The last “La Marseillaise” plays, as Paris falls to the Nazis.
While America danced to Benny Goodman and crossed the country to see two World’s Fairs, the so-called “Phoney War”—a period of inaction after the invasion of Poland—ended in 1940. Belgium and the Netherlands fell in May. The Germans rolled through the Maginot line, taking France in June. By September, Hitler’s Luftwaffe focused on England, hoping to bomb the country into submission with the Blitz.
Miranda considers her war an extension of the world’s war—a war against the forces of destruction and unmatched cruelty that threatened all freedom … all humanity.
The terms that ended World War I established several new republics in Europe … and twenty-one years after the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler rewrote the map again.
German Aggressions through 1938 and early 1939
On September 1st, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, initiating the Second World War. The Soviets attacked on September 17th. By January of 1940, most of Europe—including France, Belgium, and the Netherlands—was under fascist control.
Japan had been waging a war against China since 1931. After 1937 and the Rape of Nanking, it became all-out war.
Map Credits: U.S. Military Academy
A U.S. War Department documentary, detailing the German invasion of Poland in 1939, and the start of World War Two. From the National Archives.
News of 1940
A newsreel showing the Nazi’s devastating march through Europe in 1940.
London Can Take It
England stood against the Nazi machine by herself, Hitler’s enmity raining fire on London and the British people.
For the first time in history, mass media carried the images—and the voices—of war around the world. Below are radio broadcasts, featuring speeches and news reports from 1940.
- 40-05-13 BBC Bernard Stubbs on the BEF advance to Belgium
- 40-05-19 BBC Winston Churchill's first speech as Prime Minister
- 40-05-31 BBC Bernard Stubbs on evacuating troops from Dunkirk
- 40-06-04 BBC Churchill "We Shall Never Surrender"
- 40-06-05 BBC J.B. Priestly speaks about Dunkirk
- 40-06-10 EIAR Mussolini declares war on Allies
- 40-06-14 RRG Nazi radio announces Fall of Paris
- 40-06-17 BBC Churchill "Their Finest Hour"
- 40-06-21 CAN Eric Sevareid on the Fall of Paris
- 40-06-xx Lord Haw-Haw broadcasts Fall of France to England
- 40-07-04 MBS Arthur Mann in London
- 40-08-19 CBS War News
- 40-08-24 Edward R. Murrow on Blackout in London
- 40-09-08 BBC A Londoner on shelters and the Blitz
- 40-10-05 BBC Robin Duff in Air Raid Shelter
- 40-10-13 BBC Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret speak to evacuated children
- 40-10-21 BBC Churchill pledges to free France
- 40-10-xx Emergency service During the Blitz
- 40-11-15 Coventry water announcement after bombing