Monday, May 21, 2007

The Fall of France - post III

It has been quite a while since I read a history book and you forget the level of concentration needed to get through what can be a strained narrative that tends to tell you something and only afterwards go backwards to answer some of the questions about why it happened. I'm not naive enough to think it can be much different but after fiction it requires a different mindset.

Bullet points between pages 100 - 150

* Following Dunkirk the relationship between the French and British went downhill with both blaming each other for the military debacle and the traditional prejudices surfacing

* The impact of the looming war had already shaken the French political scene with the communist movement grabbing power as a result of its involvement in the Popular Front (no doubt Sartre’s character Brunet would have been involved) still haunting the right wing politicians

* The poltical scene fluctated between the stable with Daladier and then started to fracture with his succesor Reynaud who faced conspiring colleagues and unsurmountable difficulties on the battle field

* Because of treaty clauses there was a commitment on the French not to pull out of the war without consulting the British but the distrust of the Anglo relationship and the speed of events meant that ultimately that was not possible

* The Frenchs politicians started to split with some wanting an Armistice and others threatening to resign if one was given so reynaud quit allowing Petain to take over - someone who had already expressed a view that it made sense to work with the Germans

* There was a feeling that unlike 1914 the French soldier had not been prepared to fight to protect their country (again this is on display in the first part of Iron in the Soul) but it didn't help that the soldiers who could see the graveyards of 1914 knew what was coming

More tomorrow...

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