops, the obsession of always trying to reconstitute a continuous front has been abandoned. According to their new tactics, the French troops are organized in strong points in the towns and woods (in the best case in a depth of about 10 km). These hedgehogs include infantry, AT mines, Hotchkiss Mle1914 MGs, 25mm and 47mm AT guns but also 75mm field guns used in an AT role. They are organized for a 360° defense. The aim is to cut rapidly the advancing German tanks from their supporting infantry. These tanks are then confronted on the rear by the French artillery batteries engaging them in direct fire. These tactics proved rather successful south of Amiens.

On June 5, the German XIV.Panzerkorps (9.PzD, 10.PzD, 13.ID (mot), 9.ID and "Grossdeutschland" regiment) assaults the French positions south of Amiens on the Somme River. Before the battle, the 9.PzD and 10.PzD are already reduced to 50% operational tanks and have only about 225 tanks available (180 tanks in the 10.PzD) The 14-20 km front is hold by the 16e DI (such a division has theoretically to defend a front of 5-7 km) supported by 2 companies of the 12e BCC (26 Renault R35 tanks). On June 8 and 9, the 16e DI rears are reinforced by the 24e DI.
After 5 days, the German operation failed in that area, whereas they planned an advance of 35 km for the first day of the attack. The XIV.Panzerkorps is then removed from this area and engaged behind the XVI.Panzerkorps near Péronne, where the German assault is more successful. After this battle the number of operational tanks of the XIV.Panzerkorps dropped dramatically (at least transiently): on June 8, the 10.PzD was left with 60 tanks only and the 9.PzD with 30 tanks only. The German troops lost therefore about 135 tanks in that battle (destroyed or simply damaged). The numbers of actual available tanks are from "Amiens 1940 – Der deutsche Durchbruch südlich von Amiens 5. bis 8. Juni 1940" by Volkmar Regling (MFGA, 1968). The 2 French divisions have nonetheless lost 60-70% of their strength and manpower but they have blocked the advance of a Panzerkorps which was finally directed against a neighbouring part of the front. The remnants of the 16e DI and 24e DI will continue to fight e.g. on the "Chauvineau Line" on the Oise River on June 9.

Nonetheless beside such kind of large battles, which takes place on the Aisne (Rethel) and Somme Rivers (Amiens), there are smaller combats in many little towns. One of them is Herleville and during this battle the French used also several Renault UE tractors to launch a counter-attack.


How come defense of France collapsed so quickly in WWII ?

I know that the basic gist is "Germans advanced trough Belgium, circumventing the Maginot line." But how come there was no resistance afterwards? And how come the French were so reliant on the Maginot line in the first place? One theory I heard is that the French politicians weren't all that opposed to Nazism and were okay with capitulation.

I've written about the breakthrough at Sedan here.

The common misconception is that the French relied on the Maginot line to stop the Germans, and the Germans simply went around it. In reality, the entire point of the Maginot line was to deter the Germans from going that way, to force the main battle to occur in Belgium and not France. The bulk of the French mobile forces were intended to sweep into Belgium and form a defensive line to stop the German advance. This would prevent the iron mines and industry in northern France from falling to the Germans as they did in World War I.

As to why there was no resistance afterwards, there was quite a bit of resistance. The problem was that the bulk of the French army that might have offered resistance was north of the German breakthrough. This meant that they were cut off only only from supplies, but, because of the French reliance on wired communication, they had poor contact with the French command south of the breakthrough. Crucially, the French sacked Maurice Gamelin, their military commander, on the 17th and replaced him with Maxime Weygand. This paralyzed French operations for at least two days, during which the Germans were able to bring up infantry to shore up the flanks of the breakthrough. By then, it was too late for the French forces in the north to break out to the south. The French counterattack on the 17th at Montcornet and the British counterattack at Arras on the 21st both failed to achieve their objectives.

The Germans paused to reduce the French, British, and Belgian forces north of the breakthrough, allowing the French time to regroup and form a new defensive line. The French continued to try to get to the trapped forces, attacking across the River Somme near Abbeville for several days, but failed due to poor coordination between the armor, infantry and artillery and failure to aggressively exploit initial gains.

The Germans resumed the offensive south on 4-5 June. Despite pulling some troops from the Maginot line and recovery some troops evacuated from Belgium, the French were now faced with defending a long line from Sedan to the Atlantic coast. The Germans had nearly complete air supremacy by then, and were able to attack French forces, particularly the artillery, at will. At this point France simply had too few troops holding too long a line to withstand the concentrated German attacks.

Doughty, Robert A The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940

Alexander, Martin After Dunkirk: The French Army's Performance against ⟊se Red', 25 May to 25 June 1940