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World War II: Axis Invasions and the Fall of France
JUL 3, 2011 | 77
18 Recommend 449 Tw eet 259

In the spring of 1 940, an emboldened Germany asserted itself as a modern conqueror of nations, successfully inv ading and occupy ing six countries in fewer than 1 00 day s. On April 9, 1 940, Germany inv aded Denmark, which capitulated in a mere six hours. At the same time, Nazi warships and troops were entering Norwegian waters, attacking ships, landing troops, and starting a conflict that would last for two months. On May 1 0, more than 2 million German troops on land and in the air inv aded France, Belgium, Lux embourg, and the Netherlands using blitzkrieg tactics. The smaller countries fell within weeks, but France held on until June 22, when it signed an armistice with Germany . Also during this period, the Sov iet Union initiated staged elections in Estonia, Latv ia, and Lithuania, forcefully annex ing them. By the end of the summer, German forces were digging in, building up, and planning for the Battle of Britain. (This entry is Part 3 of a weekly 20-part retrospectiv e of World War II ) [45 photos]
Use j/k keys or ←/→ to navigate C hoose: 1024px 1280px

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A German armored tank crosses the Aisne River in France, on June 21, 1940, one day before the surrender of France. (AP Photo)

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Waves of German paratroopers land on snow-covered rock ledges in the Norwegian port and city of Narvik, during the German invasion of the Scandinavian country. (AP Photo) #

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The remains of a naval battle in Narvik, Norway in 1940. Several battles between German and Norwegian forces took place in the Ofotfjord in the spring of 1940. (LOC) #

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A group of German Gebirgsjägers (mountain troops) in action in Narvik, Norway, in 1940. (Deutsches Bundesarchiv/German Federal Archive) #

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German soldiers move through a burning Norwegian village, in April 1940, during the German invasion. (AP Photo) #

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Members of a British Royal Air Force bombing squadron hold thumbs up on April 22, 1940, as they return to home base from an attack on German warships off Bergen, Norway. (AP Photo) #

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An aircraft spotter on the roof of a building in London, England, with St. Paul's Cathedral in the background. (National Archives) #

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German bombs miss their targets and explode in the sea during an air raid on Dover, England, in July 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Members of the Black Watch, one of the famed Scottish regiments, undergo rough training in South Coast sector of England, in 1940. The men were training to be combat parachutists. (AP Photo) #

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The Royal Irish Fusiliers of the British expeditionary forces come to the aid of French farmers whose horses have been commandeered by the French Army. A tank is hitched to a plow to help with the spring tilling of the soil on March 27, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Belgian women tearfully have goodbye to husbands and sons leaving for the front line as the threat of invasion hung heavily over their homeland, on May 11, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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A formation of German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers are flying over an unknown location, in this May 29, 1940 photo. (AP Photo) #

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A German soldier operates his antiaircraft gun at an unknown location, in support of the German troops as they march into Danish territory, on April 9, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Reconnaissance squads head the German advance into Luxembourg, on May 10, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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German parachute troops descending on Fort Eben Emael in Belgium, on May 30, 1940, part of a larger surprise attack. (AP Photo) #

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French soldiers load a piece of artillery in a wood somewhere in the Western Front on May 29, 1940. The shell will be fired into the Nazioccupied sector of the soldiers' homeland. (AP Photo) #

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A formation of German Dornier Do 17Z light bombers, flying over France on June 21, 1940. (Deutsches Bundesarchiv/German Federal Archive) #

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German parachute troops man a machine gun post in the Netherlands, on June 2, 1940. This photo came from a camera found on German parachute troops who were taken prisoner. (AP Photo) #

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Belgians blasted this bridge across the Meuse River in the town of Dinant, Belgium, but shortly, a wooden bridge built by German sappers was standing next to the ruins, on June 20, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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A woman, fleeing from her home with the few possessions she can carry, takes cover behind a tree by the roadside, somewhere in Belgium, on May 18, 1940, during an aerial attack by Nazi planes. Her bicycle, with her belongings tied to it, rests against the tree, to which she clings for protection. (AP Photo) #

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Hundreds of thousands of British and French troops who had fled advancing German forces massed on the beach of Dunkirk, France, on June 4, 1940, awaiting ships to carry them to England. (AP Photo) #

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British and French troops wade through shallow water along the beach at Dunkirk, France on June 13, 1940 toward small rescue craft that will bring them to England. Some 700 private vessels joined dozens of military craft to ferry the men across the channel. (AP Photo) #

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Men of the British Expeditionary Force safely arrive home after their fight in Flanders on June 6, 1940. More than 330,000 soldiers were rescued from Dunkirk in the mission code-named Operation Dynamo. (AP Photo) #

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Oil tanks burn in Dunkirk, France, on June 5, 1940. The aircraft in the right foreground is an RAF Coastal Command Lockheed Hudson on patrol. (AP Photo) #

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Aftermath of the British retreat in Flanders, Belgium on July 31, 1940. English soldiers lie dead beside their vehicles. (AP Photo) #

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English and French prisoners of war sit near railroad tracks somewhere in Belgium in 1940. (Deutsches Bundesarchiv German Federal Archive) #

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German troops parade in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 20, 1940 to celebrate Hitler's birthday. (AP Photo) #

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Amsterdam, Netherlands. A Dutch father, who had been severely wounded in his head, hand, and leg, stares in horror at the mutilated corpse of his little girl 1940. (LOC) #

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A dead German soldier, one of the many thousands who fell during the invasions of 1940, somewhere in France, on June 9, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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French tanks pass through a bombarded French town on their way to the front line in France, on May 25, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Women waving Union Jacks greet passing soldiers, all Canadians, as they march from the docks after disembarking in France on June 18, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Some of the 350 refugee British children who arrived in New York City on July 8, 1940, aboard the British liner Samaria. They were the first large contingent of English children sent from the isles to be free of the impending Nazi invasion. (AP Photo/Becker) #

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German troops walk down a deserted street in Luxembourg, on May 21, 1940, with rifles, pistols and grenades ready to protect themselves. (AP Photo) #

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Bombs let loose by the Royal Air Force during a raid on Abbeville Aerodrome -- now held by Germans -- in France, on July 20, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Refugees leave their ruined town in Belgium, after it had been bombed by the Germans, carrying what little of their personal belongings they managed to salvage, on May 19, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Nazi motorcyclists pass through a destroyed town in France in 1940. (Deutsches Bundesarchiv/German Federal Archive) #

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A crowd of women, children and soldiers of the German Wehrmacht give the Nazi salute on June 19, 1940, at an unknown location in Germany. (AP Photo) #

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Civilian victims of a German air raid near Antwerp, Belgium, on June 13, 1940. British troops said these people were cycling to work when German planes swept over, attacking and leaving them to die beside a wheat field. (AP Photo) #

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British Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspects Britain's Grenadier guards standing at attention in front of Light Bren gun armored units in July, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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An allied soldier thrusts the plunger of an explosive mechanism that will blast a bridge to delay the Nazi advance, in the Leuven region of Belgium, on June 1, 1940, before this area fell to the Germans. (AP Photo) #

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A tandem bicycle carries a whole Belgian family of four with some of their belongings strapped to their backs, as they flee from the advancing Nazis into France, on June 14, 1940. (AP Photo) #

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Adolf Hitler poses in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background, one day after the formal capitulation of France, on June 23, 1940. He is accompanied by Albert Speer, German Reichsminister of armaments and Hitler's chief architect, left, and Arno Breker, professor of visual arts in Berlin and Hitler's favorite sculptor, right. An unknown cameraman seen in the foreground is filming the event. Photo provided by the German War Department. (AP Photo/German War Department) #

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French destroyer Mogador, in flames after being shelled during the British attack on Mers-el-Kebir, French Algeria, on July 3, 1940. After France signed an armistice with Germany, the British government moved to destroy what it could of the French Navy, trying to prevent the ships from falling into German hands. Several ships were badly damaged, one sunk, and 1,297 French sailors were killed in the attack. (Jacques Mulard/CC-BY-SA) #

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Heavy mortars of Hitler's Army are set in position under cliffs on the French side of the English Channel, at Fecamp, France, in 1940, as Germany occupied France and the low countries. (AP Photo) #

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A German soldier stands in the tower of the cathedral, gazing down upon the captured French city of Strasbourg on July 15, 1940. Adolf Hitler visited the city in June of 1940, declaring plans for the Strasbourg Cathedral, stating that it should become a "national sanctuary of the German people." (AP Photo) #

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Newest Community S pank
• a year ago


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ADDRESS 1 ADDRESS 2 CITY

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How t o t h in k a bou t dr on es, k iller s on Cr a ig slist , t h e r isk s of bein g a w or k a h olic, t h e cou r a g e of T h e Cla sh , a n d m or e

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Lots of factual errors then bohemond. In pic # 42, dated June '40, Albert Speer is I dentified as Hitlers Minister of Armaments. Speer did not hold this title until '42. Her was merely accompanying Hitler and the sculpture on the right on a grandstanding/sightseeing tour, as Hitler's favorite architect. Shoddy work.
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bohemond

• a year ago

37: Those aren't "soldiers of the Wehrmacht." The two in garrison caps are SA (Brownshirt paramilitaries); the other two are Ordnungspolizei (uniformed police) wearing SS-issue helmets.
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Doug K urs k

> bohemond
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• 22 days ago

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The two paramilitaries are NSKK
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dis c ount c oupon

• 2 years ago

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Ric o

The Babson globe in Wellesley, Massachusetts, a 26-foot-diameter (7.9 m) globe which originally rotated on its axis and on its base to simulate day and night and the seasons
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• 2 years ago

My fathers family was in the concentration camp auschwitz birkenau. And my grandmother survived that whole shit...:D And my family tell me somethink about her life in Auschwitz when she was a little kid....and she cried a lot....really! I hate faschism...i hate nazis....this is the devil! More than 120 person in my family died, because they didnt survived the concentration camp......:S Fuck you second war2
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real

• 2 years ago

@jabber ss hired locals to do there dirty work in Belorussia , you can read about it in the book by John Loftus "Americas Nazi Secret". Its sad really they contracted the killing to the locals who knew who people were. the soldiers were soldiers . the ss were the ss dont get it twisted. anyways, its a shame the french spent all that money on the Maginot line and never used it perhaps they could've used the cash to make tanks instead when they noticed an arms race was happening.
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His t ory Not e

> real

• 2 years ago

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Jabber

Another good resource is the book "Hitler's Empire" by Mark Mazower. It chronicles the abject lunacy in detail.
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• 2 years ago

The German/Nazi distinction does not absolve the Wehrmacht from complicity in the war crimes of the Nazi regime. Although the regular German army behaved comparatively well on the Western Front, Italy, and North Africa, in the East the Wehrmacht participated in civilian slaughter alongside the SS. Aside from anti-partisan activities in which they butchered entire villages as a matter of policy, in Poland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, and Russia the Wehrmacht committed arbitrary murders of their own volition, supported the activities of the SS Einsatzgruppen (both logistically and sometimes personally), and chronically maltreated Soviet P.O.W.'s (alone resulting in two million deaths). The SS may have been directly responsible for the Holocaust, but to say the German Army was innocent a patent lie. And arguing that the Soviets were little better is a red herring.
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Ds haw62197

• 2 years ago

I have been enjoying this series very much. However, this week's edition has multiple captions with incorrect dates on them. The ones that I found: #15 -- says May 30, 1940; the assault on Eben Emael was on May 10. #22 -- says June 13, 1940; however, the evacuation of Dunkirk was effectively over by June 4. #25 -- says July 31, 1940; this seems unlikely since the evacuation was over on June 4. #38 -- says June 13, 1940; Belgium surrendered on May 28, and fighting around Antwerp was over by then. #40 -- says June 1, 1940: again, fighting was over in this area by then. In addition, the dates on photos #18 and #19 seem to be too far off from the actual times when fighting was occuring in those regions. While I am very much enjoying this series, I hope better care is taken in the future to double check the dates in the photo captions.
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A . Jones

• 2 years ago

They are British soliders not English soldiers,many Welsh, Scottish and Irish soliders,sailors and airmen died during the war too, seems a bit disrespectful to call them all english.
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• 2 years ago

Thurgle

> A.Jones

And don't forget the brave merchant seamen of all nationalities, not just English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh, who risked their lives to get essential supplies to the beleaguered British Isles. Many of them gave their lives in harsh circumstances.
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• 2 years ago

#28 and #38.... stinking Germans, killing innocent civilians for sport. Children and cyclists... brave.
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World War II: Axis Invasions and the Fall of France - In Focus - The Atlantic
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S oran Mueller

> Formosa
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• 2 years ago

pretty sure it was Nazis... not Gemans

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Tut s hi

> Soran Mueller
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• a year ago

Most, not all, Nazis were Germans; not all Germans were Nazis.

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• 2 years ago

John purc ell 5

> Soran Mueller
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Nazi was a political party,but Germans fought in the army,as wermacht!
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B lit z

> John purcell

• a year ago

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S c ot land11
• 2 years ago

It has been established by many historians that the Wehrmacht commited many war crimes, mainly on the eastern front and on mainy occasions against Jews, but also in Western Europe (look in Wiki for "Vinkt Massacre" for example)
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Worth pointing out, why the use of English soldiers instead of British? Where were the English soldiers at Dunkirk, when the Scottish soldiers were told to stay and fight to allow the English soldiers to get home.
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• 2 years ago

t A t k ins

> Scotland11

I could be mistaken but I believe the Royal 2nd Norfolk were fighting along side them as a rear guard, and paid heavily for it, for example the events at Les Paradis. But I do agree that it should be British not English.
2 S erg

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• 2 years ago

And where is another side of french occupation? Where is a pictures of people greeted Hitler's forces in their cities, SS legioners from France and another countries? Just for example:http://www.dezekerweter.com/20...
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S oran Mueller

> Serg

• 2 years ago

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Tes t

all those pictures just show people trying to live as normally as possible
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> Serg

• 2 years ago

I don't see pictures of people greeting Hitler's forces in the Dutch conspiracy rag you listed. Your insinuations are appalling and disgusting.
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A s hley Mark P omeroy

• 2 years ago

Photo #5 is eerie. The German soldiers look like solid black cut-outs. As if they had been cut out of the world. Advancing through the snow. Given that this is 1940 I assume the three of them never saw the end. And most of the people in picture #37 would have been sick to death of that salute within a few years. The grown-ups would be dead, and the kids, the lucky ones, would have spent the rest of their childhoods being told never, ever to raise their hands like that again.
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W ingman

• 2 years ago

I anyone is interested, the aircraft in the background of photo #6 appears to be a Handley Page Hampden medium bomber. Thank you for sharing these historic photos.
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World War II: Axis Invasions and the Fall of France - In Focus - The Atlantic

Ranger77

• 2 years ago

Outstanding work. I hope that you ignore the critics who point out some little detail like German soldiers should not be called Nazis. These type of people ignore the mote in their eye while pointing out the splinter in yours. I think that your work is going to be of great benefit to many people. Please keep it up. Thanks for the experience.
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CA V inc ent

> Ranger77

• 2 years ago

If I may differ slightly, I don't think anyone here is pointing to small errors and using them to condemn this project or claim that the curator is hopelessly ignorant. I am seeing people who are enjoying this and offering small corrections to improve it. Also, the confusion of Germans v. Nazis is not a trivial detail, either for the soldiers or their descendants, or for our understanding of the war and its aftermath. A number of events, such as the plot against Hitler or the death of Rommel, wouldn't even make sense without recognizing this distinction.
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• a year ago

S pank

> CAVincent
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Tim

Funny how all these plots didn't take root until the Nazis were being defeated on all fronts and in retreat.
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• 2 years ago

> CAVincent

According to the Germans of today, it seems there were only 17 actual Nazis, the rest were just poor, misled German soldiers just doing their job.
6 TOG

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• 2 years ago

Worth pointing out that in picture 12, the Stukas are not bombed up and the plane in the foreground does not even carry a gunner, so highly unlikely to be an "on operations" picture. Also, in No.42, Speer was not Armaments Minister: merely Hitler's favourite architect. He was not given the post until some two years later when Todt, the then incumbent, was killed in an air crash in 1942.
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B anjoc at

• 2 years ago

Odd that most of the pics of German soldiers, the captions refer to them as German soldeirs or troops, but #36 says "Nazi motorcyclists." Why would that be? The Nazi's were a political party, and very few common soldiers were card-carrying members. Could you tell, perhaps from the uniforms, that these motorcyclists belonged to the Nazi party? Or maybe the party members were epscially fond of riding motorcycles, so an assumption was made?
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P et er Flint

• 2 years ago

The 'tank' shown pulling a plough (sorry, plow) in picture 10 is more likely a Universal Carrier, better known as a Bren Gun Carrier, similar to those being inspected by Churchill in picture 39.
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S t eve 2

• 2 years ago

Remarkable photos, very sad at the same time...
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Gerald Franc is

• 2 years ago

www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/07/world-war-ii-axis-invasions-and-the-fall-of-france/100098/

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Gerald Franc is

• 2 years ago

World War II: Axis Invasions and the Fall of France - In Focus - The Atlantic

@4thjluy America is the greatest most moral nation in the history of earth. Only the truly ignorant fail to be proud of America.
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S oran Mueller

> Gerald Francis

• 2 years ago

what about slavery? and racism? and Japanese American internment in CONCENTRATION CAMPS? what about all those events that people prefer to forget about?
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• a year ago

S pank

> Soran Mueller

If you think a WWII US/Japanese internment camp qualifies as what the Nazi people inflicted on the Jews in real concentration camps, you're seriously deluded. You're the reason Patton marched German citizens through the captured camps and made them bury the stacks of dead.
2 allin58

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> Gerald Francis

• 2 years ago

Although I am extremely proud to be an American, saying we’re the most moral country on earth really isn’t saying much, they isn’t much competition. Like a bull in a china shop, we have a lot of power but can wreak a lot of destruction too. We need to celebrate our good deeds (WWII being one) but learn from our mistakes and not forget them.
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K y riac os S t avrinides 11 Reply

> Gerald Francis

• 2 years ago

You also forgot to say "America uber alles!"
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K y riac os S t avrinides

> Gerald Francis

• 2 years ago

This is why America used to send Indians to concentration camps, invaded Central American countries in the start of the 20th century and set up military juntas in many countries around the world in the 60's and 70's. This is what the most moral nation in the world does. We should all take from this example.
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• 2 years ago

CA V inc ent

> Gerald Francis

What would "most moral nation in the history of each" even mean, besides being Grade A bullpucky? Or should this claim be interpreted as "I make meaningless but grandiose and patriotic-sounding claims about America, and follow this with hostility to anyone I deem inadequately patriotic." Or maybe some sort of Manchurian patriotism, "America is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful nation I've ever known in my life."
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Hawaii-50

> CAVincent

• 2 years ago

The United States has, in the past, in the present, and in the future, allowed, allows, and will allow, more immigrants to enter the US than all the countries in the world, *combined!* Now, there must be a reason for this great country to have people from all walks of life, from all religions and nationalities and creeds, from all races, and cultures, to enter this country. We certainly did not force anyone to leave their respective countries. Why is that? Why is it that countries like Japan, deny any immigration even though they have the means and wealth to take in refugees? We of course, are not perfect, as is any other country in the world. But I have to say, we are pretty darn close to it. I am proud to be a nativeborn American, and if anyone here can point to a better place, let me know and I'll pack my bags tomorrow. Edelmiro Manual Lopez-Reyna de Cardoza.
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Dolbeau34 4

World War II: Axis Invasions and the Fall of France - In Focus - The Atlantic

> Hawaii-50
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• 2 years ago

Pack your bags and move to Norway.

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• a year ago

Mr Mel 2

> Dolbeau34
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And say "hi" to Herr Quisling.
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• 2 years ago

Thurgle

> Hawaii-50

What has immigration to do with anything? Um, let me see... wasn't it Al Capone and his ilk who terrorised Chicago and other cities in the USA? - they were immigrants, or from immigrant stock. Immigrants bring their bad habits and objectionable attitudes with them, they don't want to integrate in the majority of cases, that's why a lot of them live in enclaves.There's only one thing wrong with America, it's full of Americans who believe that they have a God-given right to do as they please and think that their country is the best in the world.America is a beautiful country, I have visited and toured there many times, probably seen more of the USA than a great many Americans - but would I live there? No. "We of course, are not perfect, as is any other country in the world. But I have to say, we are pretty darn close to it."Ha! What a joke! You live in a dream, the USA is well known for causing trouble and wars, just ask any mother who has lost a son in the debacle that George Dubya initiated.
1 S t efan Newbold

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• 2 years ago

My grandfather served in the in the German Army and was killed in St-Lo France a couple of weeks after D-Day. I know for a fact that he was not a member of the Nazi party. Please stop referring to all German soldiers as "Nazis" in your picture captions. Most of the German regular armed forces during WWII were NOT Nazis.
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K eit hMc Lennan

> Stefan Newbold

• 2 years ago

It is true that most German soldiers were not members of the Nazi Party. But it is also true that from 1934 every single one of them had sworn personal loyalty, not to Germany, but to Adolf Hitler as 'the Führer of the German Reich and people and supreme commander of the Wehrmacht': "Ich schwöre bei Gott diesen heiligen Eid, daß ich dem Führer des Deutschen Reiches und Volkes Adolf Hitler, dem Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht.”
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• a year ago

S pank

> KeithMcLennan
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1 James 1

Sounds like Nazis to me!
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• a year ago

bohemond

> KeithMcLennan
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It's also true that most of them were drafted.

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> Stefan Newbold
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• 2 years ago

so were all the troops at the camps just German but not Nazis?

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bohemond

> James

• a year ago

The troops at the camps were SS-Totenkopfverbanden and so by definition Nazis. www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/07/world-war-ii-axis-invasions-and-the-fall-of-france/100098/

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definition Nazis.
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World War II: Axis Invasions and the Fall of France - In Focus - The Atlantic
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• 2 years ago

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S oran Mueller

> Stefan Newbold
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agreed... dont forget about Colonel Stauffenburg who plotted to kill Hitler, definitely not a Nazi... Rommel wasnt a Nazi either, and neither was Paulus
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S pank

> Soran Mueller
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• a year ago

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That's 3.
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