Battle of France – 1940

In the Second World War, the Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the successful German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, defeating primarily French forces. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes to cut off and surround the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium. When British and adjacent French forces were pushed back to the sea by the highly mobile and well organized German operation, the British government decided to evacuate the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) as well as several French divisions at Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo.

After the withdrawal of the BEF, Germany launched a second operation, Fall Rot (Case Red), which was commenced on 5 June 1940. While the depleted French forces put up stiff initial resistance, German air superiority and armoured mobility overwhelmed the remaining French forces. German armour outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France with German forces arriving in an undefended Paris on 14 June. This caused a chaotic period of flight for the French government and effectively ended organized French military resistance. German commanders finally met with French officials on June 18 with the goal of the new French government being an armistice with Germany. Chief among the new government leaders was Marshal Philippe Pétain, newly appointed Prime Minister and one of the supporters of seeking an armistice with Germany.

On 22 June, an armistice was signed between France and Germany, which resulted in a division of France whereby Germany would occupy the north and west, Italy would control a small Italian occupation zone in the southeast, and an unoccupied zone, the zone libre, would be governed by the newly formed Vichy government led by Marshal Pétain. France remained under Axis occupation until the liberation of the country after the Allied landings in 1944.

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German Military History with a focus on World War 2 History including other areas of German History