Monday, June 30, 2014
German action with respect to Syria in early June 1941
The Germans decided to pull out of Syria any overt presence. Disguised German intelligence officers would be the only Germans to stay in Syria. General Keitel had passed this information on to the Italians on 2 June 1941. The German plan was to keep from giving the British any excuse to attack Syria and to foment discontent between the Vichy French and the British. The Vichy French government had ordered General Dentz to fight any British attempt to occupy Syria. At his trial after the war, General Dentz argued that he had to resist the British invasion to keep from giving the Germans any reason to move into the French colonies and the continental Vichy France. The case was that the British pretext for invading Syria was to keep Syria out of German hands, but by the time of the invasion, German policy was to withdraw from Syria and not offer any reason for the British to invade. A mistaken German policy after the Armistice in 1940 had been to disarm the French colonial armies. They later regretted that plan as they could see that the only way to keep the British out was if the French colonial forces were strong enough to resist invasion. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.