The World at War (1973–1974)
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France Falls: May-June 1940 

As their forces invade Northern Europe German strategists capitalize time and again on French preconceptions confounding French defenses.



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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
André Beaufre ...
Himself - French High Command (archive footage) (as General André Beaufre)
Himself - Entertainer (archive sound)
Lawrence Durrell ...
Himself - British Foreign Service
Edward Spears ...
Himself (as Sir Edward Spears)
Charles Trenet ...
Himself - Entertainer (archive sound)
Hasso von Manteuffel ...
Himself - German Panzer Command (as General von Manteuffel)
Walter Warlimont ...
Himself - German High Command (as General Warlimont)
Gordon Waterfield ...
Himself - War Correspondent
Siegfried Westphal ...
Himself - Staff Officer Western Front (as General Siegfried Westphal)


In 1934 France starts building a sophisticated bulwark along the German border called the Maginot Line. It is a network of armed forts, connected by a narrow-gauge, underground railway. At the northern end of the Maginot Line lies the Ardennes, high mountains covered with dense forests. This area is perceived by the French generals as impenetrable, so they haven't much forces located there. 10 May 1940 the German army starts its offensive by invading Holland, and then Belgium. The French generals send 40 of their best divisions into Belgium. The Germans take the opportunity to move through the weakest point in the Maginot Line further south. With their tanks they penetrate the impenetrable Ardennes. They build a bridge across the river Meuse, and soon the German tanks, followed by the infantry, are in France. The German blitzkrieg shocks the French. Holland surrenders on 14 May, Brussels falls three days later. French citizens start leaving Paris and other cities. 12 million refugees ... Written by Maths Jesperson {}

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Release Date:

14 November 1973 (UK)  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The narrator Laurence Olivier refers to the death of King Henry V of England in 1422. Olivier played Henry V Henry V (1944), which he also directed. See more »

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