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CBS Special Report – Situation in Europe/Address by Premier Paul Reynaud – May 27, 1940 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
81 years ago today, ominous news was coming from Europe. An unusual address at 8:30 in the morning Paris time, Premier Paul Reynaud informed the French people, and the world listening, that Belgium was now in German hands and that French and British forces were in a desperate situation, cut off and surrounded by advancing German troops.
The fear was, Britain would be next as the British and French armies were now separated and the German Army was heading for the coast. From there, it was felt, the Germans could increase attacks on Britain as well as mount an invasion.
The very real possibility of that caused the government to issue preparations for evacuation of children from immediate danger and a step up in the drafting of military-age citizens to meet the possibility of invasion.
In Berlin, sources were quoted as saying it was only a matter of days before the estimated 1 million Belgian, British and French troops, surrounded in Flanders would be forced to surrender, attempt to flee to England under a hail of German bombs or be destroyed. All of the German newspapers were on board with the same theme; We Are Sailing Against England. Sources went on to say that members of the German High Command were uncertain if an invasion of Britain would take place immediately, or if there would be a drive instead to Paris. If that were successful, it was thought there would be an offer of a separate peace to France.
But observers all agreed it was a confusing and grave time for the allies – and if it meant a drive to Paris or an invasion of Britain, the future looked grim, to say the least.
All that, and reports streaming in to the Columbia News Room in New York on this morning of May 27, 1940.