By May 9, 1940 German forces had shocked the world with the lightning successes it unleashed against Poland, Denmark, and Norway. During that time another war, the strange ‘Phony war’ or ‘Sitzkrieg,’ had played out along the French border with Germany. Here, hardly a shot had been fired, and neither side appeared willing to up the ante by attempting an offensive.

Along another border, Belgium expected the Germans to honor their claim of neutrality and not attempt an invasion. Belgium held faith the French and the British would stave off another attempt to conquer the continent.

Tactics of the lie. Exactly what Hitler and his strategists intended.

There was no way Germany could achieve its objectives in Europe by allowing France the ability to make war. France still possessed the Continent’s largest army, causing the questions and ‘what ifs’ that so worried German planners.

Therefore, France had to fall. This became priority number one, and also, if Germany pulled it off, a proper and just retribution for the humiliation of 1918 and subsequent Versailles Treaty.

The plan involved an offensive undertaken through the Netherlands and Belgium, then down through the Ardennes Forest region into France. If successful, this would enable German forces to bypass the formidable Maginot line and trap the bulk of French and British forces looking in the opposite direction. Afterwards, units could begin the thrust toward Paris and the coast, conquering the country in just a few weeks.

It was audacious and, as such master plans are, it teemed with risk. Code named Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), it was discovered its primary problem area lay in the Leige Region of Belgium, where a massive fort named Eben Emael overlooked all activity through which German forces had to travel.

To deal with this, the capture of 3 nearby bridges (Vroenhoven, Veldwezelt, and Cannes) in the opening phase was vital if the offensive was to maintain any hope of success.