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The Fall Of France Puzzle Logo
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Political division in French politics and a period of decay that followed after World War 1, would leave France open for invasion. The day Hitler came to power in Germany, France had no government. Also on the day Hitler marched into Austria the French were leaderless, and now on the day Hitler invaded France, France again had political disunity.

The French army had also suffered from this period of decay which was caused by the complacency of being victorious. The French army had helped to introduce new modern instruments of war, the machine gun, the tank and the aeroplane. But France did not push these developments further, unlike the Nazis, who would built a totally modern army that put these new machines to deadly use.

Hitler had said that the next war would be totally different from the last war. But the French army, as well as the British army, had not progressed from the tactics of World War 1. The French army still relied to much on the importance of the horse. Poland had faced a similar situation and was devastated within weeks.

The French had developed an impressive defensive line along its border with Germany, but again it was this line of thinking that was based on the fact that the next war would be fought like WW1. This defensive fortification was named the Maginot Line. It was an impressive effort but had major flaws, flaws that the Nazis would take advantage of. The Maginot Line ran from Switzerland but fell short of completion by over 200 miles, stopping at the border with Belgium.

It was for political reasons that the Maginot Line did not run along the border of Belgium and so not reaching the English Channel, for it would be seen as forsaking Belgium. But Belgium had opted for neutrality, and although attempts to extend the line to the English Channel did start, it was all too late. Napoleon had once said that an army that remains behind its fortifications would become a defeated army. During Hitler's advances in Europe the French remained behind its Maginot Line, and the British in their trenches.

De Gaulle had said "Peering between our fortifications, we shall watch the enslavement of Europe." Europe slowly was being engulfed by the Nazis, and soon the French would face a similar fate.

When the Nazis penetrated through the Ardennes it had caused a huge panic in Paris. It was thought Hitler might head straight towards the French capital, but that was not part of Hitler's plan. After breaking through the German army swept north and headed towards the coast to trap the Allied forces.

After the defeat and the evacuation at Dunkirk of the retreating Allied armies, Hitler then turned on France and moved west towards Paris. With the Germans at the gates of Paris, the French Government surrendered.

General Weygand told the then Colonel Charles de Gaulle :

'When I've been beaten here, England won't wait a week before negotiating with the Reich.'

Hitler had also thought that Britain would seek a peace once France had fell, but he too failed to recognize the British resolve. France had fallen in five weeks and would now fall under Nazi occupation for most of the war. On the 10th June, 1940, when defeat of France was imminent, Mussolini brought Italy into the conflict and declared war on the Allies.

The French armistice was signed in the same railway carriage where the Germans had surrendered in 1918. Once the French signed the armistice Hitler had the site at Compiegne destroyed. The final French humiliation was the German victory parade in Paris. The victorious German army took the same route that the French army had taken on their victory march at the end of World War 1. Hitler had got his revenge for the 'Treaty of Versailles', and now his grip held most of Europe under Nazi rule.

Britain would stand alone and stood on the edge of an abyss. The Battle of France was over and the Battle of Britain was about to begin. Britain was about to enter its darkest moments of the war.

Winston Churchill: "What General Weygand has called The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island, or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free. The light of the world may move forward, to broad Sunlit uplands. But if we fail... then the whole world will sink into the abyss of a new dark age. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty... So bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say 'This was their finest hour'!" (The complete speech).

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For those visitors that have entered to this site, directly to this page, we would like to inform you that this page is part of a series of pages, within a section that acts as a backdrop to 'The Puzzle' project. 'The Puzzle' is a musical project that looks at different events from the 20th-21st Century.

This section is part of the 'World War II' zone. 'A Promise Of Peace' tells the story, in chronological order, of World War II.

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