|France, Battle of (May–June 1940). On May 10, 1940, Hitler unleashed the Wehrmacht against France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The German blitzkrieg rolled over the Low Countries in days or weeks, while much of the French Army—a magnificent and well-equipped force, one-on-one and in terms of equipment still the best in Europe—hunkered down within the Maginot Line. This was circumvented by the Germans, who achieved a near-complete tactical (and intelligence) surprise by attacking through the Ardennes Forest. A few French units, notably that led by Colonel Charles de Gaulle, found a weakness in the German thrust along the Meuse, where they managed to break the shaft of the German spearhead with an armored counterattack. The shock of the main German attack knocked Belgium out of the war, split the BEF from the bulk of the French Army, and captured Paris. The British were subsequently thrown off the continent at Dunkirk. Pétain then asked for terms. Hitler made his only visit to Paris, touring the city quickly, and departing. He insisted that the French sign the surrender in the same railway carriage, at Compiègne, where Germany signed its surrender papers at the end of World War I. After the ceremony, he had the carriage blown up. This total defeat bitterly divided the French, at the extremes into the collaborators of Vichy versus the Free French and Resistance.|
|Franco-Austrian War (1859).See Camillo Benso di Cavour; Napoleon III; Piedmont-Sardinia, Kingdom of; unification of Italy.|
|Franco, Francisco (1892–1975). Spanish dictator. He fought in Morocco in 1912, taking command of the Spanish forces there in 1920. He was in command during the Rif Rebellion, 1921–1926. He fell out of favor during the early years of the Spanish Republic, but was named chief of staff of the army in 1935. He was exiled to the Canaries by the Popular Front government. In 1936 he flew from there to Morocco, where he rallied his old troops, landed them in Spain, and marched on Alcazar before moving against Madrid to overthrow the Republic. He was pushed back from the capital, but these actions began the Spanish Civil War. He was declared head of state by the Nationalist side in October 1936. With significant help from Mussolini and Hitler, he led a right-wing coalition of Carlists,Falange, military, industrialists, and the hierarchy (and many ordinary members) of the Catholic Church to victory in the civil war in April 1939; he then murdered many thousands of republican prisoners.|
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Publication information: Book title: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations. Volume: 2. Contributors: Cathal J. Nolan - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 571.
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