There are thousands of pictures that show the fall of France in May, 1940. But given below are some (I think are) rare images of that moment in history.
French POWs. Two of them seem to want something. The German soldier seems quite attentive.
Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, leading Winston Churchill to remark, shortly afterwards, 'Thank God for the French Army'. To Churchill at that time, France's army seemed a powerful bulwark against possible Nazi aggression towards other European nations.The defeat of this powerful army in a mere six weeks in 1940 stands as one of the most remarkable military campaigns in history.
In 1939, as World War Two loomed, the British and French planned to fight an updated version of what happened in 1914-18 during World War One, but with some essential differences. The French had suffered massive casualties in frontal attacks in 1914. This time they were going to remain on the defensive in western Europe, while mobilising their military forces and industrial base to fight a total war. They planned to take the offensive some two to three years after the start of hostilities.The 'Maginot Line' replaced the crude trenches in which so much of the 1914-18 war was fought. It consisted of a sophisticated series of fortifications, which were confidently expected to protect France's frontier with Germany, although crucially the line did not cover the Franco-Belgian frontier. In general, the slow-tempo, attritional fighting of World War One heavily influenced French military doctrine at the outbreak of World War Two.
For these French soldiers the war is over.
German soldiers march through a French townHitler was eager to follow up his victory over Poland in 1939 by attacking in the west, but bad weather forced the planned offensive to be postponed. Then, in January 1940, a German plane crashed in neutral Belgium, with a copy of the attack orders on board.Hitler was forced to rethink, believing the plan compromised he turned for advice to General Erich von Manstein, who argued for a daring campaign. In effect, Manstein recognised that the Maginot Line was too formidable for a direct attack from Germany. Instead, he proposed a subsidiary attack through neutral Holland and Belgium, with the main blow against France to be launched a little later through the Ardennes. This was a hilly and heavily forested area on the German-Belgian-French border, where the Allies would be unlikely to expect an attack. The plan was to rely heavily on surprise blitzkrieg ('lightning war') techniques.
German legendary and 'gentleman' general, Erwin Rommel is seen with captured British soldiers