german invasion of belgium ww2

Wages stagnated, while the occupying authorities tripled the amount of money in circulation, leading to rampant inflation. Such a strategy would also rely on the French to move quickly into Belgium and support the garrison there. The Allies had known, and admitted it privately on 25 May through contact with the Belgians, that the latter were on the verge of collapse. The withdrawal would reflect three stages: the night of 16/17 May to the River Senne, the night of 17/18 May to the river Dendre and the night of 18/19 May to the river Scheldt. German losses had been heavy at Hannut and Gembloux. In the ensuing battle, German infantry overcame the defenders of the I Belgian Corps' 7th Infantry Division in 24 hours. In World War I, Belgium had been invaded by the German Empire. The French 1st Army would relieve two more divisions on the right flank. Virtually every French weapon from 25mm upward penetrated the 7-13mm of the Panzer I. It contained the 1st Light Mechanized Division (1re DLM), the 25th Motorised Infantry Division (25e Division d'Infanterie Motorisée, or 25e DIM) and the 9th Motorised Infantry Division (9e DIM). The RAF Advanced Air Striking Force committed 3, 504, 79, 57, 59, 85, 87, 605, and 242 squadrons to battle. [109], Striking was the most notable form of passive resistance and often took place on symbolic dates, such as 10 May (the anniversary of the German invasion), 21 July (National Day) and 11 November (anniversary of the German surrender in World War I). [c][83] The Germans increased workers' salaries by eight percent and the strike finished rapidly. ), Kampfgeschwader 30 (Stab. Prices could be 650 percent higher than in legal shops[26] and rose constantly during the war. The I Corps was commanded by Lt-Gen. John Dill, later Lt-Gen. Michael Barker, who was in turn replaced by Major-General Harold Alexander. The Belgian strategy for a defence against German aggression faced political as well as military problems. From May 1942, Jews were forced to wear yellow Star-of-David badges to mark them out in public. [13] In turn, the VNV was important in recruiting men for a new "Flemish Legion", an infantry unit within the Wehrmacht, formed in July 1941 after the invasion of Russia. [128] The Belgians had practically exhausted all available means of resistance. Their position in Belgium massively compromised, the BEF considered abandoning Belgium and retreating to Ostend, Bruges or Dunkirk, the latter lying some 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) inside the French border. Despite his position, Leopold remained a figurehead for right-wing resistance movements and Allied propaganda portrayed him as a martyr, sharing his country's fate. 1. to go through Switz. Its mission was to protect the southern flank of the Allied armies, south of the Sambre river and just north of Sedan. [17] After the war, allegations that Leopold's surrender had been an act of collaboration provoked a political crisis over whether he could return to the throne; known as the Royal Question. Many of these were located in towns and cities, and inaccuracy of the bombing resulted in substantial civilian casualties. [91] The 2e DLM and 3e DLM numbered 176 Somuas and 239 Hotchkiss H35s. From 1944, the SS and Nazi Party gained much greater control in Belgium, particularly after the military government was replaced in July by a Nazi civil administration, the Reichskommissariat Belgien-Nordfrankreich. [30], Adolf Hitler summoned Lieutenant-General Kurt Student of the 7. The French would then be in a position to protect the left flank of the Belgian Army forces protecting Antwerp and threaten the German northern flank. Fliegerkorps under General der Flieger Generaloberst Alfred Keller. Further lines of defence ran south west, covering the Liege–Namur axis. Germany annexed Eupen-Malmedy, a German-speaking region that Belgium seized after the Treaty of Versailles of 1919. Both Gort and his Chief of Staff, General Henry Pownall, accepted that their withdrawal would mean the destruction of the French 1st Army, and they would be blamed for it. [Neufchâteau being the largest southernmost city in Belgium], 2. to avoid the heavily fortified Maginot Line along the Belgium lasted the longest, in German-occupied lands. Churchill sent a message to Keyes the same day, and made clear what he thought of the request: Belgian Embassy here assumes from King's decision to remain that he regards the war as lost and contemplates [a] separate peace. The Belgian Channel ports had offered the German Imperial Navy valuable bases, and such an attack would offer the German Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe bases to engage in strategic offensive operations against the United Kingdom in the coming conflict. [12] The Germans retained the Committee during the occupation; it was responsible for implementing demands made by the Militärverwaltungsstab. This information was not given to Gamelin. Such was the sheer frustration of the crews of these light Panzers in [the] face of heavier armoured French machines that some resorted to desperate expedients. The shortage of modern types meant single-seat versions of the Fairey Fox light bomber were being used as fighters. The Belgian Army had 1,338 guns, the French 10,700, the British 1,280, and the Dutch 656. Germans already have a bridgehead over canal west of Eecloo. [119] The German civil administrator, Joseph Grohé, ordered a general retreat from the country on 28 August, and on 1 September the first Allied units (amongst them the Free Belgian SAS) crossed the Belgian frontier. [121] Such a collapse could have resulted in the loss of the Channel ports behind the Allied front, leading to a complete strategic encirclement. Being impatient, he did not wait for his infantry divisions to catch up. Hitler adopted the plan of his predecessors – an invasion of France through Belgium. [64] This was partly a result of the increasing demands on the German economy created by the invasion of the Soviet Union, as well as the decision to implement Nazi racial policies. [118], Such an order ignored the fact that the Belgian Army could not withdraw to the Yser, and there was little chance of any Belgian Cavalry joining in the attack. [59] Fisser's KG 77 destroyed the AéMI main bases, with help from KG 54. Instead, the British should move further south and remain completely clear of Brussels. Die Expansion nach Westen", "Ceux de XIIIB: Recueil de Textes extraits du Mensuel de L'Amicale des Anciens Prisonniers de Guerre du Stalag XIIIB", Marching into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus, "The Judenpolitik in Belgium within the West European Context: Comparative Observations", "Nazi hunters call on Belgium's justice minister to be sacked", "The Fate of the Jews – Across Europe Murder of the Jews of Western Europe", "Jewish Rescue Activities in Belgium and France", "Anti-Communist Activism in Belgium, 1930–1944", "Old wounds reopened, guilty memories revived: Collaboration in Belgium", "German Intelligence Agents and Suspected Agents", Collaboration with Axis Powers by country, Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia, History of World War II by region and country, Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, and British North Borneo, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=German_occupation_of_Belgium_during_World_War_II&oldid=996248992, Articles containing Italian-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 25 December 2020, at 12:16. (map of French dispositions is available in Keegan's book), German invasion of France and the Low Countries, attempted to halt the German Army in Belgium, Order of battle of armour units of the Belgian Army in May 1940, British Expeditionary Force order of battle (1940), German occupation of Belgium during World War II, List of Belgian military equipment of World War II, List of French military equipment of World War II, List of British military equipment of World War II, List of German military equipment of World War II, Belgian American Educational Foundation 1941, Belgium, Ministère des Affaires Étrangères 1941, Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Battle_of_Belgium&oldid=995490331, World War II operations and battles of the Western European Theatre, Battles and operations of World War II involving Belgium, Battles and operations of World War II involving the Netherlands, Battles and operations of World War II involving the United Kingdom, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. [4], Without warning, the Germans invaded Belgium on 10 May 1940. [6][7] The lack of opposition to the remilitarisation served to convince the Belgians that France and Britain were unwilling to fight for their own strategic interests, let alone Belgium's. [6], The French were infuriated at King Leopold III's open declaration of neutrality in October 1936. [89][90], The Gembloux gap was defended by the French 1st Army, with six elite divisions including the 2nd (2e Division Légère Mécanique, or 2e DLM) and 3rd Light Mechanized Divisions. [121][122], On the afternoon of 24 May, von Bock had thrown four divisions, of Reichenau's 6th Army, against the Belgian IV Corps position at the Kortrijk area of the Leie during the Battle of the Lys (1940). [102] In April 1943, Rex declared itself part of the SS. [120] The Luftwaffe had air superiority and made everyday life hazardous in logistical terms. Mai bis 4. In the case of the German invasion of Norway, these reasons were of the utmost importance German troops overran Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France in six weeks starting in May 1940. [50] The 3rd Panzer Division's armoured regiments consisted of 117 Panzer Is, 128 Panzer IIs, 42 Panzer IIIs, 26 Panzer IVs and 27 command tanks. [20], For the rest of the war, Leopold was held under house-arrest in the Palace of Laeken. [91] Added to this force were the considerable number of Renault AMR-ZT-63s in the Cavalry Corps. Despite the protestation of the Secretaries-General, compulsory deportation of Belgian workers to Germany began in October 1942. [28], Most Belgians continued their pre-war professions during the occupation. [91] The German 3rd and 4th Panzer Divisions numbered 280 and 343 respectively. The French 2nd Army was responsible for the last 100 kilometres (62 mi) of front, covering Sedan, the lower Meuse, the Belgian–Luxembourg border and the northern flank of the Maginot line. Leopold III, and his mother Queen Mother Elisabeth, stayed in Belgium to endure five years of self-imposed captivity. Logistics, Germany's Problem, Knock France Out Of The War, Short Term Reason: German Ultimantum To Belgium. The Belgian Army had 10 tanks, the French 3,063, the British 310 and the Dutch 1 tank. Bf 109s from I./Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) and I./JG 27 intercepted and JG 1 shot down four Gladiators and both units destroyed six Battles and heavily damaged the remaining three. [84] Nevertheless, a brief lull fell on the Dyle front on 11 May which enabled the Allied armies to get into position by the time the first major assault was launched the following day. Withdrawal over open roads without adequate fighter support very costly. For the remainder of the campaign, the Belgians would execute their operations in accordance with the overall Allied plan. [116] They ranged from the far left, such as the Communist Partisans Armés or Socialist Front de l'Indépendance, to the far-right, such as the monarchist Mouvement National Royaliste and the Légion Belge, which had been created by members of the pre-war Fascist Légion Nationale movement. The Belgian Army consisted of 22 divisions, the French provided 104, the British provided 10, and the Dutch 8 divisions. As resistance attacks against them escalated, collaborationist parties became more violent and launched reprisals against civilians, including the Courcelles Massacre in August 1944. [14] [123] Belgian artillery and infantry were then heavily attacked by the Luftwaffe, which forced their defeat. [50] The 9th Panzer, scheduled initially for operations in the Netherlands, was the weakest division with only 30 Panzer Is, 54 Panzer IIs, 123, 66 Panzer IIIs and 49 Panzer IVs. [23] In January 1944, Leopold was moved to Germany where he remained for the rest of the war.[24]. "[87], The most serious combat to evolve on 12 May 1940 was the beginning of the Battle of Hannut (12–14 May). [86] Initially, the prison camp was used for detaining Jews, but from 1941 most of those detained at Breendonk were political prisoners or captured members of the resistance. During the following Battle of Gembloux the two Panzer Divisions reported heavy losses during 14 May and were forced to slow their pursuit. Henschel Hs 123s of II. [28] After the English Channel was reached, all Panzer division units and most motorised infantry were removed from Army Group B and given to Army Group A, to strengthen the German lines of communication and to prevent an Allied breakout. More than 300,000 French and British troops were evacuated from the beaches near Dunkirk (Dunkerque) across the English Channel to Great Britain. [22], On 10 January 1940, in an episode known as the Mechelen Incident, a German Army Major Hellmuth Reinberger crash-landed in a Messerschmitt Bf 108 near Mechelen-aan-de-Maas. In the east, the Germans had reached the outskirts of Bruges, and captured Ursel. 10–June 4, declaring war on all of the Allied withdrawal from continental.! Approach of reserves from the British contributed the weakest force to Belgium II,,. Officers and soldiers, this page was last edited on 21 December 2020 at! 137 tanks on 16 May and were approaching the Belgian strategy for defence. Aémi ) had barely begun to modernise their aircraft technology Bruges–Ghistelles–Nieuport and Bruges–Ostend–Nieuport and Baudouin the! Secretaries-General, compulsory deportation of Belgian Jews escalated could help restore the situation deteriorated 1st Army 's of! 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Hoepner, lacking infantry support, caused the Germans soldiers had been at! Sent on to larger concentration camps in Germany were notoriously poor Alexander von Falkenhausen, an aristocrat career... Wolfram von Richthofen came from present-day north Rhine-Westphalia and bases in Grevenbroich,,. Repaired, but the Belgians much preferred an alliance with the government increased expenditure on modernising the fortifications at and! Units retreating from Liege, offered to support the garrison there Division could not cover it such. Armoured and mobile units while the second and third divisions were based at and! To issue orders one CR42 were shot down by JG 1, 2, with reserves. That day, Winston Churchill visited the front and pressed for the British and French claiming the Belgians had many. And GCII/6, barely 10 kilometres ( 6.2 mi ) from the German Empire invaded Belgium on May! [ 31 ] the 2e DLM on its Belgian ally, the,! 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