Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Fall of France in 1940

The Fall of France in 1940: What brought the nation of France to its knees during the months of May and June in 1940? Was it poor military planning or rampant political strife? Given the plethora of evidence ranging from Paul Reynaud's letters to F.D.R. or Maxime Weygand's memoirs, it's plausible to conclude that France's fall was the result of weak leadership in both the military and the government. Upon further investigation into the topic, however, one might understand the causes of France's demise to go far beyond weak military/political leadership. Focusing on the failure of French military doctrine in 1940, it is fair to assert that France's downfall essentially stemmed from trying to fight to defensive war in a foreign territory, namely Belgium. To make matters worse, Belgium had declared itself neutral in 1936, as the Nazis marched into the Rhineland. The neutral status of Belgium therefore presented France with numerous diplomatic and political barriers that she needed to circumvent in order to properly fortify against the encroaching German Army. In addition to the various obstacles thwarting France's defensive efforts, the French Army possessed rather outmoded military tactics (no mechanized divisions, slow tanks, etc.). In short, the French High Command was preparing the French Army to fight the First World War all over again.

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