France, 1943-1945

France, 1943-1945

France, 1943-1945

France, 1943-1945

Excerpt

The Liberation of metropolitan France is the central concern of this book, rather than the wider issue of the restoration of the French empire. The story of the Liberation of France is a paradoxical one. After the defeat of 1940, the French had a legally constituted regime which collaborated with the Germans. Unlike many other European countries, there was no official government in exile which could enter the country with the Allies and legitimately take over the reins of power. In this situation one might have expected to see at the Liberation either an interim period of direct Allied rule, or a French Resistance administration which had been placed in power by the Allies themselves. In the event, neither of these scenarios was realized. The regime which took over at the Liberation was firstly French, secondly unrecognized by the Allies, and thirdly independent.

The book views these events from two perspectives: that of the Allies, and that of the French. On the Allied side, the chief protagonists were the British and the Americans who were both actively involved in the 'D' Day operations. The Russians stayed very much in the wings, watching to see whether their Allies showed any signs of compromising with fascism before the final showdown in Germany. For the Anglo-American relationship, the Liberation of France was something of a test. The Allies started from different premises in their approach to France, and by the 'D' Day landings had still come to no agreement on either long-term policy aims in France, or short-term planning objectives.

The French on the other hand, despite the divergent claims of competing groups, and the severe communication problems between resisters in France, Algiers and London, had joined together and worked out extremely detailed plans for the political Liberation of their country. Before the Normandy landings there was a broad measure of agreement on long-term and short-term aims, and many interim administrative personnel were already nominated and in post.

The two planning systems, Allied and French, developed separately. When British and American troops landed on French soil not only was there no official agreement with the French, there was also no commonly agreed policy between the Allies on how to deal with the . . .

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