How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
ljadw
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by ljadw » 07 Feb 2010 18:18

I think it was Pasqua,he was custom to such expressions

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Guaporense
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Guaporense » 09 Feb 2010 03:24

When a country losses a war and is completely conquered in 40 days one thing is sure: Victory was anything but close. For the Germans, victory came very, very easily. They didn't expect that the allies were so weak.

The only way out, considering the state of the world in 1940, would be massive allied reinforcements, from Britain and the US (with would have to declare war in 1939), about the size as the force these powers deployed in 1944 plus a simultaneous Soviet offensive in the east as the German attack in west.

The Soviet attack would have the purpose of draining German resources from the western front. So it would have to occur at most a month after the German attack on France. If it takes longer, it is possible that France is already lost. The allied reinforcements would fulfill the role of gaining time (and no, I don't think that the allies had any condition in 1940 to sustain a long ground war against the entire strength of the wehrmacht as the USSR did later because they didn't have the manpower reserves to do so). The allies would have to sustain losses of over 100,000 men per week before the Soviet attack and they wouldn't have room to maneuver like in 1941 at Barbarossa.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

ljadw
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by ljadw » 09 Feb 2010 06:32

Guaporense wrote:When a country losses a war and is completely conquered in 40 days one thing is sure: Victory was anything but close. For the Germans, victory came very, very easily. They didn't expect that the allies were so weak.

The only way out, considering the state of the world in 1940, would be massive allied reinforcements, from Britain and the US (with would have to declare war in 1939), about the size as the force these powers deployed in 1944 plus a simultaneous Soviet offensive in the east as the German attack in west.

The Soviet attack would have the purpose of draining German resources from the western front. So it would have to occur at most a month after the German attack on France. If it takes longer, it is possible that France is already lost. The allied reinforcements would fulfill the role of gaining time (and no, I don't think that the allies had any condition in 1940 to sustain a long ground war against the entire strength of the wehrmacht as the USSR did later because they didn't have the manpower reserves to do so). The allies would have to sustain losses of over 100,000 men per week before the Soviet attack and they wouldn't have room to maneuver like in 1941 at Barbarossa.
Hm,the German victory was costly :Luftwaffe losses were very high :almost as high as in the BOB ;human losses in the second phase(Fall Rot ) were 32000 weekly,higher than in september,october and november 1941,also higher than during the Russian winteroffensive .

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Feb 2010 18:59

Hi Guaporense,

I think the situation was more finely ballanced than one might think from the speed of the outcome. A number of relatively minor measures might have made a lot of difference.

For example, supposing the Maginot line had been extended along the Luxemburg and Belgian borders in the second half of the 1930s, instead of along the Italian border. It was never penetrated anywhere while interval troops were still in place.

Or suppose an active French division had been at Sedan instead of a third rate formation. In particular you might do well to look at the effective fight that an active French North African division put up against German panzer attack in Belgium (The Gembloux Gap?)

Almost all the offensive fighting was done by German active divisions, for whom there were few trained reserves because of the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. Significant parts of the German Army were probably no better trained or equipped than French serie B divisions, but were never really exposed to serious combat. Thus the Germans also had their vulnerabilities.

While a quick Allied victory looks highly unlikely, I would suggest that the prospect of a long stalemate that benefitted the Allies was quite real.

The Germans had to have quite a number of tactical innovations work simultaneously to get the result they did. They succeeded spectacularly well. However, some of these innovations were already being countered by the French even before the campaign ended. Had some of the possibilities listed above (or others) happened, these countermeasures might have begun to modify outcomes while there was still a chance of holding the line.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by SASH155 » 10 Feb 2010 00:20

I heartily agree; if the French had taken a few more of their missed opportunities it might have gone a long way to throwing off the German battle plan.

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Tim Smith
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Tim Smith » 25 Feb 2010 15:38

No, just split it off from this post onward, and put that half in the What-If section.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 5#p1433996

Jon G.
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Jon G. » 25 Feb 2010 16:00

Excellent idea. The what-if part of the discussion can now be found at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 58&start=0

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Bronsky » 15 Aug 2010 18:13

Carl Schwamberger wrote:"R" is commonly used in the various English language books on my shelf. I cant recall any that use the term active' for that class of units. Earlier this year I questioned Louis CXXXXXXXX who frequently helps me with the details of the French military about the proper designations. he told me to use the R, A, and B designations. I guess you French will have to work out that one, let me know what you agree on :)
Hi Carl,

Just stumbled upon this thread, looking for something else. I can't vouch for everything I've written over the years, but I'd be very surprised if I had told you to use a R designation, as that one was never used at the time.

Something that might have happened would have been your mentioning regulars, and my sticking with that term in my reply so as to clarify things. I may well have written about regular troops (enlisted, not conscripted or reserve, personnel) but it's most unlikely that I should have written about regular divisions, let alone R ones, and if I did, I was wrong.

Regarding what they were being called at the time, and what most of the histories I remember call them, Takata is entirely correct.


LC

On a different tack, could you please refrain from putting full names in forums that are indexed by search engines? Some of us live in countries where, if your name is googled and comes up associated with "AXIS history FORUM", that will not entirely be a good thing. TIA.

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Aug 2010 14:22

B. Sent a PM concerning the previous post.

Pavel Novak
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Pavel Novak » 21 Sep 2010 18:22

Hallo
As 1938 war scenario concerns I think that if France had decided to fulfil its treaty obligations to Czechoslovakia and went to war with Germany also the Soviet Union would be in position to fulfil its treaty obligations to both France and Czechoslovakia and Soviets made clear at that time that they would fulfil it if activated (note: activation needed France not just Czechoslovakia). So there would be war of Czechoslovakia, France and the Soviet Union against Germany. France had also treaty with Poland but I don't know if it would drag Poland to war - I don't know details of that treaty. Czechoslovak alliance with Romania and Yugoslavia would not be activated in this scenarion as it was aimed only against Hungary. The biggiest question is the United Kingdom as it had not any obligations to went to war and I think that they would stay neutral in this scenario.

In my opinion war of CS, Fr, SU against Germany would be long one as although Germans would be able to take over Czechoslovakia at some time nor France or Germany would be in position to overrun each other in short period and Soviet war effort would be limited because of no common border with the enemy. But France and Soviets could establish an effective blockade similar to one in ww1 and if Germany want to trade with neutrals Allies could check their trade too because I think that Britain would not interfere with allied blockade and no one other can do anything with that. If Germany would be able to launch successful invasion of France at some time it would win as Soviets can not do much against that but if German attack fail Germany would be defeated in similar way as Central Powers in ww1.

Regards

ljadw
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by ljadw » 21 Sep 2010 19:13

Pavel Novak wrote:Hallo
As 1938 war scenario concerns I think that if France had decided to fulfil its treaty obligations to Czechoslovakia and went to war with Germany also the Soviet Union would be in position to fulfil its treaty obligations to both France and Czechoslovakia and Soviets made clear at that time that they would fulfil it if activated (note: activation needed France not just Czechoslovakia). So there would be war of Czechoslovakia, France and the Soviet Union against Germany. France had also treaty with Poland but I don't know if it would drag Poland to war - I don't know details of that treaty. Czechoslovak alliance with Romania and Yugoslavia would not be activated in this scenarion as it was aimed only against Hungary. The biggiest question is the United Kingdom as it had not any obligations to went to war and I think that they would stay neutral in this scenario.

In my opinion war of CS, Fr, SU against Germany would be long one as although Germans would be able to take over Czechoslovakia at some time nor France or Germany would be in position to overrun each other in short period and Soviet war effort would be limited because of no common border with the enemy. But France and Soviets could establish an effective blockade similar to one in ww1 and if Germany want to trade with neutrals Allies could check their trade too because I think that Britain would not interfere with allied blockade and no one other can do anything with that. If Germany would be able to launch successful invasion of France at some time it would win as Soviets can not do much against that but if German attack fail Germany would be defeated in similar way as Central Powers in ww1.

Regards
the SU having no common frontier with Czechoslowakia,an intervention by the SU would be very unlikely

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Pavel Novak » 21 Sep 2010 19:46

With no offence in what way contradicts your statement my opininon? I wrote that Soviet effort would be limited because of no common border with enemy after Germans overrun Czechoslovakia. Anyway there was already treaty with Romania which allowed soviet aircrafts to fly to Czechoslovakia though there wasn't similar treaty about ground forces. Once again this did not contradicts my scenario. As for Soviets joining the war - one can always question that but their official standpoint before Munich treaty was that they would fulfil its obligations to France and Czechoslovakia if by treaty activated. If you know something more ie. that Soviets lied and would violate treaties please share this knowledge. Otherwise I only know that Soviets would not go to war without treaty activation ie. in case when only Czechoslovakia faced Germany without France.
Regards

ljadw
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by ljadw » 21 Sep 2010 20:27

Pavel Novak wrote:With no offence in what way contradicts your statement my opininon? I wrote that Soviet effort would be limited because of no common border with enemy after Germans overrun Czechoslovakia. Anyway there was already treaty with Romania which allowed soviet aircrafts to fly to Czechoslovakia though there wasn't similar treaty about ground forces. Once again this did not contradicts my scenario. As for Soviets joining the war - one can always question that but their official standpoint before Munich treaty was that they would fulfil its obligations to France and Czechoslovakia if by treaty activated. If you know something more ie. that Soviets lied and would violate treaties please share this knowledge. Otherwise I only know that Soviets would not go to war without treaty activation ie. in case when only Czechoslovakia faced Germany without France.
Regards
you wrote :Soviet effort would be limited because of no common border with enemy after Germans overrun Czechoslowakia .
My POV is that because of no common border,the SU would not intervene .
These are two different points.

ljadw
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by ljadw » 21 Sep 2010 20:39

there is also the point ,what EVERY BODY is forgetting,that the treaty between the SU and Czechoslovakia only could be activated if
1)France acted first
2) if there was a common border between Czechoslowakia and the SU
3) 8-) if Czechoslowakia was asking for Russian help !!!
And there is no proof Czechoslowakia would ask for Russian help,the opposite is true
Benesj told Newton (British ambassador):Czechoslowakia's relations with Russia had always been and would remain a secundary consideration......His country would always follow and be bound to Western Europe.
Source:Newton to Halifax,18 may 1938:British foreign policy,third series,I,No 229
Stated in "the origins of the second world war" P 194

Pavel Novak
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Pavel Novak » 21 Sep 2010 20:59

OK. Look at what I originally had written - a scenario where instead of Munich treaty France went to war with Germany to support Czechoslovakia and thus French-Soviet alliance is activated and consequently also Soviet- Czechoslovak alliance is activated - that is whole point - in history France did not help to Czechoslovakia thus Soviets did not help too. We haven't there different opinions afterall.

Now in history France refused to help Czechoslovakia and Soviets made clear that in that case there is no obligation on their part to do anything so that is why Czechoslovakia did not officially asked Soviets for help - Czechoslovakia sent question (question not request) to Soviets about that matter immediatelly after Munich and Soviets reacted that there is no obligation so Czechoslovakia can not ask for help. In these matters we have once again same conclusions.

But you stated that: "My POV is that because of no common border,the SU would not intervene ." And this implies that Soviets would not go to war at any situation even if France would go to war. And this contradicts my knowledge as Soviets stated before Munich that they would fulfil their obligations to France and Czechoslovakia if properly actived in accord with treaties.

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