17.05.

1940: Germany Occupies Brussels

1940: Germany Occupies Brussels
Photo Credit To https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1969-129-01,_Belgien,_deutsche_Truppen_in_Br%C3%BCssel.jpg

On this day the army of the Third Reich invaded the Belgian capital Brussels. The Belgian government fled to Ostend – a small town on the coast, away from the advancing Germans. Of course, the Wehrmacht’s penetration was part of the German invasion of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France. The breakthrough of the German army went so quickly that such mode of attack is sometimes called blitzkrieg (lit. “lightning war”).

Brussels was occupied by the German Sixth Army. This army is probably best known for being trapped and completely destroyed at Stalingrad a few years later. At the time of the conquest of Brussels, the Sixth Army was commanded by Walther von Reichenau, a general of noble origin. After these successful operations in Belgium and France, Hitler promoted him to field marshal.

It is very interesting that the Germans, during the conquest of Belgium, also managed to capture the Belgian King Leopold III. In fact, he surrendered after his army was defeated. The Germans kept him under house arrest in Brussels, in the royal palace. He remained in German captivity until the end of World War II. In 1944, Himmler ordered his relocation from Brussels to Germany, to the castle Hirschstein in Saxony. Sometime later, he was transferred to Strobl in Austria, where he was finally rescued by American troops.

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