ABSTRACT

Together with the British people the American nation saw many of its illusions vanish into thin air in the weeks following May 10, 1940. Where Dutch, Belgian, British and French troops had stood on guard from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, a great void yawned five weeks later. People were almost inclined to rub their eyes: the turn fate had taken could hardly be grasped. The ‘great awakening’ 1 was too sudden and too painful. What had happened to the Allied armies? What mysterious forces had undermined the powers of resistance of so many old-established states and made four of them (The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and France) crumble in as many weeks, while the fifth, England, seemed to be tottering on the brink of the abyss?