The Fall of France, 1940

The Fall of France, 1940

The Fall of France, 1940

The Fall of France, 1940

Synopsis

Offering a fresh critical perspective on this momentous event, Andrew Shennan examines both the continuities and discontinuities that resulted from the events of 1940. The main focus is on the French experience of the war, but this experience is framed within the larger context of France's - and Europe's - protracted mid-twentieth century crisis.

Excerpt

The success of the German offensive to the West which began on May 10, 1940 was one of the most dramatic events in the history of twentiethcentury Europe, followed as it was by the armistice and the collapse of the French Third Republic. For contemporaries, it was impossible to escape the sensation of living through a decisive and perilous moment. Here indeed was a palpable turning point. In a few short weeks, assumptions about warfare and about Franco-British relations, to name only two, were shattered and could not easily recover. In Britain, finest hours beckoned. In France there was turmoil and trauma. Yet, in the end, though few could confidently predict that this would be the case, it was not the comprehensive turning point in the conflict which some supposed it to be at the time. Even so, above all in France itself, an inquest began into a strange defeat which still continues.

Turning points turn through time and gain fresh meaning in their afterlife. It is with that twisting path, whereby the present comes to interpret and accommodate a past upheaval, that Andrew Shennan is concerned in a study which illuminates not only the “Fall of France” itself but its significance still for France in the twenty-first century.

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