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was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.

was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Georges JEROME on 27 Jan 2013 19:01

met today in a military fair an historian who spoke me about General Huntzinger as a "traitor". This seems me excessive and I looked for infos in this way :
General Charles Huntzinger was the chief of the 2e armee covering Ardennes area. Paxton who wrote a book about Vichy's army support that this general was highly opposed to III Republique politic. His presse officer Henri Massis was an influent member of the french right wings mouvement "Action Française".
Durant the "drôle de guerre" before german offensive he was the alone general to consider all is ok in his sector while his neighborough Corap complain against the weakness of his positions.
- His best units were in position alongside Maginot line while the less experimented units were in the weakest area.
- During the panzer marsch at Sedan, his reports to General Georges don't give view of the danger of the situation
- On 14 mai he moved with his PC South of Verdun at 100 km of the front.
- the moving of his right wing opened a wide path to the Panzers.
This unglorious general was designated to sign at Rothondes on 22 june 1940 and at the end of the signature made a public declaration very favorable to conditions of armistice and opening the way to collaboration.
This unglorious was designated as State Secretary of War in the Gouvernement of Vichy. HE was a hard support to the anti democratic Vichy State.

Did he just wanted the fall of the III Republique at any price? A sort of "patriotic traitor" ?

He feud with Darlan, some one say he conduct with Benoist Mechin the Protocole of Paris with Abetz upon the attitude of France in Syria "pro german" and against Great Britain while Darlan was formal leader.

was his death accidental and only an opportunity for Darlan or more ?


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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby steverodgers801 on 28 Jan 2013 00:19

Huntzinger like the rest of the French command did not think that the Germans would cross before the infantry divisions reached the river. By crossing earlier then planned Guderian upset the French timetable for their plans and reserve units scheduled were forced into combat peicemeal instead of an organized attack. Huntinger also had older reservists who badly needed retraining, but he also needed to build defensive works. He choose to build, which meant that when the troops fought they did not have time for training
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Pips on 28 Jan 2013 06:53

I think he was fortunate to die when he did. His efforts prior to, and during, the German offensive smacked of ineptiude and negligence. If he had lived he would have gotten very short shift from de Gaulle.
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Georges JEROME on 28 Jan 2013 12:36

Thank you very much.


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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby steverodgers801 on 28 Jan 2013 16:13

But again Huntzinger had poor troops and the whole French command was unpreparred for the speed of the German attack.
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Biofan on 02 Feb 2013 18:53

Perhaps, he was merely a "colonial" with several years spent in Brasil and Syria, unprepared for modern operational command in Central Europe.
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Carl Schwamberger on 04 Feb 2013 02:34

Georges JEROME wrote:Durant the "drôle de guerre" before german offensive he was the alone general to consider all is ok in his sector while his neighborough Corap complain against the weakness of his positions.
- His best units were in position alongside Maginot line while the less experimented units were in the weakest area.
- During the panzer marsch at Sedan, his reports to General Georges don't give view of the danger of the situation
- On 14 mai he moved with his PC South of Verdun at 100 km of the front.
- the moving of his right wing opened a wide path to the Panzers.


This looks like a very incomplete, and distorted, list of items relating to Hustzinger & his command of the 2d Army. To address just one:

"- His best units were in position alongside Maginot line while the less experimented units were in the weakest area. "

This does not consider what reinforcements were present at the start of the battle, or planned for reinforcement of the "weakest" units, nor does it consider the reinforcements actually sent to this "weakest" sector.

Does not consider this sector was reinforced from the start with a "Active" or first rate unit standing during peace time, which permanetly remained in the sector & reinforced the B Series formations that occupied the area.

It does not consider the relative front covered by the 'better' units & 'weaker' units.

Does not consider that the deployment of the 2d Army had been reviewed in detail by Gamelin, a micro manager who fussed over everything within reach.

Does not consider the guidance or directives Hustzinger had concerning the priorities for his armies sector & the larger defense scheme. Specificaly here the stated priority was to cover the flank of the main fortification zone which lay further to the east near Longwy. That was seen as a pivotal position & any commander of the area would have been considered remiss has he defended it with third rate formations.
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Georges JEROME on 05 Feb 2013 00:30

on 10 mai 1940 à 08 heures 30 cavaleries units of the II° armée du général HUNTZIGER enter in Belgium en Belgique to stop Wehrmacht and help Belgian army. Lake of coordination : no liaison between french and belgian army at command level to coordinate action.
10 mai à 11 heures 00 - 10° Panzerdivision arrived à Arlon en Belgique fight with 2° division de cavalerie légère et des heavy fight ; the superiors forces of pz division oblige 2 DLC to retreat.
10 mai à 13 heures 00 - 3° division légère de cavalerie fight around Bastogne et Houffalize and must retreat

11 mai 1940 - dès le lever du jour, 5° division légère de cavalerie attack elements of 1° Panzerdivision, 2° division légère de cavalerie is in front of 10° Panzerdivision - The superiority in material of the WH oblige units to retreat behind river Semoy.
same day, front line in area of Sedan reinforced by 71° division d’infanterie (général BAUDET) at disposal commandant 10° corps d’armée (général GRANSART). alongside Meuse between 55° division ( général LAFONTAINE ) 3° division d’infanterie Nord Africaine (général CHAPOUILLY)
Great error : in the night a division of catégorie B, (older men hommes) releved 3° DINA a well trained division. The new division don't know the area s’installer dans un secteur qu’elle ne connaît pas. Movement are made in great desorder.
12 mai 1° Panzerdivision at Bouillon et fight with 5° DLC posted on river Semoy . cavalry must retreat after losts.
13 mai - 06 h 00 – Sedan defenses only with catégory B units with poor value and with front line under massive stuka attacks on a scale of 20 km. All defenses suffer of bombing : artillery batteries, blockhaus, strong houses, posts of command, and mainly signals liaisons : command has no more link with field units …
In the afternoon geramn artillery attack defenses of Sedan. Commandos of the Wehrmacht cross Meuse in Dingy to reduce one by one french defenses.
iN The evening the B category 55 ° DI is virtually disbanded.
71°DI discover his command retraited and artillery units without artillerists. (général BAUDET)
22 h 00 german units won point par point french positions.
général HUNTZIGER is going to make a great tactical mistake : he don't use his reserve units to reinforce forces to push germans over Meuse.
he used atomized forces to reinforce french units here and there.
14 mai -06 00 - 1°Panzerdivision cross Meuse sur des pioniers' bridges. ponts de bateaux construits pendant la nuit et Last resistance destroyed. 2° Panzerdivision cross too.

A midday général commandant 71° DI try to stop offensive but his units were disbanded in fight and retreat.
Only 3° division d’infanterie motorisée and 3° division cuirassée de réserve can join front line.
During the night main part of the II° armée don't exist any more.
15 mai 1940 6 h 00 général FLAVIGNY try counter attack with armoured forces of 3° DCR, but atomized tanks can't win against grouped german tanks.
général HUNTZIGER try to avoid personal responsability in the disaster with the release of générals BAUDET, GRANSART, CHAPOUILLY et BROCARD saying they are responsible of the fall of Sedan.
in this battle a number of command mistakes :
- no link between french army and belgian army at high command level.
- divisions légères de cavalerie – DLC - not enough equiped in front of panzer divisions.
At Sedan, ligne Maginot did'nt exist , number of forts and qualities can't resist to bombing of Stukas or german artillery. et surtout leur qualité ne leur permettaient pas de résister soit aux bombes des Stukas, numerous blockhaus were not totally ended and didn't yet received weapons.
- great mistake, when german arrived at Meuse, général HUNTZIGER décided to remove excellent unit (3 DINA) to replace by another one of poor value which didn't knew the area.
- 55° DI a catégory B unit was not enough trained as a combat unit.
- high command prefer to send unit to stop up a breach than to counter attack with grouped units against german forces. Like in the case of the battle of Montcornet.
Battle of Sedan was the result of great mistake in the command. And Huntzinger avoid responsabilities as well on High Command than on this C.A. and Divisional commanders. What a great officer !
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Georges JEROME on 05 Feb 2013 00:35

other great mistake of this great general.
When Huntzinger saw the left side of his army destroyed he decided to retreat the whole army up to line Maginot.
the consequence was he opened a breach of 15 km in the defense and the right side of the 9. armee is no more protected and suffer of this wrong manover.
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby cambri on 05 Mar 2013 02:42

I doubt a serious 'historian' would express himself in such a simplistic manner - which is not to say that Huntziger might not be worthy of contempt. It is also true that it would be more difficult to attach the label of 'traitor' on someone like Weygand even if he was disgraced after the war for a while. Traitor/ patriot dichotomies applied to wartime French figures is not a simple black or white issue. It has much to do with time and politics.
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby Georges JEROME on 05 Mar 2013 13:40

the title of the topic was provocative to have reactions about this general officer. A friend of I develop this theory I wanted to check. I made own researchs and wanted to have opinions of fellow historians.
My main purpose was to have reactions and facts for/against this proposal.
And I'm glad of reactions
My surprise was to see that fellow members for USA, Australia and Spain.
Huntzinger don't make the "buzz" in France.

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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby cambri on 05 Mar 2013 17:56

Georges JEROME wrote: My surprise was to see that fellow members for USA, Australia and Spain.
Huntzinger don't make the "buzz" in France. Georges


That made me laugh. Yes,I can imagine Huntziger is not a 'hot' topic in France!
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby steverodgers801 on 06 Mar 2013 21:45

he was on the spot so he is the convenient scapegoat. I doubt any other general would have behaved differently
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Re: was general Huntziger a patriotic traitor ?

Postby cambri on 07 Mar 2013 06:12

Exactly.
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