The End of the ‘Phoney War’ and the Defeat of France. March – ​June 1940

During the Phoney War in Western Europe, the US leadership made an attempt to reconcile the warring parties. This task was entrusted to US Under Secretary of State S. Welles, who came to Europe in early 1940 on a special diplomatic mission and was received by Hitler in Berlin. Nevertheless, his mission showed that the US president’s desire to make a name for himself as a peacemaker by mediating an agreement between the Nazis and the Anglo-­French allies was difficult to attain.

On April 9, 1940, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. the Kingdom of Denmark was conquered within a few hours. It took the Germans two months to occupy all of Norway: in early June 1940, the Norwegian Army finally surrendered, and the Anglo-­French troops that had been sent to its aid were evacuated from Norway together with the country’s king and government.

On May 10, 1940, the Germans invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, all of which capitulated within a few days. the entry of German troops into the Benelux countries misled the Anglo-­French command, which thought that events on the Western Front were developing in the same way as in 1914. However, this time German strategists decided to attack France not through Belgium but through a remote area of the Ardennes in order to bypass the Maginot Line and reach the English Channel, where they would press the main Allied forces to the sea and destroy them. On the whole, this plan had been successfully realized by May 20, 1940. Only Hitler’s order to stop the German advance saved the Allied forces from total destruction. Abandoning their arms on the coast, the Allies managed to evacuate to the British Isles. Over 338,000 men left the port of Dunkirk between May 26 and June 3.

Wehrmacht divisions entered Paris on June 14, 1940, and a Franco-­German armistice was signed in the Forest of Compiegne on June 22, 1940, marking France’s defeat. the ceremony took place in the same place and the same train car as Germany’s capitulation at the end of World War I.

Berlin. 2 March 1940
Russian State Military Archive
Coll. 1511k, ser. 1, fold. 76, f. 116.

Photograph

London. 11 March 1940
Russian State Military Archive
Coll. 1511k, ser. 1, fold. 78, f. 201.
Photograph
25 April 1940
Russian State Military Archive
Coll. 1511k, ser. 2, fold. 144, f. 27.
Photograph
26 April 1940
Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents
Ser. 1, album 540, № 4.
Photograph
10 May 1940
Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents
Ser. 3, album 147, № 2.
Photograph
10 May 1940
Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents
Ser. 3, album 220, № 145.
Photograph