On May 28, 1940, the King of Belgium, Leopold unconditionally surrenders to Germany.  His people endured 18 days of ceaseless German bombardment and he was only offered unconditional surrender when he asked for an armistice.

King Leopold III of Belgium

King Leopold III of Belgium

German forces had moved into Belgium on May 10, part of Hitler’s initial western offensive. Despite some support by British forces, the Belgians were simply outnumbered and outgunned from the beginning. The first surrender of Belgium territory took place only one day after the invasion, when the defenders of Fort Eben-Emael surrendered.

Belgian troops surrender at Eben Emael

Belgian troops surrender at Eben Emael

Disregarding the odds, King Leopold III of Belgium had tried to rally his forces, evoking the Belgian victory during World War I. The Belgian forces fought on, courageously, but were continually overcome by the invaders.

By May 27, the king of Belgium, realizing that his army was depleted and that even retreat was no longer an option, sent an emissary through the German lines to request an armistice, a cease-fire. It was rejected. The Germans demanded unconditional surrender. Belgium’s government in exile, stationed in Paris, repudiated the surrender, but to no avail. Belgium had no army left to fight.

Belgian soldiers surrender to the Germans, 1940

Belgian soldiers surrender to the Germans, 1940

 

In the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill defended King Leopold’s decision, despite the fact that it made the British troops’ position, attempting to evacuate Dunkirk, in northern France, more precarious.

King Leopold refused to flee the country and was taken prisoner by the Nazis during their occupation, and confined to his palace. A Belgian underground army grew up during the occupation; its work including protecting the port of Antwerp, the most important provisioning point for Allied troops on the Continent, from destruction by the Germans.

Belgium resistance fighters WW2

Belgium resistance fighters WW2

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One response

  1. Birgit says:

    Such heroism during such horrible times. The Belgiums had a great resistance movement which is overshadowed by the French Resistance-more people know about that than Beglium

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