World War: General Dike

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The Dutch defense plan, like the Polish, is one of strategic delay and retreat. No attempt could be made to save the northeastern provinces. First stand would be made in a line of pillboxes and blockhouses running from Zwolle south through Nijmegen all the way to Maastricht, behind the Ijssel and Maas (Meuse) Rivers (see map). While this line held, the civilian population would be taken behind a second defense system, called the Grebbe Line, extending southeastward to Nijmegen from Eem on the Ijssel Lake (the diked, reclaimed Zuider Zee).

When that line no longer holds, the next retreat is to Amsterdam, leaving a flooded area from Ijssel Lake to the Waal and Maas Rivers to protect the western heart of the country including Utrecht and Rotterdam. Stranded in the middle of this flood would be the ex-Kaiser's home at Doom. Another secondary defense line would back up the main water line, running southwest from Utrecht to Breda, near the Belgian border.

From Nijmegen down to the Belgian border extends a marshy area which can be made marshier by flood water from two big canals which enclose it on the west and south. But this sector would be the most passable for the Germans and here, in a drive for the higher ground at Hertogenbosch, Tilburg and Eindhoven, is where the first German assault could be expected. Gaining this foothold, the Germans could then press on to take Flushing and other coastal points south of the river deltas, enjoying the Dutch flood zone as protection for their right flank from any counterattack. The likelihood of this attack, and its obvious menace to Belgium, was believed last week to have led King Leopold to tell Queen Wilhelmina that if the Germans invaded her land, his troops would have to occupy her southeastern corner to meet them. Also, it was understood, he would invite the British and French to cross Belgium to back him up.

Germany's first move, no doubt, would be a mass air attack aimed at all the Dutch airports, especially those along the Channel which might serve any power coming to The Netherlands' rescue. The Dutch Air Force contains not more than 300 planes, two-thirds of them old, though the pilots are heady and capable. Anti-aircraft defense is weak. Ground troops total less than 100,000 trained men, with 280,000 green reserves. So long as she did not tackle Belgium's Albert Canal and "Little Maginot" lines, and unless Belgium moved fast indeed to meet her in The Netherlands, Germany should have little trouble slicing through the smallest neutral to the Channel.

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