The War Illustrated No 38 Vol 2 May 24th 1940

63 S The War Illustrated May 24th, 1940 ‘The Wild Beast Springs Out of His Lair’ On May 10,1940, the Western Front blazed up into a fury o f martial activity, as Hitler, with supreme disregard for the law o f nations and the principles o f civilization, flung his legions on the little countries o f the Netherlands and Belgium. The opening of this new phase o f the war is described below. and French offensive against Germany, was imminent ”and that “it was intended to take place against the Ruhr via Belgium and Holland,” German troops had received orders “to safeguard the neutrality of these, countries with all their military means.” The German troops were “not coming as enemies of the Belgian and Dutch peoples,” it was averred, and if the Governments wanted to safeguard the well-being of their pyoples then they should see to it that the German troops should meet with no resistance whatsoever. But “should the German troops be offered resistance in Belgium or Holland this resistance will be broken with all means.” To this insolent demand Holland and Belgium made swift and uncompromising reply. Addressing herself to her people, Queen Wilhelmina made“ a flaming protest against this unprecedented viola­tion of good faith and violation of all that is decent between cultured States.” eluded :"Soldiers of the Western Front, your hour has come. The fight which begins today will determine Germany’s future for the next thousand years.” Yon Ribbentrop,a too, expressed him­self in characteristic fashion: “The German Army,” he said, “will now speak to Britain and France in the only language which their rulers seem to understand, and settle with them once and for all.” Turning, frojn words to deeds, we already know enough to be able to recog- Before dawn on Friday, May 10, the anti-aircraft guns outside Amsterdam glazed into action at a handful of Nazi ’planes caught for the moment by the probing fingers of the searchlights as they appeared above the city from the east. That was at 2.41 a.m .it was the herald of the coming storm. Some twenty minutes later German troops began to cross the frontiers of Holland, of Belgium and of Luxemburg, sweeping aside such local opposition as was mustered for the moment, and at the same time vast numbers of German aeroplanes speeded above them, heavily charged with bombs and parachute troops. Shortly after 4 a.m. the first of the parachute troops began to patter down upon the still dark countryside of the Netherlands, and by 5 o’clock Brussels had been bombed, and also a large number of towns in Northern and Eastern France, including Calais and Dunkirk, Lille and Nancy, and Pontoise, not far from Paris. The bombers’ principal objectives were the aerodromes and many of the aerodromes occupied by the R.A.F. behind the Maginot Line were similarly visited, without much damage being done. At 6 o’clock a German ultimatum was delivered to the Dutch, Belgian and Luxemburg Governments, in which it was declared that inasmuch as a “British ‘WAR WITHAL LOUR MIGHT ’Mr. Churchill’s Declaration, May 13,1940: I say to the House, as I said to the Ministers who have joined this Government, I have nothing to offer but blood and toil and tears and sweat. W e have before all of anus ordeal of the most grievous kind. W e have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. If you ask what is our policy I will say it is to wage war— war by air, land and sea, war with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lament­ able catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. If you ask us “What is your aim?” I can answer in one word— -victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terrors, victory how­ever long and hard the road maybe, for without victory there is no survival— and let that be realized— -no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages that mankind shall move forward towards its goal. I uptake my task in byoyancy and hope. I fee! sure that our cause Will not be suffered to fail among men. I feel entitled, at this juncture, and at this time, to claim the aid of all, and I say,“ C om e, then, let us go forward together in our united strength.” Shew rent Ion,“ and my Government will do'our duty. Do your duty every­where and in all circumstances. Everyman to his post.” King Leopold, too, spoke to his people. “For the second time in a quarter of a century,” he said, “Belgium, honest and neutral in her conduct, has been attacked by the German Reich, which treats with contempt the most solemn pledges I shall remain faithful to the oath I undertook the Constitution to maintain the independence and integrity of my country as my father did in 1914. I have placed myself at the head of the Army with the same faith and confidence in our cause. Belgium is innocent, and with the help-of God she will triumph.” Compare with these noble and dignified appeals to the conscience of enlightened humanity the rodomontade with which Hitler sent his troops into what was soon to be described as the greatest battle in history. “For 300 years,-” raved the Fuehrer, “it has been the aim of Britain and France to prevent any consolidation in Europe, and especially to weaken Germany. The German people have no hatred against the British and French people, but we are today_ faced with a question of life or destrttetion/f ,After repeating-the lie about the Allies’ alleged plans to attack the Ruhr through Belgium and Holland, the Fuehrer coil- Left, a weeping woman refugee with a child sits on the quayside at a Belgian port hoping to find a ship to take her across the North Sea. Princess Juliana, right, and her two children arrived in London on Sunday, May 12, the baby Princess travelling in a gas-proof cradle. Top. centre, is a memory of happier days a year ago. Oueen Wilhelmina and King Leopold are seen driving instate through the streets of Brussels. Photos, Keystone, WorldWide and G .P.U.
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