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In September 1939, German forces launched a massive surprise attack against Poland using planes and tanks. Poland resisted the German Blitzkrieg (lightning war) with old rifles and cavalry. Hopelessly outmatched, the Poles soon had to surrender. In April 1940, Hitler's armies marched north and west, through Denmark and Norway. In May, they overran Holland and Belgium and pushed into France. Britain sent troops to help France resist the assault. By May, the Germans had forced them to retreat to Dunkirk, a French port on the English Channel. There, they were trapped. The Britsh governnment sent every available merchant ship, fishing boat, and pleasure craft across the channel to rescue their trapped soldiers. They carried 338,000 soldiers to safety in England. Unhindered, the Nazis marched on to Paris, the French capital. On June 22, 1940, France surrendered. Hitler seemed unstoppable.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|