Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Belgian Capitulation, 1940

On May 28, 1940, after 18 days of courageous fighting, the Belgian army was compelled to surrender to the invading Nazis. King Leopold III became a prisoner of war. He issued the following Order of the Day to his officers and men:

Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Men,

Plunged unexpectedly into a war of unparalleled violence, you have fought to defend your country, step by step. 

Exhausted by an uninterrupted struggle against an enemy far superior in numbers and strength, we have been forced to surrender. 

History will relate that our Army did its duty to the full. Our Honor is safe. 

This violent fighting, these sleepless nights, cannot have been in vain. I enjoin you not to be discouraged, but to conduct yourselves with dignity. May your attitude and your discipline win the esteem of the foreigner.

I shall not leave you in your misfortune, and I shall take care to watch over you and your families. 

Tomorrow, we will set to work, with the firm intention of raising our country from its ruins. 

(French original cited by Col. Rémy in Le 18e jour: la tragédie de Léopold III, roi des Belges; translation based on that of Roger Keyes in Outrageous Fortune)

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