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The Tragedy of Leopold III

In 1951 Leopold III of Belgium was forced to abdicate after a disastrous reign in which his country was overrun by Germany and he himself taken prisoner. It was a tragedy very much of his own making argues James Marshall-Cornwall

During September, 1939, the armies and air fleets of Hitler's Reich crushed Polish resistance without any positive military reaction from France and Britain October 9th Adolf Hitler, Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht , issued his Directive No. 6 for the conduct of the war:

1. Should it become evident in the near future that England and, under her influence, France also, are not disposed to end the war, I have decided, without further delay, to take the offensive
2. Any further delay wilI not only entail the end of Belgian but perhaps of Dutch neutrality advantage of the Allies
3. I therefore issue the following orders for the further conduct of, military operations:

(a) An offensive will be planned on the northern flank of the Western Front through Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland, This offensive must be launched at the earliest possible moment in greatest possible strength…

As a result of this order, the bulk of the Army and Air Force on the Eastern Front was transferred to the West.

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