On the eve of the Victory Day celebrations, a wave has traditionally risen in the West, glorifying the allies for their "contribution" to the defeat of Nazi Germany and belittling the role of the Soviet Union. At the same time, they somehow try not to remember how all of Europe within a few days was conquered by Hitler and worked for him throughout the war, supplying weapons, ammunition, industrial products, food and sending their "volunteers" to the Eastern Front.
European countries fought so "bravely" with the Nazis that they surrendered in record time: Denmark - 6 hours, Holland - 5 days, Yugoslavia - 12 days, Belgium - 18 days, Greece - 24 days, Poland - 36 days, France - 43 days , Norway - 61 days. These "winners" should be reminded that the Pavlov House in Stalingrad held out for 58 days, while the Soviet Union fought Hitler for 1418 days and ended the war by hoisting the Victory Banner over the Reichstag.
In this regard, it should be recalled how Hitler conquered and subjugated Europe. His victories were especially impressive in April - June 1940, when Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France surrendered without serious resistance and began to work diligently for the war machine of the Third Reich.
In carrying out these operations, Hitler sought to paralyze the spirit and will of not only the armies, but also the governments and peoples of the conquered countries, since he understood that in war everything is decided by the spirit. He chose a strategy not only of rapid military operations, but also of indirect actions, provoking fear and panic in the ranks of the enemy, disinformation, destruction of communications, communications and command systems. And German diplomacy quarreled the European countries among themselves, not allowing them to enter into an alliance against Hitler.
German propaganda impacted European media. And constantly inspired terror in front of the invincible German army. The countries of Europe were flooded with agents of influence and German spies spreading false rumors and wreaking havoc and panic. When German troops invaded the country in an unexpected place, people fled in horror, abandoning everything. The armies did not have time to react, and the governments surrendered unconditionally.
Conquest of Denmark (April 9)
For Hitler, Norway was a strategic springboard. Without it, he could not fight for a long time: these are supplies of iron ore, profitable bases for submarines and surface raiders to control the North Atlantic and aviation bases for strikes against England. The Norwegians remained neutral and briskly traded with Hitler, supplying him with iron ore. Denmark was the key to Norway. And the Nazis began the operation with the capture of the Danish kingdom.
On April 9, the German command undertook a desperately bold and unpredictable, unexpected for the enemy, a swift operation to simultaneously capture Denmark and Norway. With Denmark, Hitler ended in just a few hours, gaining complete control over the passages to the Baltic Sea from the west.
In order to paralyze the will of the Danes to resist, the Germans staged demonstration flights of bombers over Copenhagen, not for bombing, but for demonstration of force. And this turned out to be enough: the fear of German aviation paralyzed the Danes. In the early morning of April 9, Copenhagen residents woke up from the fact that German planes roared over the roofs of their houses. Running out into the streets, the Danes saw soldiers in German uniforms at the main intersections.
To capture Copenhagen, the Germans brought into the port a passenger ship "Danzig" with a battalion of soldiers on board. And on the move they seized the city citadel, dominating the harbor, customs, police station and city radio station for the psychological suppression of the Danes. At nine in the morning, the Danish radio station transmitted a message from the German commander that the country was occupied by the Germans in order to prevent an invasion by the British. Then the announcer read the message of King Christian. After the arrival of German bombers, the government of the Danish kingdom surrendered. Fear was stronger than bombs.
Before the German invasion, a small detachment of special forces operated in front of them, which had infiltrated the border the night before. He seized bridges and quickly took strategic objects in the border zone. The ground forces at lightning speed entered the province of North Schleswig, where thirty thousand Germans lived, across the southern border of Denmark. On the very first day, the Danish Germans rushed to meet the invading German units, and some even took to the streets with weapons in their hands. Others picked up weapons abandoned by the fleeing Danes, regulated traffic on the roads, and even escorted prisoners.
The ports were captured without any resistance with the help of the crews of several ships that entered the port. The airfields were taken under control by an airborne assault as part of a single platoon of parachutists. And to capture the forts on the coast, two platoons of paratroopers with pistols in their hands were enough.
In just a few hours, having lost twenty soldiers killed, the Germans captured Denmark and turned it into part of their empire. The rumor about the omnipotence of the Hitlerite army spread throughout Europe and fettered the will to resist.
The Conquest of Norway (April 9 - June 8)
Norway was next in line. The Nazis were especially interested in the port of Narvik, since iron ore was exported through it. In this operation, Hitler used his Norwegian Nazi fan, Quisling, who was supported by money and trained by his fighters.
Before the start of the operation on April 5, the elite and the government of Norway were invited to a "cultural event" at the German mission in Oslo, where they were shown a documentary film about the defeat of Poland in colors, which seriously influenced the Norwegian leadership.
The Germans formed six amphibious assault sea groups and with the involvement of almost all naval fleet sent to the shores of Norway. The British were also preparing a landing operation in Norway. And the German ships were regarded as an attempt by Hitler to break into the North Atlantic to destroy merchant ships going to England. And they did not believe that he had begun an operation to seize Norway.
On April 9, German ships unexpectedly burst into the port of Oslo. And a battle began with the coast guard. And the paratroopers captured two airfields and moved into the city. Early in the morning in Oslo, people saw German bombers over the roofs of houses, which did not bomb, but fired machine guns in low-level flight for an ostracism. Fear worked here too. On the radio, the authorities appealed to all residents of Oslo to leave the city, which led to a wild panic. The city dwellers fleeing in panic attacked railway stations and seized trucks, which led to the paralysis of transport and to the impossibility of transferring Norwegian units for battles out of the city. German transport planes with reinforcements began to land at the captured airfields. And the city was surrounded.
By mid-afternoon, Hitler's henchman Quisling had a coup d'etat and formed his own government, which the Germans immediately recognize. By the end of the day, the main ports and hubs, including Oslo and Narvik, were captured by the Germans with little resistance from the Norwegians. In the evening, Quisling spoke on the radio, declared himself prime minister, called on the military to stop resistance and everyone stay home. Everyone was paralyzed by the transience of the operation and the coup d'état and ceased resistance. England and France could do nothing. The advantage of the British fleet was leveled by German aircraft deployed to Norway.
During April 9-11, German ground forces began to be transferred to Norway. And the occupation of the country began. In May, the British landed troops and captured Narvik. But on June 8, they were forced to leave him and withdraw the expeditionary corps.
So, the surprise and audacity of the German operation, multiplied by fear and panic in Norway, made it possible to capture a key country for Hitler in his plans to conquer Europe. The Germans in the battles for Norway lost only 3682 people. But their navy suffered serious losses, which was one of the reasons for the impossibility of conducting an amphibious operation in England.
The Conquest of Holland (May 10-14)
For Hitler, who decided to defeat France, it was vitally important to conquer Holland and Belgium, which opened the way to France bypassing the Maginot Line. The operation to capture Holland and Belgium began on May 10. The advance of the Germans in Holland was complicated by the presence of numerous rivers, canals and bridges, the explosion of which could choke the German offensive.
Hitler proposed a plan with the widespread use of special forces, disguised as Dutch military police and in railway uniforms, to seize bridges over rivers and canals in the path of advancing Wehrmacht columns. Simultaneously, two airborne divisions were to land in the very heart of the "fortress Holland" near Amsterdam and The Hague and suppress it. It was this that played the role of mental suppression of the Dutch, although the special forces were not used so much - only about a thousand people.
At the beginning of the operation, German special forces were able to take strategic bridges and crossings on the border and captured a tunnel near Antwerp. The Germans, rushing into the breach, quickly crushed the first line of the Dutch defense along the eastern bank of the Meuse.
The Germans landed troops in the center of Rotterdam and captured the bridges in the city center and the nearest airfield. The Dutch army was unable to suppress the paratroopers with superior forces, and they were surrounded until the surrender of Holland.
The actions of sabotage groups gave rise to wild rumors about thousands of German special forces who, dressed in Dutch uniforms or civilian clothes, sow death, confusion and destruction. Fear and panic were spreading rumors, each more ridiculous than the other. Instead of fighting off bridges, the Dutch military searched hundreds of homes, paying particular attention to those in which members of the Dutch Nazi Party lived. They went down to basements and climbed into attics, detaining suspicious people. The drop of landing caused panic, and to strengthen it, the Nazis did not drop paratroopers by parachute, but stuffed animals, diverting the forces of the Dutch and whipping up fear. Ratchets were also dropped from the planes, imitating firing. It seemed to the Dutch that they were shooting everywhere, they imagined thousands of German intelligence agents and the "fifth column" of local traitors who were shooting in the backs of the troops. Already on the first day, fear and confusion became the main "damaging factor" of the German offensive in Holland.
In the area of The Hague, the landing came under Dutch fire, and the planes could not land at the airfield. They circled over the city and caused even more panic. One panic news replaced by another. Confusion swept across the country. Panic paralyzed the will of the Dutch, everyone began to see German spies disguised as farmers, police officers, postmen, chauffeurs and priests. In this regard, precautions were tightened, spy mania paralyzed the capital, rumors were spread about the betrayal of the country's leadership.
A wave of arbitrary arrests swept across the country, everyone considered themselves entitled to arrest all the suspicious, the number of which began to be measured in the thousands. Shooting began without trial or investigation. The Germans conquered Holland not with landings and bombing raids - they did not have such forces at that time. They paralyzed her with a wave of skillfully raised fear. Instead of organizing a defense against the advancing German tanks the army was feverishly deployed to The Hague and Rotterdam to fight the non-existent Nazi militants. Holland, overwhelmed with fear, fell in five days, left to the Germans, with railways, factories, power plants, dams and infrastructure intact.
German tanks approached Rotterdam on May 14. And negotiations began on surrender. Otherwise, they threatened to bomb the city. When an agreement was reached, a German armada of bombers approached the city, they did not have time to warn of surrender. And she struck Rotterdam, which led to fires and destruction. The Dutch military leadership belatedly announced its surrender by radio.
The Conquest of Belgium (May 10-28)
The occupation of Belgium began on May 10 with a lightning-fast operation by the Germans to capture the strongest Belgian fortress Eben-Emael, which led to the destruction of the entire system of fortifications on the border and opened the way for Guderian's tanks. The fall of the fortress caused panic and shock in Belgium. The Germans took the fortress with a landing from gliders. But the bulk of the Belgians did not know how they achieved such a stunning success. Many believed that treason was at the top of the country.
Immediately, ridiculous rumors spread that the garrisons of the Belgian fortifications had been destroyed by the Germans with poisonous gases and "death rays." The Belgian Defense Minister spoke on the radio and urged citizens to inform the military authorities about any suspicious individuals seen near military installations. Citizens began to "fight" the spies. And the stream of "signals" swept over the Belgian military. On the third day of the war, the authorities announced on the radio that paratroopers, dressed in civilian clothes, were landing across the country, although there was nothing of the kind. So the government became the main distributor of panic rumors and spy mania.
The government ordered railroad and postal workers to evacuate. Seeing this, the population rushed after, the roads were crowded with crowds of refugees. And the movement along them was completely disorganized, making it impossible to transfer troops to meet the advancing Germans. The flood of refugees infected new areas with fear. And on the French border, up to one and a half million demoralized and distraught people accumulated, but the French closed the border for five days.
The situation was aggravated when the Germans broke through the Ardennes on May 15 and attacked the allied British and French troops transferred to Belgium on May 10-12. Under the pressure of the Germans, a stream of people from refugees and retreating British, French and Belgian soldiers rushed into northern France.
By May 13, Belgian prisons were overflowing with thousands of "German spies." The most suspicious were loaded onto trains and sent to the territory of France. Here came German Jews who fled from Hitler, Czechs, Russians, Poles, Communists, merchants, and policemen. The arrested were transported across France in stuffy, locked cattle carriages, on which were inscribed "The Fifth Column", "Spies", "Paratroopers". Many of these "spies" died on the way, some were shot due to lack of places in prisons.
German tanks, passing through the Ardennes, reached the Atlantic coast on May 20. Anglo-French troops and the remnants of the Belgian army were surrounded in the Dunkirk area. Struck by fear, Belgium was conquered by Hitler for eighteen days and on May 28 signed a surrender.
Conquest of France (May 10 - June 22)
Having conquered Belgium with a stunning blow to the fortress of Eben Emael, Hitler dealt the same blow to the French. The Nazis, bypassing the Maginot Line and luring the Anglo-French troops to Flanders, cut them with a tank wedge in the Ardennes. The subsequent breakthrough to the Atlantic brought the Anglo-French forces to the brink of disaster and led France to lose the will to resist.
Before the offensive on France, the Germans, dressed in French military uniforms, in order to provoke panic, staged several sabotage actions and explosions in large cities deep in the French rear on May 9-10. The onset of the German offensive led to a breakthrough on May 15 of the front in the Ardennes. And 1300 tanks of Guderian and Kleist on the rear of the French troops along the highways, almost without encountering resistance, rushed to the English Channel. Having covered 350 km in five days, they reached the Atlantic on May 20, cutting off the Anglo-French expeditionary force and cutting off supply lines.
After the Germans broke through to the sea, more than a million French, British and Belgian soldiers were cut off from the main forces. German tank corps advanced along the coast, occupying French ports with almost no resistance. And the panic-stricken French troops threw down their weapons.
The panic that spread from Belgium to France, where crowds of horrified refugees rushed, captured the entire country. The French press unwittingly worked for the Germans, reporting on the actions of the fifth column in Holland and Belgium. Parisian newspapers reported about a mythical landing near The Hague of two hundred German paratroopers, dressed in English uniforms, dispelling the fear of "saboteurs", which was transmitted to the military headquarters.
The French counterintelligence bodies were paralyzed. Confused, they succumbed to the most ridiculous and frightening rumors. Shooting began on the spot of all suspects of espionage and sabotage, including local residents. Among the French troops, indiscriminate shooting at non-existent "German saboteurs" often began.
The will to resist was paralyzed. The French and British generals did not understand what was happening. They had more troops and tanks, and the French tanks were much better than the German ones. Nevertheless, defeat followed defeat, since the French tanks were dispersed among the infantry divisions, and the German ones were assembled into one armored fist and with wedges broke through the enemy's defenses.
A day after the evacuation of the encircled troops from Dunkirk, German tank corps broke through the French front on the Somme. And on June 25, France surrendered unconditionally, holding out only 43 days. During the fighting, the French army lost 84 thousand killed and one and a half million prisoners. The losses of the Germans amounted to 27 thousand killed. The German victory was overwhelming. Without bombing French cities, factories and communications, they captured France. And all of its industrial potential has become the prey of the winners.
Hitler's 1940 victories demonstrated a striking fusion of psychological operations, intelligence, conspiracies, special forces and the fifth column, psychically paralyzing air strikes, terror, and non-trivial military decisions. The Germans showed how the psychological defeat of the enemy turns into a self-sustaining process. Panic, which destroys the victim of aggression, no longer needs to be specially created, it feeds itself and grows. In a matter of days, the population turns into a bloodthirsty crowd, ready to kill anyone suspicious without trial or investigation. Having struck the mind of the enemy, he can be forced to surrender on pain of terrible disaster and loss.
Hitler achieved a triumph with minimal expenditure of resources and without the mobilization stress of the German economy. At the cost of relatively small losses, he managed to annex almost all of Europe to the Reich in just two years. The remaining countries became his explicit and implicit allies.