German invasion of Denmark, 9 April 1940

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The German invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940 was part of a wider campaign in Scandinavia designed partly to provide bases for the German navy and partly to secure the German supply of iron ore from Sweden. The main target of the German operation was Norway, but the occupation of Denmark was also judged to be necessary to protect the southern end of the sea route to Narvik, the winter port for the iron ore trade.

Planning work for the invasion began in January 1940. The operation was given the codename Weserübung (Weser Exercise), with the invasion of Denmark known as Weserubung Süd (Weser Exercise South). The tiny Danish army was to be overrun by two infantry divisions (the 170th and 198th) and the 11th rifle brigade (motorized). Landings were to take place at Copenhagen, Middlefart, Esbjerg, Tyborøn, Korsør, Gjedser and Nyborg, while more troops would invade Jutland across the land border with Germany.

The plan worked perfectly. A small naval expedition, led by the minelayer Danzig entered Copenhagen harbour at 5.00am on 9 April, and landed troops who were able to seize the citadel. Ålborg airfield at the northern tip of Denmark was captured by German paratroops, and at 7.30am an infantry battalion landed at the airfield. At 5.25am the land invasion began. Here there was some fighting, but the defenders of the Danish border were quickly overwhelmed. Further resistance was clearly pointless, and the Danish government was forced to agree to a German ultimatum to end the fighting. King Christian ordered a cease fire, to start at 7.20am. Denmark would be occupied by the Germans until the end of the war.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 November 2007), German invasion of Denmark, 9 April 1940 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_denmark_1940.html

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