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Old 06-14-2020, 03:08 AM
 
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It's worth noting that Germany had strong motivation not to repeat ww1 - by the analysis of the time they would be crushed. Conversely that's strong motivation on the Wallied to stay conservative.

The image that's etched into history is of an elite Germany army cutting across northern France. While the tip of the German spear was extremely good, the bulk were illequiped and barely trained. The French had more then enough to attrit down the spearpoint and bogdown the rest.

The German doctrine of lightining war was able to carve up the flat footed French. A doctrine that had been operationally polished through Spain and Poland. Conversely by the end of the battle of France the French were vastly more capable of holding the Germans, developing tactics that would be used all the way through ww2 into NATO, but it was too late and they'd already lost too many of their best divisions.

Incidently the French ignored their own analysts and war games in failing to hold a strong armoured reserve and failing to strongly defend the ardenne. Either of which could have lead to a very different result.
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Old 06-14-2020, 02:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LilyMae521 View Post
On a lighter note, because the French "would rather eat and make love with their faces than fight."


A line from some Hollywood movie I saw a long time ago, forgot the movie, but that line stuck with me.
Last of Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis. Good film.
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Old 06-15-2020, 12:21 PM
 
Location: SE UK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USC1986 View Post
St. Helena of course, a British island possession in the South Atlantic.
I am about as much of an anglophile as anyone, but the battle of Waterloo was indeed, as Wellington was quoted " a close run thing."
The Allied army was exhausted and had suffered very heavy casualties by the evening of June 18th, and many of the Belgian & Dutch units had fled the field or were in quite shaky condition, some of the British units were on their last legs.
Of course, Marshal Grouchy did not perform his task of keeping Blucher's Prussians at bay, and their arrival on Napoleon's right flank was decisive, along with the British repulse of the last French infantry assault. Waterloo COULD have been a French victory, the issue was long in doubt.
Even if Napoleon had been victorious at Waterloo, over his two fiercest enemies, I have to think he may have had a difficult time facing the oncoming Russian and Austrian armies.
However, he had defeated those armies in years past; who knows what would have occurred in 1815?
Napoleon's army was certainly not the caliber of those of 1805-1812.
It is easy for the intellectually lazy to make light of French martial prowess, or lack there of, but it is just not historically accurate.
Waterloo was the last 'nail in Napoleon's coffin' but his defeat was 10 years earlier off the coast of Trafalgar, like Hitler over a century later Napoleon had to knock Britain out of the war and to do this it meant invasion. Unlike Hitler, who had to gain air superiority before attempting to invade, Napoleon needed control of the seas. Once Nelson routed the combined French and Spanish fleet at Trafalgar (just as the RAF fought off the Luftwaffe (though that was a much closer run thing)) invasion was impossible, after that it was just a matter of time before his eventual total defeat. The British understand the importance of Trafalgar, hence Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column etc. Being an Island is the reason why in the past the British have concentrated so heavily on having a powerful Navy.
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Old 06-15-2020, 01:40 PM
 
Location: The North Star State
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It must be said that much of the German civilian and military leadership was as surprised as the French at the stunning six-week German victory in May/June of 1940.

In October 1939, after Hitler had revealed his intent for a western invasion that fall, it was met with considerable opposition by those who thought it was doomed to fail. Army Chief Brauchitsch and OKH Chief Halder began discussing options, one of which was removing Hitler in a coup. Other stars, generals and Canaris, were brought into the discussions. Ultimately, nothing came of them as it was decided to try and convince Hitler to forego his plans, and when that failed they dithered. The invasion ended up being postponed repeatedly, of course.

It's hard to say if even Hitler was all that confident. While he talked a good game, and could convince himself of the triumph of his 'will', it is important to understand his nature. While most despots are motivated first and foremost by preserving their own position, this was not the case with Hitler, who throughout his life repeatedly articulated an all-or-nothing mindset. He was a gambler, willing to repeatedly push all his chips into the pile. And he acted this way because the prospect of defeat was not a deterrent to him. Hitler had his plans, which included knocking France out of the war, occupying the continent east to the Urals, and coming to some sort of terms with the UK - such was Hitler's delusion, he had long imagined (as he laid out in the '20s in Mein Kampf) Germany and Britain to be natural allies, one Germanic nation ruling the waves and the other ruling the European mainland from the Pyrenees through the Russian steppe. Hitler was not interested in taking his Polish winnings and going home. If invading west was gambling everything, he was all in, for he considered settling to be just another for of personal defeat. He was also obsessed with his historical legacy, and convinced that valiant fighting for German victory even should he fail would ensure an enduring legend for the history books. This also explains Hitler's wild gamble east in 1941.

So in casual hindsight what looks like a lack of French foresight is really just what most people on both sides of the border were seeing in 1939 and 1940, because Hitler's actions - though ultimately successful in the west - were not really predictable.
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Old 06-15-2020, 02:29 PM
 
Location: New Mexico
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Default But no one believed Hitler's fantasies

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41 View Post


- such was Hitler's delusion, he had long imagined (as he laid out in the '20s in Mein Kampf) Germany and Britain to be natural allies, one Germanic nation ruling the waves and the other ruling the European mainland from the Pyrenees through the Russian steppe. Hitler was not interested in taking his Polish winnings and going home. If invading west was gambling everything, he was all in, for he considered settling to be just another for of personal defeat. He was also obsessed with his historical legacy, and convinced that valiant fighting for German victory even should he fail would ensure an enduring legend for the history books. This also explains Hitler's wild gamble east in 1941.

So in casual hindsight what looks like a lack of French foresight is really just what most people on both sides of the border were seeing in 1939 and 1940, because Hitler's actions - though ultimately successful in the west - were not really predictable.
Yah. Except that once Hitler started throwing the dice in Europe - in Spain, in Austria, in the Anschluss, & so on - someone should have gone back & reread Kampf more carefully - they would have found all Hitler's fantasies laid out there, & he was working his way down the list. No one in power among the Allies seems to have taken Hitler seriously - until it was too late to intervene militarily @ fairly low cost.
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Old 06-26-2020, 11:14 AM
 
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_9th_(film)
Some explanations.
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Old 06-26-2020, 01:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G.Duval View Post
That's - not about France. Good movie, though.
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Old 06-27-2020, 10:19 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dane_in_LA View Post
That's - not about France. Good movie, though.
Not about France but reflects general situation and military readiness in the region, France was not much different.
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Old 06-27-2020, 05:15 PM
 
Location: The North Star State
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G.Duval View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by G.Duval View Post
Not about France but reflects general situation and military readiness in the region, France was not much different.
No, the respective military situations in Denmark and France in 1940 are not even remotely analogous.

Denmark was a small country with fewer than four million people, whereas Germany had a population of 70 million. Further, Denmark was essentially undefendable. Very little of the land was forested and the terrain ranges from flat to rolling prairie. No point in the country is as far as 35 miles from the sea. The Danish Army possessed all of two divisions - fewer that 15,000 men.

In contrast, France had 40 million people and was a great power. It had over 100 divisions arrayed in the north against Germany, more than 2 million soldiers. And unlike with Denmark, the Kriegsmarine could not be deployed in any meaningful way in the invasion of France. France had undergone significant interwar rearmament, particularly in the 1930s.

In short, Denmark had no illusions of defending itself against Germany. Resistance was sporadic, in part held back on orders from above because the futility was understood and there was an understandable desire to minimize the destruction that might otherwise result. The Danes were defeated by the German invasion because of the massive disparity in the very capacity of the two countries to assembly military forces, and because of strategic realities. No amount of German incompetence could have altered the final outcome.

But France possessed global force projection, was reasonably similar in size to Germany, had a far larger portion of its populace under arms, and possessed significant defensive advantages. The French were defeated by the German invasion due to tactical innovation by German forces and internal realities within the French leadership - completely different than the situation in Denmark. The end result was very much decided by reasons other than who had more of what.

Two final comments:

First, your 'military readiness' comment suggests that France was surprised. They weren't. The invasion was fully expected. France had mobilized in 1939 and knew an attack was coming, especially after the April invasions of Denmark and Norway. France had a lot of problems in 1040 - being ready for what was coming wasn't one of them.

Second, I roll my eyes every time someone on this forum suggests consuming fiction in order to study history. Movies are made to entertain. Historical accuracy invariably takes a back seat to drama, and reality is swapped out for fiction in order to create the necessary drama to put butts in the cinema's seats. Even where films reasonably track what actually happened in the past, much is simply invented. And there's no way for the viewer to know what is real and what is not - unless they're already studied in the subject, in which case the film doesn't show them anything they don't already know. And I'm at a loss as to how a film depicting events at the company level in Denmark during a campaign that lasted four hours could possibly have anything to say about a six-week clash involving nearly ten million combatants that played out across five nations (none of which was Denmark). It's like 'studying' the Civil War by watching Gone With The Wind.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:19 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G.Duval View Post
Not about France but reflects general situation and military readiness in the region, France was not much different.
2x3x29x41 nailed it in every particular, his post lays it out. The situation in France was very much different in pretty much every way conceivable.
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