Saturday, July 08, 2017

What Was Behind This?

On June 11, 1940 Winston Churchill flew perilously to Briare, France to offer--hope, really, to instill hope--further British aid to the Third Republic against the Nazis. He met with Prime Minister Paul Reynaud, with the young general Charles de Gaulle, with Marshal Petain, and with General Maxime Weygand:

When Weygand spoke, it was to hold out no hope...for Paris...Churchill again urged the French to hold on "for another three or four weeks," when British and Canadian forces...could attack the German flank. Weygand replied that it was "a question of hours"...Churchill then spoke of defending Paris so fiercely that, refusing to accept defeat, it would absorb immense armies. "The French perceptibly froze at this"..."To make Paris a city of ruins will not affect the issue," said Marshal Petain.

Churchill then suggested that if a "co-ordinated defence" failed, Britain could help France maintain "guerilla warfare on a gigantic scale." With intense and visible wrath, Petain told Churchill that this would mean "the destruction of the country." Nor did Reynaud dissent. (emphasis added, Churchill: A Life, Martin Gilbert (658)

"Again," "then," "then," no matter what Churchill suggested the French response was "non." But the question in the title goes not to French defeatism, that has been explained repeatedly and in depth by historians as a consequence of the catastrophe that World War I was to France, but rather to "The French perceptibly froze at" a fierce defense of Paris. All four of the French leaders froze at that. There was unique unanimity in their freezing. That is psychological, it is not a conclusion reached after rationally doing the numbers, it is a psychological reaction, and the four Frenchmen were unanimous in instantly having it. Why? Weygand had already stated that there was "no hope for Paris." They wanted to preserve Parisian architecture. They wanted not to make of Paris "a city of ruins." Why not? Look: We just got done with Haussman, could we, like, wait 100 years, at least 100 years, before destroying and rebuilding again? It's bizarre!

"With intense and visible wrath," Petain [rejected] guerilla warfare--Anglo-French coordinated guerilla warfare--as that would mean "the destruction of the country." WHAT COUNTRY IS NOT DESTROYED BY COMPLETE MILITARY DEFEAT? What is Petain talking about there, more architectural preservation? Unanimously, the four Frenchmen were surrendering, succumbing to military defeat. That wasn't France that Petain puppeted over from Vichy; that wasn't Paris with "Germany Wins On All Fronts emblazoned on the Eiffel Tower, that was Nazi France, that was occupied Paris, "the destruction of France" came with capitulation. WEIRD.