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1940

Germans bomb Paris, killing hundreds of civilians

On this day in 1940, the German air force bombs Paris, killing 254 people, most of them civilians.

Determined to wreck France’s economy and military, reduce its population, and in short, cripple its morale as well as its ability to rally support for other occupied nations, the Germans bombed the French capital without regard to the fact that most of the victims were civilians, including schoolchildren. The bombing succeeded in provoking just the right amount of terror; France’s minister of the interior could only keep government officials from fleeing Paris by threatening them with severe penalties.

Despite the fact that the British Expeditionary Force was on the verge of completing its evacuation at Dunkirk, and that France was on the verge of collapse to the German invaders, the British War Cabinet was informed that Norway’s king, Haakon, had expressed complete confidence that the Allies would win in the end. The king, having made his prediction, then fled Norway for England, his own country now under German occupation.

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