The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Opening Address for the United Kingdom
(Part 13 of 17)

After Hitler had remilitarized the Rhineland and had repudiated the Locarno Pact, England and France sought to reestablish

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the position of security for Belgium which Hitler's action had threatened. They, therefore, themselves gave to Belgium on 24 April 1937, a specific guarantee that they would maintain in respect of Belgium, undertakings. of assistance which they had entered into with her both under the Locarno Pact and the Covenant of the League of Nations. On the 13 October 1937 the German Government also made a declaration assuring Belgium of its intention to recognize the inviolability and integrity of that country.

It is, perhaps, convenient to deal with the remaining assurances as we review the evidence which is available as to the preparations and intentions of the German Government prior to their invasion of Belgium on 10 May 1940.

As in the case of Poland, as in the case of Norway and Denmark, so also here the dates speak for themselves.

As early as August 1938 steps were being made to utilize the Low Countries as defense bases for decisive action in the West in the event of France and England opposing Germany in it aggression upon Czechoslovakia.

In all air force letter dated 25 August 1938 which deals with the action to be taken if England and France should interfere in the operation against Czechoslovakia, it is stated:

"It is not expected for the moment that other States will intervene against Germany. The Dutch and the Belgian area assumes in this connection much more importance for the prevention of the war in Western Europe than during the world war. This mainly is an advance base for the air war." (375-PS)

In the last paragraph of that order it is stated "Belgium and the Netherlands when in German hands represent an extraordinary advantage in the prosecution of the air war against Great Britain as well as against France." (375-PS)

That was in August 1938. Eight months later (on 28 April 1939) Hitler is declaring again, "I was pleased that a number of European states availed themselves of this declaration by the German Government to express and emphasize their desire to have absolute neutrality."

A month later, on 23 May 1939, Hitler held the conference in the Reich Chancellery, to which we have already referred. The Minutes of that meeting report Hitler as saying:

"The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied by armed force. Declarations of neutrality must be ignored. If England and France enter the war between Germany and Poland they will support Holland and Belgium in their neutrality.

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** Therefore, if England intends to intervene in the Polish war, we must occupy Holland with lightning speed. We must aim at securing new defense lines on Dutch soil up to the Zuyder Zee". (L-79)

Even after that he was to give his solemn declarations that would observe Belgian neutrality. On 26 August 1939 when the crisis in regard to Danzig and Poland was reaching its climax, declarations assuring the Governments concerned of the intention to respect their neutrality were handed by the German ambassadors to the King of the Belgians, the Queen of the Netherlands, and to the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the most solemn form. But to the Army -- "If Holland and Belgium are successfully occupied and held" -- it was said -- "a successful war against England will be secured."

On the 1st September Poland was invaded, and two days later England and France came into the War against Germany in pursuance of the treaty obligation already referred to. On the 6th October Hitler renewed his assurances of friendship to Belgium and Holland. But on the 9th October, before any kind of accusation had been made by the German Government of breaches of neutrality by Belgium, the Netherlands, or Luxembourg, Hitler issued a directive for the conduct of the war.

In that directive he stated:

"1. If it becomes evident in the near future that England and France acting under her leadership, are not disposed to end the war, I am determined to take firm and offensive action without letting much time elapse.

"2. A long waiting period results not only in the ending of the advantage to the Western Powers, of Belgium and perhaps also of Dutch neutrality, but also strengthens the military power of our enemies to an increasing degree, causes confidence of the neutrals in German final victory to wane, and does not help to bring Italy to our aid as brothers-in-arms.

"3. I therefore issue the following orders for the further conduct of military operations:

"(a) Preparations should be made for offensive action on the Northern flank of the Western front crossing the area of Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland. This attack must be carried out as soon and as forcefully as possible.

"(1) The object of this attack is to defeat as many strong sections of the French Fighting Army as possible, and her ally and partner in the fighting, and at the same time to acquire as great an area of Holland, Belgium and Northern

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France as possible, to use as a base offering good prospects for waging aerial and sea warfare against England and to provide ample coverage for the vital district of the Ruhr."

Nothing could state more clearly or more definitely the object behind the invasion of these countries than that document. On 15 October 1939 Keitel wrote a most secret letter concerning Fall Gelb, which was the code name for the operation against the Low Countries. In it he stated:

"The protection of the Ruhr area by moving A/C reporting service and the air defense as far forward as possible in the area of Holland is significant for the whole conduct of the war. The more Dutch territory we occupy the more effective can the defense of the Ruhr area be made. This point of view must determine the choice of objectives of the army even if the army and navy are not directly interested in such territorial gain. It must be the object of the army's preparations, therefore, to occupy on receipt of a special order the territory of Holland in the first instance in the area of the Grebbe-Marse line. It will depend on the military and political attitude of the Dutch as well as on the effectiveness of their flooding, whether objects can and must be further extended." (C-62)

The operation had apparently been planned to take place at the beginning of November. We have in our possession a series of 17 letters dated from 7th November until the 9th May postponing almost from day to day the D-day of the operation, so that by the beginning of November all the major plans and preparations had been made. (C-72)

On 10 January 1940 a German aeroplane force landed in Belgium. In it was found the remains of a half-burnt operation order setting out considerable details of the Belgian landing grounds that were to be captured (TC-58). Many other documents have been found which illustrate the planning and preparation for this invasion in the latter half of 1939 and early 1940, but they carry the matter no further, and they show no more clearly than the evidence to which I have already referred, the plans and intention of the German Governments and its armed forces.

On 10 May 1940 at about 0500 hours in the morning the German invasion of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg began.

Once more the forces of aggression marched on. Treaties, assurances, the rights of Sovereign States meant nothing. Brutal force, covered by as great an element of surprise as the Nazis could secure, was to seize that which was deemed necessary for

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striking the mortal blow against England, the main Enemy. The only fault of these unhappy countries was that they stood in the path of the German invader. But that was enough.

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