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France During World War II By Napoleon. Prologue: World War I French military deaths: 1,397,800 Military wounded: 4,266,000 Civilian deaths: 300,000 Deaths.

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Presentation on theme: "France During World War II By Napoleon. Prologue: World War I French military deaths: 1,397,800 Military wounded: 4,266,000 Civilian deaths: 300,000 Deaths."— Presentation transcript:

1 France During World War II By Napoleon

2 Prologue: World War I French military deaths: 1,397,800 Military wounded: 4,266,000 Civilian deaths: 300,000 Deaths as % of population: 4.29% France emerged from WWI victorious, but exhausted. 1.3 million soldiers were killed, an average of 890 per day for more than four years. The dead left behind 600,000 widows, 760,000 orphans, and 1.3 million grieving parents.


4 The Fall of France: May 1940-June 1940 September 1, 1939, Nazis invaded Poland, beginning World War II in Europe: Britain and a reluctant France declared war on Germany France and Britain assisted the Polish military by doing absolutely nothing After Poland’s fall, there was no major military activity for eight months except for a Nazi invasion of Denmark and Norway. In May 1940 they steamrolled into the Low Countries (Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg) and France, and crushed the Allied armies in a stunning six-week campaign. The Germans achieved in 6 weeks what they couldn't do in 4 years in WWI The French lost for many reasons, but cowardice was not one of them. Hitler threw the manpower and industrial resources of over 80,000,000 Germans against 40,000,000 Frenchmen. The French did not have, and could not have had, the military and industrial power to beat Germany. France was beaten because Germany was enormously superior to France in manpower, equipment, resources, armament, and strategy. Germany had the incalculable advantage of having planned an offensive, Blitzkrieg war - while France devoted its energies and training entirely to defensive measures.


6 Vichy France: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity Work, Family, Fatherland After being defeated, the French government signed an armistice with the Germans. The north of France would be under German military control. The south would be a “free zone” where there would be limited self-rule. Vichy France, formally known as the “French State”, would rule in the south (although technically it had jurisdiction in the occupied north). Most of France’s overseas colonies remained loyal to Vichy. The government was an authoritarian state, headed by Marshal Philippe Petain, a much beloved war hero from WWI. Other (in)famous figures in the government includes Pierre Laval, a very controversial figure who signed orders to deport foreign Jews from France to the death camps


8 Collaboration Headed by Petain, state collaboration at the highest levels was common, and was sometimes done in shameful levels An example of this is the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. Under demand by the Nazis, French police initiated a mass arrest and raid of 13,000 people in Paris and held them in the Winter Veldrome under horrible conditions. The 13,000 people were sent to an internment camp at Drancy, then shipped to Auschwitz. Only 400 returned after the war. State collaboration came in many other forms: economic (requiring workers to serve in Germany; quite a few of these workers would refuse and flee to join the Resistance), military (French volunteers would fight on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union), and socially (Vichy aligned its racial policies similar to Nazi Germany's, and its participation in the Holocaust is well known). In 1942, the Germans occupied the Free Zone, ending any legitimacy the Vichy government had. Even then it continued to function and stood by the Nazis to the bitter end, regardless of the consequences. Non-state collaboration was far more complex and varied from region and city. It ranged over time as well.



11 Resistance: Myth, Reality Resistance started as soon as the Occupation began, but the Resistance would not be a unified movement until much later in the war People from all walks of life joined the Resistance: conservative Roman Catholics, including priests; members of the Jewish community; citizens from the ranks of liberals, anarchists, and communists; anti-fascist Germans and Spaniards; the list goes on The Resistance, far too often warped as a “heroic” or “romantic” movement, was in fact plagued by many problems including Nazi/Vichy sympathizers or spies. Life, in general, was often grim and sometimes even bleak The Germans destroyed 344 communities (62 completely) for "crimes" not connected with military operations.

12 What did the Resistance contribute to the war? They sabotaged war production and power plants They organized armed groups which harassed the German police, the Gestapo, and the Vichy militia. They acted as a great spy army for the Allies in London. They transmitted as many as 300 reports a day to the Allies Hid, clothed, fed, and smuggled over 4000 American and British pilots out of France. Every Allied airman rescued meant half a dozen French lives were risked.

13 The Free French Forces Often confused with the Resistance, the Free French was the military arm of Charles de Gaulle's “Free France” government in exile. They were French military forces who continued to fight with the Allies. In 1940, as German armies overran France, Charles de Gaulle, a brigadier general in the army, fled the country to Britain. There he called for all Frenchman to continue fighting, and said in his famous radio broadcast, “France has lost the battle, but not the war!” De Gaulle was tried in absentia in Vichy France and sentenced to death for treason De Gaulle was one of the few French advocates for mobile, offensive warfare, but his theories were applied far too late. He actually won a few minor victories during the fall of France, which was significant in an ocean of French defeats At first, de Gaulle's movement gained only a few thousand soldiers, sailors and airmen. This would change as the war progressed in favor of the Allies

14 The Free French contribution Fought in Africa, in Sicily, liberated Corsica, fought in Italy, took part in the invasion of Europe and fought through the battles of France and Germany -- from Normandy to Munich. The Free French Army was largely made up of soldiers from France's colonies. Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Chad, etc. Most of the Free French Navy, Air Force and commando units were from metropolitan France Even after France was liberated, colonial soldiers would make up a good chunk of the French military

15 Liberation June 6, 1944: the Allies invade Normandy. Free French forces are among the soldiers that land and fight in France The Resistance helped the Allies greatly in France. They blew up bridges and railways, cut power lines and telephone lines, harassed the Germans with hit-and- run guerillas tactics, and were generally a thorn in the side for the Germans, and a useful tool for the Allies As the Allied armies blitzed through France, the Resistance staged an uprising in Paris. 50,000 men and women fought the German garrison in the capital Initially Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower didn't want to attack Paris, as the cost to the city and its people would be too great. De Gaulle insisted, however, and in the last few days of the Paris uprising Eisenhower sent the US 4 th Infantry Divison and the 2 nd French Armored Division to help the uprising. The German commander of the Paris garrison, General von Choltitz, was repeatedly given orders by Hitler to raze the city to the ground. In the end, Choltitz refused, and the Germans surrendered to the French (irony levels...rising!).



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