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Rotterdam Blitz, may days and bombardment Rotterdam, Netherlands, with timeline

10 May 1940 11 May 1940 12 May 1940 13 May 1940 14 May 1940 May 1940

Tijdsbalk Maydagen 1940

Content of this page (mouse over timeline):
War & occupation Netherlands
De Rotterdam Blitz: A timeline until the occupation of Rotterdam at 10 -14 May 1940
Sources

War & occupation Netherlands

The occupation of the Netherlands (Netherlands) by Germany lasted from 14 May 1940 – 5 May 1945.

Dutch politics led by H. Colijn followed the line of the foreign policy of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with Nazi Germany (appeasement). Chamberlain negotiated with Hitler just before the war. But when Germany invaded Poland  on September 1, 1939  England declared war on Germany at 3 September, the beginning of World War 2. The Dutch policy of neutrality was an “illusion” according to llegale Parool  of 25 July , 1940, “a serious breach of purpose and commitment to the present war.” “No cooperation with our natural allies against the German threat … (Belgium, France, England) was looked after.[1]

Mayor Oud wanted the city of Rotterdam to be prepared for what might come and announced on 20 April 1940 the state of siege for the city, officially since 19 April.

The German offensive began at 10 May 1940 in Western Europe, the German general staff decided to occupy Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg first, in order to force France to surrender  to establish a German hegemony against England, [2] and in a further stage, world domination. This way Western Europe became involved in World War2.

De Rotterdam Blitz:
Bombardment and timeline until the occupation of Rotterdam at 10 -14 May 1940

10 May 1940

In the night of 9 to May 10, the invasion takes place in the Netherlands.  In the morning, the German troops take airport Waalhaven (not used anymore after the war) and the Maasbruggen (bridges over the New Meuse river and Koningshaven) in hands, seaplanes with 120 Germans land on the Nieuwe Maas river (New Meuse).

German seaplane land on the river Maas in the night of 9 to 10 May 1940
German seaplane land on the Nieuwe Maas river (New Meuse) in the night of 9 to 10 May 1940

Between Moerdijk and Rotterdam some 5000 Germans come down with parachutes. A German battalion consolidates the German soldiers at the bridges in Rotterdam. Rotterdam is an important military center in the mobilization period, the time before the war. The aim is to use Rotterdam to conquer Den Haag where the army staff, the government and the royal house are established . In Rotterdam there are about 7000 soldiers. Of those 7000, only 1000  are trained for combat and 200 are well trained marines. Moreover, their equipment is too old and they have only 8 light and 48 heavy machine guns. The Dutch military forces are surprised and in complete confusion.

A 25-year-old torpedo boat and a motor torpedo boat sail at the Nieuwe Waterweg in the direction of the Maasbruggen and bombard the German military. Together with the five minesweepers, these ships are bombarded by German dive bombers, but they miss target. A Torpedo-boat destroyer, “van Galen and two Gunboats sails in the direction of Rotterdam too. The van Galen is bombed and sinks, so the two Gunboats go back to the sea. On land, that day fighting is especially near the Willemsbrug (one of the Maasbruggen).

From Hillegersberg Dutch field artillery batteries are sent to the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse). They cause considerable damage but can not prevent the airport to be used continuously. There is also some opposition from day Dutch infantry and marines from the Boompjes to Maas Hotel, but when the hotel  is shot on fire, they withdraw.

11 May 1940

The Grebbelinie (line at the Grebbeberg, near Wageningen) is the heart of the defense for the Netherlands, one third of the armed forces should defend this to the end. On that day the German forces have all kind of maneuvers and fight against the Dutch troops. There is also the Waterlinie (fortification between the Dutch rivers), but this appears to be a trap for the Dutch troops. Through the Moerdijk, Dordrecht, Papendrecht and Barendrecht advances the “German-Luftlande Corps” in the direction of Rotterdam.

12 May 1940

The royal family left for England. May 12 is the day of the “Pentecostal bombing”, when the Lufwaffe attacks goals in Rotterdam, especially railway stations, such as the Maasstation, Delftschepoort and Beurs. Later that day, the Lloyd Terrain, part of the Maas Front. At night the RAF bombs the airport Waalhaven.

13 May 1940

Queen Wilhelmina leaves for England. The German military power breaks through the Grebbelinie. In Rotterdam is a kind of a stalemate as Dutch troops led by Colonel Pieter Willem Scharroo, who is in command over the land forces in Rotterdam, hold the northern banks of the Maas and prevent German troops cross the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse). They are however not capable of recapturing the Willemsbrug or destroy it.

14 May 1940

The Germans require surrendering the Netherlands, with a threat to destroy Rotterdam. The commander of the German troops in Rotterdam, Generalleutnant Schmidt send three of its officers and negotiators to the Northern Maas at 9.00.u. with a white flag with and four copies of an ultimatum, which are however unsigned. This is offered later to colonel Scarroo between 10.00 and 10.30 h. at its headquarters on the Statenweg in the presence of the Mayor PJ Old. This is remembered every year at the monument on the Statenweg. [3] Schmidt presents captain Backerbosch at 13.15 a second ultimatum that will expire at 16.20 pm.

Before the ultimatum ends surrender is offered. But the planes are already underway. Schmidt tries to light bullets, as agreed, to stop the planes, but the evil is not to stop.

In any case, Rotterdam is attacked with bombs. 90 bombers of the Kampfgeschwader 54 “Totenkopf” (KG 54) with Heinkel HE 111 and Junkers JU 99 are sent to the city. A large part of the center (2.6 square kilometers) of Rotterdam, the heart of the city is bombed from 13.27 pm for about 15 minutes, with 97 tons of bombs, as a result, some 80,000 people become homeless, nearly 25.000 houses, churches, shops, stores and schools destroyed, and 800-900 people are killed. 

Bombardement Rotterdam 14 May 1940
Bombardment Rotterdam 14 May 1940 seen from the district  Bergpolder

Colonel Scarroo arrives at 15.50 pm, an half hour before the expiry of the ultimatum at the Noordereiland (“isle” in the Meuse), he is received by Schmidt whom he offers the surrender of Rotterdam. A second bombing is prevented because a part of KG 54 is already on its way to Rotterdam.

However Netherlands has not surrendered yet. Utrecht is threatening to bomb. At 16.50 h. General Winkelman gives the order to the Dutch troops to stop the fight. At 18.20 h. German troops draw on the William Bridge, long columns  of army vehicles. This is the beginning of the period of German occupation. At 19.00 pm. General Schuurman let  the German legation, Count zu Zech Burck Roda, officially know that all troops except those in Zeeland, lay down the arms. [5]

Sources

  1. Het Parool, 25 Juli (1940): Nieuwsbrief van Pieter ‘t Hoen, nr.1, blz. 1. 
  2. Grote spectrum encyclopedie, 1978, Tweede Wereldoorlog
  3. Blijdorp 51, Jaargang 16, nummer 2, blz. 2
  4. Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog, Deel 3. Mei ’40, Dr. L. de Jong
  5. Rotterdamsch nieuwsblad, 15 Mei 1940, blz. 1
  6. Rotterdam in de Tweede Wereldoorlog; J.L. van der Pauw; 2006. Gemeentearchief Rotterdam

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