Why France Fell so Quickly in 1940
In 1940 France was invaded by Nazi Germany. The Germans swept through eastern France and had conquered the country within a month. This essay explores how the Germans won so decisively in 1940 and what went wrong for the allies. I have found that the main points accounting to the fall of France was the excellent German planning, the poor French leadership, superior German tactics and French “defeatism”. In 1940 an attack on France by the Germans was imminent. On 10th May 1940, the Germans attacked. The French had built a line of strong fortifications on the Franco-German border called the Maginot Line. This was supposed to be an impregnable wall which the Germans could not get through. Instead, the Germans skirted round the north of the wall through a weakly defended region called the Ardennes. This was a rugged, mountainous forest which the French thought was impassable which is why they placed their weakest, worst troops there. This idea led to them placing troops in Belgium where they thought the Germans would attack from, just like in 1914. Meanwhile, the German plan, drawn up by Erich Von Manstein, called for the Germans to break through the Ardennes region and then head north, cutting off Allied troops in Belgium, a bit like a reverse Schlieffen Plan. This was a clever move by the Germans as they realised the Allies would be expecting an attack through Belgium and so used the element of surprise to catch them off guard. The Germans were supposed to take three days to cross the Ardennes but it only took them three hours. The Germans had to cross a single weir over River Meuse which was undefended and could have seriously hindered German advances if it was manned. The Germans stormed north and reached the English Channel in eleven days, facing little resistance along the way. This showed that the Allies were caught so off guard by the Germans that there was little they could do to stop them. The troops in Belgium did...
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