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Therefore, if England intends to intervene in the Polish war, we must occupy Holland with lightning speed. We must aim at securing new defense lines on Dutch soil up
to the Zuyder Zee”. (L-79) Even after that he was to give his solemn declarations that he would observe Belgian neutrality. On the 26th August 1939 when the crisis in regard to Danzig and Poland was reaching its climax, declarations assuring the Governments concerned of the intention to respect their neutrality were handed by the German Ambassadors to the King of the Belgians, the Queen of the Netherlands, and to the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in the most solemn form. But to the Army—“If Holland and Belgium are successfully occupied and held”-it was said—"a successful war against England will be secured.”
On the 1st September Poland was invaded, and two days later England and France came into the War against Germany in pursuance of the treaty obligation already referred to. On the 6th October Hitler renewed his assurances of friendship to Belgium and Holland. But on the 9th October, before any kind of accusation had been made by the German Government of breaches of neutrality by Belgium, the Netherlands, or Luxembourg, Hitler issued a directive for the conduct of the war. In that directive he stated :
"1. If it becomes evident in the near future that England
France as possible, to use as a base offering good prospects for waging aerial and sea warfare against England and to
provide ample coverage for the vital district of the Ruhr.” Nothing could state more clearly or more definitely the object behind the invasion of these countries than that document.
On the 15th October 1939 Keitel wrote a most secret letter concerning Fall Gelb, which was the code name for the operation against the Low Countries. In it he stated :
"The protection of the Ruhr area by moving A/C reporting service and the air defense as far forward as possible in the area of Holland is significant for the whole conduct of the war. The more Dutch territory we occupy the more effective can the defense of the Ruhr area be made. This point of view must determine the choice of objectives of the army even if the army and navy are not directly interested in such territorial gain. It must be the object of the army's preparations, therefore, to occupy on receipt of a special order the territory of Holland in the first instance in the area of the Grebbe-Marse line. It will depend on the military and political attitude of the Dutch as well as on the effectiveness of their flooding, whether objects can and must be further ex
tended." (C-62) The operation had apparently been planned to take place at the beginning of November. We have in our possession a series of 17 letters dated from 7th November until the 9th May postponing almost from day to day the D-day of the operation, so that by the beginning of November all the major plans and preparations had been made. (C-72)
On the 10th January 1940 a German aeroplane force landed in Belgium. In it was found the remains of a half-burnt operation order setting out considerable details of the Belgian landing grounds that were to be captured (TC-58). Many other documents have been found which illustrate the planning and preparation for this invasion in the latter half of 1939 and early 1940, but they carry the matter no further, and they show no more clearly than the evidence to which I have already referred, the plans and intention of the German Governments and its armed forces.
On the 10th May 1940 at about 0500 hours in the morning the German invasion of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg began.
Once more the forces of aggression marched on. Treaties, assurances, the rights of Sovereign States meant nothing. Brutal force, covered by as great an element of surprise as the Nazis could secure, was to seize that which was deemed necessary for
striking the mortal blow against England, the main Enemy. The only fault of these unhappy countries was that they stood in the path of the German invader. But that was enough.
On the 6th April 1941 German armed forces invaded Greece and Yugoslavia. Again the blow was struck without warning and with the cowardice and deceit which the World now fully expected from the self-styled “Herrenvolk”. It was a breach of the Hague Convention of 1899. It was a breach of the Pact of Paris of 1928. It was a breach of a specific assurance given by Hitler on the 6th October 1939.
"Immediately after the completion of the Anschluss”, he said, "I informed Yugoslavia that, from now on, the frontier with this country will also be an unalterable one and that we only desire to live in Peace and Friendship with her". (TC-43)
But the plan for aggression against Yugoslavia had, of course, been in hand well before that. In the aggressive action eastward towards the Ukraine and the Soviet territories security of the Southern flank and the lines of communication had already been considered.
The history of events leading up to the invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany is well known. At 3 o'clock on the morning of the 28th October 1940 a 3-hour ultimatum had been presented by the Italian Government to the Greek Government and the presentation of this ultimatum was followed by the aerial bombardment of Greek provincial towns and the advance of Italian troops into Greek territory. The Greeks, not prepared for such an assault, were at first forced to withdraw. Later the Italian advance was first checked, then driven towards the Albanian frontier, and by the end of 1940 the Italian Army had suffered severe reverses at Greek hands.
Of German intentions there is the evidence of what occurred when, on 12th August 1939, Hitler held his meeting with Ciano. You will remember Hitler said:
“Generally speaking, the best thing to happen would be for the neutrals to be liquidated one after the other. This process could be carried out more easily if on every occasion one partner of the Axis covered the other while it was dealing with an uncertain neutral. Italy might well regard Yugo
slavia as a neutral of this kind." (TC-77) Later again on the second day of the conversation, 13th August, he said:
“In general, however, from success by one of the Axis partners not only strategical but also psychological strengthening of the other partner and also of the whole Axis would ensue.
Italy carried through a number of successful operations in
with the Western Powers." Once again we see the same procedure being followed. That meeting had taken place on the 12/13th August, 1939. Less than two months later, on 6 October 1939 Hitler was giving his assurance to Yugoslavia that Germany only desired to live in peace and friendship with the Yugoslav State, the liquidation of which by his Axis partner he had himself suggested.
On the 28th October 1940 the Italians presented a 3 hour ultimatum to Greece and commenced war against her. Eventually the advance was checked, then driven back, and the Italians suffered considerable reverses at Greek hands.
We have an undated letter from Hitler to Mussolini which must have been written about the time of the Italian aggression against Greece. (2762-PS)
"Permit me at the beginning of this letter to assure you that within the last 14 days my heart and my thoughts have been more than ever with you. Moreover, Duce, be assured of my determination to do everything on your behalf which might ease the present situation for you.
When I asked you to receive me in Florence, I undertook the trip in the hope of being able to express my views prior to the beginning of the threatening conflict with Greece, about which I had only received general information. First, I wanted to request you to postpone the action, if possible until a more favorable time of year, at all events, however, until after the American presidential election. But in any case, however, I wanted to request you, Duce, not to undertake this action without a previous lightning-like occupation of Crete and, for this purpose, I also wanted to submit to you some practical suggestions in regard to the employment of a German parachute division and a further airborne division.
Yugoslavia must become disinterested, if possible, however from our point of view interested in cooperating in the liquidation of the Greek question. Without assurances from Yugoslavia, it is useless to risk any successful operation in the Balkans.
Unfortunately I must stress the fact that waging
war in the Balkans before March is impossible. Hence it would also serve to make any threatening influence upon Yugoslavia of no purpose, since the Serbian General Staff is well aware of the fact that no practical action could follow such a threat before March. Here Yugoslavia must, if at all
possible, be won over by other means and other ways.' On the 12th November in his Top Secret Order No. 18 Hitler ordered the OKH to make preparations to occupy Greece and Bulgaria if necessary. Approximately 10 divisions were to be used in order to prevent Turkish intervention. To shorten the time the German divisions in Rumania were to be increased.
On the 13th December 1940 Hitler issued an order to OKW, OKL, OKH, OKM and General Staff on the operation Marita, which was the invasion of Greece. In that order it is stated that the invasion of Greece is planned and is to commence as soon as the weather becomes advantageous. Further orders were issued on the 13th December and 11th January (448-PS; 1541-PS)
On the 28th January Hitler saw Mussolini. Jodl, Keitel, and Ribbentrop were present at the meeting and it is from Jodl's notes of what took place that we know that Hitler stated that one of the purposes of German troop concentrations in Rumania was for use in his plan for the operation against Greece.
On the 1st March 1941 German troops entered Bulgaria and moved towards the Greek frontier. In the face of this threat of an attack on Greece by German as well as Italian forces British forces were landed in Greece on the 3d March in accordance with the declaration which had been given by the British Government on the 13th April 1939 that Great Britain would feel bound to give Greece and Rumania respectively all the support in her power in the event of either country becoming the victim of aggression and resisting such aggression. Already the Italian aggression had made this pledge operative.
On the 25th March 1941 Yugoslavia joined the 3-Power Pact which had already been signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan. The preamble of the Pact stated that the 3 Powers would stand side by side and work together.
On the same day Ribbentrop wrote two notes to the Yugoslav Prime Minister assuring him of Germany's full intention to respect the sovereignty and independence of his country. That declaration was yet another example of the treachery employed by German diplomacy. We have seen already the preparations that had been made. We have seen Hitler's efforts to tempt the Italians into an aggression against Yugoslavia. We have seen in January his orders for his own preparation to invade Yugoslavia