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The Fall of France in World War II.

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Introduction

The Fall of France in World War II In the year 1918, Germany and its allies, Austria and Turkey, were defeated by the forces of France, Great Britain, Italy, Belgium, and the United States in the terrible war now known as World War I. To ensure that Germany would be of no further threat to French security, French premier Georges Clemenceau sought revenge against the Germans at the peace conference in Versailles. France demanded the demolition of German militarism and a great reduction of German territory. France recovered the provinces of Alsace and lost parts of Lorraine, and all German overseas colonies were seized and parceled out among the Allies. The Armed Forces of Germany was deprived of its military and naval air forces, and the army was reduced to a limit of 100,000 men (Flory & Jenike 356). Propelled by a strong sense of revenge, these demands were not enough for Clemenceau and other French statesmen. French minister Etienne Clementel argued that if Germany was left without any real and permanent redistribution of economic resources, France might once again be threatened by Germany's industrial strength. This vision became the basis policy of the French government, and great reparation payments were forced upon the Germans, which not only ruined the German economy, but also produced an unsurprising outrage amongst the German people. After the Treaty of Versailles, the triumph of the victory over Germany promoted a feeling of confidence amongst the French, who were assured that Germany could never again rise to provoke another World War. ...read more.

Middle

Czechs mobilized, expecting aid from France, Great Britain and Russia, but none of them wanted to risk starting a war with Germany. The Czechs were betrayed and abandoned by the western powers in order to appease Hitler, and this gave him time to consolidate his power. Ironically, the betrayal of Czechoslovakia, which disregarded the Locarno Pacts, eventually dragged the French into a war they had tried so desperately to prevent since 1918. The appeasement policy was a great failure and blunder for the Allies. By this time Hitler was convinced France and Great Britain would do nothing to stop him from doing what he wanted. Hitler soon made a demand for Danzig, a part of Poland which had been taken from Germany and given to Poland after World War I. When Poland refused, with the forces of Great Britain, France and Russia behind her, it was clear there would be a second World War. However, soon after this, Hitler negotiated a shocking non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union on August 23 (Calvovoressi 58). Hitler was now free to fight Poland without worrying about a two-front war, which had been the cause of Germany's defeat in World War I. In return, Russia was free to take Finland, Estonia, Latvia, eastern Poland, Bessarabia (in Romania), and Lithuania (Boorstin & Kelley 663). After Hitler invaded Poland in September, Great Britain and France declared war against Germany - and the Second World War had begun. ...read more.

Conclusion

Appeasement and accommodation with Hitler brought no return. To the satisfaction of German economic supremo Albert Speer, French workers were sent to work in Germany in 1943, and became the principal source of skilled labor for the Germans in all of Europe (McMillan 141). The entire French economy was given over to fortify Germany's war economy. A scapegoat had to be found, and the blame for the defeat in 1940 fell upon the Jews. With the cooperation of French policemen, French Jews were rounded up and deported to concentration camps. A quarter of the country's Jewish population had been exterminated in the Holocaust, the first round-up of the Jews being in August 1941, and the second in 1942 (Bely 130). The Second World War may have been avoided if the French had stood more firmly against Hitler's insatiable demands, and concentrated more on developing a keener sense of national unity. Perhaps not have recognized that long before, France suffered greatly from Petain's collaborationist designs toward the Nazis. By 1944, four years after its establishment, Vichy no longer existed, and both leaders were branded as traitors to the country. Put on trial at the Liberation, Petain would implore that, "having failed to be the sword of the French people, he had at least tried to be their shield" (McMillan 136). McMillian explains how Vichy's sordid methods were at drastic odds with its professed goal of a national moral revival (139). We must always remember and study these misjudgments to prevent another World War from ever happening again. 1 1 ...read more.

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