Case Anton

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Case Anton
Part of World War II
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-027-1451-10, Toulon, Panzer IV.jpg
Panzertruppen watching a burning French warship
LocationFrance
PlannedDecember 1940
Commanded byGeneral Johannes Blaskowitz
ObjectiveMilitary occupation of Vichy France
Date10–27 November 1942 (1942-11-10 1942-11-27)
Outcome
  • Division of Vichy France between Germany and Italy
  • Failure to capture French fleet

Operation Anton (German: Fall Anton) was the military occupation of Vichy France carried out by Germany and Italy in November 1942. It marked the end of the Vichy regime as a nominally-independent state and the disbandment of its army (the severely-limited Armistice Army), but it continued its existence as a puppet government in Occupied France. One of the last actions of its armed forces before their dissolution was the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon to prevent it from falling into Axis hands.

Vichy France officially the French State, was France during the regime of Marshal Philippe Pétain, during World War II

Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Evacuated from Paris to Vichy in the unoccupied "Free Zone" in the southern part of metropolitan France which included French Algeria, it remained responsible for the civil administration of France as well as the French colonial empire.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Kingdom of Italy kingdom on the Appenine Peninsula between 1861 and 1946

The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when a constitutional referendum led civil discontent to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.

Contents

Background

A German plan to occupy Vichy France had been drawn up in December 1940 under the codename of Operation Attila and soon came to be considered as an operation with Operation Camellia, the plan to occupy Corsica. [1] Operation Anton updated the original Operation Attila, including different German units and adding Italian involvement.

Corsica Island in the Mediterranean, also a region and a department of France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

Royal Italian Army army from 1861 to 1946

The Royal Italian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Italy from the unification of Italy in 1861 to the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946. In World War II the Royal Army fought first as part of the Axis (1939–43) and then as a co-belligerent of the Allies (1943–45). After the monarchy ended, the army changed its name to become the Italian Army.

For Adolf Hitler, the main rationale for permitting a nominally independent French state to exist was that it was, in the absence of naval superiority, the only practical means to deny the use of the French colonies to the Allies. Following the Allied landings in French North Africa on 8 November 1942 (Operation Torch) and the lack of determined French resistance to the Allied landings, that rationale disappeared. Moreover, Hitler could not risk an exposed flank on the French Mediterranean. Following a final conversation with French Premier Pierre Laval, Hitler gave orders for Corsica to be occupied on 11 November, and Vichy France the following day.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Operation Torch 1942 Allied landing operations in French North Africa during World War II

Operation Torch was an Anglo–American invasion of French North Africa during the Second World War. It was aimed at reducing pressure on Allied forces in Egypt, and enabling an invasion of Southern Europe. It also provided the ‘second front’ which the Soviet Union had been requesting since it was invaded by the Germans in 1941. The region was dominated by the Vichy French, officially Nazi-controlled, but with mixed loyalties, and reports indicated that they might support the Allied initiative. The American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commanding the operation, planned a 3-pronged attack, aimed at Casablanca (Western), Oran (Center) and Algiers (Eastern), in advance of a rapid move on Tunis.

Pierre Laval French politician

Pierre Jean-Marie Laval was a French politician. During the time of the Third Republic, he served as Prime Minister of France from 27 January 1931 to 20 February 1932, and a second time from 7 June 1935 to 24 January 1936.

Operation

The scuttling of the French fleet, from left to right: Strasbourg, Colbert, Algerie, and Marseillaise Toulon 1942.jpg
The scuttling of the French fleet, from left to right: Strasbourg, Colbert, Algérie, and Marseillaise

By the evening of 10 November 1942, Axis forces had completed their preparations for Case Anton. The 1st Army advanced from the Atlantic coast, parallel to the Spanish border, while the 7th Army advanced from central France towards Vichy and Toulon, under the command of General Johannes Blaskowitz. The Italian 4th Army occupied the French Riviera and an Italian division landed on Corsica. By the evening of 11 November, German tanks had reached the Mediterranean coast.

Axis powers Alliance of countries defeated in World War II

The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.

The 1st Army was a World War II field army.

7th Army (Wehrmacht) German field army during World War II

The 7th Army was a World War II field army of the German land forces.

The Germans had planned Operation Lila to capture intact the demobilised French fleet at Toulon. French naval commanders managed to delay the Germans by negotiation and subterfuge long enough to scuttle their ships on 27 November, before the Germans could seize them, preventing three battleships, seven cruisers, 28 destroyers and 20 submarines from falling into the hands of the Axis powers. While the German Naval War Staff were disappointed, Adolf Hitler considered that the elimination of the French fleet sealed the success of Operation Anton. [2] The destruction of the fleet also denied it to Charles de Gaulle and the Free French Navy.

French Navy Maritime arm of the French Armed Forces

The French Navy, informally "La Royale", is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces. Dating back to 1624, the French Navy is one of the world's oldest naval forces. It has participated in conflicts around the globe and played a key part in establishing the French colonial empire.

Battleship large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.

Cruiser Type of large warships

A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.

Vichy France limited its resistance to radio broadcasts objecting to the violation of the armistice of 1940. The German government countered that it was the French who violated the armistice first by not offering determined resistance to the Allied landings in North Africa. The 50,000-strong Vichy French Army took defensive positions around Toulon, but when confronted by German demands to disband, it did so, lacking the military capability to resist the Axis forces.

See also

Footnotes

  1. Schreiber 1990, p. 78.
  2. Schreiber 1990, p. 827.

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References