Monthly Archives: June 2010

It Was Easier for the French to Win the War than the Peace

France has never overcome the June 1940 defeat against the Germans. Above all, it was the biggest military debacle in French history. I remember my history teacher in high school trying to find an image vivid enough to make us realise how dreadful this defeat was: “Worse than Agincourt!” he eventually told us, although I very much doubt that “Agincourt” reminded my apathetic schoolfellows of anything. Anyway, it was much worse than a mere military defeat: it was also a political tragedy, which culminated in the Vichy regime being set up. However, this astonishing disaster led to a no less astonishing conclusion: not more than five years later, De Gaulle managed to turn France into a victorious nation and, as if by sleight of hand, succeeded in tossing the defeat, the Vichy government and the collaboration into oblivion. What a magician! Some malicious tongues could point out with good reason that during the whole war De Gaulle spent far less time fighting the Germans than fighting Roosevelt and Churchill to secure his own position, but the result is undisputable: in 1945, France found herself on the side of the victors! Continue reading