While the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 was a pivotal moment in European history and precipitated the outbreak of the Second World War western historiography has largely neglected Northern Europe. Two questions dominated the course of events, the Anglo-German contest for control of the access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Soviet-German contest for control of their former territories as a precursor to the future Total War they expected to wage against each other. This anthology of 23 essays considers both these issues collectively and provides a new international perspective on the region’s transition from the relative peace of the interwar era to the all out war following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
Contributors are Azar Gat, Michael Epkenhans, Andrew Lambert, Tom Kristiansen, Rolf Hobson, Gunnar Åselius, Jörg Hillmann, Werner Rahn, Sławomir Dębski, Ole Kristian Grimnes, Česlovas Laurinavičius, Alfred Erich Senn, Lars Ericson Wolke, Karl Erik Haug, Boris Vadimovich Sokolov, Toomas Hiio, Magnus Ilmjärv, Palle Roslyng-Jensen ,Hans Christian Bjerg, Valters Ščerbinskis, Michael H. Clemmesen, and Marcus Faulkner.
Belgium’s Dilemma: The Formation of Belgian Defense Policy, 1932-1940, Jonathan Andrew Epstein presents, for the first time in English, a detailed examination of the formation of Belgian defense policy in the eight years leading up to the crucial World War II Blitzkrieg campaign in Western Europe. Belgium’s decision to renounce military ties with France in 1936 has been widely criticized as a fatal mistake but it was in fact a reasonable response to Belgium’s situation and was not a significant factor in the Allied defeat.
Drawing on Belgian documents, Jonathan Andrew Epstein looks at the leaders and issues that shaped the Belgian army of 1940 and demonstrates that while mistakes were made, most of the decisions were sound.
Traditionally isolated from mainstream European affairs, in 1914 the Dutch had no major allegiances that bound them to any one side of the conflict. Geographically and economically caught between two of the major belligerents, Great Britain and Germany, the Netherlands was constantly vulnerable to attack from either side. In adopting a position of neutrality at the beginning of the war, the Dutch took a huge gamble. The internment of approximately 50,000 foreign troops in the Netherlands, some for almost the entire four years of the war, provided an important showcase for the Dutch Government to demonstrate its adherence to international law and its impartiality towards the all of the belligerents.