Is there too much contempt for the French from A&A players?


  • @crusaderiv:

    Once you open your eyes enough, to see the things France has done in the last 200 years, And they way as a culture they have behaved, you will understand why the French see so much contempt.
    You got a point on this one…in fact last 236 years…when France helped USA during independance war against UK. It was their first mistake. :-D

    I am against Francophiles who have nothing to hang their hat on in terms of any argument that France was among the bravest nations since 1870. They were not.
    Wow what a stupid reason…I have a lot of US friends and I know they won’t hang their hats on your coments!!!

    Let’s not get carried away here. In the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, France fought a number of wars against the American colonies; including Queen Anne’s War and the French and Indian War. During the Revolutionary War itself, France fought against the British, as a means of weakening a nation which had been a French enemy for centuries. The alliance between France and the united States didn’t last long. By 1798, France and the united States were in a state of undeclared war.

    And it’s not as though the French fought on the American side during all or even most of the Revolutionary War. The French force sent to help the Americans stayed on an island (and out of harm’s way) for most of the war, but joined in to help at the final (victorious) battle at Yorktown. That force spent years on that island, waiting for that one moment, while letting the Americans do all the fighting in the meantime.


  • Here’s a few things the French Resistance did:

    They sabotaged production in war plants. They destroyed parts, damaged machinery, slowed down production, changed blue-prints
    They dynamited power plants, warehouses. transmission lines. They wrecked trains. They destroyed bridges. They damaged locomotives.
    They organized armed groups which fought the German police, the Gestapo, the Vichy militia. They executed French collaborationists.
    They acted as a great spy army for SHAEF in London. They transmitted as many as 300 reports a day to SHAEF on German troops’ movements, military installations, and the nature and movement of military supplies.
    They got samples of new German weapons and explosive powder to London.
    They ran an elaborate “underground railway” for getting shot-down American and British flyers back to England. They hid, clothed, fed and smuggled out of France over 4,000 American airmen and parachutists (Getting food and clothes isn’t easy when you’re on a starvation ration yourself. It’s risky to forge identification papers). Every American airman rescued meant half a dozen French lives were risked. On an average, one Frenchman was shot every two hours, from 1940 to 1944 by the Germans in an effort to stop French sabotage and assistance to the Allies.

    Serving coffee, hmm?

    They did those things… BUT i can list pages of collaborations that occurred to aid German interests. Nobody is claiming that the French Resistance didn’t exist, but it was very minor compared to the acts of banality the Vichy Government condoned during occupation.

    Quote
    Brave means resolve to fight on elsewhere. If UK was occupied, they would have continued from Canada or elsewhere. But not France. One and done.

    A few things some Free French ( with total financing by England) did:

    -The French fought in Africa, in Sicily, liberated Corsica, fought in Italy, took part in the invasion of Europe and fought through the battles of France and Germany – from Normandy to Munich.
    -Units from the French navy participated in the invasions of Sicily, Italy, Normandy and South France.
    -Units of the French navy and merchant marine took part in convoying operations on the Atlantic and Murmansk routes.
    On June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day, over 5,000 Frenchmen of the resistance dynamited railroads in more than 500 strategic places.
    -They delayed strategic German troop movements for an average of 48 hours, according to military experts. Those 48 hours were tactically priceless ; they saved an untold number of Allied lives.
    -French resistance groups blew up a series of bridges in southern France and delayed one of the Wehrmacht’s crack units (Das Reich Panzer Division) for twelve days in getting from Bordeaux to Normandy.
    -About 30,000 FFI troops supported the Third Army’s VIII Corps in Brittany: they seized and held key spots ; they conducted extensive guerrilla operations behind the German lines.
    -25,000 FFI troops protected the south flank of the Third Army in its daring dash across France: the FFI wiped out German bridgeheads north of the Loire River; they guarded vital lines of communication; they wiped out pockets of German resistance; they held many towns and cities under orders from Allied commmand.
    -When the Third Army was approaching the area between Dijon and Troyes from the west, and while the Seventh Army was approaching this sector from the South, it was the FFI who stubbornly blocked the Germans from making a stand and prevented a mass retirement of German troops.
    -In Paris, as the Allied armies drew close, several hundred thousand French men and women rose up against the Germans. 50,000 armed men of the resistance fought and beat the Nazi garrison, and occupied the main buildings and administrative offices of Paris.

    They also fought against the Allies in Dakar, Madagascar, Syria, and Morocco.

    Some comments from generals on the FFI:

    “General Patton cabled General Koenig, the French commander of the FFI, that the spectacular advance of his (Patton’s) army across France would have been impossible without the fighting aid of the FFI.”

    Oh quoting patten eh?

    let me see….

    “I’d rather have a German Division in front of me than a French one behind.”

    • General George S. Patton

    Quote
    When they retreat and surrender who else can we blame? You cant make an argument that the French soldiers fighting are brave, while the generals order retreat. The result on the battlefield dictates the orders from “higher ups” The only thing you can look at is the result.

    So, again, by that logic, we should blame Germany for being cowardly because they ultimately lost. There are instances where local French units fought and won tactical victories in the 1940 invasion, and the British likely would not have got out as intact as they did from Dunkirk had the French remnants fighting around the perimeter simply threw up their arms in surrender.

    It is about who is brave. If you surrender at first chance when the capital falls that indicates a failure of national resolve. Stalin or Churchill would not have surrendered if Moscow or London fell. Germany fought on after Berlin fell. Only Italy and France took the “we surrender if capital falls option”. Japan if invaded would probably not surrender if Tokyo was lost.


  • @MrMalachiCrunch:

    I will repeat myself.  The general anti-French bias is unfair.  It seems stronger in the US but no doubt it is due to France not falling into immediate lock-step with US foreign policy.

    I wouldn’t call it unfair.  Overdone at times, but not unfair based on the history.  It’s a case of reaping what was sown.  It’s not the lack of “falling into immediate lock-step with US foreign policy” but the direct and overt attempts to sabotage it frequently that rightly draw the ire of Americans (and many others.)  France is an unreliable ally as has been shown repeatedly over the past century.  I recall quite a bit of swaggering by the French leadership about how they ran the EU and they would stop us from doing this and that during the lead up the Iraq war.

    France’s strenuous efforts to undermine the sanctions without renewing inspections (along with their Russian allies) set up the conditions that made a pre-emptive attack palatable to the U.S.  If they had instead backed ultimatums or at least abstained from opposition, Saddam would have complied and the sanctions would have continued.  Instead Saddam wrongly assumed that France would shield him…and he was surprised by the outcome when it did not.  France, Russia and others were trying to end the sanctions, and that was producing a crisis where we faced the choice of:  1.  Watching the sanctions slip away (despite our efforts to maintain them) or 2.  Acting decisively to end the stalemate.  After 9/11 the first option was seen as intolerable for us.  Ironically, French “diplomatic” efforts were misguided in that they boxed us into attacking.

    Public sentiment in the U.S. toward military action actually was strengthened by French opposition–something Saddam, the French, and others clearly didn’t understand and probably still don’t today, but was blatantly obvious to us at the time.  While there was noise in the final weeks, the decision was made months in advance when France dug in…after that it was just public show with the so called late stage diplomacy.  The reason for that was obvious:  time of year and logistics.  It was no longer a diplomatic issue, but a military one.  When you have a window and a given amount of prep time, you don’t let some sort of international political shenanigans close it.  After the ball was rolling anything short of abdication by Saddam in the final few weeks was insufficient to halt the attack.

    While I consider France just as much to blame as Dubya in the run up to the Iraq War, I’m relatively francophilic and took quite a few French language courses way back when.  I had been making plans for some months for a family trip to France in the lead up to the invasion.  I cancelled because I really didn’t want the family to be there when I correctly projected the military action would begin.


  • @Imperious:

    They did those things… BUT i can list pages of collaborations that occurred to aid German interests. Nobody is claiming that the French Resistance didn’t exist, but it was very minor compared to the acts of banality the Vichy Government condoned during occupation.

    This is getting ridiculous at this point. I’ve clearly listed just a few things the Resistance did to help the Allies, and you turn around and say “oh but also Vichy!” It’s the same baseless argument that if Vichy France was set up, that must mean France as a whole are cowards and not brave right?

    They also fought against the Allies in Dakar, Madagascar, Syria, and Morocco.

    Funny you mention Dakar, the Free French were part of the Allied attack on that city. Also, there was considerable confusion as to the allegiance of French colonies. The soldiers there, and elsewhere, had two choices: remain loyal to Vichy because it was the “legitimate” government of France (as you like to insist) or continue the fight against the Germans and join the Free French.

    And again, also funny you mention Syria and Morocco, since French forces also participated on the side of the Allies in all of those instances. In the latter case the Vichy French forces scarcely put up a fight before defecting to the Allies, and this became full force with the rest of the forces in Africa when the Axis occupied Vichy France.

    And again with this ridiculous reasoning. “Oh but also French soldiers fought against Allies, guys that must mean they’re all bad! All or most of them!” Strawman argument.

    “I’d rather have a German Division in front of me than a French one behind.”

    • General George S. Patton

    Do you know where this quote comes from? No? Patton certainly held contempt for the French but he wasn’t as birdbrained as others and respected their fighting capacity, both in history and during that time.

    It is about who is brave. If you surrender at first chance when the capital falls that indicates a failure of national resolve. Stalin or Churchill would not have surrendered if Moscow or London fell. Germany fought on after Berlin fell. Only Italy and France took the “we surrender if capital falls option”. Japan if invaded would probably not surrender if Tokyo was lost.

    First off:

    France=/= Britain, France=/=Soviet Union. And yes, Germany did surrender after Berlin fell. They only resisted for a few more days.

    Secondly:

    There was talk of continuing the war from North Africa, talks which was encouraged by de Gaulle but ultimately didn’t pull through. So again, does this mean we’re to condone every single Frenchman for the actions their defeatist government took? Are we just completely putting the Free French aside now as some minor anomaly?

    Throughout all of this I have cited at least a dozen instances where the French Resistance and Free French fought in the interests of the Allies, and all you return with is “oh but look collaboration that means all Frenchmen are not brave!”. Talking about French politics in World War II is a complex subject, far more complex than your “us vs. them” mentality.

    Oh yes, and I like this little tidbit here:

    A few things some Free French ( with total financing by England) did:

    What’s this supposed to mean? “Oh you can only be considered a real fighting force if you don’t take resources from any other country!” Guess Britain and the Soviet Union are cowards and incapable of fighting then, since they used resources from the United States.

    @Red:

    @MrMalachiCrunch:

    I will repeat myself.  The general anti-French bias is unfair.  It seems stronger in the US but no doubt it is due to France not falling into immediate lock-step with US foreign policy.

    I wouldn’t call it unfair.  Overdone at times, but not unfair based on the history.  It’s a case of reaping what was sown.  It’s not the lack of “falling into immediate lock-step with US foreign policy” but the direct and overt attempts to sabotage it frequently that rightly draw the ire of Americans (and many others.)  France is an unreliable ally as has been shown repeatedly over the past century.  I recall quite a bit of swaggering by the French leadership about how they ran the EU and they would stop us from doing this and that during the lead up the Iraq war.

    France’s strenuous efforts to undermine the sanctions without renewing inspections (along with their Russian allies) set up the conditions that made a pre-emptive attack palatable to the U.S.  If they had instead backed ultimatums or at least abstained from opposition, Saddam would have complied and the sanctions would have continued.  Instead Saddam wrongly assumed that France would shield him…and he was surprised by the outcome when it did not.  France, Russia and others were trying to end the sanctions, and that was producing a crisis where we faced the choice of:  1.  Watching the sanctions slip away (despite our efforts to maintain them) or 2.  Acting decisively to end the stalemate.  After 9/11 the first option was seen as intolerable for us.  Ironically, French “diplomatic” efforts were misguided in that they boxed us into attacking.

    Public sentiment in the U.S. toward military action actually was strengthened by French opposition–something Saddam, the French, and others clearly didn’t understand and probably still don’t today, but was blatantly obvious to us at the time.  While there was noise in the final weeks, the decision was made months in advance when France dug in…after that it was just public show with the so called late stage diplomacy.  The reason for that was obvious:  time of year and logistics.  It was no longer a diplomatic issue, but a military one.  When you have a window and a given amount of prep time, you don’t let some sort of international political shenanigans close it.  After the ball was rolling anything short of abdication by Saddam in the final few weeks was insufficient to halt the attack.

    While I consider France just as much to blame as Dubya in the run up to the Iraq War, I’m relatively francophilic and took quite a few French language courses way back when.  I had been making plans for some months for a family trip to France in the lead up to the invasion.  I cancelled because I really didn’t want the family to be there when I correctly projected the military action would begin.

    Yet the French have fought with the ISAF in Afghanistan, fought in the Gulf War, and participated in the NATO intervention in Libya. I wouldn’t exactly call that “unreliable”.


  • am against Francophiles who have nothing to hang their hat on in terms of any argument that France was among the bravest nations since 1870. They were not.
    Seriously IL. I have to admit that you’re right however many nation blame for the same thing of the Americans.
    In fact who’s is the bravest? Probably canadians because you have to be strong mentaly to live besides USA. :evil:

    all I can say is the french I have met ,including french speaking canadiens ,were a bunch of arrogant pricks
    :-D I aksed that to my wife and she said yes it’s right but only loser are disturb by the arrogants!

    Anyway, all nations have their defects and their quality. But one thing is sure, if a frenchman and Englishman are to kidnap by extraterrestrials.
    The men of space are going to forget the idea to invade the earth. :mrgreen:


  • A couple of months ago I was reading a special edition of a French history magazine, the entire issue being devoted to the subject of France under the Occupation.  The introductory essay made the interesting point that, in France itself, opinions (both within society at large and among historical researchers) have fluctuated over the decades regarding the thorny issue of what the average French citizen did during the occupation.

    I don’t recall the full details of the essay, but I think it more or less said this.  Immediately after the war, the “tous resistants” (“all in the Resistance”) concept was fashionable.  This theory stated that, with a few glaring high-level exceptions like Petain and Laval, most Frenchmen were tacitly or actively supporting the Resistance.  This was an attractive theory for a couple of reasons.  First, it allowed French society to regain some of its national honour after the debacle of the May-June 1940 defeat and the subsequent occupation.  Second, it was a narrative which the Gaullist elements of the French postwar political establishment found attractive because it emphasized the illegitimacy and marginality of the Vichy regime, and hence the legitimacy and righteousness and broad support base of de Gaulle’s Free French movement.

    About three decades later, following the death of de Gaulle and with the rising political influence of the generation who had been born after the war, the simplistic “tous resistants” narrative got replaced by the diametrically opposed but equally simplistic “tous collabos” narrative: the idea that, with the exception of the few people who were actively fighting in the Resistance (whose members typically lasted six months before being captured and/or killed), most Frenchmen collaborated with the German occupation to various degrees.  Lumped into the category of collaboration was the concept of passive nonresistance, meaning that unless you were actively resisting the Germans then you were making things simpler for them by not opposing them.  It was also recognized that it’s very easy for a person to say, “Yes, I was secretly a member of the Resistance all along, even though it didn’t look like it to my friends and family members and work colleagues,” just as the American G.I.s who rolled into Germany in 1945 kept running into town after town in which the local officials claimed that nobody in their community was a Nazi.

    The historical narrative in France these days, apparently, has shifted once again.  It now (if I remember the essay correctly) revolves around the concept that the situation varied from person to person, and that simplistic sweeping generalizations don’t capture accurately how Monsieur et Madame Tout-le-monde (the French version of John Q. Public) actually behaved under Nazi rule.


  • @Red:

    @MrMalachiCrunch:

    I will repeat myself.  The general anti-French bias is unfair.  It seems stronger in the US but no doubt it is due to France not falling into immediate lock-step with US foreign policy.

    I wouldn’t call it unfair.  Overdone at times, but not unfair based on the history.  It’s a case of reaping what was sown.  It’s not the lack of “falling into immediate lock-step with US foreign policy” but the direct and overt attempts to sabotage it frequently that rightly draw the ire of Americans (and many others.)  France is an unreliable ally as has been shown repeatedly over the past century.  I recall quite a bit of swaggering by the French leadership about how they ran the EU and they would stop us from doing this and that during the lead up the Iraq war.

    France’s strenuous efforts to undermine the sanctions without renewing inspections (along with their Russian allies) set up the conditions that made a pre-emptive attack palatable to the U.S.  If they had instead backed ultimatums or at least abstained from opposition, Saddam would have complied and the sanctions would have continued.  Instead Saddam wrongly assumed that France would shield him…and he was surprised by the outcome when it did not.  France, Russia and others were trying to end the sanctions, and that was producing a crisis where we faced the choice of:  1.  Watching the sanctions slip away (despite our efforts to maintain them) or 2.  Acting decisively to end the stalemate.  After 9/11 the first option was seen as intolerable for us.  Ironically, French “diplomatic” efforts were misguided in that they boxed us into attacking.

    Public sentiment in the U.S. toward military action actually was strengthened by French opposition–something Saddam, the French, and others clearly didn’t understand and probably still don’t today, but was blatantly obvious to us at the time.  While there was noise in the final weeks, the decision was made months in advance when France dug in…after that it was just public show with the so called late stage diplomacy.  The reason for that was obvious:  time of year and logistics.  It was no longer a diplomatic issue, but a military one.  When you have a window and a given amount of prep time, you don’t let some sort of international political shenanigans close it.  After the ball was rolling anything short of abdication by Saddam in the final few weeks was insufficient to halt the attack.

    While I consider France just as much to blame as Dubya in the run up to the Iraq War, I’m relatively francophilic and took quite a few French language courses way back when.  I had been making plans for some months for a family trip to France in the lead up to the invasion.  I cancelled because I really didn’t want the family to be there when I correctly projected the military action would begin.

    Good post; and I agree with the point you’ve made about France’s policy towards Saddam Hussein. Along similar lines, France opposed Reagan’s efforts to bomb Gaddafi’s palace. (Reagan was retaliating against Gaddafi’s sponsorship of terrorism; and managed to get him to stop engaging in terrorism without engaging in a George W. Bush-style invasion of Libya.)

    During the late '40s and early '50s, the U.S. military believed that France could not be relied upon to oppose a Soviet invasion of West Germany, were such an invasion to occur. Had Stalin launched WWIII, the U.S.'s main ally would have been West Germany itself. More generally, France was not, at any point, a reliable ally in the cold war against communism. It was not necessarily knowable in advance whether France would support or oppose any given anti-communist measure.

    In examining France’s unreliability as an ally, it’s worthwhile to look at its internal political structure and political divisions. Unlike the U.S., France has a multi-party system. (Not just two parties.) This multi-party system leads to a lot of political compromises, shifting alliances, and the ability of minority parties to assert influence in the political process.

    In 1936, the French Communist Party participated in joint rule of France. The other two parties in the Popular Front coalition were the Radical Party–to which Daladier belonged–and the French Section of the Workers’ International. While the Popular Front coalition later collapsed, communist and near-communist political influences would remain an important part of the French political landscape. The French Communist Party became very strong after WWII; and there were times when it looked as though it might get a majority of the votes. While its share of votes has since decreased, it is still large and strong, and is France’s third-largest political party.

    The French Communist Party was heavily involved in the French Resistance.


    When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the PCF [French Communist Party] expanded Resistance efforts within France notably advocating the use of direct action and political assassinations which had not been systematically organized up until this point. By 1944 the PCF had reached the height of its influence, controlling large areas of the country through the Resistance units under its command.


    While I’m sure that the French Communists fought bravely enough, it’s hard for me to get too excited about bravery on behalf of the most evil and twisted political ideology the world has ever seen.

    While there were many in France who supported communist or near-communist positions, others opposed communism. There were those on the French right who felt France should remain a nation of French, and should not be repopulated with large numbers of non-French immigrants. Once it had been realized that a) in the early years, the Nazi occupiers did their best to prevent German soldiers from looting or raping, and b) the Nazi invaders were significantly more committed to a “France for the French” philosophy than many French political leaders had been prior to the war, an alliance–or at least an uneasy truce–formed between Nazi Germany and the French right. That truce was later disrupted by the Nazis’ efforts to suppress French communist guerrillas and other members of the French Resistance. (As others have noted, those efforts often involved indiscriminate killing of French people in general.)

    If France could be parceled up into smaller nations, with Frenchmen assigned to each nation based on political ideology, then presumably each nation would remain loyal to its chosen ideology. Had this been done in the '30s, Communist France would have remained a loyal ally of the Soviet Union, and Right Wing France would have been neutral in Germany’s favor. Postwar Muslim France would have been a loyal ally of Iraq and of Saddam Hussein. But because these three different, ideologically opposed “nations” have been squished together into one big France, and exist in a multi-party political system, the overall result is a France which sometimes acts in accordance with the wishes of one of these groups, sometimes in accordance with the wishes of another.


  • And it’s not as though the French fought on the American side during all or even most of the Revolutionary War. The French force sent to help the Americans stayed on an island (and out of harm’s way) for most of the war, but joined in to help at the final (victorious) battle at Yorktown. That force spent years on that island, waiting for that one moment, while letting the Americans do all the fighting in the meantime.
    I know but France helped USA…Yes, a little bit or no?
    And BTW you can ask to the US goverment to send back the liberty statue!


  • Imperious Leader’s statements about France’s involvement in WWI were accurate. I don’t think that he was trying to put 100% of the blame for WWI on France. But it’s clear, and beyond reasonable dispute, that France deserves a significant portion of the blame for WWI.
    Right…and problably WWII either but a lot European country too.
    Kurt you always make good post but don’t be so partial as IL.
    USA got their blame for WWII either.
    In fact since the end of WWII, US goverment make a lot of mistake about their foreing politics.
    I travel a lot and I can tell you that a lot nation don’t like US people because of US political and War attitude.
    I don’t agree totaly with them but sometimes you have to admit that sometimes USA is looking for trouble…
    Oh and I have to go in pennsylvania and Maryland at the end of June…Someone knows a good Hotel surrounding Baltimore?


  • Quote from: Imperious Leader on March 06, 2012, 09:42:48 pm

    They did those things… BUT i can list pages of collaborations that occurred to aid German interests. Nobody is claiming that the French Resistance didn’t exist, but it was very minor compared to the acts of banality the Vichy Government condoned during occupation.

    This is getting ridiculous at this point. I’ve clearly listed just a few things the Resistance did to help the Allies, and you turn around and say “oh but also Vichy!” It’s the same baseless argument that if Vichy France was set up, that must mean France as a whole are cowards and not brave right?

    No you missed the point again. It means that the “French” for the most part are collaborators with the Germans, and acts of defiance were in the minority. The larger point was that the French just support the easy choice of helping the Germans, unlike occupied Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

    Quote
    They also fought against the Allies in Dakar, Madagascar, Syria, and Morocco.

    Funny you mention Dakar, the Free French were part of the Allied attack on that city. Also, there was considerable confusion as to the allegiance of French colonies. The soldiers there, and elsewhere, had two choices: remain loyal to Vichy because it was the “legitimate” government of France (as you like to insist) or continue the fight against the Germans and join the Free French.

    Right and it was very easy for them in that case to remain on whichever side was in control, if that changed they just conveniently switch to the other side and do as the new controllers tell them. MY point is nations like UK and USA would never behave in that manner. They would fight against Germany no matter what.

    And again, also funny you mention Syria and Morocco, since French forces also participated on the side of the Allies in all of those instances. In the latter case the Vichy French forces scarcely put up a fight before defecting to the Allies, and this became full force with the rest of the forces in Africa when the Axis occupied Vichy France.

    It is also funny that Vichy forces fought against those allies too. But as it looked like the allies are winning …they just turncoated.

    And again with this ridiculous reasoning. “Oh but also French soldiers fought against Allies, guys that must mean they’re all bad! All or most of them!” Strawman argument.

    But it is true that they did. It just shows that once you get past french pride, either defending the fleet against UK or fighting the allies, or switching against the Germans, these people could be on any side at any time…whatever was easy for them.

    Quote
    “I’d rather have a German Division in front of me than a French one behind.”

    • General George S. Patton

    Do you know where this quote comes from? No? Patton certainly held contempt for the French but he wasn’t as birdbrained as others and respected their fighting capacity, both in history and during that time.

    Right and bringing up Patton and not clarifying how he really felt about the French and using it as a point to defend them, is quite disengenious.

    Quote
    It is about who is brave. If you surrender at first chance when the capital falls that indicates a failure of national resolve. Stalin or Churchill would not have surrendered if Moscow or London fell. Germany fought on after Berlin fell. Only Italy and France took the “we surrender if capital falls option”. Japan if invaded would probably not surrender if Tokyo was lost.

    First off:

    France=/= Britain, France=/=Soviet Union. And yes, Germany did surrender after Berlin fell. They only resisted for a few more days.

    A week:  Berlin fell April 30/May 1st And looking at the map of controlled Germany in May 45 shows that 90% of the country was occupied. IN the case of France only the capital a a much less area of the country are occupied before they fall.

    Secondly:

    There was talk of continuing the war from North Africa, talks which was encouraged by de Gaulle but ultimately didn’t pull through. So again, does this mean we’re to condone every single Frenchman for the actions their defeatist government took? Are we just completely putting the Free French aside now as some minor anomaly?

    Their was talk about fighting in Brittany too, but the official French leadership knocked that down. We can only look at the leadership which is representing “every single Frenchman”  Their is not proof that “every Frenchman”  would love to fight with de Gaulle or serve coffee.

    Throughout all of this I have cited at least a dozen instances where the French Resistance and Free French fought in the interests of the Allies, and all you return with is “oh but look collaboration that means all Frenchmen are not brave!”. Talking about French politics in World War II is a complex subject, far more complex than your “us vs. them” mentality.

    Right but you have not once accepted the fact that the much greater weight of actions ARE collaborations with Germany, and a very minor aspect was actually fighting the Germans. You can’t keep brushing that under the rug of national shame.

    Quote
    A few things some Free French ( with total financing by England) did:

    What’s this supposed to mean? “Oh you can only be considered a real fighting force if you don’t take resources from any other country!” Guess Britain and the Soviet Union are cowards and incapable of fighting then, since they used resources from the United States.

    That means if they didn’t get financing, likely it would have been much smaller, so the ‘effort’ was conditional. In the case of Lend Lease this represented a vastly smaller portion of finances. For UK financing the Free French, is was a huge and totally funded action. Not mentioning the disparity is pretty hilarious.


  • @UN:

    Yet the French have fought with the ISAF in Afghanistan, fought in the Gulf War, and participated in the NATO intervention in Libya. I wouldn’t exactly call that “unreliable”.

    Seems like you have it reversed and your own examples prove just how unreliable.  The U.S. was a reliable ally while France played both sides in Iraq and Libya.

    France built Iraq’s nuclear reactor that the Israelis bombed (fortunately!)  France participated in the Gulf War, but France was doing what it could to undermine and end the sanctions and successfully prevented diplomacy from working and gave Saddam a false sense of security…directly resulting in the Iraq War.  That would make it duplicitous.  There is a sense that France does whatever it can to be a pain in the a$$ to its allies at times.

    France wouldn’t allow overflight for a strike on Qadaffi/Kaddaffi/Gaddaffi/the-man-who-had-a-fashion-of-the-week-spelling-of-his-name, this I remember well.  Yet France was the one who took a lead in Libya this most recent time around and the U.S. supported it.  Care to guess how things had been if the U.S. had taken the lead in the matter???  :roll:

    If as a nation, one’s security depends on French guarrantees, then you are pretty much screwed.  That is what the historical record shows.  That’s what I would call “unreliable.”


  • Alot of what has be touted back and fourth here is largely irrelevent to the causes to French collapse in 1940. A number of the “facts” stated are made with the hind sight of history, which is always 20/20.

    IL, Building a "wall, as you put it, dose seem like a silly idea, now, but at the time it made perfect sense given the experiances of WW1. Large trench warfare was the rule on the western front, and the dead lock had lasted for 4 long, gruling years(all of which im sure you’re quite well versed in, atleast being well read on WW1 is the vibe I get off of you anyway). So, if in the first major conflict by the industrial world was dominated by defensive warfare and large earthen fortifications, logically (atleast with their limited view at that time) Trenches were going to play a prominate part in any other conflict. Russia was invaded as you mention, and they did not build a wall (althought, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov_Line ). But as Winston Churchill said about the two fronts of WW1; “In the west the arimes were too big for the land, while in the east the land was too big for the armies” . This highlights the differences between the two fronts and why two countries (France and Russia) came to two very different conclusions about how to prepare for the next war.

    The Biggest reason France was so unprepaired for WW2 was because they didnt have the resources to spend. After WW1 France’s heavy industry, coal production, and steel mills, and hundreds of miles of rail lines, had been destroyed by the fighting on the western, and, unlike Germany’s (industry which was largely unharmed by the fighting) had to spend a huge sum of money on rebuilding this, where as Germany could spend large sums of money and invest in a massive military. Talk of the French losses is in WW1 is misleading and had next to nothing to do with their unpreparedness in WW2. Frances population had actually recovered from its losses in WW1 by the late 1920’s (1927 I think) and had reached its pre-war levels. However, this was far lower then the other major Euorpean powers. This was a trend that had begun in the mid 19th century, BEFORE the franco-prussian war. Germany’s birth rate was 1 million birth’s per year in 1914 and remaind as such during the war, only to increase after the war, just for some comparison.


  • If 4 years of knowing that Trench warfare proved nothing in terms of a military result, a more positive direction like what most nations did other than France was to develop offensive lethality in terms of fighting the next war. France just decided “build that wall” and we can ignore real drawbacks of a proper dynamic method of warfare. This stems from another example of taking the easy route when faced with potential conflict.

    France just takes the easy way out and never once addresses her real problems. This is because she has no idea how to fight wars and an unwillingness to do so. Either way it is a sign of a weak nation in terms of resolve.


  • @Clyde85:

    IL, Building a "wall, as you put it, dose seem like a silly idea, now, but at the time it made perfect sense given the experiances of WW1. Large trench warfare was the rule on the western front, and the dead lock had lasted for 4 long, gruling years(all of which im sure you’re quite well versed in, atleast being well read on WW1 is the vibe I get off of you anyway). So, if in the first major conflict by the industrial world was dominated by defensive warfare and large earthen fortifications, logically (atleast with their limited view at that time) Trenches were going to play a prominate part in any other conflict.

    I disagree on this.  Fixed fortifications are generally undependable; that has been a facet of warfare from ancient times.  They tend to buy time…but that “purchasing power” can be quite limited:  as when brick coastal forts were repeatedly breached in a day or two during the ACW, when they were designed to hold out for over a month.

    And a wall does no good if you leave a large gap!  That is what happened in WWII.  The French military leadership demonstrated limited imagination.  If you build a strong defensive position, you should anticipate being attacked elsewhere where you are not so strong.  Areas deemed impassable by defenders often are not.  And when you start getting reports of enemy movement through those impassable areas, you had better respond accordingly, immediately!

    One would think that French leadership would have appreciated combined arms and manoeuver more after the fall of Poland.  Yet, their use of airpower was ineffectual despite fighting over their own turf.  The bomber force did little.  And France doesn’t appear to have been properly prepared for anti-tank warfare or tank-to-tank warfare.  While on paper France had better tanks, their crew system/resulting workload was greatly inferior, and few had radios.  In general, the German military employed a flexible combined arms form of fighting adapting as they went, while France was still fighting WWI.

    The more I look at it, the more dismal French WWII military leadership appears.  I was cutting them more slack before this thread than I would now.


  • @Imperious:

    If 4 years of knowing that Trench warfare proved nothing in terms of a military result, a more positive direction like what most nations did other than France was to develop offensive lethality in terms of fighting the next war. France just decided “build that wall” and we can ignore real drawbacks of a proper dynamic method of warfare. This stems from another example of taking the easy route when faced with potential conflict.

    France just takes the easy way out and never once addresses her real problems. This is because she has no idea how to fight wars and an unwillingness to do so. Either way it is a sign of a weak nation in terms of resolve.

    On the contrary, France did address her real problems, as she saw them at the time. You are speaking in terms of hindsight, which France did not have. Also your analysis is rather incomplete and bordering on the juvenile in the terms of your understanding of the real situation. It is important to note, that Britian had formed its military along the same lines as the French, with Armoured formations designed around supporting the infantry. In some cases Britians tanks were even worse with then the French in terms of tank design and during the German blitzkrieg a number of British tanks proved to be next to useless(mounting only light MG’s), while most if not all French tanks could preform in combat against the Germans(though with far inferior 3CI and tatics to the Germans). The British were only saved by the Channle, which as kurt has pointed out, if it werent for that the Germans would have been in London a week after Pairs had fallen. The British continued to use these tatics even well in to the desert war, and while they were good enough to smash the Italinas (which is by no means an accomplishment) they were proved as deadly folly when used against Rommel.

    Also, you claim that they didnt address any of their “real problems” but I havent seen you list what any of those specific problems were? Perhapse if you could clarify what you mean by that we could better address them. Something that you must consider is this, France did not have the money or the resources to spend on alot of their problems in terms of updating and improving their military, they simply did not have the budget. It is a well known fact that many French soliders marched to war in 1939 carrying the old Lebel rifles from WW1, even though the far better and more modern MAS 36 was in production. The problem was the French didnt have the budget to pay of these and other newer and much better weapons. As I stated the French had to rebuild naerly its entire heavy industries base through the 1920-30’s and when the global depression hit they couldnt really afford to do this and modernize their military.

    Another thing I dont think you give enough credit is the genius of the few German officers who reformed the German army in between the war and created the Blitzkrieg style of warfare. These men were true visionaries and revolutionized warfare, no one could have really anticipated that. Moreover, alot of the tatics the Germans used were not really new to the German amry, but modernizing them with turcks and armoured veichles was. That is why they are lauded as great men of vision, not everbody though this way and that’s what makes them stand out, and rightfully so. Even in Germany men like Guiderian were ridiculed by their peers when they first brought forth their ideas on armoured, just like in many other European countires. Britians Liddell Hart wrote extensively on armoured warfare but was largely ignored, so was Frances Charles de Gaulle, and the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Tukhachevsky was shot as a traitor over his ideas of modern, armoured, warfare. So its not really fair to claim France didnt see Blitzkreig comming, because not many did, and those that had were only vindicated after the fact, remember hindsight is 20/20 �

    If you want a more comprhensive understanding of the real formations and tatics used by all sides in the early
    stages of WW2, I would strongly suggest checking out the table top game Flames of War, it gives a very comprehensive break down of the units that were around at the time, what they were made up of, how the functioned, and they usually give a good amount of historical information as to how they were used and why. Even if you dont play the game but just buy the source books to read you will find them extreamly informative.


  • Also, you claim that they didnt address any of their “real problems” but I havent seen you list what any of those specific problems were?

    Well like Liddell Hart advocated for the British like development of mobile warfare and understanding that breaking Logistics was important to removing the potency of the enemy forces.
    Stalin also developed large mechanized forces. In the case of France they developed nothing, sake a new Hadrian Wall as its sole contribution to warfare

    Perhapse if you could clarify what you mean by that we could better address them. Something that you must consider is this,

    France did not have the money or the resources

    alot of their problems in terms of updating and improving their military, they simply did not have the budget.

    Right because it wasted all her money on that wall, which Germans just went around. The “budget” could have been spent on a proper mechanized aspect of her military rather than rehashed old ww1 tanks with new paint jobs.


  • The “budget” could have been spent on a proper mechanized aspect of her military rather than rehashed old ww1 tanks with new paint jobs.
    France had a lot of project has AMR,AMX and Renault series. Those were not old WWI tank. Again you’re dishonest…
    Before the war, German tank were not better than French tank but France didn’t have tank division.
    And hosnestly German commanders staff were better than anyone else in 1939 and 1940.


  • During 1939, combined French and British military spending exceeded German military spending. Not only that, but Britain and France spent a considerably smaller percentage of their GDPs on the military than did Germany. Even in '38, combined Anglo-French military spending was nothing to sneeze at! By the time the German invasion appeared in France in late spring/early summer of 1940, the French had had plenty of time to correct flaws created by a lack of spending.

    That being said, I’m in agreement with Clyde that French military thinking was fairly standard-issue for the time. Blitzkrieg was a case of the Germans being more creative and innovative than the norm, not of the French falling below the norm.

    The purpose of the Maginot Line was to allow France to defend its border with Germany using a reduced number of forces. This would free up French forces for use further north, to defend against a repeat of the Schlieffen Plan. France’s strategy may not have been the most creative in the world, but I don’t see it as cowardly.

    It is true that France sometimes betrays its allies almost as a matter of course. Daladier’s decision to make false promises to Poland about a general offensive against Germany is the most insipid example of this which comes to mind. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a single other example in which a nation of any political persuasion deliberately set up an “ally” to get conquered by hostile foreign powers. No one’s mind should ever work the way Daladier’s did back in '39.

    But as an American, I must admit that my own nation’s leaders have not always been 100% honorable. Take Woodrow Wilson for example. It’s possible that he really was as naive as he seemed to be, and that he entered WWI with the purest of intentions. It later became obvious that WWI was not really a war “to make the world safe for democracy” so much as it was a war to make the world safe for France to brutally exploit Germany. German children and adults often went to bed hungry during the ‘20s, largely as a result of the massive reparations payments required by Britain and France, and because of those nations’ decision to close their markets–and their empires’ markets–to German imports. (Germany needed money from manufactured goods exports to pay for food imports.)

    As WWI drew to a close, it quickly became clear that Britain and France would treat Germany with a mean-spirited and unjustified vindictiveness. Woodrow Wilson had sacrificed American blood . . . for nothing. But when the Soviet Union and Poland went to war in 1919, Wilson had a chance to redeem himself. Here was a war against a truly evil regime. Given that Britain and France insisted on allowing Germany no more than a token military, it was the responsibility of the Western democracies to resist Soviet expansionism. That included the United States–especially because it was Woodrow Wilson’s decision to enter WWI which gave France and Britain the ability to strip Germany of its military. Instead of helping the Polish resist the Soviet invasion, Wilson did nothing. Poland retained its independence not because the Western democracies came to its aid–they didn’t–but because the Polish military, alone and unaided, resisted the Soviet threat. (Successful Polish resistance would not have been possible, had the Soviet Union not been in a state of civil war.)

    To take another example: in the years after WWII, the Chinese nationalists were on the verge of finishing off the Chinese communists. At that point, the Truman administration exerted enormous diplomatic pressure on the nationalists to give the communists a respite. The nationalists gave into that pressure–a fact which allowed the communists to regroup. The communists would go on to push the nationalists out of mainland China. Chiang Kai-shek later said that giving into the Truman administration’s diplomatic pressure was the biggest mistake of his life.

    Another example of a shameful action committed by the U.S. government was Operation Keelhaul.


    On March 31, 1945, Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt concluded the final form of their plans in a secret codicil to the agreement. Outlining the plan to forcibly return the refugees to the Soviet Union, this codicil was kept secret from the US and British people for over fifty years.[2]

    The name of the operation comes from the naval practice of corporal punishment, keelhauling. In his book Operation Keelhaul, Epstein states: “That our Armed Forces should have adopted this term as its code name for deporting by brutal force to concentration camp, firing squad, or hangman’s noose millions who were already in the lands of freedom, shows how little the high brass thought of their longing to be free.”

    The refugee columns fleeing the Soviet-occupied eastern Europe numbered millions of people. They included many anti-communists of several categories, assorted civilians, both from the Soviet Union and from Yugoslavia, and fascist collaborationists from eastern Slavic and other countries.

    At the end of World War II there were more than five million refugees from the Soviet Union in Western Europe . . .

    Often prisoners were summarily executed by receiving Communist authorities, sometimes within earshot of the British.


    FDR had agreed to forcible repatriation of refugees, and Truman carried it out. (As did Winston Churchill.) Had some other power later attained military victory over the Allies, it would have been that power’s responsibility to hang Truman, Churchill, and (if he was still alive) FDR as war criminals.

    Yes, French political leaders have done despicable and contemptible things over the years. They have typically been at their worst when they were feeling most pro-communist. Unfortunately, France wasn’t the only Western democracy capable of acting dishonorably in the face of overwhelming Soviet evil; or of delivering up its supposed “allies” to Soviet expansionism.

    Maybe we (including me) are spending too much time dwelling on the negative–on all the times Western politicians felt entirely too comfortable with the Soviet Union and its ways. We should also remember there have been times when people–in France, the U.S., and elsewhere–have resisted the evil of communism. Perhaps we should talk a little about the positive (French, British, and American acts of anti-communism, honor, and fidelity).


  • France had a lot of project has AMR,AMX and Renault series. Those were not old WWI tank. Again you’re honest…
    Before the war, German tank were not better than French tank but France didn’t have tank division.
    And hosnestly German commanders staff were better than anyone else in 1939 and 1940.

    France had a large number of antiquated tanks left over from WW1. Most nations got rid of these sake France. This was due to the fact that the Maginot Line wasted the majority of the French military budget. Of course France had a few modern designs, but integrating the old slow models was really like sweeping problems under the rug. They didn’t want to cope with real issues of military development in the interwar period. France just hoped all they needed to do was build a short wall and look the other way.


  • @Clyde85:

    On the contrary, France did address her real problems, as she saw them at the time. You are speaking in terms of hindsight, which France did not have.

    No, it really didn’t address the real problems or the result would have been very different.  French military leadership was looking at them in WWI terms and did not come up with a WWII solution even after the fall of Poland.  They didn’t figure out how to use combined arms.  To me it’s really not a matter of “national character” or the honor of the soldier or citizens, but rather one of inept leadership.  The organization was inflexible and unable to use its forces wisely or effectively.

    There was also an element of defeatism as expressed by PM Reynaud only six days into the fight.  And then there was the incredible dallying of Weygand (who should have been shot on the spot for supreme incompetence.)

    The British were only saved by the Channle, which as kurt has pointed out, if it werent for that the Germans would have been in London a week after Pairs had fallen.

    But there was that channel and the UK knew that and had a navy and air force in place that could defend it.  That illustrates the massive difference in the quality of strategic planning.  When it became obvious early on that France was collapsing (see Reynaud above), the Brits wisely started withholding squadrons for the defense of the UK.  Meanwhile, newly appointed Weygand took a nap.

    Compare with France.  The French faced a more immediate threat than the UK: a fight on their own ground.  Yet the French failed to adapt, proved incapable of fighting a war of manoeuver and weren’t even prepared for a defensive stand that their own strategy entailed.  They were essentially defeated in the first week.

    The invasion of Poland already illustrated how Germany would use the combined elements to wage war, so Blitzkrieg should not have been a suprise to astute professionals.  And honestly these concepts were not really new, the weapons were new/improved allowing for more speed in conducting operations.  Elements of the same can be seen in the mounted infantry operations of the American Civil War (which also featured trench warfare.)  For infantry ops look at Stonewall Jackson’s Valley campaign.  Grant even managed to use foot infantry similarly in the Vicksburg campaign, defeating what would have been a numerically superior enemy in detail, dispersing some and bottling up the rest.  Or one could look at Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps.  As for WWII, the same advances in weaponry were not the sole ownership of Germany and also allowed more speed in concentrating defenses or launching counterattacks.  French defense was largely static…in a war of manoeuver.  It wasn’t the speed of the warfare itself that was so much a problem, but the lethargy of the French command structure.

    p.s.  Thinking about Weygand and the ACW Vicksburg campaign, his comment about being brought in 2 weeks too late mirrors that of the completely ineffective CSA Gen. Joe Johnston who said the same while he dallied in concentrating forces to oppose Grant’s drive on Vicksburg.

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