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|Part of World War II|
|Commanders and leaders|
Nikolaus von Falkenhorst
| Haakon VII
Carl Gustav Fleischer
Invasion of Denmark (Weserübung-Süd)
Strategically, Denmark's importance to Germany was as a staging area for operations in Norway, and of course as a border nation to Germany which would have to be controlled in some way. Given Denmark's position in relation to the Baltic Sea the country was also important for the control of naval and shipping access to major German and Soviet harbours.
Small and relatively flat, the country was ideal territory for German army operations, and Denmark's small army had little hope. Nevertheless, in the early morning hours, a few Danish troops engaged the German army, suffering losses of 16 dead and 20 wounded. The Germans suffered 5-10 killed and 30-40 wounded, together with 12 armoured cars and several motorcycles and cars destroyed. Four German tanks were damaged. One German bomber was also damaged. Two German soldiers were temporarily captured by the Danes during the brief fighting.
At 04:00 on 9 April 1940, the German ambassador to Denmark — Cecil von Renthe-Fink — called the Danish Foreign Minister Peter Munch and requested a meeting with him. When the two men met 20 minutes later, Renthe-Fink declared that German troops were at that moment moving in to occupy Denmark to protect the country from Franco-British attack. The German ambassador demanded that Danish resistance cease immediately and contact be made between Danish authorities and the German armed forces. If the demands were not met, the Luftwaffe would bomb the capital, Copenhagen.
As the German demands were communicated, the first German advances had already been made, with forces landing by ferry in Gedser at 03:55 and moving north. German Fallschirmjäger units had made unopposed landings and taken two airfields at Aalborg, the Storstrøm Bridge as well as the fortress of Masnedø. At 04:20 local time, a reinforced battalion of German soldiers from the Infanterie-Regiment 308 landed in Copenhagen harbour from the minelayer Hansestadt Danzig, quickly capturing the Danish garrison at the Citadel without encountering resistance. From the harbour, the Germans moved toward Amalienborg Palace to capture the Danish royal family. By the time the invasion forces arrived at the king's residence, the King's Royal Guard had been alerted and other reinforcements were on their way to the palace. The first German attack on Amalienborg was repulsed, giving Christian X and his ministers time to confer with the Danish Army chief General Prior. As the discussions were ongoing, several formations of Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17 bombers roared over the city dropping OPROP! leaflets. At 04:15 the 11. Schützenbrigade as well as 43 tanks of the Panzer Abteilung ZbV 40 crossed the border at Sæd, Rens, Padborg and Krusaa in Southern Jutland and marched northwards. The advancing Germans clashed with the Danish Army at Lundtoftbjerg, Hokkerup, Bjergskov, Bredevad, Tønder, Abild, Sølsted and, finally, at Haderslev, where Danish garrison capitulated when the order to surrender from Copenhagen finally came through at 08:00.
At 05:25, two squadrons of German Bf 110s attacked Værløse airfield on Zealand and neutralised the Danish Army Air Service by strafing. Despite Danish anti-aircraft fire, the German fighters destroyed ten Danish aircraft and seriously damaged another fourteen, thereby wiping out half of the entire Army Air Service. Faced with the explicit threat of the Luftwaffe bombing the civilian population of Copenhagen, and only General Prior in favour of continuing to fight, the King Christian X and the entire Danish government capitulated at approximately 06:00 in exchange for retaining political independence in domestic matters.
The invasion of Denmark lasted less than six hours and was the shortest military campaign conducted by the Germans during the war. The rapid Danish capitulation resulted in the uniquely lenient occupation of Denmark, particularly until the summer of 1943, and in postponing the arrest and deportation of Danish Jews until nearly all of them were warned and on their way to refuge in Sweden. In the end, 477 Danish Jews were deported, and 70 of them lost their lives, out of a pre-war total of Jews and half-Jews at a little over 8,000. Though Denmark had little immediate military significance, it had strategic and to some extent economic importance.
Casualties and material losses