As we celebrate yet another anniversary of the tremendous Allied victory of June 6, 1944, or D-Day, let us take a closer look at the role played by German command decisions as one element in enabling the Allied establishment of a lodgment in France. From the beginning, Germany's approach to defending against an Allied liberation of Western Europe was overshadowed by the war waged in Eastern Europe. In particular an early focus of the Wehrmacht's defensive efforts revolved around preventing special operations conducted primarily by the British.
Though the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942 is often remembered as the seminal planning event of the Third Reich's genocidal strategic goals; in reality it represented a part of a much larger and horrific plan for mass murder. For on June 21, 1941, Heinrich Himmler had ordered planning to begin for a massive demographic reorganization of Eastern Europe, including the territories of the western Soviet Union. Professor Konrad Meyer authored this plan; labeled Generalplan Ost. Meyer’s genocidal plan went far beyond eliminating Europe’s Jews.
Initially Germany approached the problems inherent in defending occupied France as largely one of preventing special operations conducted by the British. Such a German approach was understandable given Britain's best units remained tied down in North Africa during 1941-43. Nonetheless, Hitler's declaration of war on the United States, coupled with Barbarossa's defeat and the Soviet Union's resilience meant it was only a matter of time before the Anglo-American armies struck Nazi occupied Western Europe.
Scandinavia took on ample significance to both Germany and Britain late in the winter of 1939-1940. The subsequent events in Scandinavian waters during the spring of 1940 would prove even more strategically significant following France's capitulation in June of 1940. The following will explain why.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, a politically weakened Neville Chamberlain had brought one of his leading dissenters, Winston Churchill, into his cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty; in an attempt to silence Churchill's politically damaging critiques of Chamberlain's leadership.
On October 9, 1939 Hitler issued Directive No. 6; a document, that among other things, advanced German plans to attack France later that same fall. Given the code name "Fall Gelb - Case Yellow" the plan Hitler's General Staff had prepared for invading France unimaginatively involved a virtual repetition of the World War One attack into Belgium; an attack to the west into Belgium in the first stage followed by a move to the southwest into France's interior in the second stage.