Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (27 August 2017, 5 Elul, 5777)
Was the French military during WWII truly weak or just unprepared against the Wehrmacht?
Concerning the performance of the French Army at the outbreak of WW2 previous answers to similar questions on related subjects have covered this quite well.
Â Both the British and French were out-maneuvered by the Germans. Both fought well to some degree but it was not enough.Â
Â The French performance in some places was quite good and marked by valor.Â
Â The French soldiers showed self-sacrifice in order to help the British escape at Dunkirk. Many of the French also escaped.
Â Of the 340,000 allied soldiers evacuated by boat from Dunkirk, 123,000 were French.Â
Â Poliakov mentions Jews from France arriving at the beach of Dunkirk and begging to be taken to Britain.Â
Â They were refused and subjected to abuse and denigration.
Â After Dunkirk France was still fighting.Â
Â Most of the evacuated French soldiers were sent back from Britain to France to help the French effort which was expected to keep going.
Â Then about a week later France suddenly surrendered and they were all taken prisoner.
Â The French captives included blackmen from the French colonies. These were separated out by the Germans and mostly shot though some remained alive until the end of the war.
Â The Number of French POWs taken by Germany was ca. 1,800,000. These were used as "work on farms, in industry, mines and on the railways, to replace German men away fighting. "
Â There were pro-German elements in the French military and among its ruling classes.
Â What happened to the French army after Dunkirk