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1940 - The Fall of France


1940 - The Fall of France

In early 1940 France was gearing up for a defense against the German invasion they knew was coming. Germany has been allowed to push the restrictions placed on them after World War I by an arms build up, re-militarizing the Rhine, and dominating both Austria and Czechoslovakia. This gives them both an advantage and a sense of superiority because of the lack of opposition. By this time, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands have already fallen to the Germans in northern Europe and an assault against the northern channel ports was expected to be the next target. In May 1940, French forces supported by the British were concentrated in northern France but the Germans instead launched their assault and entered France through the Ardennes where the blitzkrieg was met by little French resistance. The Maginot Line formed of hardened defenses was insufficient to absorb or blunt the lightning fast assault of Germany. The key effect of the blitzkrieg into France was the division of Allied forces which were effectively split in two and backing up the British Expeditionary Force and the French First Army to the English Channel. Trapped and without room to maneuver or to be reinforced, Operation Dynamo, the quickly mobilized evacuation of allied forces across the English Channel to England, was the only retreat possible from the German onslaught. By early June, Italy has also declared war against France and has primarily moved against French controlled provinces like Libya in North Africa. By mid June, French Premier Paul Reynaud has resigned and the Germans have taken Paris. Air power in the region was dominated by the Luftwaffe, giving them the advantage in the air as well as on the ground. 

With the blitzkrieg, the misreading of the intended target, the division and cornering of the allied forces, and added to this a little internal French strife, with the Vichy government taking over in France and siding with the Germans, France had little hope of fending off the stronger, battle tested German invaders. Outnumbered and outgunned the French quickly capitulated to the Germans. France and the Allies had banked too much on the heavy static defenses and terrain that had served them well in the first World War to stand up against the Germans, but were ill prepared for the highly mobile mechanized invasion the Germans came with. America had yet to enter the war and was not prepared or dare say, willing, to step into what was seemingly a losing cause at the time. Had they even heeded the call for help by at the time Premier Reynaud, there would not have been time for America to prepare and deploy any forces before the Germans completed their occupation. 


-1940 - The Fall of France-
Written by Steven Terjeson   
Tuesday, 22 December 2009



Date Added: 2010-06-16



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