Fall of France

World War II: Blitzkrieg

Europe 1940.0621

Fall of France

World War II in Europe from the fall of Poland to Stalingrad (21 June 1940)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

As the British evacuated what troops they could from Dunkirk, the Germans regrouped for a second great offensive deep into the heart of France. Mussolini declared war on the Allies on June 10, Paris fell on the 14th. A week later a defeated France agreed to an armistice.

Main Events

Operation Dynamo

Refusing to surrender to the Wehrmacht, the surrounded BEF and allied remnants built an improvised harbor on the beach, from which British Navy and civilian volunteer craft were able to evacuate the 338,226 troops who had not been killed or captured. Following the evacuation, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill vowed that the United Kingdom would never surrender to Nazi Germany.

Italian entry into World War II

Holding that Germany would soon defeat the Allies, Benito Mussolini declares Italy's entrance into World War II, effective as of midnight 10/11 June 1940. The Italian government presents the declaration to the British and French ambassadors in Rome shortly after 16:30, with Mussolini informing the Italian public later that day.

Frontier Wire offensive

British forces from Egypt crossed into the Italian colony of Libya, penetrating the 271 km Frontier Wire built by Italy to guard the border and contain the Senussi population within Libya. On 14 June, the British captured Fort Capuzzo and, 97 km to the south, Fort Maddalena. They also exchanged fire with the fortified camp of Sidi Omar, but would not capture it until Operation Compass in December.

Siege of Malta

Their possession strategic island of Malta allowed the British to attack Axis vessels en route to North Africa. In an attempt to force the island into submission, German and Italy launched 3,000 bombing raids on Malta over the course of two years, but were unable to obtain air supremacy or break the defenders.

Soviet Occupation of the Baltic

In accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union occupied the Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, annexing them unilaterally later that summer. Contrary to the Pact, Germany did not occupy Lithuania, and the Winter War prevented Russia from occupying Finland as planned.

Second Armistice at Compiègne

Adolf Hitler and top military officials of Nazi Germany signed an armistice with representatives of the French Third Republic at 18:36 near Compiègne, France - the exact location of the 1918 armistice ending World War I. This new armistice ended French involvement in World War II on the side of the Allies and established a German zone of occupation in northern and western France, leaving the remainder ("Vichy France") to be governed by the French.

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