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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Why did france lose ww2 so quickly?

How did france lose to germany so quikly? What were some reasons for this downfall?

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There is much to be said about the French defeat. It was not because of any one particular thing, but rather, a combination of situational and fixed circumstances that made France entirely unable to achieve any success at defending the nation, let alone launching any threatening offensive action.

    One of the pieces was that WW1 had eliminated a large section of the French manpower pool that it had not been able to recover from. Germany had nearly twice the population of France, and though this was made even by the addition of Belgian, Dutch, and British manpower, from an operational and planning standpoint it still made a difference. Added to the people aspect, France was essentially in political turmoil where just years before the war, Frenchmen were heard chanting 'Better Hitler than Blum' in reference to the socialist French candidate. France was a divided country that was filled with more desire to fight itself than with Germany.

    As far as war material, the French were not at all at a disadvantage. In fact as many German commanders stated, had the French attack through its defensive positions in late 39, they would have overwhelmingly succeeded. The French though had no real plan. Their equipement was good enough but no used properly, their men supplied well enough but not given any real achievable tactical goals. They were committed to worthless causes fully while going half way at the ones they actually could have succeeded in. They were overall not prepared, organized, and lead well enough to fight a foe that was as motivated and prepared as the Germans were. The French airforce was absolete and used improperly and on land whatever time they ever had at any battle 'elan', let alone strategically, to do any damage they squandered with hesitation and in-fighting.

    This example should put things into perspective...a man who lived through the invasion of Belgium recalled this moment to paraphrase:

    When the French were matching northward into Belgium to meet the Germans, the French officer came into the farm house and placed a map to see where he could station and position some of his forces. The map was outdated, the officers boots were old, and he had a nonchalant attitude to him. He asked the owner how far he though the Germans were... the owner replied to him that the Germans had already been here and were probably already 20 miles south!

    The German officer who had come inside had a map with every pinpoint precisely where it was to a henhouse.

    The French, given the mood of the country from top down, really stoof no chance no matter how equal they may have proved on paper.

  • 1 decade ago

    There are several reasons.

    Others have cited the defeatism of the French population and their lack of military enthusiasm. It is also true that then as now, the French nation has more than its fair share of political extremists: at the start of the war both Communists and sympathisers with the Nazis (remember that Germany and Russia were then allies) had reasons actively to oppose the war effort.

    Remember too that the German breakthrough was anticipated. It is known (and has been part of military doctrine at least since the Roman Empire & Hadrian's Wall) that a forward line of defence will probably give way at one or more points. The attack can choose the point of concentration, whereas the defence must stretch itself along the whole line.

    The answer is defence in depth - a mobile strategic reserve (the 'masse de manoeuvre') posted well behind the front line and ready to be wheeled up to counter-attack. In the 2WW when the expected penetration occurred and this was reported to Churchill by the French, he (a professional soldier himself) took it calmly. He asked,

    ..."Ou est la masse de manoeuvre?" (Where is the mobile reserve.)

    ..."Il n'y en a pas. Aucune." (There isn't one. None at all.)

    Well-trained generals and their staffs simply do not make that sort of mistake. I cannot shake off the suspicion that it was not a mistake at all, and that there was active treachery somewhere in the French high command. Someone was deliberately making the path smooth for the German advance.

  • 1 decade ago

    France, as have so many others, was preparing for the last war. They were relying on static defenses [the Maginot Line], and the German tactics made them irrelevant. The French had more tanks than the Germans, and they were of near equal performance, but the Germans massed theirs and used them in ways the French had not conceived. The French also arrayed their forces on their border with Germany, but ignored the Ardennes, which was considered impassable by armor. The Germans, and Guderian in particular, proved that this was a fallacy. The entire world, including the Germans, was amazed at how quickly France was defeated.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Inefective Military and Political leaders the French had 96 Divisions and 1500 Tanks Behind the maginot Line

    DeGaul was in France when the Germans came through Belgium into france on the 17 May and DeGaul was in Hiding in London on the 18 May and France had not Fallen yet

    the Free french under the British did exceptianly well at Dunkirk without DeGaul

    But french Military leaders are like Napoleon He should have been with hid troops at the End but where was Napoleon whilst the Brave French Army was Fighting to the End

    Napoleon was Running away in a Coach heading to Paris some leader

    Montgommery and Paton were often in the Lead tank until paton was releived from his command

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  • Here are just several reasons for France quick defeat in the Blitzkrieg "Battle of France" in 1940.

    (1) French defeatism. France's government was in turmoil even before the start of hostilities between Germany and Poland. The remembrance of how France was almost bled white during WW1 led to the lose of the will to defend the country itself. The National Will to resist an invasion did not have the determination such as what existed during WW1.

    (2) Even though the Allies had more tanks and aircraft than the Germans, they have not totally understood how best to effectively use them. The Germans understood that with tanks and trucks an army could move at twenty miles an hour and go around fixed fortifications, with marching infantry support. They concentrated them to deliver the main blow and punch a hole in the French/British defenses. German tactical and combat doctrine has already been totally understood and honed to a high level after the experiences gained during the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. The proper coordination of German armor (Panzers) and support aircraft (Stukas) blasted a hole in the Ardennes (where the main punch through was made) forest which the Allied command brushed aside as totally impassable by mobile armies. This, in effect, negated the sationary defensive positions of the Maginot Line which France has invested heavily, by the giant left wheel movement of the German armies pivoting on Sedan.

    (3) The French troops rushed to where they thought the Germans would the flat plains of northern Belgium--leaving the southern Ardennes region completely exposed, and getting themselves cut off and surrounded. Very few French troops were left in the way of the German army when the decisive Schwerpunkt was delivered.

    (4) The demoralization of the civilians, because of terror attacks, clogged the roads which made it harder for the French armies to effectively mass and regroup against the invading Germans.

    (5) The success of the Fallschirmjaegers (German paratroops) in neutralizing the commanding positions of the Belgian Forts of Eben Emael. This fort was of vital importance on the earliest assault into neutral Belgium---and one of the top secrets of the war. The Germans took a lot of pain to conceal the training they had to do to neutralize this series of vital forts, which made possible the easy flow of their armies in their giant swing to the left, a variation of the Schlieffen Plan of WW1.

    (6) The success of the Luftwaffe in gaining command of the air. Well into the third week of the invasion, they have, for all practical purposes, gained complete control over the skies of France.

    (7) The lack of central command and communication between the core headquarters of the French High command to their armies in the field. This isolated and not very well-known fact was such a hindrance in the French ability to coordinate the massive flow and deployment of their forces in coordination with the British. In the end, up to the final minutes when France decided to throw in the towel, the British were not informed, to the latter's great annoyance.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The French had basically emptied their treasury into the coffers of the military industrialists that designed and built the Maginot Line, only to have it bypassed, just as the border forts had been bypassed in WW I.

    Why they thought that the Maginot Line would be a deterrent is beyond me. Germany invaded Belgium in WWI to get around France's formidable border.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The war between France and Germany occurred on French soil. This put the French at a major disadvantage. In the time of mechanised armies, large distances can be covered relatively quickly. France was and is simply not big enough to absorb these rapid advances and changes in the front line without losing valuable strategic ground and time. There can be a big advantage in fighting your enemy on his territory!

    Russia could absorb such large advances into its territory because of its sheer size and its main cities and industry being so far away from the front line.

    Moreover, it is possible that King Edward VIII was a traitor who leaked vital military information to the Nazis! He got away with it because he's royal, but he did have to abdicate eventually.

  • 1 decade ago

    The German Blitzkrieg (lightening war). The Germans were prepared for mobile war. The French were still thinking in terms of WW1 defensively and weren't prepared for a fast-moving "modern war."

  • 1 decade ago

    Above - true but they also parachuted behind the Maginot line and took it. Their tanks were far better than the French tanks and they overran the French with superior force.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    Never really thought about that

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