Why was France so Ineffective in WWII? (1940) | Animated History



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Sources:
Clark, Lloyd, Blitzkrieg: myth, reality and Hitler’s lightning war – France, 1940, New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2016
Goutard, Adolphe, The Battle of France, 1940, translated by A. R. P. Burgess, New York: I. Washburn, 1959
Horne, Alistar, The French Army and politics, 1870-1970, New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1984
La Gorce, Paul Marie de, The French Army; a military-political history, translated by Kenneth Douglas, New York: G. Braziller, 1963
Maurois, André, The battle of France, translated by F.R. Ludman, London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1940
Miksche, F. O., Blitzkrieg, London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1941
Murland, Jerry, Battle for the Escaut 1940: the France and Flanders campaign, Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2016
Orr, Andrew, Women and the French Army during the World Wars, 1914-1940, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2017
Rothburst, Floria K., Guderian’s XIXth Panzer Corps and the Battle of France: breakthrough in the Ardennes, May 1940, New York: Praeger, 1990
Vilfroy, Daniel, War in the west, the battle of France, May-June, 1940, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Military Service Publishing Company, 1942
Warner, Philip, The battle of France: 10 May-22 June 1940: six weeks which changed the world, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990
Wernick, Robert, Blitzkrieg, New York: Time-Life Books, 1976

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48 comments

  1. Use this link to get your first 2 months of Skillshare for FREE! https://skl.sh/armchair2

    Keep in mind that this video is just about the French military in 1940. The French did make massive contributions towards allied victory in 1944-1945 in several ways. The French resistance provided extremely valuable intel to the British and Americans on D-Day.

    Let us know if you want us to continue these kinds of videos!

    Griff

  2. The French Army had a lack of planning, and their soldiers were a bit scared of the Germans, so they would run away. But, the Char B1 Bis would help that destroying Panzers but could be destroyed by a German Flak Gun.

  3. Hm…. "Surprise attack"??? It was France who declared war on Germany, so where was the surprise? Was it surprising that Germany went through Belgium and the Ardennes the same as they did in 1914? No. Everything else was theoretically blocked by the Maginot Line.

    The defense should have been relatively easy; if the enemy is coming in through a narrow door; you need much smaller force to defend it than to overtake it. I agree with you here. You call it “military philosophy”.

    Yes, all the political and social issues are, I am sure correct. You said "until 1936". So what happened in 1936-1939 or 40? The British built RAF, Radar, etc. What did France do?

    But the bottom line for me is this:

    By your analysis the French military was superior to the German in 1940. It would have also been superior in 1939. Especially that a sizable portion of the German military was engaged in Poland: 1.5-2 mil men, 2,300 planes, 2750 tanks, etc. That’s about half of what Germany used in 1940 against France. If France invaded Germany instead of sitting on their asses, I’d say the likelihood of victory was substantial. Especially if supported by the British, who were also in a state of war with Germany.

    But… they didn’t want to die for Danzig….

    See: Ernest May's book Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France (2000)

    But it seems that they didn’t want to die for Paris, Lille, Chartres, and the rest of France.

    France was invaded on May 12, Petain asked for armistice on June 16. The whole war lasted a month. BTW Poland also fought for a month. Against two enemies. With zero support. There were almost 1.5 mil foreign troops in France in 1940, which is 50% more than the Polish military in 1939.

    And Poland never surrendered, nor did it have a hero like Petain.

    The Poles, like Czechs, Dutch, Belgians, etc. went to France, Britain, Norway, North Africa, Italy, Germany, even to the Soviet Union to fight for their country.

    95% of the French saved from the Dunkirk beaches asked to be sent back home after a week.

    The French Navy refused to fight against Germany. They preferred to blow up their own ships. Heroes….

    Do you know how many Free French troops hit the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944?

    177.

    One hundred and seventy seven.

    You make a nice analysis, to be sure, thank you for that.

    But the real reason why France was ineffective and lost was cowardice.

  4. There's a bit of a pattern in World Wars and just European conflicts in general:

    1. France get their asses kicked

    2. England and/or America have to save them

  5. Lets also not neglect the fact that France was where a solid 70% of the Western Front was situated during WWI. Argonne Forest. The Somme. Verdun. San Quentin. Most of the bloodiest battles were fought in France. The French people were already war-weary and their moral towards war was already low. Imagine if your front yard was the sight of 4 years of brutal, grueling, visceral trench warfare where you are visibly watching trucks of bodies and body parts getting moved from the front to the ditch. You wouldn't want to have that go down for round two in just twenty years time.

  6. It's kind of annoying that so many people think that the French did basically nothing useful or helpful during WWII. I mean aside from the fact that they were TREMENDOUSLY effective and on the front lines throughout the entirety of WWI and that they were kicking the kaisers ass as often as they could during the great war, but they were mainly just really poorly equipped for WWII and were honestly kind of caught off guard in many ways. They just weren't prepared to fight the type of war that WWII ended up being. They were still equipped and expecting trench warfare and something similar to WWI. However that being said, after the Germans occupied France the French resistance played MANY crucial and vastly important roles in helping the allies defeat Hitler and liberate France. They couldn't have done it nearly as quickly or as effectively without the valuable intelligence and sabotaging tactics that the French resistance took part in during that part of the war post D-Day and during the allied push through western Europe as they chased the Germans back into Germany etc. France is by no means cowards or poor military personnel. They're disciplined and proper professional soldiers. They just packed proper equipment, time to get ready, and a commanding staff that understood it was a different war and nothing at all like WWI. It was basically like the perfect storm for France to be over run and occupied based on all of those different things coming together to have a truly vast negative impact and influence on the French military which prevented them from being able to effectively defend their nation against the Germans who were armed with superior fire power and had a technological advantage and understood the different type of war that this was gonna be overall in general, ya know?

  7. France: were only goving a troops 1 year of training they wont be prepared for battle

    America with 6 months of basic training: kill everything

  8. Hitler was crazy…His every move was all in moves…Its obvious there will be an initial advantage for that…
    But thinking that others will not eventually go all in or Germany would conquer everything before everyone going eventual all in was Hitler's stupid ideas…must have came from Aryan Supremacy

  9. It's like if Germany was insisting to play a PC game with worst PC specs and France had a gaming PC but was tired of playing the same game again.

  10. Wait I’m kind of high but ww2 kind of stopped a French revolutionary war? Because their military was basically a militia

  11. This is the same period that Europe lives in right now. A long period of peace rendering the military obsolete. Until they are rudely awakened by China and Russia.

  12. What is not mentioned is how useless was belgium, France was aware what a modern warfare was, and built the best tank and planes at the time for that (except that with the growing socialism you couldn't really force people to produce tanks and planes as much as in WW1 since they believed there would be no more war). Belgium refused to have the maginot line built on its border so the french simply said "ok, but you better train your army for a german invasion" spoiler: they didn't.
    France could have won the war at its very begining if the population wasn't so sure that a war would never happen, and if the generals weren't so sure that Belgium would be a good ally.

  13. It should be remembered that the overall French military command HQ, from the start of WWII to France’s downfall, had no radio OR telecommunications equipment whatever, and relied, against the extremely fast moving German offensive plan, on communication, to and from the troops in the field, by a slow, unreliable courier system.
    There was no way they could know the current state of battle, or the relevant disposition of the enemy and, in any event, any commands they issued, apart from relating to woefully out of date information, could take hours, or even days to reach their intended recipient – assuming they got there at all!
    It is no surprise whatever, in hindsight, that such a mindless, hopeless, and antiquated approach was easily defeated by the nimble tactics utilised by their enemy, which became known as ‘Blitzkreig’ i.e. Lightning War.

  14. 5% of FRG’s yearly GDP from 1945 thru 1985, to be paid held in France for rebuilding, redevelopment and investment in joint peaceful projects

  15. What is astonishing is that France should have (again) sued for reparations, having been invaded 3 times, and the country’s industrial basins largely destroyed, not to mention the horrendous demographic tool and its long lasting impact… Unfortunately it was believed the reparations for WWI were in part the basis for WWII, and while the reparations were indeed punitive, they were also engineered to be the basis for future deterrence… France should have sued through the newly appointed UN for major reparations, payable thru 2 generations, as 2 generations of young French men were decimated

  16. Dude, your inability to correctly pronounce various various locations detracts greatly from perceived credibility.

  17. France was essentially a cat but only with 2 lives. The those where Charlemagne and the Napoleon. After that it was all white flag xD

  18. The main reason why France have lost is the feeling of security induced by the Maginot line that line wasn't complete and armed as planned in the regions near the belgium border same feeling belgians have been with the Eben Emael fort

  19. "baguettes"…? You use cultural tropes and stereotypes? Your statements are hugely superficial and I and other commentators clearly take exception to your skin thin research.

  20. Outdated weapons and poor leadership. Where like italy had good planes and ships and well trained troops just terrible leaders cause Mussolini fired and killed all the ww1 generals who had experience

  21. During dunkirk the French's claim to heroism is that they stayed behind and protected the retreating forces flank. That's expected though and it goes without saying that you should protect the people who came to help

  22. never heard about the superiority of the french tank over the germans before and i took a ww2 class but one thing was for sure was that germany was ALOT hungrier than france going into the war.

  23. I always thought it was because France took the worst of it in WWI and never upgraded after the Great War –

  24. Merci de dire qu'on a était inutile 😂, après tu as pas tord mais sache qu'on avait quand même la résistance.

  25. They weren’t that ineffective; their officer corps was too old and not prepared for WW2. The soldiers actually fought well, especially after the German defeats in Africa. The free French fought well.

  26. Fun fact: The people of France were very effective during the war. French spies and resistance lasted until the end. People win wars, governments are irrelevant. Viva la France!

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