Compiled in part from captured documentaries, this film recalls the German invasion of Holland, May 10, 1940.
Compiled in part from captured documentaries, this film recalls the German invasion of Holland, May 10, 1940. It shows something of the gallant but unavailing opposition, terminating May 14, to massed Panzer forces using the then novel tactics of sudden break-through and deep, unsupported penetration. It evokes fresh memories of the savage bombing of non-combatants.
In the early hours of May 10 - without any declaration of war and with no valid reason - German forces entered Holland. Five columns - heavier armour than had previously been used, and supporting motorised infantry - brushed aside Dutch opposition, and drove relentlessly for the main towns. They were aided by Fifth Column saboteurs of the Dutch National Socialist Movement, who mined bridges and roads, cut phone lines, and spread despondency and confusion.
To these unorthodox innovations was added a second chapter in the grim book whose preface was Guernica in Spain, and whose opening chapter read 'Warsaw'. Rotterdam, Holland's second largest city, and in no sense a military target, suffered saturation bombing by massed flights of Heinkels, Dorniers and Junkers. Thousands were killed or rendered homeless.
Crippled by these punishing blows, cut off from prospect of relief by a powerful German thrust between her main armies and the Belgians, British and French to the south, Holland could offer no lengthy resistance. Queen Wilhelmina and the Royal Family left, to rally resistance from the comparative safety of the British isles, and when the Germans entered the still-smouldering ruins of Rotterdam on the 14th, Dutch Commander-in-Chief Winkelman ordered his troops to lay down their arms.
In this final agony Holland's natural ally - the seas which had been unleashed to bar her enemies from the days of William the Silent in the 16th Century - had turned against her. Saboteurs prevented the dykes being opened to flood the land and halt the German invader. When the Allies attempted to succour their hard-pressed friends these very dykes were opened to impede them.
In less than a week the land of Holland had been laid prostrate, but Dutch resistance was far from over; Free Netherlands would continue to fight the Nazis by land, sea, and air, until it was the turn of the oppressors to lay down their arms May 8th almost five years to the day after they had attacked Holland.