Glossary

This glossary includes the definitions of terms used in the website to present the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux.

 

  •  Allies : group of countries opposed to the Axis forces:
    - the United States
    - the USSR
    - The United Kingdom and her colonial Empire: Canada, Australia, South Africa
    - Free France with General de Gaulle
    - and all the countries who had established a government in exile in order to escape Nazi occupation during the war: Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland...

 

  • AMGOT : Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories. The administration was composed of US and British officers established in the newly liberated territories, pending a legitimate government elected by the people.

 

  • Anschluss : annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany on 12th March 1938. 

 

  • Anti-Semitism : Particular form of racism directed against Jews advocating discriminatory.

 

  • Atlantic Wall : the Atlantic Wall was an extensive system of coastal fortifications that ran from the Franco-Hispanic border to the north of Norway. The purpose of this system of fortification was to deter and prevent the Allies from landing on territories occupied by the Germans.

 

  • Axis or Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis : tripartite Pact of 27th September 1940 uniting Germany, Italy and Japan. The Axis also included Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

 

  • By-pass : ring road built in 1944 by the Allies in order to facilitate the movement of military vehicles which could not use the narrow streets of Bayeux.

 

  • France Libre or Free France : France Libre was founded following the appeal of 18th June 1940 by General de Gaulle, broadcasted on the BBC. The organisation regrouped combatants who had left for London, but also French colonies refusing to rally to the Vichy government : the Chad, French Cameroon, the Congo, New Caledonia... The armed forces that joined France Libre were called the Free French Forces. On 13th July 1942, France Libre was renamed "France Combattante" in order to demonstrate their coming together with domestic resistance (networks and maquis in metropolitan France).

 

  • Kamikaze : Japanese soldier whose mission was to crash his plane or submarine into American and Allied ships; It was a last resort tactic in order to ensure the effectiveness of attacks.

 

 

  • Operation Cobra : the American offensive conducted at the end of July 1944 in the Cotentin Peninsula to break through the German lines and open a way towards Brittany.The operation consisted in conducting heavy bombardments between Saint-Lô and Périers and pushing through enemy lines. It was a great sucess : American troops poured into the large gap they had opened towards Avranches. 
     
  • Operation Fortitude : the English term "Fortitude" is translated by the word "courage" in French. The operation was conducted by the Allies, in order to deceive the Germans about the landings in preparation. As the landings could not be kept a secret due to the concentration of troops and equipment on English soil, the purpose of operation Fortitude was to lead the Germans to believe that the assault would occur in the North of France or in Norway. Various actions were thus carried out : fake field armies were created in the East of England and in Scotland (rubber tanks, wireless traffic...) and the infiltration of double agents, controlled by the Allies, to provide misleading information to German Intelligence services.

 

  • Operation Goodwood : offensive launched on 18th July 1944 by the Allies, in order to take Caen and advance in the neighbouring plain. The Allies heavily bombarded the town to create a breach in enemy lines before sending tanks in. But the German Tiger and Panther tanks opposed forceful resistance to the offensive. The operation was very costly in lives : 6000 soldiers were killed on the Allies' side. It was not until 21st July 1944 that Caen was fully liberated. At the end of operation Goodwood, Caen was indeed in the hands of the Allies, but almost completely destroyed by incessant bombing.

 

  • Operation Jubilee : first Allied attempt on 19th August 1942 to land on French territory, occupied by the Germans. More than 6000 men, mainly Canadians, landed on the beaches of Seine-Maritime, in the Dieppe area. The assault met heavy resistance from the Germans,and was a failure. The human toll was very heavy : 4000 men never returned, either missing, made prisoner, injured or killed. 

 

  • Operation Neptune : amphibious operation of operation Overlord, that is to say the cross-Channel transport of men and equipment and their landing in the strict sense of the term.

 

  • Operation Overlord : Overlord was the code name given to the great Allied offensive launched on 6th June 1944, in order to create a new front in Europe. The name covers the landings of 6th June 1944 as well as the operations for the maintenance and advance of troops, i.e. the Battle of Normandy. Operation Overlord consisted in "the creation of quarters between the Seine and the Loire", including harbours for the resupplying of the armies, and aerodromes with depots for the equipment. The objective was to prepare for the greater second place : the liberation of Western Europe. Marshall had given Eisenhower 80 days to complete the operation. Overlord was a preliminary phase to the liberation. As pointed out by David Kahn, historian and expert in cryptography and military intelligence, the codename Overlord was chosen because it suggests "a sense of majesty and patriarchal vengeance and irresistible power".

 

  • The Phoney War : name given to the period between the declaration of war on Germany by the United Kingdom and France on 3rd September 1939, and the beginning of the German offensive against France on 10th May 1940. This period is marked by a lack of military action on the French and British parts, whilst Germany continued to invade Europe. The French expression "Drôle de Guerre" (the Phoney War) was taken from an article written by Roland Dorgelès, war correspondent for the news weekly Gringoire

 

  • The Roaring Twenties : period from the end of the First World War to the Crisis of 1929, marked particularly by the claim for the emancipaion of women and very rich and diverse artistic creation.

 

  • Sudetenland : territories bordering Bohemia annexed to Germany in 1938 and later returned to Czechoslovakia. 

 

  • Todt Organisation (OT) : civil and military engineering group in Germany named after its founder, Fritz Todt, a Nazi engineer. The Todt organisation was responsible for a range of engineering projects, firstly in Germany and later in all occupied countries in Europe. Keys achievements include the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall.  

 

     
  • Totalitarianism : political system of the totalitarian regimes, in which the State holds total authority over society, in the name of an ideology.

 

  • The war to end all wars : the expression emerged after the First World War. In French : " La der des ders". The phrase expresses the wish that atrocities perpetrated during the war should never happen again.

 

  • Wehrmacht : Wehrmacht is a German term which can be translated in english by "Defence Force". It refers to the German Army from 1935 to 1945. The Wehrmacht included the land force (Heer), the navy (Kriegsmarine) and the air force (Luftwaffe). 

 

  • Xenophobia : hostility towards foreigners and anything foreign.

 

With the contribution of Remy Desquesnes                                                                       

Historian