75 years ago, an avalanche of Hitler's troops crushed the Netherlands, Belgium, France. The original ideas of the Fuhrer almost repeated the "Schlieffen Plan" of the First World War. To gather a fist more powerful and move through neutral countries, thus bypassing the French fortifications at the border. It was assumed that the opponents would repeat the same blunders as in 1914. Pravda, Runstedt, Manstein, Guderian, argued: did the British and French step on the same rake twice? Can not be repeated! However, their objections were dismissed. What would have ended a similar operation, it is difficult to say. Because the general staff of the anti-German coalition talked about this: if the Germans take the risk of advancing, then according to the old scenarios, through Belgium!
But the timing of the operation had to be postponed several times. First, from November 1939 to January, due to the unavailability of the army. And shortly before the appointed time, he lost his orientation and landed a plane in Belgium with German staff officers carrying maps and plans. Hitler was beside himself with anger. He ordered to shoot both the crew and passengers of the ill-fated plane. He decided to change the terms, and if possible - and plans. At the meeting, Runstedt and Manstein podsulilis. They slipped the Fuhrer’s own version, rejected by their superiors. It was intended to break through the front not on the flank, but in the center, in the Ardennes. The offensive by large forces in the mountains was considered impossible by the French, and the fortifications here were weak. But Runstedt and Manstein claimed - Tanks will pass. And on the flank you need to inflict a distracting blow! The enemies will rush to reflect it, then attack in the Ardennes. Cut off the very group that gathers along the Belgian borders, press them to the sea and destroy them. Hitler liked the plan.
The offensive was scheduled for March. But he was once again transferred because of the landing in Denmark and Norway. The British and French had enough time to organize resistance. And the conspirators from the Abwehr warned them about changing plans. No, they have not responded. Meanwhile, Hitler assembled 136 divisions in the west. They were opposed by roughly equal forces, the 135 of the French, British, Dutch, and Belgian divisions. Excellence in technology was on the side of the British and French: 3163 tank against 2445, aircraft 1,5 times more. But they were dominated by French flawed theories about solid defense. Troops and equipment evenly stretched along the front.
The state of "strange war" continued. The soldiers were waiting for the government to make peace? They spent their time playing football, playing movies, listening to gramophone music in well-arranged dugouts or looking at obscene magazines. Did the Germans go crazy and climb on impregnable forts? And Germany has concentrated two groups. One - on the Dutch and Belgian border. The second in the Ardennes - for the first time in world military art, a powerful fist from the 7 tank divisions was assembled here. 10 May the Germans rushed forward.
The Netherlands’s defense plan called for the explosion of bridges, dams and the flooding of low-lying areas. But the Nazis threw paratroopers, landings on gliders, in one fell swoop seized the most important bridges and dams. Front was hacked. Kühler's 18 Army began to penetrate the territory of the Netherlands. The Dutch army turned around Rotterdam, repelled the attacks of the advanced units of the Wehrmacht. Then Hitler and Goering demonstrated their air power. Bomber clouds were raised, and the central part of Rotterdam was wiped out, 814 people died, several thousand were maimed.
But the military impulse of the Dutch was short-lived. The soldiers fought, and the queen of the Netherlands, Wilhelmina, and the government were already conspiring with England to receive them. 14 May they fled to London. The commander in chief, General Winckelmann, did not want to take responsibility for further battles and destruction. Ordered the troops to fold weapon and signed the act of surrender. Holland was wiped out in 5 days.
The Belgians in the last war have already experienced a perfidious attack. On the border was built the newest fort of Eben-Emael, he was recognized as the most powerful fortification in Europe. But bridges, as in the Netherlands, were captured by parachutists and glider pilots. And on the roof of the fort Eben-Emael landed just 80 paratroopers. They immediately laid explosives, undermined the artillery towers. From the explosions and suffocating smoke, the garrison of the fort rushed to escape into the deep casemates. The paratroopers penetrated inside the fort, smashed equipment. Attempts to knock them out were unsuccessful. In the meantime, the 6 Army of Reichenau crushed the Belgian positions, two tank divisions took the lead, and 11 May showed up near Eben-Emael. The 1200 garrison soldier surrendered.
The Anglo-French command was waiting for a German breakthrough in Holland and Belgium. Responded as required by Hitler. Three French armies and a British expeditionary force moved towards the enemy. United with the Belgian troops, began to unfold on the borders of rivers and canals between Antwerp and Namur. 7-I French army of General Giraud advanced north to help the Dutch. The allies in this area formed a double superiority over the enemy! Hoping to stop the Germans, and then chase them back!
In England, with the beginning of the German offensive, a government crisis was added - the fruits of Chamberlain's peacemaking received a new eloquent illustration. He resigned, Churchill became Prime Minister. The new head of government arrived in France, and the reports buried him. It seems that the operations were going well. The same opinion was shared by the commander-in-chief of the combined forces of the allies, General Gamelin ... But in Belgium and Holland the Germans were moving much faster than expected by calculations. The British and French did not have time to gain a foothold in the boundaries intended for them. The German armored and motorized units were right there, overturning the enemies in oncoming battles.
And in the Ardennes, on the weakest part of the defense, the transfer to Belgium and the Netherlands further weakened the front. Here von Kleist's group came into motion - two tank corps and a motorized one. Despite her warnings, her blow openly missed. Waves of diving bombers rained down on French positions, driving the soldiers into panic and clearing the way for tanks. Next came the shaft of the motorized infantry. By May 13, this avalanche in several places wedged into the Allied defenses, took possession of the Sedan. The sapper units moved along with the tanks, quickly built pontoon bridges across the Meuse. The French and the British caught on, rushed to recapture the crossing. It was not there, they were reliably covered aviation, artillery unfolded on the move. In only one attack on the bridgehead and bridge near Sedan, the French lost 70 tanks, and the British 40 aircraft.
On May 14, the Kleist group cut through the battle formations of the 2 and 9 of the French armies, began a turn and a detour. The next morning, Churchill, still in a good mood, was awakened by a phone call from French Prime Minister Raynaud, shouting, “We were broken! We are beaten! ”Churchill could not believe, but I had to believe. May 20 Germanic tanks reached the sea. More than 40 French and British divisions were cut off from the rest of the troops and pressed to the coast. This did not mean an indispensable disaster. Surrounded possessed a double superiority over others! It was possible to counterattack. Even, in turn, cut off the broken German connections. Just such an order was given by General Gamelin to take a counterstrike and get out of the trap.
But the French government was preoccupied with how to conceal the scandal, expose the extreme one. At the most tense moment, Gamelin was removed, replaced by Weygun. And Weygan began by canceling all the orders of his predecessor. A few days later he figured out the situation and came to a similar conclusion: an urgent counterstrike is needed. However, it was too late. The troops in the cauldron were demoralized and disorganized. Some divisions counterattacked, scattered and unsuccessfully, others tried to establish defense, and still others rolled to the ports.
The bridgehead on which they squeezed, quickly declined. From the north and west the Allies were oppressed by the German armies, advancing through Holland and Belgium. And Kleist's tank group, engulfing enemies from the south, turned north along the English Channel. I pulled the ring and gradually cut off from the sea. Captured the ports of Boulogne and Calais, came to the approaches to Dunkirk. Under the feet of the Allies remained a scrap of 50 km long and 30 wide, clogged with a huddle of troops and civilian refugees. Evacuate their serious hope was no longer ...
Saved doomed "miracle". 24 May Hitler ordered his tanks to stop suddenly. Tighten the rear, the second echelon. Many generals were perplexed, they protested. It was possible to finish off the allied grouping quickly and relatively easily. However, this very ease embarrassed the Fuhrer. He remembered the lessons of the First World War - when the Germans bravely marched on Paris, but they went too far, stretched the battle formations and lost in the battle of Marne. The current situation, Hitler, in general, evaluated sensibly and correctly: now the enemy had to use strategic reserves.
It was even obvious how the French should use the reserves. To strike from the south under the base of the wedge of the broken through tank connections. The Fuhrer declared: “I will not allow the Second Marne”. He did not know only one. The French command of reserves ... was not. Collect them in the depths of the country it did not bother! Was it possible to foresee such a gross misstep? One of the leading world powers at the height of the war does not create any reserves at all! How could this be explained? Flagrant illiteracy? Cheating
Or by secret manipulations of Masonic structures - in France both the military and civilian leaders traditionally belonged to them ... However, there were figures belonging to similar structures near Hitler. They supported decisions that were beneficial for the “global backstage”. The result was, as it was. The "oddities" of a strange war destroyed France, but other "oddities" saved England — and in the end, both were good for America.
26 th Fuhrer figured out that the attacks of the enemy can not be afraid, ordered to resume the offensive. But at the same time began to withdraw from the battle tank divisions. The liquidation of the armies pressed to the sea was entrusted to the infantry and aviation. Was this decision a “fatal” mistake, as the German generals later declared, accusing Hitler of the war that had been lost? No, from a military point of view, the order was justified. The Fuhrer was not thinking about one battle, but about war in general. He wanted to save his tank divisions. The Primorsky sector was holding under fire large-caliber guns of British battleships and cruisers capable of shattering German armored fists. Well, Goering assured the Fuhrer - his subordinates can do it without tanks. How should you try to bomb the bridgehead, which is crowded with people and equipment, and will the enemies really not surrender? (And the glory of the great victory will go to Goering!)
Such hopes had a basis. The allies were not only defeated, but began to squabble among themselves. The British began to evacuate the sea, but at the same time began to dictate their own conditions. Belgians and French pushed around, put in defense, to cover the export of the British. Civilian refugees drove away from the landing sites. Leopold III, the King of Belgium, was offered evacuation without citizens, just like the Dutch Queen. But he fell into prostration, believed that "the cause of the Allies was lost." The king did not want to be an exile and sit in a foreign land. He declared that he would share the fate of his people. And in Belgium, the king was the commander in chief. 27 th May, he capitulated, not considering it necessary to warn the French and British command.
The northern front of the boiler at Dunkirk, where the Belgian divisions stood, collapsed. But the British command fully used the delay of the German tank wedges, and then their withdrawal to the rear, organized more or less strong defensive lines with a large number of artillery. Parts of the cover somehow restrained the Germans, and the rest of the formation threw all the equipment and equipment, hastily loaded onto ships, longboats, boats and went into the sea. Goering's aircraft fiercely bombed the bridgehead, but they failed to thwart the evacuation. The British were close airfields, their fighters hung over Dunkirk, shot down and drove the enemy aircraft.
The bridgehead lasted until the morning of June 4. During this time, managed to take 280 thousand British and 60 thousand French soldiers. Another 40 thousand French were captured. Hitler didn’t bring armored units out of battle in vain; by June 5, the German troops completed the regrouping for the next strike. Now they were opposed by the entire 65 of the French divisions, mostly second-rate - the best were defeated. The French had very few tanks, the British pulled their aircraft under Dunkirk, and the Germans dominated the skies over France.
Moreover, the French have identified a new enemy. Until now, Mussolini frankly terrified. The war, started by Hitler, looked painfully risky. But the victories of the Fuhrer knocked the duce out of the rut, intoxicated with burning envy. Dunkirk showed that the outcome of the war, like, had already been decided, and Mussolini began to fuss, as if to cling to the section of laurels and pies too. Appealed to Hitler, notified - Italy is ready to join the fighting. The Fuhrer, of course, understood the background of the maneuvers of the Duce. But he knew the weak points of his partner and was used to treating them condescendingly. He did not reproach, he expressed his joy that the Italians were finally showing a real fighting brotherhood. He even suggested that they intervene a little later, when the French were completely crushed, and it would be easier to finish them off.
Duce went to war on June 10. By this time, there was little left of the French front. German tank wedges again broke it, several more boilers appeared. Smaller than Dunkirk, but also impressive. A large grouping of the French was surrounded and captured at the Maubeuge Fortress. Then the German tanks again cut off the western flank of the front, pressed the 10 French Corps and the 51 Scottish Division to the sea. Nobody took care of their evacuation, and they needed only to surrender. Numerous garrisons of the Maginot line forts were also surrounded. We sat in concrete bunkers and casemates, being already deep in the rear.
June 14 German troops entered Paris without a fight, the Nazi flag was raised on the Eiffel Tower. Only the north of the country was occupied, one fifth of the territory. The French still had combat-ready armies, a powerful fleet. There were African, Asian, American colonies. But no one thought of further resistance! The spirit of pacifism has done its work. Soldiers crowded away from the front. The masses of refugees rushed to the south, blocked the roads. The Raynaud government escaped from the capital and immediately resigned. The new cabinet was headed by Marshal Petain, on June 16 he asked Germany for a truce.
The British "support" of the allies turned out to be very doubtful - Churchill proposed 17 on June ... France ... to join the British Empire as a dominion! It is not difficult to understand that such a project could only offend the French. The government of Petain and Laval chose the option dictated by Hitler - unconditional surrender. In this case, the Führer fully revenged the French for the humiliation of the past war. 22 June forced them to sign the world in Compiegne, in the same carriage in which Marshal Foch had accepted German surrender in 1918. France, Belgium and Holland were blown to pieces in 6 weeks! German losses amounted to 45 thousand killed, 110 thousand wounded. Their opponents only in captivity found themselves 1,9 million people, and 360 thousand were killed and injured!
However, Italy fell into a foolish position. Duce moved the 32 divisions against the French, and the 7 divisions stood against him. But the line of defense in the Alps and on the Mediterranean coast, they kept. The Italians confirmed their reputation as disgusting soldiers. Although the appetites of Mussolini were very solid. When signing peace, he began to cast his fishing poles so that the southern regions of France, the Riviera, and the French fleet would be ceded to him. No, to such an extent Hitler did not indulge his ally. Unable to capture - and therefore there is nothing to talk about. Gave only minor border areas.
But even before Hitler himself faced quite difficult problems. If to occupy France and keep it in obedience by force, it would have linked many troops, distracted from further plans. On the other hand, the Führer was afraid that the French government would flee to England. Or even not necessarily in England - in one of their colonies, in Algeria, Morocco, Vietnam. From there he will lead the struggle of his people against the Germans, and in France they will get stuck. But Hitler managed to find a solution, just as advantageous as the breakthrough in the Ardennes, and in fact just as simple. He made a bet on the slave psychology of the citizens of Western Europe.
France was divided into three parts. Alsace and Lorraine included in the Reich. Accordingly, the majority of local residents received the status of German citizens. They seem to have returned to their native state after a break in the 22 year. Everyone was pleased with this decision - both the Nazi leadership and the Alsatians with the Loths. Of the rest of France, the Germans occupied a little more than half. And 40% of the country was allocated to the "free" zone, left at the disposal of the government of Peten-Laval. He kept numerous fleet. Saved and part of the troops in the colonies.
But the French government would henceforth have to obey the instructions of the German advisers. The French themselves should contain the occupying troops, and in addition, supply industrial and agricultural products to Germany. In fact, the Germans used the same methods that the Europeans used to use in their colonies - it is necessary to allocate the tribal elite, ready to cooperate with the conquerors, and act through it. Well, these methods worked flawlessly. French politicians and administrators were fully satisfied with the position they were given. No one thought of any continuation of the struggle.