Blitzkrieg in the West

World War II: Blitzkrieg

Europe 1940.0525

Blitzkrieg in the West

World War II in Europe from the fall of Poland to Stalingrad (25 May 1940)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

While the Allies were still dealing with the fall of Denmark and Norway, Germany struck west. The attack began with a German invasion of the Netherlands and northern Belgium. Then, as the Allied armies raced north to deal with this threat, the main German offensive smashed through the lightly defended hills of southern Belgium. The out-maneuvered British and French forces had been split in two.

Main Events

Churchill War Ministry

Dissatisfied with the British government's leadership of a failed invasion of Norway, the House of Commons began to question the confidence of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain responded by inviting the Labour, National Labour, Liberal, and National Liberal parties to form a unified wartime government with his Conservatives. However, the Labour party refused to join the government unless Chamberlain resigned. Chamberlain agreed, and was replaced by Admiralty Minister Winston Churchill.

Blitzkrieg in the West

In operation Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), German forces launched a simultaneous invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. When the Allies in France raced north to protect the Low Countries, the Germans pushed armored units through the heavily forested Ardennes of southern Belgium into France in a surprise move to split the Allied forces. The German attack succeeded perfectly, overrunning northern France and isolating the British at Dunkirk.

German advance halts outside Dunkirk

The German invasion of France left nearly the entire British Expeditionary Force, along with the French and Belgian remnants, cut off from the rest of France in Nord-Pas de Calais. To prevent the British from breaking through and closing the divide, the Wehrmacht focused the brunt of its air and land power on this pocket, forcing the British back to the small port city of Dunkirk.

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