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[Dear H-Diplo Members: Included below is the final piece in our roundtable review of Joel Blatt (ed.), _The French Defeat of 1940: Reassessments_, which was scheduled to appear when we posted our roundtable on the book. We are pleased to be able to post Peter Jacksons's review at this time. Please feel free to comment online. Many thanks to Sally Marks for her efforts as roundtable editor -- Diane Labrosse] _________________________________________________ H-DIPLO ROUNDTABLE Joel Blatt, ed., _The French Defeat of 1940: Reassessments_ (Providence and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1998). Roundtable Editor: Sally Marks Reviewers: Paul du Quenoy, Samuel Goodfellow, Sean Kennedy, Eugenia C. Kiesling, Peter Jackson ______________________________________________________________ Review by: Peter Jackson University of Wales, Aberystwyth The essays in _The French Defeat of 1940: Reassessments_ provide a valuable summary of recent research and writing on the fall of France and the origins of the Vichy regime. All of the contributors to this collection are highly-regarded experts in this field and the end product combines much new research with useful summaries of existing scholarship. Given space restraints, I have decided not to discuss all of the essays in this book in detail. I will instead provide a brief precis of each and focus in depth on only two, those of Nicole Jordan and Omer Bartov. Both, in different ways, represent what might be termed the 'orthodox' interpretation of the fall of France. This view is based on the assumptions that France was in the final stages of a lengthy period of national decline and suffered from incompetent leadership and a pervasive defeatism. Since my own approach to the subject is different, a closer examination of these two essays might prove most interesting to the reader. What is perhaps most remarkable about this collection is that there is no consensus about the causes of the debacle. Several of the essays paint a truly dismal picture of French military, political, diplomatic and moral preparation for war. Michael Carley charges that France's civilian and military leadership was crippled by a cold war mentality which distorted its analyses of the international situation. He argues that blind anti-Bolshevism among French elites ruined all chances of forging a grand alliance against Nazi Germany. Only a Soviet alliance could have provided French strategy and diplomacy with the military weight it required to deal with Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, according to Carley, French foreign policy was restricted by anti-communist ideology and the chance to forge a war-winning coalition was therefore lost. Vicky Caron's analysis of French refugee policy before the Second World War is another powerfully argued indictment of French policy on the eve of war. Caron makes a persuasive case that the xenophobia and anti-Semitism that characterised this policy were symptoms of a deep malaise in French society. It is hard to deny the force of this argument. My only reservation would be that France was by no means the only state to follow appalling refugee policies. Many of the world's other democracies, including Canada, Britain and the United States, took a similarly shameful line. Yet these societies were not on the verge of collapse. John Cairns has also identified serious failings within the France's political leadership in his analysis of the internecine quarrels between various policy makers during the phoney war. Daladier's government became badly divided during the 'Winter War'. Incessant infighting at times threatened to paralyse French war policy. Cairns makes a strong case that this was an important factor in the failure of the Entente. There was also considerable pettiness and mutual incomprehension between the French and British officials who were charged with coordinating the war efforts of the two states. The detailed evidence that Professor Cairns has unearthed to support his argument makes for depressing reading. Carole Fink credits historian Marc Bloch with having recognised the causes of the defeat even before the military catastrophe. Fink's description of the situation in France on the eve of the German offensive through the Ardennes is summed up in one sentence: 'Sixty-seven divisions, lacking strong leadership, public support, and solid allies, waited almost three quarters of a year to be attacked by a ruthless, stronger foe.' (40) But this is an assertion rather than a careful weighing up of the available evidence. Fink relies exclusively on Bloch in this analysis of France during the phoney war. As a result, although Bloch was a wise and perceptive observer, Fink's perspective is rather limited. It would have been interesting to compare Bloch's views with those of his contemporaries and those of historians who have studied the period since the publication of Fink's biography of Bloch more than a decade ago. Instead, what we get is Bloch's perspective and not much else. One might be better advised to turn to Bloch's own magisterial analysis of the disaster, which retains all of its power and immediacy even fifty years on. Also compelling reading are the eye-witness accounts of both the battle of France and the campaign of 1944 written by P.C.F. Bankwitz, a distinguished historian and author of a brilliant analysis of Maxime Weygand and civil-military relations in inter-war France. Bankwitz's reflections on the causes of the defeat are similar to those of the contributors mentioned above. The same is true of the two essays by Nicole Jordan and Omer Bartov which are analysed in much greater depth below. Both weigh in with contributions to the view that France was poorly led and ready to collapse in May 1940. Taken together the above essays make a compelling case for the orthodox interpretation of the French defeat that has been prominent in one form or another ever since the summer of 1940. France's foreign and security policy appears almost completely devoid of clear direction and French society seems in no way committed to a long struggle against Nazi tyranny. At the same time, however, the other essays in this collection provide a very different perspective on the origins of France's collapse. William Keylor provides an illuminating study of Franco-American relations which reminds us that the United States made little contribution to French efforts to redress the unfavourable strategic situation in Europe on the eve of war. Drawing on her recent biography of Edouard Daladier, Elisabeth du Reau provides a very different interpretation of France's war policy than the one offered by John Cairns. Both Keylor and du Reau stress France's difficult strategic position in relation to Germany. The same is true of Martin Alexander's contribution, which underlines the shortcomings of Britain as an alliance partner in his study of the deployment of the British Expeditionary Force in 1939-40. Robert Young provides an interesting and original account of efforts to bolster French diplomacy with a robust propaganda campaign in the United States. He stresses that this campaign met with considerable success and argues persuasively that there is plenty of evidence of vigour and resolve in France's diplomatic war effort. The essay by William Irvine is every bit as convincing when he argues that interpretations based on the assumption of French defeatism and moral decline before 1940 ignore clear evidence of a remarkable recovery in national confidence and resolve from late 1938 onward. Drawing on much recent scholarship, he makes the strong case that mono-causal theories of decadence and decay simply do not explain how France moved from appeasement to war during this period. The debate over the French defeat is thus an ongoing affair. One school of interpretation argues that the defeat and collapse of 1940 was the product of a long process of national decline. The other side of the argument attributes more importance to the operational defeat of the French army on the battlefield. The former view identifies 'internal' factors such as poor leadership and a lack of national cohesion as decisive in the national disaster. The latter, conversely, points to the central importance of 'external' factors such as France's demographic and industrial inferiority or the attitude of Great Britain and the United States. There is no consensus, and this is as it should be. Historical study thrives on discord. Wisely, Joel Blatt has not tried to impose a false interpretative unity on his contributors. Nicole Jordan's contribution to this volume is, in the main, an uncompromising indictment of General Maurice Gamelin, the commander in chief of the Allied land forces in western Europe in 1939-40. There are, I think, two central arguments being advanced in this essay. The first is that Gamelin made a number of crucial misjudgements in the formulation of French strategic policy and that catastrophic results ensued for France in June 1940. The second is that Gamelin indulged in 'scapegoatism' after the battle was lost in an effort to shift the blame for the military disaster onto the shoulders of politicians (particularly those of the Popular Front), trade unionists and even common soldiers caught up in the whirlwind of military catastrophe during that horrible six week campaign. Professor Jordan is absolutely right to criticise Gamelin for his efforts to shift blame for the collapse of France elsewhere and to absolve himself of any responsibility for the defeat. As the work of Robert Frank and others has clearly demonstrated, the socialist-led Popular Front government made massive strides in getting the long overdue rearmament effort up and running in France. Moreover, and as Martin Alexander has also argued recently, Gamelin did a grave injustice to many hundreds of thousands of French soldiers who fought (and often died) bravely, particularly during the closing phases of the disastrous battle. It is also fair to censure the long dead General for the decision to commit an important portion of the French strategic reserve to a headlong rush through Belgium, leaving the high command without a powerful reserve force capable of executing an effective counter-attack in the event of a German breakthrough. But Professor Jordan links this decision to an overall strategy of a 'cut-price war on the peripheries' that was based on getting allies to do the bulk of the fighting while France cowered behind its continuous front. This argument is original and thought provoking. But is also problematical. The prevailing view of French military strategy before the war is that planning envisioned a long war in which France's frontier defences and its mobilised army would withstand an initial onslaught from Germany. France and its allies (most importantly Great Britain) would then wage a sustained campaign of economic warfare, weakening the German war effort before finishing it off with a decisive strategic offensive mounted on a number of fronts at once. Professor Jordan contends that this interpretation of French strategy is flawed and further argues that it is only when French strategy is viewed as a misguided and cynical attempt to avoid fighting altogether that the true causes of the fall of France can be understood. Gamelin and his colleagues on the general staff wanted to fight 'une guerre ailleurs' (a war elsewhere) that would be based on the principle of 'allied immolation' (a rather curious term which I take to mean channelling German revisionism away from France). Czechoslovakia, Poland and finally Belgium were thus sacrificed in order to ensure that the war was fought outside France's frontiers. Jordan explains that 'This was the blood-of-others theme central to French strategy under Gamelin' [p. 20]. She further argues that Gamelin was so committed to this conception that he made the further error of abandoning the military doctrine that the French general staff had developed ever since the end of the last war for a risky strategy of plunging through Belgium to meet the German advance before it reached France's frontiers. It is almost as if Professor Jordan would have us believe that the fall of France was basically down to the stupidity and myopia of this unfortunate general. But the case as it is made is based on an idiosyncratic view of French war planning that all but ignores the decrepit state of France's armed forces during this period. Recent research has made clear, for example, that the army was desperately short of all kinds of modern equipment through to the very end of the 1930s. The rearmament schemes introduced by the Popular Front in 1936 had only just begun to pay dividends when war broke out. The air force was in worse shape. The decision not to fight for Czechoslovakia is often cited as the lowest point in the history of French strategy and diplomacy during the inter-war period. It certainly seems to illustrate many of the trends Jordan has identified in her analysis of French military policy. What is not mentioned, however, is that during the Czechoslovak crisis the French air force possessed only a handful (fewer than fifty) aircraft that were in any way comparable to the latest fighters and medium bombers in service in the Luftwaffe. While there is no doubt that French intelligence exaggerated the size and combat effectiveness of the Luftwaffe, the crucial factor was the acute weakness of French air power at this juncture. But Professor Jordan is not alone among the historians that have misunderstood the air factor during the Munich crisis. Other factors that entered into decision making during the crisis included financial weakness and a lack of public support for war. In an excellent article published recently in _Diplomacy and Statecraft_, Martin Thomas has demonstrated how the acute weakness of the franc during the summer of 1938 made a decision to go to war very risky for the Daladier government. Moreover, France was profoundly divided over the question of war. The massive study of French public opinion during the Czechoslovak crisis published some years ago by Yvon Lacaze demonstrates clearly the lack of consensus over this question at every level of French society. This state of affairs should be contrasted with the situation one year later, when popular opinion appeared clearly in favour of a policy of firmness in the face of Nazi aggression. Another crucial difference in 1939 was that France could count on the full support of Great Britain, without which another war against Germany was inconceivable for most French leaders. It has always been my view that these factors, rather than cynical plans for channelling German military expansion towards allies in the east, was the key issue at the heart of French policy in 1938. It is clear that Gamelin and his colleagues preferred that Poles, Czechoslovak, Romanians or Belgians would do most of the fighting and dying in the next war. Nor is there any doubt that in the summer of 1939 Gamelin considered that Poland's chief contribution to an allied war effort would be to tie down as many German divisions as possible while France mobilised and Britain began deploying its expeditionary force on the continent. There is much to criticise in this overly fatalistic perspective on the strategic situation. But it is one thing to say that Gamelin and his colleagues misread the strategic balance, it is quite another to argue that they were interested only in 'allied immolation' and had no intention of fighting the Germans at all. There is to my knowledge no evidence that, during the phoney war, the high command did not wish to prosecute the war to its conclusion. This leads to the question of military and strategic doctrine and its role in the defeat. Professor Jordan's contention that French planning was exclusively defensive is difficult to accept. There can be hardly any doubt that the configuration of French strategy was defensive-offensive, with the overwhelming emphasis on the all-important task of withstanding the initial German onslaught. And there were good reasons for this. A careful reading of Eugenia Kiesling's excellent and recent book reveals the social, economic and political underpinnings of French doctrine. Although this argument can be pushed too far, it seems clear to me that the high command planned to fight a defensive-offensive strategy not because they were stupid or cowardly, but because they lacked the resources at the war's outset to mount a massive offensive into Germany to relieve France's allies in eastern Europe. Constructing a powerfully equipped professional army with an offensive doctrine (as advocated by de Gaulle, Reynaud and others) was politically impossible under the Third Republic. Many historians consider this state of affairs evidence of the decadence and decay of the Third Republic. I have always been inclined to view it as a positive reflection on the political culture of republican France. The argument that the policy of forward defence in Belgium constituted 'a clear violation of classic French doctrine' is also difficult to accept. Jordan contends that Gamelin was so seduced by the idea of a 'war elsewhere' that he was prepared to risk an 'encounter battle' with the German army in the low countries. But the decision to fight in Belgium had been in place since the early 1930s. The plan was never to fight a war of movement with the Wehrmacht. It was instead to establish a field of fire in Belgium that would blunt the advance of German armour and force the Germans to engage in the kind of set-piece military engagements for which the French army had been preparing since 1919. The grave mistake made by the French was to fail to plan for a major German breakthrough on French soil. The idea that the German army might force a war of movement was apparently too terrible to consider. As Ernest May has shown in his excellent new study of the fall of France, the combination of brilliant planning and execution by the Germans and inflexible French operational doctrine was catastrophic for the fate of France. Yet one should not go too far in explaining the collapse of the Third Republic exclusively in terms of military failure. Political decisions taken over the course of the 1930s also had a major impact on the outcome. In holding Gamelin and his collaborators responsible for the lost battle, Jordan contends that 'in a situation of rough parity, the number of arms is less important than the use made of them'. This is no doubt true. It is also precisely the point. The delays in setting in motion vast and complicated processes of modernisation of the armaments and aircraft industries were crucial to the military situation in the spring of 1940. It is important to remember that, despite the fact that its industries did not begin mass-production of all kinds of war material until 1937, Nazi rearmament had nonetheless gained a crucial head-start between 1933 and mid-1936 because the modernisation of Germany's war industries was made an immediate priority upon Hitler's accession to power. Rearmament cannot happen without the necessary industrial infrastructure. And when new tanks and planes begin rolling off assembly lines, soldiers till have to work out how best to use this equipment. To employ a computer age metaphor, a software has to be developed to permit effective use of the military hardware. This is where the Germans were so far ahead in 1940. While France's rearmament effort had gone far to redress the material imbalance between the French and German armies, the Germans were better versed in using their new kit. The experiences of large-scale manoeuvres with modern equipment, and above the practical experience gained in Spain and especially in Poland, provided the German army with a decisive tactical, operational and even a strategic edge in the spring of 1940. This is not to absolve the French general staff of all charges of intellectual rigidity or lack of imagination (there is no doubt that French tactical and operational doctrine would no doubt have remained wedded to fighting cautious set-piece battles) . It is merely to point out that France's military leadership had less time to adapt the recently arrived machinery of war to its doctrinal concepts and to adapt its tactics to the new machinery. The ramifications of France's 'rearmement trop tardif' (to quote Maurice Vaisse) were a major factor in the military confrontation. This is a point too often overlooked in the existing literature on the fall of France. To sum up, while I obviously do not find the arguments advanced by Professor Jordan convincing, this is an important essay that puts forward an original case. It should not be ignored in the ongoing debate over the fall of France. Omer Bartov has written a fascinating essay on the deeper causes of the French defeat. It seems to me that there are two arguments being made in his essay 'Martyrs' Vengeance: memory, trauma and fear of war in France'. The first is that 'In speaking about the France of the entre-deux-guerres, it is impossible to understand any of the major political, cultural, military or popular trends and attitudes without realizing that visions of war, memories of past massacres and fears of their recurrence dominated the minds of the French'.[p. 56-7] The second argument is that France was 'a society torn between competing images of war whose ultimate inability to reach a consensus on the meaning and implications of domestic and foreign conflict was at the root of its collapse'. The two themes are linked by what Bartov describes as 'the fluidity of war imagery' which 'was a crucial factor in destabilizing and undermining French society as a whole'. [p. 59] France's ultimate reaction to the horrible experience of 1914-1918 is described as one of 'increasing paralysis' and contrasted with the German response, which is diagnosed as 'a resurgence of destructive energy'.[p. 62] All of this makes for a heady brew of ideas and explanation. It is also frustrating because Bartov's analysis is confined, for the most part, to the level of generalities about French politics and society. It is a complicated argument that is based on the assumption that the French defeat must necessarily have had roots in some kind of cultural or political _maux_. He submits that: Historians' unwillingness to undertake an analysis of interwar France with an eye to the deep roots of the collapse was, and still is, probably due to the discomfort of discovering in a post-1945 world that fear of war could lead to collaboration in atrocity, that anti-militarism can bring about fascism, and that lack of a certain ruthlessness in policy-making can easily allow for much greater abuse by others.[p. 60] This is as precise as Bartov gets in his analysis of the French defeat. At its core, therefore, the argument being advanced in hardly new. It is the familiar Gaullist diagnosis of the malaise in French society during the final years of the Third Republic. As I have argued elsewhere, the concept of _decadence_ has been a constant in French political rhetoric at least since 1870. The concept of decadent France was used as a political tool used by Gaullists to highlight the contrast between the degenerate Third Republic and the robust Fifth Republic, to whom de Gaulle had restored French grandeur. Where Bartov is original is in his consideration of the ambiguity in French attitudes towards future war. I would take issue here with Bartov's repeated use of the term 'the next war'. For, while even the most insular of French citizens must have had a constant sense of the impending threat of war, particularly after 1936, it was never an absolute certainty. And this is why most continued to hope that the nightmare could somehow be avoided. This, in my view, does not constitute evidence of either decadence or decay. I have never understood this line of reasoning. It seems to me that to accept the argument that pacifism and opposition to war is somehow degenerate is to buy into the fascist world view that equated militarism and war with national virility. Bartov argues that the great divide between left and right only compounded French 'bewilderment' at the prospect of war. For the right in France the spectre of war was always double-headed. Two types of war seemed to loom over the horizon: war against Germany and civil war pitting the forces of order against the agents of Bolshevik revolution. According to Bartov (and many other pundits commenting on the right in France during this period), by the mid-1930s the danger of civil war took precedence over the external threat from Nazi Germany. From this point onward various right wing movements began to manipulate general abhorrence of war in France by equating left wing politics with inevitable Franco-German war. For the left the chief threat was fascism - either German and Italian fascism or the home grown variety that reared its head in February 1934. Again the ideological enemy within became as much of a danger as the enemy across the Rhine. Hence images of war had become 'mainly a struggle between competing forces within France [w]ar became a national obsession, perhaps greater even than in Germany of the late 1930s; and yet, it was civil war about which everyone spoke, whether to prevent another catastrophe such as that of 1914-1918, or to ward off a Franco-Bolshevik uprising'.[p. 84] The image of French popular opinion painted by Bartov is therefore one of collective terror. If we are to accept his view, the average French person thought of war and little else, going about his or her daily routine in a permanent state of panic, pessimism and 'bewilderment'. But instinct and experience suggest that this is a distorted picture of the French mentality. Human nature is multi-dimensional and it is changeful. Fear of war could co-exist with patriotism and even collective resolve. French citizens unnerved by the prospect of war could regain their nerve and provide overwhelming support for a policy of defiance to Nazi threats. Indeed, this is what public opinion polls tell us happened in the spring of 1939. Recent scholarship on French official and popular sentiment on the eve of war by Jean-Louis Cremieux-Brilhac and others (including William Irvine in this volume) has detected the beginnings of a national revival in France. According to Cremieux-Brilhac, it was the unusual conditions of the Phoney War that had the most pernicious impact on French public opinion and sapped popular resolve. It is not a stretch to attribute this latter phenomenon, at least in part, to memories of the previous war. But what is needed, in my view, is a systematic study of the links between the experience of 1914-1918 and the tremors in French resolve during the _drole de guerre_. What Bartov has provided is instead a series of thought provoking assertions based on a selection of war monuments, propaganda posters and films. Not surprisingly, the examples selected are interpreted in such a way as to complement the overall argument. There is, for example, a discussion of Jean Renoir's two cinematic masterpieces of the 1930s: _La Grande Illusion_ and _La Regle du jeu_. Both of these are essentially pessimistic, even disquieting films. There is no doubt that they both reflect aspects of the mood in France at the time. But Renoir also made a very upbeat film during this decade, _La Marseillaise_, based on themes of patriotism and unity. This film was panned by critics but, unlike _La Regle du Jeu_, it was also a commercial success. There are also alternative readings to several of the political posters that Bartov argues reflect the faltering resolve of the right towards the Nazi threat. Right wing posters warning that a Popular Front government would render France vulnerable to Germany were not designed, as Bartov seems to suggest, to reassure the French public that the right would secure a lasting peace with Germany. They were instead attacking left wing opposition to rearmament during the early 1930s and implying that only the right could be trusted to follow a realistic national security policy. But the left's policy towards security was changing. It was the Popular Front that implemented the largest peacetime rearmament programmes in French history. These nuances are lost in Bartov's analysis of public discourse on security issues in France in the 1930s. In order to make a persuasive case Bartov would have to incorporate the national revival that took place in France in late 1938 and 1939 into his analysis. He does not. The question of how deep this national recovery actually went remains open. But it is a question that cannot be ignored in any study of the 'mood' in France on the eve of war. Bartov should have conducted a more comprehensive survey of the relevant historiography on French politics during the 1930s. There is no doubt, for example, that, while there were figures on the right who argued 'better Hitler than Stalin', and even 'better Hitler than Blum', these were a distinct minority. As William Irvine notes in his essay (and Irvine is certainly no apologist for the right in France) the vast majority of the French right remained patriotic through to the outbreak of war. In sum, Omer Bartov's attempt to link the trauma of 1914-1918 with the defeat and collaboration of 1940-1944 does not convince. It is an impressionistic argument based on a series of very general assertions that is not supported by much in the way of evidence. My hope is that it is an introductory chapter to a longer study which takes a more systematic approach to this important question. One last observation might be made about this collection: it lacks an essay on the politics of history writing on the defeat both inside and outside France. Stanley Hoffmann's concluding essay provides a brilliant analysis of the impact of the defeat on French society and politics ever since. There is certainly a need for some discussion of how this political context has affected the historiography of the decline and fall of the Third Republic. Indeed the lack of any such discussion is a rather puzzling gap in the ever growing literature on the role of memory in French history. Since the early 1980s a range of fascinating studies of history and memory have been published by scholars such as Henry Rousso, Pierre Nora and Robert Gildea, to name only a few. More specifically, Raoul Girardet, Christopher Flood and Hugo Frey have considered the role of Gaullist political discourse in the historiography of the Second World War. They have argued that Gaullist rhetoric was based largely on interpreting French history as a continuous cycle of decline, suffering and renewal. This model has been used to explain the place of Vichy in both the history and the popular imagination of France. But no similar attempt has been made to understand how competing narratives of the pre-war years and the collapse of France have been shaped by their political context. The politicisation of this particular history began with the Riom trials of 1941-2, when various centre-left politicians (along with poor General Gamelin) were charged with responsibility for the defeat. Interestingly, despite the purges that followed the end of Vichy and the liberation of France, Gaullist historiography did not dispense altogether with the dominant Vichy narrative of the defeat. Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, for many years the doyen of French international historians and author of what must still be considered the standard work on French strategy and diplomacy before the Second World War (_Politique etrangere de la France, 1932-1939: la decadence_), was unequivocally Gaullist, and his interpretation was clearly influenced by his politics. It is also interesting that the first challenge to the 'decadence' view emerged not from within France but from a number of Anglo-Saxon scholars, among whom were Geoffrey Warner and John Cairns. The first French historian to write favourably about aspects of France's security policy before the war was Pierre le Goyet. But le Goyet's biography of Gamelin was not at all well received in France and damaged considerably his career prospects. Things have changed. The historiography inside France was revolutionised by two colloquiums on the Daladier government held in 1975 and 1978 and published as _Edouard Daladier, chef du gouvernement_ and _La France et les francais, 1938-1939_. Subsequent studies of this period by Maurice Vaisse, Robert Frankenstein and Elisabeth du Reau eschew grandiose theories of decadence as explanations for the fall of France. Indeed it seems, at the risk of making an unfair generalisation, that the orthodox or 'decadence' view is far more popular among scholars of an older generation. Research done on these questions in the nineteen -seventies, eighties and nineties has, in general, been more sympathetic to the predicament which French decision makers faced during the inter-war period. There are exceptions to this rule (even John Cairns appears to have changed his mind and adopted a more uncompromising view in recent years) but this has certainly been the trend in scholarship on inter-war France. The debate over the French defeat will doubtless continue over the next few generations. My point is that we should give more thought to the politics of this debate. But this volume is an important contribution to our understanding of the fall of France and should stimulate more research into this question.