June 22, 1940, at Rethonde in the Forest of Compiegne, France - in the presence of Hitler, Rudolf Hess, Field-Marshal Keitel, Admiral Raeder, Air-Marshal Goering, and General von Brauchitsch - French General Huntziger signed terms ending all fighting in France and promising the resources of France and her overseas empire to the Nazis.
LV Hitler, Keitel, Raeder, Goering, General Brauchitsch and Hess pass guard of honour.
SV Hitler and party.
LV Hitler and party near railway coach.
LV Another angle of above.
SV Marshal Foch statue.
SLV Hitler and party arrive at coach.
SLV Enter coach.
SV Hitler and party sit.
LV General Huntziger and officers pass German guard of honour.
SV Huntziger and party reach coach.
SV Party enter.
MV Interior coach - Huntziger enters, salutes and takes seat.
MV Party seen through coach window.
MV Party through window.
MV Huntziger signs.
SV Hitler exits with Goering from coach.
SLV Hitler and party move along.
LV Hitler and company past guard of honour.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: June 22, 1940, at Rethonde in the Forest of Compiegne, France - in the presence of Hitler, Rudolf Hess, Field-Marshal Keitel, Admiral Raeder, Air-Marshal Goering, and General von Brauchitsch - French General Huntziger signed terms ending all fighting in France and promising the resources of France and her overseas empire to the Nazis.
On Hitler's insistence, the ceremony parallelled that of Germany's surrender in 1918 - same place, and same railway carriage. But there similarity ended. In 1918 French Marshall Foch insisted on secrecy for negotiations and chose a deserted clearing rather than a population centre, wishing to spare the German delegates humiliation. Hitler did his best to make the June 22 surrender a big show - crowds, bands playing, news-cameras whirring.
Ultimate humiliation - Field Marshal Keitel read a bombastic statement to which General Huntziger could offer no reply - a distortion of history, the Nazi myth that "in this same coach ... began the Calvary of the German people." A mute witness to the ceremony - the stature of Marshal Foch, launcher of the final hammer-blows against Germany in 1918 - was veiled by a Nazi flag.
The fall of France climaxed six weeks unsurpassed in the annals of warfare: Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway had surrendered, and 335,000 Allied troops - mostly British - had been evacuated from Dunkirk. In face of new strategies and techniques - unsupported armoured break-throughs in depth, extensive use of dive-bombers and paratroops, dissemination of false, morale-destroying reports and acts of sabotage by Fifth Columnists - French resistance cracked.
June 10, the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force withdrawn, Italy in the war on Germany's side, the French Government withdrew from Paris, first to Tours, then to Bordeaux. June 15, the Maginot Line - unstormed, unbroken, but outflanked - was abandoned. Next day, Premier Reynaud resigned in view of militant defeatism in his Cabinet, and 84-year-old Marshal Petain took office.
For France, the wheel of fortune had gone full circle. Retain - heroic defender of Verdun in 1916, who made good his proud boast "they shall not pass", now saposa by age and despondency - said France would yield; he had not then even ascertained German terms. Weygand, who sat with his chief Foch in the carriage at Rethonde in 1918, sent Huntziger to capitulate.