top top 10 may 1940, the German military invaded the Netherlands. It to be the start of five days the fighting that resulted in the occupation of the Netherlands. Why did Nazi Germany attack the Netherlands? exactly how did the Dutch populace respond? What taken place in those 5 days?


War in EuropeOn 1 September 1939, the German army invaded Poland. 2 days later, England and France, both allies of Poland, asserted war top top Germany. The 2nd World War had actually started, but after the German occupation that Poland, there was no fighting for part time. This period was dubbed the ‘Phoney War\", due to the fact that it to be clear to every parties that things would not finish there.

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The Netherlands is neutralIn 1940, the rule of Dutch foreign policy was neutrality, together it had actually been because that a century. The Netherlands had avoided getting connected in worldwide conflicts and also would just take sides once attacked. The strategy worked fine during the first World War. The Netherlands continued to be neutral and the battle passed the country by.

The Dutch federal government was because of this careful not to take it an official stand ~ above the situation in Nazi Germany. It did not want to give cause for hostilities. This resulted in some awkward situations, with Dutch people who criticised the national politics of Adolf Hitler gift prosecuted because that insulting a \"friendly head of state\".


Strategic interest of the NetherlandsThe planned attack on the Netherlands was component of a larger plan of attack, of i beg your pardon the code name was loss Gelb. The score of the Germans was to conquer France. They want to bypass the French defence heat at the eastern border by going v the Netherlands and also Belgium. Their occupation of the Netherlands would also prevent England from setup up a basic of to work on the european mainland.

Germany to plan to defeat Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg by recording them off guard in a swift attack, the so-called Blitzkrieg. The Germans offered espionage to discover the weak points in the dutch defence. Part German policemans dressed up as tourists to sketch the area, and also they likewise received info from Germans life in the Netherlands.

But no all German prepare were running smoothly. The Belgian army got organize of the German assault plans once a German aircraft made one emergency landing in Belgium in at an early stage 1940. Hitler decided to postpone the attack. Subsequent negative weather problems caused the strike to it is in postponed number of times after that.


Preparing for the German attackMeanwhile, the Dutch federal government had started to anticipate a German attack. Soldiers were maintained in service for a longer period and all leaving was cancelled. On 19 April 1940, the government even proclaimed martial law. This allowed them to censor sensitive armed forces information and to arrest persons who were thought about a risk to national security. It was feared that Dutch NSB members, because that instance, would aid the Germans in the event of one invasion.

The Dutch populace was unaware the most government measures. Return the military activities were visible, war appeared a long way off. The federal government tried no to progressive the alarm and called on the populace to ‘stay calm\" and ‘quietly focus on their typical activities\".


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Germany invades the NetherlandsIn the at an early stage morning of 10 might 1940, dutch observers saw bombers native the German Luftwaffe flying in the direction of the phibìc Sea. Castle assumed that they to be on their means to England. Once over sea, the planes do 180-degree turns and also flew earlier to attack the Netherlands. The Netherlands to be at war.

Hitler justified the attack with a lie in an attempt to affect public opinion. He declared that England and also France had been plan to strike the German Ruhr Area via the Netherlands and Belgium. Part German soldiers were therefore surprised when they never encountered any English soldiers in the Netherlands.



Many Dutch world considered the German intrusion a cowardly act. Illustration of the invasion by L.J. Jordaan, 1945.
Failed assault on The HagueBombers attacked the armed forces airfields and also barracks around The Hague. Paratroopers descended and German plane dropped soldiers, that hoped because that a rapid victory by taking Queen Wilhelmina and the federal government hostage. The arrangement failed thanks to the fierce the contrary of the dutch soldiers and blunders made on the German side.


Germany successesThe German armies additionally attacked the Netherlands in the south. There, netherlands troops blew up bridges to slow down the German advance. This go not constantly work out. Wehrmacht soldiers supplied a trick to overcome the strategically necessary Gennep railway bridge: dressed in dutch uniforms, castle overpowered the netherlands soldiers.

On the Grebbeberg, the Dutch military held out versus the German military for 3 days. This line of defence consisted partially of submarine land. That temporarily slowed under the invaders. Also so, the Grebbe Line fell on 13 May.


Queen Wilhelmina flees to EnglandThe Germans progressed ever further. Return the Dutch army still gained little victories, it might not organize its positions. The cabinet felt the Queen Wilhelmina have to flee. Her security was at stake. Initially, she go not desire to go, however she was forced to leave as soon as the situation worsened. A warship took her to England, where the brother King got her.

The fact that your Queen had actually fled, come as a punch to the netherlands population. Until then, the newspapers had mainly report on netherlands successes. The case turned the end to be much more serious 보다 expected. Some people criticised the Queen for fleeing and called she a coward. However, during the occupation, the Queen would prove to be an essential symbol the the fight versus Nazi Germany.



From England, Queen Wilhelmina renders every initiative to support the inhabited Netherlands. Here she addresses the Dutch population on Radio Oranje.
Collection: Nationaal Archief/ Anefo, access number: 2.24.26, article number: 012-0054. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Rights: publicly Domain
Flight and chaosThe Queen was no the only one to flee. Countless Dutch world were required to leave their homes due to the fact that of the acts of war. One of the evacuated urban was Breda, wherein fierce fighting to be expected. 10s of thousands of civilization left the city on foot, packed through their belongings. During their evacuation, some world were killed as a an outcome of the aerial combat over the area. As the city fell an ext quickly 보다 expected, its residents were may be to return to an undamaged city.

Others did no flee the battle so lot as they fled the Nazis, specifically those who had actually fled Germany earlier: Jews and also Nazi opponents. They fear persecution. Since of the fighting in the southern of the Netherlands, many people tried to gain to England by ship. Just some of the refugees regulated to discover a ship. Others faced an uncertain future.


The battle of RotterdamRotterdam had been the step of bitter fighting due to the fact that the beginning of the attack, but the Germans had actually not prospered in taking the city. And so, ~ above 14 may 1940, German basic Schmidt gift the dutch command through an ultimatum. Unless Rotterdam surrendered that very same afternoon, the city would be bombed.

The negotiators in Rotterdam go not know that the military leadership in Berlin had actually other plans. Hermann Göring, leader of the Luftwaffe, meant to use terror bombing to force the nation to surrender. Even prior to the ultimatum had expired, the German bombers appeared on the horizon. Castle dropped your bombs end the city centre. As soon as the exhilaration cleared, 80,000 people had shed their homes and also between 600 and also 900 people had died.


Capitulation of the NetherlandsThe Germans go on to threaten to bomb Utrecht as well. Conscious of the hopelessness the the situation, the Netherlands surrendered. In a school building in Rijsoord, basic Winkelman signed the capitulation covenant on 15 May. The loss was hard on the netherlands military and civilians. At the very same time, many Dutch world were likewise relieved that the tension had actually subsided.

Things felt different for the Jewish population. They had actually the many to fear from the Nazis. Several of them had actually fled Germany in the 1930s, and now, they were being overtaken through the Nazis. In the months after the invasion, numerous Jews committed suicide.

As the Netherlands had surrendered, the Germans mounted a new administration top top 29 May, top by Reich Commissioner Arthur Seyss-Inquart, one Austrian Nazi. Because that the next 5 years, the Germans dubbed the shots in the Netherlands.


Why go the Netherlands lose the battle?Contrary to what some civilization think, the German intrusion did no come together a finish surprise. The Netherlands was well prepared for war, however its neutralist policy was an obstacle. It made it difficult to cooperate with England and France top top a proper defence strategy.

Although the state the the Dutch army was no as bad as is periodically claimed, the dutch armaments to be outdated and inadequate. Moreover, the Netherlands did not have the solid military heritage Germany did.

Even so, the Dutch brought out a number of successful army actions. Unfortunately, the military command often lacked the overview and also so failed come turn little successes into big victories.


Germany occupies western EuropeAfter the Netherlands had been conquered, Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts the France soon fell into German hands. The rapid victory enhanced Hitler\"s popularity in Germany. Countless Germans considered it compensation for losing the first World War

By the summer of 1940, almost every one of Western Europe to be under German control. The surrounding countries either remained out the the war or were German allies. Only England to be still free, yet it seemed inconceivable that the brothers would have the ability to liberate Europe in the quick term.


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Adolf Hitler access time Paris top top 23 June 1940, after the city has fallen into German hands. Here, Hitler and his entourage walk previous the Eiffel Tower.
Collection: Das Bundesarchiv / photographer: Heinrich Hoffmann. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC through SA 3.0 DE.

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LiteratureAmersfoort, Herman & Kamphuis, Piet (eds.), Mei 1940: De strijd op Nederlands grondgebied (Amsterdam: Boom, 2012, 4th revised edition).Bijkerk, Rein, Een korte oorlog: de slag om Nederland in mei 1940 (Amsterdam: Ambo/Anthos, 2015).Have, Wichert ten, 1940: verwarring en aanpassing (Houten: Spectrum, 2015).