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MASTER OF MILITARY ART AND SCIENCE

THESIS APPROVAL PAGE

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Approved by:

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, Member, Graduate Research Faculty

IVL....<-·--------,.Kemb..er, Graduate Research Faculty

Accepted thiB.25 cJ day of ~- 1976 b~~~


Director, Maater of Milita~Science.

The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the individual
student author and do not necessarily represent the views of either the
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College or any other governmental
agency. (References to this study should include the foregoing state.ent.)

ii
Acccssion Number:
ADA029460
Citation Status:
Active
Citation Classification:
Unclassified
Field(s) & Group(s):
150600 - MILITARY OPERATIONS, STRATEGY AND TACTICS
Corporate Author:
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KANS
Unclassified Title:
The Evolution of French Army Doctrine, 1919-1939.
Title Classification:
Unclassified
Descriptivc Note:
Final rep!.,
Pcrsoual Author(s):
Doughty,Robert A.
Report Date:
11 Jun 1976
Media Count:
162 Page(s)
Cost:
$14.60
Report Classification:
Unclassified
Supplemeutary Note:
Master's thesis.
Descriptors:
'MILITARY FORCES(FOREIGN), 'MILITARY DOCTRINE, 'FRANCE,
MILITARY OPERATIONS, WARFARE, GOVERNMENT(FOREIGN), THESES, HISTORY,
MILITARY PLANNING, NATIONAL DEFENSE
Abstract:
The thesis examines French military operations, warfare aud histOly of the years 1919-1939.
Abstract Classilication:
Unclassified
Distribution Limitation(s):
01 - APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
Source Serial:
F
Somce Code:
037260
Documeut Location:
DTIC
ABSTRACT

THE EVOLUTION OF FRENCH ARMY DOCTRINE, 1919-1939

Robert A. Doughty, MMAS

1976

After the fall of France in June 1940, criticism of the French

military concentrated on their apparent lack of intellectual talent for

conceiving and fighting a modern form of war. The swift collapse of

France had all too effectively demonstrated the inadequacy of the French

doctrine and the unpreparedness of the French army. The theme of a con­

genital mental defect or "sclerosis" was often repeated to describe the

underlying reason for the weakness of the High Command and the flimsiness

of the defensive effort. Many critic8 identified the prewar doctrine of

the defense, continuous front, and firepower as the most important evi­
dence for demonstrating the High Command's responsibility for preparing

for the war of the past, rather than the war of the future.

Such simplistic themes of incompetence or stupidity, however, do

not adequately portray the intricate and involved process which resulted

in the doctrine of the defense, continuous front, and firepower. Numerous

problems, that sometimes are considered external to the particular con­


cerns of the military, intruded to profoundly influence the formulation

of this doctrine. Some of these intervening v.riables for France from

1919-1939 were historical tradition, political restraints, and economic


geography. Other military questions such as personalities of leaders and

technological innovations (or lack thereof) also were important. Each

iii
Iv

contributed to a situation wherein the French military found themselves

entangled in the remnants of the doctrine left over from 1918, without

the capability or even the desire to extract themselves from a concept of

war imbrued into the very soul of France. In short, the automatic assign­

ment of complete responsibility to the military for the "fallacious"

methods of 1940 ignores the complexities of doctrine formulation and pre­

vents many critics from understanding what actually happened to France

from 1919 to 1939, and then in 1940.


INTRODUCTION

The swift collapse of France in 1940 before the German blitzkrieg

ushered in an intense period of recrimination and accusation among the

French. Suffering from the upheaval of the German occupation and the

bitterness of having been defeated, France zealously searched for guilty

parties and fallacious ideas. Among the identified failures was the

prewar military doctrine which had emphasized the defense, the continuous

front, and firepower. Few critics doubted the responsibility of the High

Command for conceiving and advocating this obviously fallacious doctrine,

since most believed doctrine to be the peculiar province of the military.

The German military had all too effectively demonstrated the adequacy

of their doctrine and of their High Command and the unpreparedness of the

French army. The charging panzers had seemed to herald the war of the

future, while the thinly stretched French lines were reminiscent of a

war previously fought.

The criticism of the French military concentrated on their

apparent lack of intellectual talent for conceiving and fighting the

form of war demonstrated by the Germans. For example, Marc Bloch de­

scribed in his masterful 1940 work on the Fall of France, Strange Defeat,

the "curious form of mental sclerosis"l that affected the military hier­

archy. He said, "Our leaders, or those who acted for them, were incapable

of thinking in terms of a new war. In other words, the German triumph

~arc Bloch, Strange Defeat, trans. Gerald Hopkins (New York:


W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1968), p. 43.

v
vi

was, essentially, a triumph of intellect • • • . ,,2 Bloch's criticism of


3
the military was tempered by his "examination of his conscience" and his

search for more fundamental causes, but the picture he painted of the

French military was one of a group "dominated by their memories of the


4
last war." More than fifteen years later, Jean Dutourd presented his

view of the "sclerosis" of the High Command in his sometimes humorous,

more often bitter work, The Taxis of the Marne.

And hard as I search, I can find only one reason for our defeat:
stupidity and cowardice. The generals were stupid, the men did not
want to get killed. Those two things often go together. Troops
know that an idiot has no right to ask them to get themselves killed. S

The theme of the "sclerosis" of the High Command has also been

repeated in strictly military histories. B. H. Liddell Hart announced

in his History of the Second World War, "The French commanders, trained

in the slow-motion methods of 1918, were mentally unfitted to cope with

panzer pace, and it produced a spreading paralysis among them.,,6 One of

the most damning and effective of all the attacks against the military

of France was that by Colonel Adolphe Goutard in his 1940: b! guerre des
occasions perdues. In this energetic description of how France had

missed her opportunity to win the war, Goutard exclaimed, "Our defeat may

be attributed essentially to an intellectual deficiency expressing itself

2
Ibid., p. 36.

3 Ibid., p. 126-176.

4 Ibid., p. 121.

5Jean Dutourd, The Taxis of the Marne, trans. Harold King (New

York: Simon and Schuster, 1957), p. 8.


6
B. H. Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War (New York:
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1970), p. 74.
vii

in conservatism, conformity, preconceived ideas and unreal speculations

An unimaginative and incompetent military had ignored or

missed the opportunity to save France from the debacle of 1940.

The failure of the French military to formulate a new doctrine,

however, cannot be explained simply in terms of stupidity, or intellectual

"sclerosis." As John C. Cairns has noted, "It becomes evident that simple

formulas explaining defeat or lost opportunities for victory will not

suffice.,,8 Numerous problems, sometimes considered external to the

particular concerns of the military, intruded to profoundly influence

the formulation of a new doctrine. Some of these intervening variables

for France from 1919-1939 were historical tradition, political restraints,

and economic geography. Other military questions such as personalities

of leaders and technological innovations (or lack thereof) also were

important. Each contributed to a situation wherein the French military

found themselves entangled in the remnants of the doctrine left over from

1918, without the capability or even the desire to extract themselves

from a concept of war imbrued into the very soul of France.

The experience of France from 1919-1939 offers a valuable oppor­

tunity to investigate the process by which doctrine is formulated. In a

democratic society, this process is usually not one of the military simply

deciding upon a particular method and employing it. The process is a

complicated one in which various "given" factors converge to form basic

lColonel Adolphe Goutard, 1940: La guerre des occasions perdues


(Paris: Hachette, 1956), p. 401.
8
John C. Cairns, "Along the Road Back to France 1940," American
Historical Review, LXIV, No.3 (April, 1959), p. 602. See also Cairns,
"Some Recent Historians and the 'Strange Defeat' of 1940," Journal of
Modern History, Vol. 46, No.1 (March, 1974), pp. 60-85.
viii

ideas or approaches. These given ingredients may be political, social,

economic, historical, personal, or technological, and in a democratic

society they may be factors over which military leaders have little direct

control. The military hierarchy may bE' able to influence them in varyinr.

degrees, hut it probably cannot dictate the complete extent of their

influence on the emerging doctrine. After these variables have interacted

and formed basic concepts, the foundation of the doctrine is established.

Th(~ process becomes cyclic after the bas ic concept is formed, for

further development in such areas as budgets, political restraints, foreip,n

policy objectives, and technological innovation may overturn or force

roodification of the doctrine. Advances in technology, for example, could

result 1.n new weaponry that ultimately forces the abandonment of an old

doctrine and the reestablishment of a new one. Similarly, the doctrine may

be further developed by its application to the military needs of the

cOWltry. That is, if the doctrine evolves into a defensive concept, prob­

lems such as defending critical regions may further solidify or influence

its evolution. The doctrine is eventually distilled from the interaction

of a number of elements, anyone of which may act as the catalytic agent

for the initiation of a new process. The intricate and involved process,

then, is a dynamic one, with the residue emerging as doctrine.

The purpose of this study is to investigate some of the factors

influencing French doctrine during the intenl1ar period. It is not intended

to be exhaustive; rather, the study intends to analyze some of the most

salient factors affecting the evolution of doctrine. Since it is a study

of a doctrine "gone astray," such as investigation should shed valuable

light on the nature of doctrine and on how a doctrine is formed. It also

offers the' opportunitv to grapple with the essential questions: What is

doctrine? What is the correct role of doctrine?


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

INTRODUCTION v

Chapter

I. THE PROBLEM OF DOCTRINE 1

II. THE NATION IN ARMS 20

III. THE "TYRANNY" OF MATERIEL 35

IV. THE LEGACY OF THE PAST 53

V. THE PROBLEM OF THE FRONTIERS 76

VI. INSTITUTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY •. 92

VII. CONCLUSION • . • . • • • • .... 118

BIBLIOGRAPHY . • • • 123

ix
Chapter I

TIlL PROBLEJ:vl OF DOCTRINE

As with most armies between World Wars I and II, the French had

no standard definition of doctrine or of its role in defining or solving

tactical or strategic problems. When one reads the numerous military

works of the period, he frequently encounters doctrine being described

with such terms as "evangelism" or "Bible,,,l suggesting a perception of

doctrine as being somewhat analagous to words of 'ri.sdom espoused by

followers of a religious prophet. Just as there were schools of reli­

gious thought, so were there schools of military thought.

Between 1871 and 1940 the role of "military prophet" was amply

filled in France by Colonel Ardant du P1cq, Colonel Loyzeaux de

Grandmaison, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, and Marshal Philippe Petain. Each

came to represent a particular "school" of doctrine. For example, Uu

Picq's arguments for the dominance of the morale factor 2 remained an

integral part of all French doctrine during this period. Grandmaison's

offensive a outrance was particularly important before World War I, but


was frequently criticized following the realities of the trenches of

lSee General Brallion, Essai sur l'instruction militaire (Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle, 1931), pp. 59-66; and Lieutenant Colonel f1ontaigne,
Etudes sur la guerre (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1911), p. 126.
2 ~
Colonel Ardant Du Picq, Etudes sur Ie combat (Paris: R. Chapelot,
1904. See Dallas D. Irvine, '~he French Discovery of Clausewitz and
Napoleon," Journal of the American Military Institute, IV (1940), pp. 148­
151.

1
2

1914. 3 Following World War I, Marshal Petain's doctrine of the defen­

sive dominated the other "schools" and came to exemplify doctrine in

the sense of prophetic revelation. For many French officers, his ideas

became the canons of a faith. While Petain's influence declined in the

late 1930's he retained the role of prophet, the man from whom the

initial ideas had flowed.

As for its function, doctrine provided a uniformity of thought

and action throughout the army and became an instrument of discipline.

General Maurice Gamelin, who was Chief of the General Staff, vice presi­

dent of the Superior Council of war,4 and commander of the French army

in 1940, argued in 1935 that the military was different from other

organizations, for its many layers of "intermediaries" often caused the

leader's will to be "deformed," thus threatening the objective of the

leader and of the military. To avoid the possibility of deforming the

leader's desires and to ensure the entire effort of the military was

oriented toward a single goal, a "uniform idea" was necessary. Gamelin

concluded, "From that primordial necessity [for directing effort towards

a single goal] comes the need for a unity of organization and of doctrine

for an officer corps.uS

Marshal Philippe Petain added another dimension to this view of

doctrine by identifying technology as its basis.

3See J. Y. D'Avesnes, "De Grandmaison, penseur et ecrivain mili­


taire, fut-il un chef de file?" Revue Militaire d'Information, No. 333
(December, 1961), pp. 16-22; and General Arthur Boucher, Lea doctrines
dans la preparation de 18 Grande Guerre (Paris: Berger- Levrault, 1925),
pp. 132-138.

4Consel1 Superieur de la Guerre.

5General Gamelin, "Ref1exions sur Ie chef," Revue d'Infanterie,


Vol. 86, No. 511 (April, 1935), pp. 638-642.
3

Under the penalty of being surprised and submitting to the


system of war of an adversary, it is important henceforth to have
a doctrine. This doctrine should make a reasonable place for the
moral and intellectual factors which remain the permanent elements
of action; but it should also rest on the studies of armament, which
have always governed the forms of combat. The machinegun, the heavy
cannon, later the tank and the gas shells, have overthrown tac­
tics. • • • A doctrine of war is a continuing creation, which should
be nourished by experience and verified by a precise interpretation
of possibilities. 6

General Eugene Debeney, who served as Chief of the General S"taff

from 1923 to 1930, emphasized the need for flexibility in doctrine. He

said, "The word doctrine comes from the Latin word docere, which means to

teach. A doctrine, then, is that which one teaches; it includes the

essential ideas presiding over the training and employment of the army."l

An essential part of Debeney's acceptance of a few central ideas "pre­


siding" over the army, was belief in the necessity of having leaders
8
capable of "adapting to realities to the exclusion of all dogmatism."

Another general officer succinctly described the proper priorities: tr.

for the military leader, judgment is a more precious quality than memory.,,9

6Marechal Petain, "L'Ecole de Guerre," Revue d'Infanterie, Vol. 86,


No. 512 (May, 1935), pp. 827-828.

7General Debeney, La guerre et les hommes (Paris: Librarie PIon,


1937), p. 264.
8
Ibid., p. 282.

9Brallion, L'instruction militaire, p. 63. For a variety of views


on the nature of doctrine, see: General Maurice Gamelin, Servir, I (3
Vols., Paris: PIon, 1946-1947), pp. 228-234; Marechal Petain, "Preface"
to General Narcisse Chauvineau, Une invasion, est-el1e encore possible?
(Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1939), pp. XV-XVI; Chauvineau, Vne invasion,
pp. 108, 131-146; Lieutenant Colonel ~mile ~~yer, La theorie de la guerre
at l'etude de l'art militaire (Paris: Felix Alcan, 1923), pp. 1-33;
Lieutenant Colonel Fernand Schneider, Histoire des doctrines militaires
(Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1957); General tly , "Les lecons
qU'il faut tirer des operations de 1940," Revue de Defense National
(December, 1953), pp. 563-582; General H. Langlois, Enseignments de deux
4

As one artillery officer affirmed, a unity of doctrine imposed

on the army "the same tactical and strategic conceptions," "the same

discipline of thought," and "the same terminology and mode of expres­

sian." He declared,

[The need for a unity of doctrine] has proved to be more and


more necessary, since science multiplies and complicates the means
which are put at the disposition of the army in such a fashion
that it will soon be impossible for an officer to know all of them
well. lO
The French used the term ''harmony'' to express the purpose of a unity of

doctrine. The analogy of harmony within an orchestra seems appropriate,

fOT in the symphonic form, it represents everyone playing his instrument

differently but still following the directions of the conductor in order

for a transcendental beauty to emerge from the difference. Without the

direction of the conductor. or without a unity of doctrine, the variety

of instruments being played differently could only result in a harsh

cacophony of noise. A unity of doctrine thus theoretically harmonized

the various weapons and units in order to utilize each to its maximum

potential. In a period of increasingly complex weaponry and services,

this orchestration was essential.

French doctrine thus ensured a uniformity of effort and thought

directed toward a single goal and served as a basic guide for the con­

duct of military operations. A mass army required a homogeneity of

guerres recentes: Guerre Turco-Russe et Anglo-Boer (Paris: Charles­


Lavauzelle, 1903), p. 240; General Franz Halder, et. al., Analysis of
U.S. Field Service Regulations, trans. G. C. Vanderstadt (Headquarters,
United States Army, Europe, 1953)., pp. 7-8; Raymond L. Garthoff, Soviet
Military Doctrine (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1953), pp. 25-35;
and Brigadier General Dale O. Smith, U.S. Military Doctrine: A Study and
Appraisal (New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1955), pp. 3-11.

lOLeon Dumoncel, Essai de Memento Tactique: La Decision (Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle, 1937), p. XIII.
5

method to prevent every unit or every commander from trying to fight a

war in his own way; a common method ensured a common effort toward a

single goal. Doctrine, however, was not something that was permanent

or unchanging. Just as the weapons of war changed, so should the methods

change.

Unfortunately, French doctrine went beyond providing harmony

before World War II and became something far more than a loose body of

ideas "presiding" over the army. For example, a lecturer at the War
11
College in 1930-31 explained to an audience of reserve officers that

the fundamentals of French doctrine were contained in the manual con­

cerning the tactical employment of large units. The students were then

told, "This document, which has hardly more than a hundred pages,

systematically compels every detail of execution. ,,12 Another audience

was told that French doctrine had established the need for a preponder­

ance of fire as "dogma," and that since French doctrine was very near to

being the "truth," it "should only be modified with the greatest care.,,13

The clearest evidence of the intolerance of the military

hierarchy for new ideas is its energetic opposition to the ideas of

Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Charles De Gaulle, calling for a

return to the offensive, the abandonment of the continuous front, and

the creation of a professional armored corps. His book, Vers l'armee

11Eco1e Superieure de la Guerre.

12 / /

France, Ecole Superieure de/Guerre, Ecole de Perfectionnement


des Officers de Reserve du Service d'Etat Major, Le Reg1ement sur Ie
service en campagne, Annee 1930-1931, p. 1.
13 / /
France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Ecole de Perfectionnement
des Officers de Reserve du Service d'Etat-Major, Le Reglement de
de l'Infanterie du 1er Mars 1928, Annee 1930-1931, p. 41, 1.
6

de metier, found little or no sympathy among the military hierarchy,

and his ideas were attacked by the top military leaders of the 1930's

and by every individual who had occupied, or was to occupy, the War

Office from 1932 through May 1940. 14 The High Command demonstrated its

intolerance of any more "new" ideas in 1935, stating that only the High

Command was qualified to define military doctrine. Thenceforth, military

writings did little more than mirror official doctrine. lS Even those

such as General Debeney, who had called for a more flexible policy,

found themselves opposing all new ideas and resisting all attacks on the

fundamental precepts of French doctrine.

By the late 1930's, French military doctrine had moved from the

ideal of being the basis of military education and approached the realm

of an unyielding dogma. Doctrine had become a rigid form of intellectual

discipline. Instead of providing the harmony that might be essential to

an orchestra or properly functioning army, rigid doctrine became analo­

gous to a drummer on a parade-ground, whose drum beats kept everyone

marching in lock-step. The sound of the drum provided the cadence for

the multitudes all doing the same thing at the same time.

But the use of doctrine to emphasize a select, few ideas was

nothing new for the French military. After 1871, doctrine was disseminated

l4Richard D. Challener, The French Theory of the Nation in Arms,


1866-1939 (New York: Russell & Russell, Inc., 1965), pp. 245-256; Philip
Charles Bankwitz, Maxine Weygand and Civil-Military Relations in Modern
France (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967), pp. 126-128; and
Captain Robert A. Doughty, "De Gaulle's Concept of a l-lobile, Professional
Army: Genesis of French Defeat?" Parameters: The Journal of the U.S.
Army War College, IV, No. 2 (1974), pp. 23-34.

l5General Andre Beaufre, "Liddell Hart and the French Army, 1919­
1939," in The Theory and Practice of War, ed. Michael Howard (New York:
Praeger, 1966), p. 140; Eugene Carrias, La pensee militaire fransaise
(Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1960), pp. 317-318.
7

by the High Command through the various instructions or regulations deal­

ing with the tactical employment of large units. 16 These manuals became

the prime vehicle for inculcating the central idea of each doctrine

holding sway during the various periods from 1871 until 1940. The

evolution of French doctrine can clearly be seen in them, for each

emphasized one or more characteristics of battle. For example, the

commission responsible for writing the regulations of June 12, 1875 on

the infantry identified "as a veritable axiom, the preponderance of

fire."l7 The regulations of 1884 followed the lead of those of 1875,18

but the decree of May 28, 1895 started France on the road toward the

offensive doctrine which was to dominate the army before 1914. It

stated, "Only the offensive permits the gaining of decisive results. The

passive defense is doomed to a certain defeat; it is rejected absolutely •.,19

With the publication of the October 28, 1913 regulations on the

conduct of large units,20 the doctrine of the offensive reigned supreme.

Marshal Joseph Joffre later described the regulation's purpose:

16The French instructions and regulations were essentially the


same as American field manuals. For the distinction between instructions
and regulations, see Gamelin, Servir, It p. 239.
17 ,
See France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre (Lieutenant Colonel
Touchon), Conferences d'Infanterie, Annee 1925-1926, pp. 7, 396.
18 France, Ecole
' Superieure de Guerre, Cours de Tactique Generale
et d'Etat-Major, Le Corps d'Armee, Annee 1928-1929, p. 182.

19France, Ministere de la Guerre, Decret du 28 Mai 1895 portant


re lement sur Ie service des armees en cam a ne (Paris: Berger-Levrault,
n.d.), p. 172 Hereafter abbreviated as Reglement 1895).

20France, Ministere de la guerre, Decret du 28 Octobre 1913 portant


re lement sur 18 conduite des r8ndes unites (Paris: Berger-Levrau1t,
n.d. Hereafter abbreviated as Reglement 1913).
8

Now that our doctrine had been decided upon, it was essential
to codify it in a fundamental document intended to serve as a ~;uide
for commanders and their staffs. • •• I hoped that all the pre­
scriptions concerning the tactical employment of troops would con­
verge toward a central idea, and that thus all along the hierarchy
there would be established a single body of principles which would
bring a convergence of efforts. 2l

Tbe central idea contained in this regulations was clearly the dominance

of the offensive. The'commission which wrote the new regulation attached

a report to the Minister of War explaining the rationale behind the new

manual. Its first statement dealing with doctrine was, "The conduct of

war 1s dominated by the necessity to give a vigorous offensive ~pu18e

to operations.,,22 The regulations stated, "Only the offensive leads to

positive results.,,23 As for the defense, the regulations said, "The

defense has the purpose of covering the gathering of resources before

passing into the attack, or of containing the enemy on a front with

reduced strength to make more forces available for an attack.,,24 French

doctrine from 1911 to 1914 was thus obsessed with the offense, and the

defensive was viewed as being little more than a phase permitting the
25
eventual assumption of the offensive.

21Marshal Joffre, The Personal Memoirs of Joffre, Field Marshal


of the French Army, trans. Colonel T. Bentley Mott, I (2 Vols., New
York: Harper & Brothers, 1932), pp. 33-34.
22Reg
... 1 ement 1913, p. 48.

23 Ibid ., p. 7.

24 Ibid • , p. 39.

25 See Stefan T. POBBony and Etienne Mantoux, "Du Picq and Foch:
The French School," in Makers of Modern Strategy, ed. by Edward Mead
Earle (New York: Atheneum, 1967), pp. 206-233; Carrias, La pensee
mi1itaire, pp. 263-308; Irvine, "French Discovery," pp. 143-161; and
Schneider, Doctrines militaires, pp. 58-69.
9

Following the terrible losses of World War I, French ardor for

the offensive was gone. The trenches had muddied the enthusiasm for

the glorious and bloody charge against the enemy's defensive position.

Doctrine clearly moved away from the philosophy of the offensive a


outrance, as enunciated by Colonel Grandmaison, and settled on the

tmportance of the defensive as articulated by Marshal petain. The

theory of the integral offense was replaced by a more mitigated theory

of the defense, emphasizing the continuous front and firepower.

As in the pre-World War I era, French doctrine continued to

emanate from concepts pertaining to the largest military units. That

is, there were two distinct levels within the French concept of doctrine:

one dealing with division and larger-size units and the other with

smaller units. The higher level might correctly be described as a

strategic doctrine (in spite of the inclusion of division-size units),

and the lower a tactical doctrine. Strategic doctrine was the founda­

tion of all doctrine for the French army, and all doctrinal concepts

evolved from that foundation. Basic precepts were established for the

larger-size units, and tactical doctrine applied those basic precepts

to smaller units. Thus, tactical doctrine remained a subordinate,

though tmportant, facet of French doctrine.

The primary vehicles for disseminating strategic doctrine were

the instructions dealing with larger units. There were only two pub­

lished in the interwar years, Provisional Instructions on the Tactical

EmplOyment of Large Units (1921) and Instructions on the Tactical

Employment of Large Units (1936).26 Tactical doctrine was disseminated

26France, Ministere de la guerre, Instruction provisoire sur


l'emploi tactique des grandes unites (Paris: Charles Lavauzelle, 1922)
1
10

in the various regulations or instructions pertaining to specific arms.

For example, there were numerous regulations, each concentrating on

doctrine for .small units of the various arms. Division-size units were

often discussed, especially when the relationship of a specific arm to a

larger unit or to a large unit commander was explained. 27 Nevertheless,

the purpose of the subordinate regulations remained that of disseminating

tactical doctrine or implementing the doctrine as established in the

instructions for the tactical employment of large units. According to

General Gamelin, these subordinate regulations emphasized "procedures,"

rather than strategic doctrine. 28

The 1921 and 1936 Instructions remained the basic documents upon

which the French army's methods were based, and since the 1921 edition
, dominated French thought for most of the interwar period, it was particu­

larly important. A commission of 13 officers was charged with writing

the 1921 Instructions, but they were written chiefly by Marshal Petain

and General Eugene Debeney. The necessity for eventual revision was

emphasized in the foreword of the Instructions.

The commission has sought to ascertain the conditions for the


employment of Large Units as they resulted from the experiences of
the war. It must be noted that these conditions will have to be
revised as armaments undergo important changes. 29

(Hereafter abbreviated as Instructions 1921); France, Ministere de 1a


guerre, Instructions sur l'emp10i tactique des grandes unites (Paris:
Berger-Levrault, 1937) (Hereafter abbreviated as Instructions 1936).

27See France, Ministere de la defense nationa1e et de la guerre,


Reglement de 1'infanterie: Deuxieme partie, Combat (Paris: Charles­
Lavauzelle, 1939), pp. 220-223.

28Game1in, Servir, I, p. 233.

29Instructions 1921, p. 9.
11

Thus, the desire to demonstrate the openness of the French army to new

ideas and methods led to the selection of "Provisional Instructions" for

the title of the work. As one military noted, however, "Despite this

title, it remained the Bible of our army for fourteen years."30 A revi­

sion was not made until 1936.

Both the 1921 and the 1936 Instructions stressed the defense, but

neither abandoned the offensive. The 1921 Instructions discussed the

offensive and the defensive battle but hardly envisioned any methods other

than those employed from 1914 to 1918. Since the entire army would not

be available in the opening days of a war because of the time required

for mobilization, the 1921 manual recognized that a continuous front

could not be immediately established and that some maneuver would be

required in the initial battles. But the vast national armies would soon

be mobilized and the continuous front could then be established. 31 This

limited view of the offensive and maneuver dominated French doctrine from

1921 until 1936 when the new Instructions appeared. The idea of initial

maneuver being necessary, because of the possible absence of a continuous

front immediately upon mobilization, was somewhat muted after construction

of the Maginot Line was well underway.

During the fifteen year period of the Provisional Instructions,



the High Command and leading military writers emphasized that a war could

not be won solely on the defensive. For example, General Lucien Loizeau,

Director of Instruction and then Assistant Commandant at the War College

30General August M. E. Laure, et. al., Petain (Paris: Berger-Levrault,


1941), p. 268.

31Chauvineau, line invasion, pp. 138-141.


12

from 1930-1932, described the defensive as a "necessary form of opera­

tion, so long as it contributes at the least cost to the success of the

offensive. ,,32 For General Loizeau, the defensive was a means of con­

tributing to the ultimate success of an offensive. On numerous occasions

French officers castigated the idea of the army being prepared solely for
the defense. For example, a July 1936 note from the chief of the military

cabinet of the War Minister labelled the charge that the army had assumed
33
a passive, defensive attitude as "nonsense." There was, nevertheless,
a certain "eclipse of the offensive sense.,,34 The "eclipse" occurred

at every level, for the offense was viewed as being simply the advancing
of fire on the battlefield. The French envisioned the offensive as the

bataille conduite: The methodical, tightly controlled movement of men

and materiel. which had been so successfully practiced by Petain in World

War I.

A conservative view of war. especially of the offensive, also


permeated the 1936 Instructions, even though some precepts of the 1921

doctrine had changed. The new manual clearly stated, "Only the offensive

32France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre (General Loizeau), La


Manoeuvre du Corps de!Armee dans l'Armee (Courbevo1e: P. Chanove; 1932),
p. 24; General L. Loizeau, Deux Manoeuvres (Paris: Berger-Levrault,
1933), p. 103.
33France, Ministere des affaires etrangeres, Commission de publica­
tion des documents relatif. aux origines de la guerre, 1939-1945, Documents
dip10matiques francais, 1932--1939, 2e Serie (1936-1939) (Paris: Imprimerie
Nationale, 1963), Vol. III, No.9, 21 July 1936, p. 22 (Hereafter abbre­
viated as DDF). See Chef de Batai1lon de Cugnac, "Preparons-nous la guerre
de mouveme~ou la guerre de stabilisation?" Revue militaire generale,
No. 10 (October, 1937), pp. 493-503.

34General Emile A11ehaut, Etre prets (Paris: Berger-Levrault,


1935), pp. 194-196.
13

permits the obtaining of decisive results.,,35 The methodical approach

oowever, remained supreme, for the manual stated, "The attack is the

fire that advances [the friend], the defense is the fire that halts [the

foe].,,36 Nevertheless, the manual identified several areas containing

"new ideas:" "Fortified Fronts," "Hechanization and Motorization-Anti­

tank Weapons," "Aerialc~.Forces and the Forces of Aerial Defense," and

"Communications." In 1946, General Gamelin carefully identified the

inclusion of these "new ideas: as evidence of the High Command's aware­


37
ness of the changing methods of war."

The Instructions of 1936, however, readily acknowledged the

dominance of the "old" doctrine.

Without disregarding the importance of the progress realized in


this epoch [since World War I] in the means of combat and transport,
the Commission • • • considers nevertheless that this technical
progress has not noticeably modified the tactical rules essentially
established by our predecessors. It affirms, consequently, that the
body of doctrine objectively fixed on the morrow of victory by our
eminent military leaders, who had recently exercised high command,
ought to remain the charter for the tactical emplOYment of our
Large Units. 38

Thus, the French army willingly chose to remain tied to the previous

doctrine and to build any new concepts on the foundations of the old.

General Alphonse Georges, the senior member of the commission that wrote

the 1936 Instructions, admitted in 1947 that the manual "was not a docu­

ment of theoretical studies, but a practical instrument to guide the High

35Instructions 1936, p. 66.

36 Ibid ., p. 68; Instructions 1921, p. 61.

37Gamelin, Servir, I, pp. 285-288.

38Instructions 1936, p. 15.

14

Command. The french army remained wedded to the methodical

doctrine at the past, and the High Command retained its view of war as

a long series of consuming, annihilating battles.

General Charles De Gaulle made the most widely publicized and

well-known attack on French doctrine. His call for large armored

formations represented a different concept of war, though most Frenchmen

did not recognize its potential until May-June 1940. The common French

perception of the long, stagnant, total war was personified in the doc­

trine of the defense, continuous front, and firepower. In the opening

days of World War II, however, the Germans used the tank to achieve the

short, violent lightning war. They recognized that in addition to fire­

power the tank furnished shock, speed, and mobility. Instead of the

continuous front, it promised large mobile armored formations, thrusting

and parrying with the enemy. And instead of the defense, the tank empha­

sized the offense by employing its mobility and mass against enemy vul­

nerabilities. The French, however, chose not to abandon their existing

concept of war for a new one. The French concept of war and doctrine

preceded the development of the new weaponry, which was to be methodically

molded and adapted to the prevailing concept. This adapting of new

technology to old doctrine also occurred with artillery and aircraft,

but the tank is the clearest example of the process.

The years following 1936 saw a gradual evolution of French

armored doctrine, though it never over-turned the prevailing concept

39France, Assemblee Nationale, Commission d'enquete parlementaire:


Les evenements survenus en France de 1933 a 1945. Temoignages et docu­
ments recueillis par la Commission (9 Vols., Paris: Presses universitaires
de France, 1951), III, p. 632-633 (Hereafter abbreviated as Commis­
sion • • . Temoignages).
15

of war. In 1936 the new Instructions had declared, "At the present time,

the antitank gun confronts the tank, as during the last war, the machine­

gun confronted the infantry.,,40 This threat of the antitank gun against

the tank had frequently been used to argue against large armored forma­

tions, but in December 1938, when the decision was finally made by the

Superior Council of War to form two armored divisions, General Gamelin

described large armored formations as "rare and precious." 41 The French

perception had changed, but the two divisions were not scheduled to be

constituted until 1940. The High Command slowly recognized the potential

of this new weapon but still moved hesitantly before constituting a unit

unproved in war.

A new manual on the employment of the armored division appeared

in 1939,42 but it was classified and many important officers never were

exposed to or understood the new methods of employing large armored for­

mations. For example, General Devaux, who had been the Chief of Staff

of the 3rd French Armored Division, stated after the war that he had
43
never received a copy. The French perception of the tank's purpose

remained one of increasing the offensive power and assisting the maneuver

of the infantry, which was the decisive arm. Of the more than two

40Instructions 1936, p. 17.

41France, Assemblee Nationale, Commission d'enquete parlementaire:


Les evenements survenus en France de 1933 a 1945. Rapport fait au nom de
la Commission • • • par M. Charles Serre (2~Vo1s., Paris: Presses
universitaires de France, 1952), II, p. 187 (Hereafter abbreviated as
Commission • • • Rapport).
42
For a criticism of the 1939 armor manual, see Jeffrey Johnstone
Clarke, '~Iilitary Technology in Republican France: The Evolution of the
French Armored Force, 1917-1940," unpublished dissertation, Duke
University, 1968, pp. 196-197.

43Commission • • • Temoignages, V, p. 1362.


16

thousand tanks available to the French on May 10, 1940, only 20% were

located in the three armored divisions, while 30% were in various

cavalry or mechanized infantry formations and 50% in infantry-supporting

battallons.
44 These statistics clearly reflect the French view of the

role of the tank. As for the employment of the armored divisions during

1940, the French dissipated most of their combat power by dispersing

their tanks into small, strong defensive points along the German penetra­

tion without ever employing them in mass. Only De Gaulle's 4th Armored

Division attacked into the vulnerable enemy flanks. 45

Clearly, the new armored doctrine was hardly a new strategic

doctrine. 46 It was never completely disseminated to the army, and it

was not applied once the war started. Even then, the doctrine effec­

tively tied large armored units to the task of assisting the maneuver of

corps and armies. The infantry was the queen of battle, and it was to

maintain its throne. In March 1949, General Maxime Weygand stated that

France had entered World War II with "two doctrines.,,47 This may have

been true, but one was outmoded and the other stillborn.

In Strange Defeat, Marc Bloch described how amazed he had been

in 1918 when he had seen a demonstration showing two infantry companies;

44Lieutenant Colonel Charles de Cosse-Brissac, "Cambien de chars


francais contre combien de chars allemands Ie mai 1940?" Revue de
defense nationale, V (July, 1947), pp. 76-82; Commandant A. Wauquier,
"Les forces cuirassees dans la bataille: L'emploi des chars francais,"
Revue d'histolre de la deuxieme guerre mandiale, No's. 10 and 11 (June,
1953), pp. 163-164.

45For De Gaulle's after-action report, see Jean-Raymond Tournoux,


Petain et de Gaulle (Paris: Plan, 1964), pp. 412-425.

46In his memoirs Gamelin claimed that he had attempted to revise


the 1936 Instructions through the issuance of several documents, including
the new regulation on tank units, but the July 1939 manual did not get onto
the book seller's shelves until the spring of 1940. Gamelin, Servir, I,
pp. 287-288.
47
Commission • • • Temoignages, VI, p. 1610.
17
one equipped, organized, and drilled as those of 1914, the other as

those of 1918. 48 If one were able to visually compare the French army

of 1918 with that of the late 1930's, the contrast would have been just

as startling. New armored vehicles and units had been introduced, the

light mechanized division created, many of the infantry divisions were

motorized, and thousands of airplanes had been incorporated into the

army structure. But while equipment and organizational changes had

modified the appearance of the army of the 1930's, the apparent differ­

ence was misleading, for French doctrine remained wedded to the ideals

expressed in the 1921 Instructions.

In a briefing on October 6, 1939, for General Sir Edmund Ironside,

Britain's Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Gamelin explained

his strategy and in doing so, succinctly summarized the doctrine con­

tained in the 1921 and 1936 Instructions. General Ironside described

Gamelin's main points in his diary.

The French did not intend to carry out an offensive because


France could not stand the losses, but would fight the Germans only
in previously prepared positions. He [Gamelin] hoped the German
attack when it came would smash itself on the strong Allied defenses.
When they were sufficiently weakened, he would start a counter­
offensive. 49

The first armored divisions were not created until after World

War II began, and the majority of the French tanks were employed as

battalions in support of the infantry. Similarly, the French air corps

had been designed in consonance with the ideas of General Douhet, who

48Bloch, Strange Defeat, p. 120. For Gamelin's view on how the


army had been transformed in the 1930's, see uHier et Demain," Revue
militaire generale, I, No.1 (January, 1937), pp. 26-27.

49Co1 • Roderick Macleod, Ed., Time Unguarded: The Ironside


Uiaries, 1937-1940 (New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1962), p. 117.
18
advocated resisting on the ground in order to destroy the war-making
50
potential of an enemy by air. Attacks on the strongly defended con­

tinuous front would be too costly, but bombers could fly over these

fronts to strike the enemy's heartland and thus destroy his willpower and

war-making capability. The French air force consisted predominantly of

bombers and fighters and practically ignored the role of dive-bombers,

which were to be used with devastating results against the French in


51
1940. As for the fortified fronts, the idea of couverture, or the

establishing of covering forces along the border, had reached its zenith

with the construction of the Maginot Line. Unfortunately, the essential

nature of the line caused it to be the epitome of French doctrine and

its basic elements: the defense, the continuous front, and firepower.

The name itself, Maginot Line, became synonymous with safety and with

the defensive capability of the French army.52

In short, the bUilding of the Ma~inot Line, the introduction of

new armored vehicles, and the growth of the French air force did not

substantially modify or modernize French doctrine, even though some

improvements in organization, equipment, and doctrine had occurred.

50 See Marechal Pe tain, "P reface, II to Colone 1 P. Vauthier, La


doctrine de guerre du General Douhet (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1935),
p. XIV; Instruction 1936, pp. 135-137.

5lCo10nel P. Le Goyet, "Ev.olution de la doctrine d'emploi de


l'aviation Francaise entre 1919 et 1939," Revue d'histoire de la deuxieme
guerre mondial~, No, 73 (January, 1969), pp. 3-41. For the opposing
view, see Brereton Greenhaus, Mythology, Technology, and Aircraft in an
Anti-Armour Role before 1945 (A paper presented at the annual Conference
of the International Commission on Military History in Washington, D.C.,
13 to 19 August 1975).
52
See Vivian Rowe, The Great Wall of France (London: Putnam,
1959); Judith M. Hughes, To the Maginot Line: The Politics of French
Military Preparation in the 1920's (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1971) •
19
Deapite the change, in the 1936 InstructioDs and despite the changes
in .~ntt 1IUch remained the 8aae. The new ..chine. of war were
affectiv.ly tied to the old _thode of war.
Chapter II

THE NATION IN ARMS

Of all the factors influencing the evolution of French doctrine,

perhaps no other one was as important as the philosophy of the nation in

arms. The military strategy of national defense based upon the citizen-

soldier became the foundation of the French perception of total war for

both the military and the civilian population. And the doctrines of

defense and the continuous front were basic ideas linked directly to the

philosophy of the armed nation. l

The concept of the nation in arms\originated in the French

Revolution with the "cannonade of Valmy" in 1792 and the levee ~ masse

in 1793. Its true spirit was reflected in the decree establishing the

levee en masse:

Henceforth, until the enemies have been driven from the territory
of the Republic, the French people are in permanent requisition for
army service. • •• The young men shall go to battle; the married
men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make
tents and clothes, and shall serve in the hospitals; the children
shall turn old linen into lint; the old men shall repair to the
public places, to stimulate the courage of the warriors and preach
the unity of the Republic and the hatred of kings. 2

This reliance on the military potential of the citizenry became an

important part of French republican tradition. Many Frenchmen came to

lPortions of the following have previously been published in Captain


Robert A. Doughty, "De Gaulle's Concept of a Mobile, Professional Army:
Genesis of French Defeat?" Parameters: The Journal of the U.S. Army War
College, IV, No.2 (1794), pp. 23-34.

2David B. Ralston, ed., Soldiers and States: Civil Military


Relations· in Modern Europe (Boston: Heath, 1966), p. 66.
20
21
believe that when the country was 1n danger, a mass of patriotic volun­

teers would rise and destroy the invading armies. The concentration of

all national energies against an enemy would be morally and militarily

sufficient to defend France. Even though she moved away from the armed

nation to a professional army for a time after the Napoleonic Wars, the

total commitment of the entire nation remained the theoretical basis of

the French nation 1n arms.

The nation in arms was not reinstituted by the French until

after the War of 1870-71, during which Germany dramatically reminded

them that wars were no longer simply quarrels between governments of

ruling families, fought by relatively small armies of professional

soldiers. 3 Wars were now conducted between entire peoples, fought Ly

armies of completely mobilized nations. From the time of that defeat,

the foundation of the French national defenses rested on the unswerving

faith in the massive mobilization of the citizenry in times of national

peril. The resulting sYmbiotic bond between army and nation was well

characterized in a 1904 report by a Chamber of Deputies Commission:

liThe modern concept of the army is that • • • it is identical with the

nation, draws from it all i.ts resources, and has no separate and dis­
4
tinct existence outside the nation.

After the First World War, the principle of the citizenry in

arms was expanded to include the notion of complete mobilization of

every possible materiel resource. The concept came to be one of total

3See J. Monteilhet, Lea institutions militaires de la France,


1814--1932 (Paris: Alcan, 1932), pp. 110-153.
4
Journal Officiel de 18 Republique Francaise: Documents Parle­
mentairea (1904), p. 148.
22

war. France was convinced that her best defense lay in committing all
5
her resources, both men and materiel, against an attackinR enemy.

Since the completely committed and mobilized nation was peace-loving, it

came to emphasize the defense rather than the offense, and the citizen-

soldier rather than the professional. For many Frenchmen the philosophy

of the nation in arms compelled the army to emphasize the defense and to

be composed predominantly of citizen-soldiers.

There was little doubt that the nation in arms was based essen­

tially on a defensive principle. The most important reason for this was

the dominant role played by the citizen-soldier in the French army.

Following World War I, France maintained short-term service for the con­

script and held the size of the professional component to a comparatively

low level. The term of service for the conscript was reduced from three

to two years in 1921, to 18 months in 1923, and to one year in 1928

(though later increased to two years in 1935). During the same period

the permanent component was gradually reduced to the point where it could

be spared only for a few priority roles, e.g., in the frontier fortifi­

cations, the conscript training centers, and the planning staffs. The

professional army thus became the cadre for training the citizen-soldier

before returning him to civilian life. The conscripts on active duty,

and the professional soldiers, provided the umbrella of protection under

which the armed nation would be mobilized. As Marshal Petain envisioned,

"The active metropolitan army will act as the covering force; under its
6
protection, the principal mass of our forces will be mobilized."

5See Chapter III for a discussion of materiel.

~rechal Petain, "La securite de la France au cours des annees


creuses," Revue des deux mondes, XXVI (March 1, 1935), p. i.
23

The covering force, therefore, was predominantly made up of

short-term conscripts. During the period of one year service (1928­

1935), 240,000 conscripts were trained by the army each year, 120,000

being called to duty every six months. One-half underwent training,

while the other half was absorbed into the active army. By the law of

1928 on recruitme~t for the army, only 72,000 to 106,UOO career soldiers

were retained in the French army.7 Thus, the active army at all times

consisted primarily of short-term conscripts. As one scholar has noted,

"France had no army in peacetime in the old sense of the word.,,8 The

French army for all practical purposes was little more than a school for

soldiers, requiring mobilization before it could effectively defend

France.

General De Gaulle's concept of a mobile, professional army was

an attack on this method of national defense. With the increasing

complexity of war machines, Ve Gaulle perceived a "latent opposition

between mechanization and the exclusive system of numerical strength."

Since war was becoming more and more technical, he could not believe a

massively-armed populace would have great military power simply because

it was armed. He was particularly disturbed by the inadequate training

the conscript received: "Soon, someone will set up as a principle that

the less military training a nation has had, the better it fights, as

7Journal Officiel de la Republique Francaise: Lois et Decrets

(1928), pp. 3808-3825 (Hereafter abbreviated as J. O. Lois et Decrets).

8
Irving M. Gibson (pseudonym), '~aginot and Liddell Hart: The
Doctrine of Defense," in Makers of Modern Strategy, ed., Edward Mead Earle
(New York: Atheneum, 1967), pp. 369-370; see *** (anonymous), "Notre
reorganisation militaire," Revue politique et parlementaire (September 10,
1926), pp. 371-406.
24

Emile acquired learning through not have studied.,,9 The increase in

the technical level of warfare, in De Gaulle's view, demanded more

highly trained troops, not simply more troops; but the short term of

service provided little opportunity for in-depth and comprehensive train­

ing for the citizen-soldier.

The need for additional training of the citizen-soldier upon

mobilization was recognized by the military hierarchy. For example, the

1939 Infantry Regulations stated that even though officers of the reserve

should be trained as leaders, they also had to be trained as instructors

to facilitate their conduct of training once their units were mobilized. IO

Similarly, the need for more peacetime training for the reservists,

especially for officers and non-commissioned officers, in addition to

their active duty and reserve training sessions was also frequently noted

by military writers. ll

General Eugene Debeney praised the results of the laws of 1927

and 1928 on recruitment and organization of the army. "The metropolitan

army, the army of the French territory, organized by the laws of 1927­

1928 is entirely oriented toward a realization as complete as possible

of the nation in arms.,,12 The ultimate result, however, was noted by

9Charles De Gaulle, The Army of the Future, trans. Walter Millis


(Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1941), pp. 58-60. The French title of De
Gaulle's book was Vers l'armee de metier, and a more correct English
title would have been Toward the Professional Army.

laFrance, Ministere de la defense nationale et de la guerre,


Reglement de l'infanterie: Deuxieme partie, Combat (Paris: Charles­
Lavauzelle, 1939), pp. 25-26.
11 See Genera
...... 1 Maurin, L ,Armee
. . . mo d erne ( Paris: Flammarion, 1938) ,
pp. 192-195; and General Debeney, La guerre et les hommes (Paris: Plan,
1937), pp. 243-245.

l2General Debeney, Sur la securite militaire de la France (Paris:


Payot, 1930), p. 28.
25
Marshal Petain when he observed that the French army was "unfi t for

beginning [a war] with a strategic offensive, but nevertheless capable

of local, tactical offensives. ,,13 In the opening days of a war, a

strategic offensive was impossible because dismantling the active army

would be necessary for the complete mobilization of the nation in arms.

It would also be impractical because the newly mobilized national army

would be characterized by inadequate training and discipline.

The system of mobilization established by the 1927 law on the

organization of the army provided for the division of the territory of

France into twenty military regions. 14 When mobilization was ordered,

each active infantry division (one from each military region) was broken

up to encadre three new divisions by transferring the greater part of its

personnel to the reserve divisions and replacing them with reservists.

Jeffrey Gunsburg has described the three new divisions.

The first [was] an "active" infantry division with one third


of its original active officers, two thirds of its enlisted cadres
and some 55% of its original active enlisted men. The second,
"series A" division had 23% active officers and 17% active NCO's
but only 2% active enlisted in the ranks of its regiments, while
the "series B" infantry division had 3 officers in each regiment
as its total active personnel--all the rest were reservists. ls

As a consequence of this mobilization system, France had to mobilize

before she could effectively repel a major enemy offensive, or before

l3Marechal Petain, "Preface" to General Narcisse Chauvineau,


Une invasion, est-el1e encore eossible? (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1939),
pp. VIII, VII.

14J • o • Lois et Decrets (1927), pp. 7266-7270; and General Duval,


"L'Armee francaise de1938: Sa gencse--son avenir," Revue de Paris
(August 15, 1938), p. 735.

l5Jeffrey Albert Gunsburg, "'Vaincre ou Mourir': The French High


Command and the Defeat of France, 19l9--May, 1940," unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, Duke University, 1974, pp. 209-210. See General Gamelin,
Servir (3 Vols., Paris: PIon, 1946-1947), I, pp. 446-448.
26

she could make even a limited thrust into German territory. Commjttinr,

the active cadres to an offensive operation would greatly hamper the

mobilization of the entire army, which would be needed to finish the

battle.

A strategic offensive was also impractical because of the rela­

tively untrained nature of the newly mobilized units. The French

believed the offensive required a greater degree of training and dis­

cipline on the part of the individual, as well as greater unit cohesive­

ness, training and efficiency, than did the defensive. The 1936

Instructions stated without qualification that the offense "requires

quality troops.,,16 Since the type "A" and "B" divisions consisted almost

entirely of short-service conscripts upon mobilizati.on, and the "active"

army divisions were hardly any better with two-thirds of its officers

and non-commissioned officers and 45% of its enlisted men also reser­

vists, the military hierarchy doubted the French army would be of suf­

ficient "quality" for an offensive immediately upon mobilization. The

High Command felt that short-term conscripts could not acquire suffi.ci.ent

skills in their brief period of service to be prepared for an immediate

offensive.

The need for a better-trained soldier for the offensive was

especially noted by General Narcisse Chauvineau, who was known as the

"high priest of the defense." This officer saw the n;ltion in arms as

eminently appropriate for the national defense, but when he entertained

the possibility of an offensive immediately upon the beginning of

16 Instructions 1936, p. 66.


27

hostilities, he suggested the creation of a "small, special army,"

distinctly trained for the offensive. This "special army" would rely

on servicemen with an obligation of no less than four years, rather

than on conscripts of short-term service.


17 At the Trial of Riom,

General Robert-Auguste Touchon indicated that Gamelin had often stressed

the need to fight with care in the beginning of a war, for the "army

would chiefly be composed of very nervous reservists."lB The 1936

Instructions reflected this belief and stressed the importance of the

bataille conduite in the early days of a war. It added that "youn~

troops" should only be engaged "methodically" and with the support of

all the "necessary fires.,,19 In the absence of the stiffening afforded

by long-term service, French military leaders were reluctant to commit

their army to an early offensive.

Reliance on the nation in arms thus negated any possibility of

"graduated deterrence," 20 or of a limited thrust into Germany. France

could partially or completely mobilize to protect her frontiers, but

an initial offensive was considered beyond the capability of the newly

mobilized army.

The successful remilitarization of the Rhineland by Germany was

one unfortunate result of this emphasis on a defensive nation in arms.

The failure of the French to act, and thus prevent this German coup, was

l7Chauvineau, Une invasion, pp. 149-150.

lBQuoted in Gamelin, Servir, I, p. 297. See Gamelin, III, p. 33.

19Instruction 1936, p. 97-98.

20Dona1d Cameron Watt, Too Serious a Business (Berkeley: Univer­

sity of California Press, 1975), p. 95.


28

directly linked to the philosophy of the nation in arms, the doctrine

of the defensive, and the concomitant unpreparedness of the French


21
army for the offensive. The leaders of the French army insisted that

a general French mobilization was necessary before army elements could


22
be deployed into the Rhineland. If general war erupted, the couunit­

ment of the activ~~arrny into the Rhineland would seriously hamper total

mobilization. In a note sent to the Minister of War, General Gamelin

explained, "The idea of rapidly sending a French expeditionary corps

into the Rhineland, even in a more or less symbolic form, is chimerical." 23

Despite the abysmal results of March 1936, no real progress was

made in mobilization procedures. When the Permanent Committee of

National Uefense considered the possibility of intervening in March 1938

in the Spanish Civil War, the same conclusion was reached. Mobilization

of at least a million men for the covering force would be necessary, but

even this would be insufficient. As General Gamelin noted, France had

not envisioned a separate mobilization for the Spanish frontier. 24 In

August--September 1938, during the Munich crisis, France mobilized her

covering forces along the northeast frontier, but this action required

21See W. F. Knapp. "The Rhineland Crisis of ?larch 1936," in The


Decline of the Third Republic, ed., James Joll (New York: Frederick A.
Praeger, 1959), pp. 67-85; Jean Baptiste Duroselle, "France and the
Crisis of March 1936," trans. Nancy L. Roelker, in French Society and
Culture Since the Old Regime, eds., Evelyn M. Acomb and Marvin L.
Brown (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), pp. 243-268.

22DDF , I, No. 392, 11 March 1936, p. 504; see DDF, I, No. 196
17 February 1936, pp. 290-293; and Gamelin, Servir, II, pp. 208-211.
23
DDF, I, No. 525, 28 March 1936, p. 699.

24 DDF , VIII, No. 446, 15 March 1938, pp. 827-830.

29
calling more than 750,000 men and 25,000 officers to duty.25 The mobi­

lization, however, was nothing more than a precautionary measure during

the period of tension. Thus, in the crucial instances of the remilitari­

zation of the Rhineland and the Spanish Civil War, France could effec­

tively respond only with a total war based on the resources of the entire

nation. Even the 'precautionary measures taken during the Munich crisis

required three-quarters of a million reservists. The chance of respond­

ing to a threat with a limited military operation was no longer a possi­

bility under the French concept of total war.

According to General Paul-Emile Tournoux's study of French war

plans, France had contingency plans for an offensive movement into the

Rhineland until April 1935. But with the repudiation of the clauses in

the Versailles treaty intenued to keep Germany disarmed and the subse­

quent rapid build up of German armed forces, France abandoned that

possibility and offered instead what the General Staff described as "an

immoveable front" from Mezieres to Bale and "a solid front, covering the

national territory" north of Mezieres. 26

Meanwhile, the French military continued to defend its doctrine.

In the October 1936 issue of Revue des Deux Mondes, General Maxime Weygand

(then retired) attacked De Gaulle's idea of a professional armored corps

always ready for the offensive. He declared, "Nothing pertaining to

that [armored force] has to be created, for it already exists.,,27

25Gcneral Paul-Emile Tournoux, Defense des frontieres. Haut


commandement-Gouvernement, 1919-1939 (Paris: Nouvelles editions
latines, 1960), p. 299.
26 Ibid., p. 33 7 .

27General Weygand, "L'Etat militaire de 1a France," Revue des


deux mondes, XXIX (October 15, 1936), p. 727.
30

Weygand said this even though the events of March had all too obviously

demonstrated the woeful state of the offensive in the French army. In

June 1936, the General Staff of the army reaffirmed the task of the

mobilized army as being the strengthening of the covering forces. This

included: "Assuring without withdrawing, the absolute integrity of the

fortified front which.. extends,


,
at the moment, without being interrupted

from Longuyon to Basel, as well aa in the Alps." The task also included,

"Halting the maneuver of the enemy that may be executed around the wings

of the fortified front."Z8 This mission, the Instructions of 1936, and

the philosophy of the nation in arms coincided completely. The defense

remained supreme.

The doctrine of the continuous front was also supported by the

concept of the nation in arms. In 1939 Marshal Petain observed, "The

continuous front is, in effect, an inevitable consequence of the increas­

ing numbers raised by the nation in arms and by the technical charac­

teristics of weapons."Z9 The idea was repeated on numerous occasions by

members of the military hierarchy,30 for the French believed that wars

were no longer fought by small armies. Instead, they were fought by

entire nations which threw all their resources in men and material into

the battle. Marshal Petain concluded, "War • • • today is no longer only

that of professional armies, but that of entire peoples, abundant with

all their resources and with all their faith.,,3l

28
Tournoux, Defense des frontieres, p. 338.

29petain, "Preface," to Chauvineau, Une invasion, p. XI.

30 See Debeney, La guerre, p. 152.

31Marechal Petain, "Preface," to Colonel P. Vauthier, La doctrine


de guerre du General Douhet (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1935), p. XI.
31

Tl~ French maintained that wars between entire nations would be

vast affairs, since two nations fighting a battle to the death would not

be reluctant to commit every resource available to them. Bence, enough

men and materiel would be committed to extend the battle front to the

point that it became virtually continuous or would be almost unlimited.

Thus, the continuou~ front became a logical corollary of the nation in

arms, and one military writer noted its importance. "The 'continuous

front' is • alone the basis for preparation of ground warfare.,,32

Another result of the nation in arms was the need for a more

rigid doctrine. A lecturer at the War College in 1929-1930 described

the complex variance within such an army: "Since the army, that is the

nation in arms, is composed of an infinite number of means which vary in

quality and quantity, the proper organization of the army is more than

ever an absolute necessity • • • • " It was essential that subordinate

units uniformly obey the orders of the commander without "defonning" them

and that similar units be "interchangeable.,,33 In short, a clear and

coherent body of doctrine was necessary. The French military recognized

that proposing rigid solutions to every problem would "kill initiative,,,34

but there is little doubt that it opted for a rigid doctrine. No real

premium was placed on initiative or new solutions. The dilution of

quality that was inherent in any army of huge quantity required more

stringent doctrine and stronger control by the military leaders. The

32Chauvineau, Dne invasion, p. 131.

33France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Cours de Tactique Generale


et d'Etat-Major (Lieutenant Colonel Voisin), La Division au combat
Annee 1929-1930, pp. 7-9.

34Maurin, L'Armee moderne, p. 164.


32

resulting rigidity ensured the continued dominance of the defense and

continuous front.

Few membedof the French military doubted the necessity of the

nation in arms, and the almost unanimous rejection of De Gaulle's call

for a professional armored corps is the clearest example of the military's

faith in the tra~itional concept of national defense. They felt a

national army was the most effective mode of defense, and that a pro­

fessional army would actually detract from France's ability to defend

herself. Marshal Petain expressed the view held by the majority of the

military:

Since modern struggles naturally involve putting to work the


totality of the people's resources, our national defense should be
established on the principle of the armed nation. This conception
corresponds exactly to the political and social state of a nation
lacking all territorial ambition and having no objective other than
the safeguarding of its soil. 35

The armed nation remained the firm basis of the French military philosophy

despite the calls by De Gaulle and Paul ReYnaud for its reconsideration.

Even if the military heirarchy had objected to the philosophy of

the nation in arms, it would have had little choice but to accept that

concept. A substantial portion of the French political spectrum held the

nation in arms as a veritable creed, and believed that an army based on

conscripts and an armed nation would be totally loyal to the republican

regime and could not be used in initiating an aggressive war. According

35petain, "Annees creuses," p. VII; The laws of 1927-1928 on the


organization and recruitment of the army acted as the legal basis for the
expansion of the army from its peace-time to its war-time size. The
military hierarchy apparently supported the law, and General Debeney
(then Chief of the General Staff) later proudly acknowledged that he had
been "one of the workers" in creating "this solid infrastructure" for
the army. See Debeney, La Guerre, pp. 181-182.
33
to the republican view, there was little likelihood that the army could

be persuaded to act against the republican regime if it consisted mostly

of conscripts. Those who supported this view had only to look back to

the professional army of Napoleon III to see the menace of such a military

force. In perceiving a professional army as being more prone to under­

take international vgn.~ures, many Frenchmen agreed with their countryman

who had asserted in 1868, "When one has such fine arms, there are always

fools who are burning to try them out, [for] • • • soldiers, like iron,
36
rust in times of peace." In contrast, an armed nation would fight only

in defense of its own territory or for essential national needs. Since

the nation in arms was composed of citizen-soldiers, it would be impossible

for France to fight an aggressive war without popular support. Further­

more, the political left believed that a professional army was not neces­

sarily a more effective fighting force. One observer from the left opined

that "a professional army increases, in time of peace, the chances of

war, and in times of war, . . . diminishes the chances of victory." 37

After all, a professional French army had lost the Franco-Prussian War of

1870-1871, but a nation in arms had won the First World War.

The French, then, firmly believed in the principle of an aroused

nation valiantly defending itself, this belief reaching its zenith during

the 1930's when the political left acquired its greatest power. The

principle accorded with their republican sentiments, furnished a means

of controlling the potentially reactionary military, and provided what

they considered to be the most effective national defense strategy. The

36Jules Simon, La politique radicale (Paris, 1868), p. 181.

37Monteilhet, Institutions militaires, p. xvi.


34

army thus became a defensive force, rather than an aggressive war-making

institution.

The close relationship between the nation in arms and the army,

and its consequences were noted in the 1921 Instructions.

The very life of the citizenry is associated in an intimate fash­


ion with that of the army, and thus the formula for the nation in
arms 1s realized. in every aspect • • • • (This] greatly influences the
eventualities of war and consequently the formation of strategy.38

The defense and the continuous front remained essential elements of that

strategy, which became indistinguishable from the concepts imposed upon

it by the nation in arms.

38Instruction 1921, p. 9.
Chapter III

THE "TYRANNY" OF MATERIEL

The question of materiel was another fundamental factor molding

French doctrine fr'om 1919 to 1940 and is rivaled in importance only by

the French concept of the nation in arms. These two fundamental pre­

cepts formed the basis of the French perception of total war.

If, as Petain stated, modern wars were those of "entire peoples,

abundant with all their resources and with all their faith."l mobiliza­

tion required the directing of a nation's entire economic and industrial

potential to the war effort. The question of materiel soon became known

as the "tyranny of materiel,"Z for the war-time potential of France was

limited by its industrial potential. France's disadvantages relative to

Germany in critical natural resources, industrial capacity, and economic

mobilization dramatically influenced military doctrine.

There was little doubt that the industrial revolution had im­

mensely affected the battlefield. The large caliber and destructiveness

of weapons, the long range of artillery, the huge number of deadly shells

IHarechal Petain, "Preface," to Colonel P. Vauthier, La doctrine


de guerre du General Douhet (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1935), p. XI.

2General Uebeney, La guerre et leg hommes (Paris: PIon, 1937),


pp. 49-98; see General Serrigny, Ref1exions sur 1'Art de 1a Guerre
(Paris: Char1es-Lavauzelle, 1930), pp. 68-90; Lieutenant Colonel Miquel,
Ensei nements strate i ues et tacti ues de 18 uerre de 1914-1918 {Paris:
Charles-Lavauzelle, 1926 , pp. 16- 9; and General Narcisse Chauvineau, Vne
invasion, est-elle encore possible? (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1939), pp-.-­
123-128.

35
36

and steel fragments sprayed over the battle area, the tremendous multi­

plicity of arms, and the mind-boggling consumption of munitions had

dramatically changed the nature and lethality of the battlefield.) Wars

were no longer battles fought solely by men. The machine had arrived,
4
and the army itself was even described as a "machine of war."

Faith in mat~riel, or more precisely, faith in firepower replaced

the pre-World War I dogma of morale. 5 Before the First World War, French

doctrine had been molded predominantly by the notion of the nation in

arms and the importance of morale, and Foch's doctrine of the offensive

was based on the close association of these two. The writings of

Colonel Ardant du Picq had formed the French perception of morale, and it
,
has been said that his Etudes ~ Ie Combat was the "most widely read

book in the French trenches during the First World War.,,6 Du Picq stated,

"Dispositions of the heart are as variable as those of fortune. A man

1s discouraged and apprehends danger in every endeavor in ~lich he fore­


7
sees no chance of success." Defeat was thought to threaten the anny

which no longer saw a chance of winning, and thus battle was more a

contest between two opposing wills than between two physical forces.

Colonel de Grandmaison extended this need for a belief in a chance

of success to its most extreme point in his offensive a outrance, which

)
See, for example, Miquel, Enseignements de la guerre, pp. 89-100.

4General Maurin, L'Armee moderne (Paris: Flammarion, 1938), p. 9.

5The French word moral way be translated as spirit, morale, or


moral. For clarity, I have consistently used the word morale.

6Stefan T. Possony and Etienne Mantoux, "Du Picq and Foch: The
French School," in Makers of Modern Strategy, ed., Edward Head Earle
(New York: Atheneum, 1967), p. 207.
7
Colonel Ardant Du Picq, Etudes sur Ie combat (Paris: R.
Chapelot, 1904), p. 111.
37

suggested ignoring the danger of combat. The essence of his ideas can

be captured in a few quotes, one being, "In the offensive, imprudence is

the best security." And another, "Go to the excess, and this will per-

haps not yet be enough ... B But the murderous battlefield soon revealed

that more than courage was needed. In his remarkably astute analysis of

the evolution o(_~actical ideas in France during World War I, Lieutenant

Colonel Lucas asked:

How many officers, and those not the poorest, met their death on
the first fields of battle, erect and within full view of the enemy,
in the midst of bullets and shells, under the conviction that it
would have been unworthy of them to seek cover or even to lie down
when their commands were at grips with the enemy: This is a senti­
ment which does them the greatest honor; but it was a false concep­
tion of the requirements of modern battle, which took time to change
and for which we had to pay too high a price. 9

The bloody price paid in those first few battles convinced the French

that materiel dominated and that imprudence was not the best security.

Morale remained important, but it was not envisioned as blind

courage in the face of the enemy.10 The French believed the commander

had to impose his will over that of the enemy, and that this could be

done on either the offensive or defensive. Once this occurred, the inl­
11
tiative would be regained, and victory would not be far away. Superior

force, measured in numbers of personnel and amount of firepower, would

8General Arthur Boucher, Les doctrines dans la preparation de la


Grande Guerre (Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1925), pp. 136-137.

9Lieutenant Colonel Pascal Lucas, L'Evo1ution des idees tactiques


en France et en Allema ne endant la Guerre de 1914-1918 (Paris: Berger­
Levrault, 1925 , p. 20.

10see General Weygand, IfL'Etat militaire de la France," Revue des


deux mondes, XXIX (October 15, 1936), pp. 735-736; Debeney, La Guerre,
pp. 113-125. Compare General Arthur Boucher, L'Infanterie sacrifiee
(Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1930).

11Illstructions 1936, p. 30; Debeney, La Guerre, p. 170.


38
permit this imposition of will. In short. utilizing the materiel made

available by mobilizing the armed nation would permit the French to regain

the initiative from the Germans and impose their will on the enemy.

The immediate effect of this emphasis on materiel was its con­

tribution to the continuous front. The vast amount of industrial war-

making items produced from the resources of the entire nation would permit

the great extension of the front in comparison to those of previous wars.

Just as the nation in arms had implicitly contributed to the continuous

front, so did the emphasis on materiel. Both provided every resource of

the nation to the war effort. The presence of the new machines of war

also contributed to the French faith in the continuous front. The employ­

ment of automatic weapons and artillery permitted the establishment of

"curtains" of fire that could only be pierced by organized attacks. 12 The

increased firepower from the new machines of war permitted a reduction in

the number of personnel required to man a portion of the front and thus a

more extended front could be maintained with the same number of personnel.

More support and supplies may have been necessary, but at the same time

fewer men were now required along the dense, continuous front. 13 France

now saw a chance to overcome the much larger manpower advantage Germany

had possessed since 1870-1871.

The time required to mobilize the industrial resources of the

nation also contributed to France's choice of the defense, especially in

the opening days of the war. There would be a prolonged lag as industry

12Instructions 1921, p. 11.

l3France, {cole Superieure de Guerre (Lieutenant Colonel Dame).


Conferences d'Infanterie, Annee 1931-1932 (Courbevoie: P. Chanove, 1931­
1932), p. 9.
39

changed trom a peace-time to a war-time economy, which would limit the

initial amount of materiel support available for the military. This

problem was compounded by the fact that France faced an opponent of

superior industrial capability and potential, and also an opponent that

would probably be the aggressor in any war with France, who considered

herself to be a pacific, peace-loving country. An aggressor could not

only force his form of war on his opponent, but he could also have the

advantage of having begun industrial and national mobilization before the

state receiving the sudden attack became aware of the threat.

The sudden unexpected attack became known in France as the

attaque brusquee and was a common theme in military and civilian journals. 14

The threat of such an attack became a strong argument for the couverture,

or covering forces, along the northeastern frontier. IS During the late

1920's the French army persuasively argued that the lengthy and involved

mobilization of the manpower and industry of the nation necessitated the

reinforcement of the French covering forces. The reinforcements were

needed to ensure enough time was provided for complete mobilization. The

need to permanently guard the frontier eventually coalesced into the

Maginot Line, which has become infamously synonYmous with the defense in
16
historical analyses of the Fall of France.

14See *** (anonymous), "Contre l'attaque brusquee," Revue des deux


mondes, XXIV (December 15, 1934), pp. 742-764; Colonel Epailly, "La
defense contre une attaque allemande par surprise," Revue militaire generale,
I, No.5 (May, 1937), pp. 605-618; DDF, II, No. 375, 1 July 1936, p. 576;
General Gamelin, Servir (3 Vols., Paris: PIon, 1946-1947), III, pp. 523­
524.

15General Debeney, "Le probleme de la couverture," Revue des deux


mondes, XXXVI (November 15, 1936), pp. 268-294.

16Richard D. Challener, The French Theory of the Nation in Arms,


1866-1939 (New York: Russell & Russell, Inc., 1965), pp. 220-224; Enno
Kraehe, "Motives Behind the Maginot Line," Military Affairs, VIII, No.2
(1944), pp. 109-122.
40

Since--in the French view--war potential was gravely affected by

industrial potential, certain war stocks had to be maintained to provide

the initial materiel that would be used in a war. These strategic stock­

piles served the same purpose as the covering force served for the nation.

As the nation mobilized its citizen army and its industrial potential,

the covering force of the army and the stock-piles of materiel provided

the men and the resources for the beginning period of the war. The battle

along the frontiers would consume both as the nation mobilized. The two

were closely associated by the military, and General Debeney even exclaimed,

"Protect our stocks of armaments! They are the covering force of our
17
industrial mobilization."

But the cost of creating stock-piles of materiel for every possible

military need was prohibitively expensive. Constrained by limited fin­

ancial credits and the drain of building the costly Maginot Line, the

French army found it more advantageous to channel its money into weapons

that could be more effectively used in the initial defensive period. Wea­

pons more suitable for the offense could be manufactured as the war pro­

gressed. Her rejection of armor was closely linked to this conception,

especially since large, costly armored formations were considered offensive

instruments. 18 The antitank gun, rather than the tank, was more accordant

with France's approach to national defense, since it was less expensive,

17
Debeney, La Guerre, p. 58. On the need for stock-piles of
materiel, see also General W. Sikorski, La guerre moderne (Paris: Berger­
Levrault, 1935), pp. 181-182.
18Captain Robert A. Doughty, "De Gaulle's Concept of a Mobile,
Professional Army: Genesis of French Defeat?" Parameters: The Journal
of the U.S. Army War College, IV, No.2 (1974), p. 26; Jeffrey Johnstone
Clarke, "Military Technology in Republican France: The Evolution of the
French Armored Force, 1917-1940," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Duke
University, 1968, p. 189.
41

was primarily a defensive weapon, and could easily be handled by the

citizen-soldier. As such, the antitank gun was the personification of

French doctrine.

The problem of weaponry was somewhat analagous to the infamous

balancing of quality and quantity.19 France had heard the argument for

decades on whether'she needed a mass citizen-army representing quantity,

or a small professional army representing quality. As for weaponry, the

antitank gun provided the crucial quality needed to counter the attaque

brusquee and could be purchased in a sufficient quantity--in the French

view--to counter this menacing threat. As one military writer pointed out,

"One shell • costing 150 francs can destroy a tank which costs one

million." 20 While threatened by the offensive capability of armor,

France's emphasis had to be on quality antitank weapons of sufficient

quantity. The acceleration of industrial output that would occur as the

war progressed would permit the gradual "augmentation,,21 of France's war-

making capability, as well as her weapon inventory.

In a lecture at the War College in 1932, General Lucien Loizeau

addressed the necessity for the defense during the early phases of a war.

He noted that it would be necessary for France to initially conduct an

economy of force operation to permit the rearward concentration of war

19General Mordacq, La defense nationale en danger (Paris: Les


editions de France, 1938), p. 35. On the problem of quality versus
quantity, see General Weygandt ''L'Etat militaire de la France," Revue
des deux mondes, XXIX (October 15,1936), p. 724; and Weygand, "L'Unite
de l'armee," Revue mi1itaire generale, I (January, 1937), pp. 16, 18-19.

20Chauvineau. Une invasion, p. 93.

2lGeneral Mordacq, Les lecona de 1914 et la prochaine guerre


(Paris: Flammarion. 1934), p. 245.
42

means. Progress in materiel and in armaments favored the assumption of

this initial attitude, for the increased capability of weapons of war

permitted a smaller force to effectively engage a larger enemy. For

those who criticized his scheme as lacking the spirit of the offensive,

General Loizeau answered,

We must win the ,first battle, and to do so it is necessary to


place the troops in a position of confidence, in a situation of
being presented in a good materiel and above all moral position on
their first battlefield. If not, what a debacle, worse than 1914: 22

While only the offensive would gain decisive results, an initial defen­

sive was essential for France's mobilization of her war potential. The

question of her losing the "first battle," however, was not sufficiently

addressed until after she had lost that battle and the war.

In addition to its effects on the continuous front, another con­

tribution of the French emphasis on materiel concerned the tremendously

increased lethality of the battlefield. The French saw war-making

materiel as adding markedly to the firepower of the battlefield. The

results was the oft-quoted maxim, "puissance du feu," or "firepower," and

its corollary coined by Marshal Petain, "Ie feu tue," or "fire kills." 23

In the 1921 Instructions on the employment of large units, the

report to the Minister of War by the committee charged with writing the

new manual stressed the importance of firepower. It emphasized the

crushing nature of that fire and its almost "irresistable" nature. The

22France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre (General Loizeau), La tfunoeuvre


du Corps d'Armee dans l'Armee (Courbevoie: P. Chanove, 1932), p. 9.

23 For criticism of the puissance du feu maxim, see Paul Reynaud,


In the Thick of the Fight, 1930-1945 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955),
pp. 95-98; and General Arthur Boucher, L'Infanterie sacrifiee (Paris:
Berger-Levrault, 1930), pp. 41-78.
43

conunittee asserted, "Firepower has proved to be annihilating. ,,24 The

committee believed the basic nature of the offense and the defense had

changed because of the overwhelming power of fire on the battlefield, and

the instructions stated, "Fire [power] is the preponderant factor of

combat. 1l2S The 1913 Regulations had claimed, "Battles are above all

morale contests. 'Defeat is inevitable when hope for victory ceases. ·,26

By 1921, the morale factor was no longer supreme; the French firmly

believed "Ie feu tue,lI or firepower kills. That belief differed from

that of 1913 as night from day.

The axiom of the killing power of fire became a truism piously

repeated by practically every French military writer. Again and again,

one reads, "The great lesson of the war of 1914-1918 was the preeminence

of fire." 27 One lieutenant colonel asserted, "Fire reigns, a sovereign

master, over the field of battle, from which is seems to have chased the
".

combatants. 1128 Even those such as General Emile Allehaut, who criticized

the lIeclipse of the offensive sense" because of this emphasis on fire­

power, hastened to add, l~O one dreams of contesting the effects of fire,

its formidable effects, annihilating against the movement of all unprotected

24Instructions 1921, pp. 10-12.


25 Ibid., p. 6.

26Reglement 1913, p. 6.

27Maurin, L'Armee moderne, p. 151. For other versions of this


slogan, see Commandant Bouchacourt, L'Infanterie dans la Bataille (Paris:
Charles-Lavauzelle, 1927), p. 209-212; France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre,
Conferences de Tactique generale et d'Etat-Major, La Division, Annee 1932,
pp. 223-224; and France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre (Lieutenant Colonel
Touchon), Conferences d'Infanterie, Annee 1925-1926, p. 7.

28Miquel, ~nseignements de la guerre, p. 89.


44

troops. 1129 For the French and for their doctrine, fire did reign supreme.

The immense amount of fire available on the battlefield made an

indelible impression on the military and caused the French to reach

several important conclusions. The 1921 manual reflected the common

belief that a small number of troops could occupy a considerable front,

and that the attack was favored only after the "massing of powerful

materiel means, artillery, combat tanks, munitions, etc." 30 Thus fire­

power facilitated forming the continuous front and enabled the French to

envision themselves bleeding and weakening an attacking, larger enemy.

An enemy attack against a well-prepared position would deplete his morale

and permit the French commander to regain the initiative and impose his

own will over the enemy.3! The emphasis on firepower ruled against any

audacious maneuvers on the battlefield because of the difficulty in mass­

ing the materiel means, and the 1936 Instructions made the remarkable

assertion, " . • . audacious solutions • . • should be executed methodi­

cally. 1132 Clearly, the batail1e conduite was a logical companion for the

axiom of Ie feu tue.

The stress on firepower greatly influenced the French perception

of combat, but it did not change the role of the infantryman. The 1921

Instructions explicitly stated

29General Emile A1lehaut, Etre prets (Paris: Berger-Levrault,


1935), p. 195.

3 0 Instructions 1921, p. 11.

31Instructions 1936, p. 30; Debeney, La guerre, p. 170.

32Instructions 1936, p. 31.


45

The infantry is charged with the principal mission of combat.


Preceded, protected and accompanied by the fires of the artillery,
aided eventually by combat tanks and aviation, it conquers, occupies,
organizes, and secures the terrain. 33

The only change made in the 1936 Instructions was the changing of one of

the phrases to read, "eventually aided and supported by combat tanks,

aviation, etc.,,34 The infantry remained the queen of battle.

As for fires both editions agreed. In its description of fire­

power as the "preponderant factor of combat," the 1936 edition repeated

verbatim the 1921 manual but added the sentence, "it [fire] destroys the

enemy or neutralizes hi~,,35 The relationship between the sources of fire

and the infantry was one of support; fires permitted the maneuver or

movement of infantry. Whether from tanks, aviation, artillery, gas

canister, or the infantry, fires assisted the infantry with the "principal

mission of combat," and thus the machines of war were the auxiliaries of

the infantryman.

The shortcoming in this thinking is perhaps best illustrated by

the tank. 36 In 1939 General Narcisse Chauvineau typified the French view

of the tank, liThe great weakness of the tank is that it is not able to

hold terrain, because [to do so] it is necessary for it • • • to be

~obilized and as a result run the risk of being taken as a target by its

enemy, the cannon." And he added, " • • • even though the idea of destruc­

tion is the basis of military action • • • [the tank's] power of destruction

33Instructions 1921, p. 23.

34Instructions 1936, p. 43.


35 Ibid., p. 69. Cf, Instructions 1921, p. 61.

36 Port ions of the following will be published in Major Robert A.


Doughty, "French Antitank Doctrine, 1940: The Antidote that Failed,"
Military Review (May, 1976).
46

is very weak.,,37 This conception of the tank was repeatedly reflected in

French military journals. In 1935 a French officer wrote, "The experience

of the last war proved that tanks are not able to conquer a defensive

position without the collaboration of the infantry, and it does not appear

that technical progress has changed that.,,38 In 1937 another infantry

officer asserted, " • • • since the enemy armored vehicle cannot occupy

terrain, there is • • • never anything to lose, so long as the accompany­

ing infantry is not on us throwing hand grenades." 39

Tanks were simply considered as blundering, almost blind bunkers

on tracks, designed only to assist the maneuver and supplement the offen­

sive capability of the infantry. The fire of the tank was most important,

not its great mobility, nor its potential to rival the previously deci­

sive role of the infantry. France's attention was riveted on the infantry­

man and on all the external sources of firepower for him. In 1931-32

students at the War College were told, "For the foot soldier, the machine

is only a means." 40 The opposing infantry, not the tanks, was considered

the true enemy of the French infantry; to stop the enemy infantrymen was

to win the battle.

The perception of machines of war as sources of firepower for

the infantry prevailed even after the criticisms of De Gaulle and the

37Chauvineau, Vne invasion, pp. 100-101.

38Lieutenant Colonel J. Perre, "La guerre des chars," Revue


d'Infanterie, Vol. 87 (December, 1935), p. 973.

39capitaine Brouillard, "Cas concrets de defense contre les chars:


Deuxieme cas," Revue d'Infanterie, Vol. 90, No. 537 (June, 1937), p. 1201.

40France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre (Lieutenant Colonel Dame),


Conferences d'Infanterie, Annee 1931-1932 <Courbevoie: P. Chanove, 1931­
1932), p. 12.
47

French recognition of the growing armored might of Germany. According to

the French perception, technical progress had increased the lethality of

combat, but this did not require altering the doctrine established "on
41
the morrow of victory." The battle would essentially be the same, only

the lethality or the violence would be greater. This especially applied

to armored formations. The report to the Minister of War by the committee

which completed the 1936 Instructions said, "At the present time, the

antitank gun confronts the tank, as during the last war, the machinegun

confronted the infantry.,,42 Just as the machinegun had torn the shroud

of illusion from the offensive! outrance, so would the antitank gun

destroy the massed armored formations. According to the committee, tanks

could be employed only under the support and protection of the artillery,

and their massed employment would probably occur only after the initial

disorganization of the defensive position or in the exploitation.


43 The

committee concluded, "The new means • • • have further developed the fire­

power that the editors of the 1921 Instructions have already qualified as

annihilating, and which will be employed in the future over the field of
,,44
batt 1 e where it will reign as master. • ••

As a result of the great lethality of modern weapons, the French

believed the defender had the advantage and could inflict heavy casualties

on an attacker. It was normally assumed that the attacker required a

4lInstructions 1936, p. 15. See Paul ReYnaud's vigorous attack


on what he described as the confirming of "Petain's doctrine": Reynaud,
In the Thick of the Fight, 1930-1945 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955),
pp. 158-162.
42 Instructions 1936, p. 17.

43 Ibid •

44 Ibid ., p. 19.
48
massive superiority of "three times as much infantry, six times the

artillery, and fifteen times the ammunition.,,45 This view of the defense

did not mean the French had rejected any possibility of an offensive. The

1921 and 1936 Instructions emphasized the decisive nature of the offensive

and the protective nature of the defensive. 46 The killing fires of the

defense would be used to repulse the attacks of the enemy, while the

offensive would chase the enemy from his position, rout his combat dis­

positions, and destroy his combat potential.

Lectures at the War College often stressed the importance of an


47
offensive spirit, even if the initial battle were defensive. Similarly,

military writers often warned their colleagues of the importance of the

offensive; the defensive might offer many advantages but only an offen­

sive would win the war. General Loizeau quoted Clausewitz to illustrate

that point. "The defensive is the strongest form with a negative obJec­

tive; the offensive is the weakest form with a positive objective.,,48

The power of the defense furnished a protective shield behind which France

would bleed the attacking enemy and prepare herself for the final vic­

torious offensive.

The French concept of the offensive, however, was dramatically

45Chauvineau, One invasion, p. 122.

46Instructions 1921, pp. 58-61; Instructions 1936, pp. 66-67, 99­


135.

47France, Ecole Superieurc de Guerre (Lieutenant Colonel Touchon),


Conferences d'Infanterie, Annee 1925-1926, p. 13; France, fcole Superieure
de Guerre (General Loizeau), La Manoeuvre du Corps d'Armee dans 1'Armee
(Courbevoie: P. Chanove, 1932), pp. 8-10.

48 Genera
- - 1 L• L i D eux Ma noeuvres (P ar~s:
0 zeau, . Berger-Levrault,
1933), p. 103.
49

different from the blitzkrieg the Germans were to employ in 1940. 49

While one could say the attaque brusquee resembled the blitzkrieg, it

should be recognized that the two are different. The attaque brusquee

was a sudden, unexpected war thrust upon an unwary and perhaps unready

nation, while the blitzkrieg was a method of war that could be used in

an attaque brusquee. It relied on the massing of armor along a small

portion of the front, followed by a penetration of the lines and a deep

exploitation behind these lines. The battle that began on May 10, 1940,

was hardly an attaque brusquee, for the French had more than eight months

to prepare and to mobilize for war. They had prepared for the slow,

methodical war their doctrine envisioned, not the li~htning war the

Germans thrust upon them.

The inability of the French to accept the possibility of the

blitzkrieg centered on their faith in firepower, especially in their

antitank weapons, which could, in fact, defeat practically all German

armor. Their 25mm cannon was effective up to 800 meters against heavily

armored vehicles (4Omm of armor) and up to 1,500 meters against lightly

armored vehicles. The French model 1897 75mm antitank weapon was a much

older piece of equipment, but it was still effective to about 1,500

meters. 50 By 1939-1940, the old 75mm cannon was gradually being replaced

by the new 47mm cannon, which--except for the German 88--was undoubtedly

49For the opposing view, see Jeffrey Albert Gunsburg, "'Vaincre ou


Mourir': The French High Command and the Defeat of France, 1919--May,
1940," unpublished dissertation, Duke University, 1974, p. 227. Gunsburg
confuses the French chars de manoeuvre ensemble with the German blitzkrieg;
the former envisions the bataille conduite, while the latter is the embodi­
ment of the lightning war.

50Conunandant Henri Laporte, "La defense antichars," Revue d'Infan­


terie, Vol. 93 (December, 1938), pp. 1150-1151.
50

the best antitank cannon employed in the battle of France. In short, the

French antitank guns could have stopped any of the German tanks used

against France with the possible exception of a few of the Mark IV's

which had been given additional armor plating. Even before the invasion

of France, the Polish campaign had revealed to the Germans, much to their
51
alarm, how effective these antitank weapons could be against their armor.

General Maurice Gamelin, Commander of the French army in May 1940, later

asserted, obviously correctly, that the antitank capability of France was

greater during 1940 than that of Germany.52

Nonetheless, French firepower was to prove illusory once the

battle began, not because the individual weapons were ineffective against

individual tanks but because individual weapons were ineffective against

large numbers of tanks. The French had equated materiel with firepower

and had misunderstood the contribution that materiel had made to mobi.lity.

This is clearly evident in their pre-war planning that trucks carrying

munitions and war materiel would consume 95% of France's gasoline, while

tanks would consume only 5%.53 Fuel would be consumed primarily along

another heavily used supply route such as the voie sacree, at Verdun in

1916, rather than by mechanized formations. Thus, the French conception

of materiel was one-dimensional, for it only foresaw an increase in the

fj.re from machines, not in vast sweeps of armored machines.

51
General Ulrich Liss, Westfront 1939/40: Erinnerungen des
Feindarbeiters im OKH (Neckargemund: Kurt Vowinckel Ver1ang, 1959), pp.
99ff; cited in Gunsburg, "The French High Command," p. 219.
52
Gamelin, Servir, I, p. 167.

53DDF , II, No. 223, 12 November 1937, pp. 413-414.

51

The French vision was transfixed by the threat of firepower.

They believed the lethal firepower of antitank weapons would seriously

limit mobility within the armor battlefield, necessitating the shackling

of the tank units to their artillery support. Armor units would not go

beyond the effective range of their artillery, an idea clearly expressed


54
in the 1936 Instructions. Because of this view of a limited battle­

field, the French simply were not trained to think of a hastily assembled,

distant armor attack. Their doctrine did not stress the decisive quali­

ties of initiative, speed, and celerity; rather, it placed emphasis on

the World War I approach of carefully preparing the set-piece, closely

controlled, methodical attack--in other words, the bataille conduite.

Another fatal error was that doctrine was based on the French

conception of battle, not that of the potential enemy. The number of

antitank guns supplied the French division was based on the assumption

that no more than 50 enemy tanks would be concentrated along a kilometer

in a major attack attempting to penetrate an organized front. Based on

this assumed maximum density, the French concluded that the proper density

of antitank guns should be one gun each 100 meters, or ten per kilometer. 55

These ten guns would, of course, be arranged in depth and not stretched

III a single line across a kilometer. In contrast, some German and

Austrian thinkers anticipated as many as 100 attacking tanks per kilometer

54
Instructions 1936, p. 17.
55 Capitaine A. Goutard, "La char en face de l'arme antichar dans
1a rupture," Revue d'Infanterie, Vol. 93 (August, 1938), p. 288; Gamelin,
Servir, I, p. 166. Compare Capitaine Chazal-Martin and Capitaine Suire,
"{tude mathematique de la puissance des armes antichars," Revue d'Infan­
terie, Vol. 95 (August, 1939), p. 294; and Colonel Hainie, tiL'Offensive
et la defensive avec les engins blindes," Revue militaire generale
(February, 1937), pp. 165-172.
52
56
and called for at least eighteen antitank guns per kilometer. There was

a clear difference, then, even before the blitzkrieg was truly born, in

the German and French conceptions of what a massive armored attack would

be.

One military writer dismissed the threat of Germany massing over

100 tanks per kilometer by lamely asserting, "At the very least, this

enormous density'of [enemy] vehicles appears exceptional."


57 Much to

the peril of France, it also appeared "exceptional" to most of the French

military hierarchy. Yet, when the battle of Sedan was fought in Hay

1940, the Germans concentrated along the 8-10 kilometer front a force of

over 800 tanks from Guderian's XIXth Panzer Corps, a density 60mewhat

less than 100 tanks per kilometer. Germany took her own understanding of

the contribution of materiel to the battlefield and thrust this on France,

who found herself unable to regain the initiative and unable to impose

her will on the enemy.

~\

56Capitaine Soury, "Le combat contre les engins cuirasses, par


Ie major von Schell," Revue d'Infanterie, Vol. 91 (July, 1937), pp. 98-99;
Perre, "La guerre des chars," pp. 978-979.
57 Soury, fiLe combat contre les engins cuirasses," p. 131.
Chapter IV

TilE LEGACY OF THE PAST

The legacy of the past was another factor moldinp, France's con­

cept of war. The extensive resources furnished by the philosophy of the

nation in arms and the frightful lethality of the battlefield owing to

modern materiel had both been amply demonstrated and practiced in the

Great War of 1914-1918. But having accepted the nation in arms and the

"tyranny of materiel," the French military all-too-willingly permitted

the army to be molded by the thoughts and events of the past, rather

than the opportunities of the present. The improper use of history

resulted in an inability to separate military thought from the past.

This hampered modernization of the army, and the example of the past

became the model within which France formed her approach to war. Speci­

fica11y, the Great War had been a long, methodical, consuming, annihilating

war, and the military expected the war of the future to be similar. l As

Paul Reynaud charged in the Chamber of Deputies in 1935, "While eyes in

our land are turned toward the war of yesterday, Germans turn theirs

toward the war of tomorrow." 2

IFor the French view of war, see Instructions 1936, pp. 97-99;
Instructions 1921, pp. 58-61; General Haurin, L'Armee moderne (Paris:
Flammarion, 1938), pp. 133-151; General Debeney, Sur la securite militaire
de la France (Paris: Payot, 1930, pp. 46-51; and Commandant Bouvard,
Les lecons militaires de la guerre (Paris: Masson, 1920), pp. 13-16.
oS

2J. 0 • Ch • Deb. (1935 ), p • 1041.

53
54

The impact ,of World War I on France is difficult to over­

estimate or over-emphasize, since the terrible losses of that war scarred

her very soul. With a male, military-age population of 13,350,000,

France mobilized an army of 8,410,000, including North African and

colonial forces. Of these, 1,122,400 were killed or died during the war,

3,594,889 were wounded~. and 260,000 were missing. Hence, 1,382,400 French

soldiers, or 16.4% of those mobilized, were dead or missing in the war.

Of those killed or missing, 36,600 were officers, and of the 100,600

infantry officers mobilized, 29,260 (or 29%) died. 3 Furthermore, 6,000

of the 17,000 graduates of St. Cyr that served in the war were killed.

Since most were junior officers, more than half of the most recent grad­

uates fell in the war. These terrible losses were written indelibly into

the minds and memories of the military; the scars of the war could not be

forgotten.

In his over-view of the ill-fated Third Republic, Professor

Donald C. McKay 4 has suggested that there are two distinct periods of

history for this unfortunate government: the ascending one of optimism

and accomplishment from 1871 to 1914, and the descending one of pessimism

and inertia from 1918 to 1940. According to Professor McKay, the war of

1914-1918 acted as a "well-defined watershed" between the two contrast­

ing periods. Such a picture could also be drawn of the military, with

1871 to 1914 being a period of overflowing dptimism and hardwork, 1914

3J • p ., "Les pertes des nations belligerantes au cour de la grande


guerre," Les Archives de Ie Grande Guerre (Paris: Etienne Chiron, 1921),
pp. 41, 197, 201-202, 194. The figures are based on the study made by
Louis Maurin as a member of the Army Commission in the Chamber of Deputies.
4
Donald C. McKay, "The Third Republic in Retrospect," The Virginia
Quarterly Review, Vol. 33, No.1 (Winter, 1957), pp. 46-60.
55
to 1918 a soul-wrenching "watershed," and 1918 to 1940 a time of with­

drawal and exhaustion. The period before World War I was the era of the

unbridled spirit; the one following that war was the era of brutal reality,

the era of materiel. While this generalization has some obvious limita­

tions, notably the Dreyfus affair, the ~lan, the spirit of the French

army had undoubtedly been drained in the "Great War" of 1914 to 1918.

A different perception of war is evident when one compares the

1913 and the 1921 Instructions on the employment of large units. For

example, the 1913 Instructions claimed, "Battles are above all morale

contest,"S while the one of 1921 declared, "Fire is the preponderant

factor of combat.,,6 The experience of the First World War had convinced

French commanders that they could no longer prepare for battle believing

in a swift, relatively painless victory. Similarly, the 1913 manual

emotionally asserted, "Studies of the past have borne their fruit: the

French army, returning to its traditions, admits in the conduct of

operations no law other than that of the offensive.,,7 Reflecting the

trauma of the war, the 1921 Instructions injected:

Its [the infantry's) task on the field of battle is particularly


difficult but is glorious above that of all others.

In battle it is the infantry that suffers the most; betore the


attack every effort of the commander should be made to spare it, by
saving it from unnecessary fatigue, to maintain or exalt its morale. 8

The 1921 Instructions contain numerous adjectives that are bluntly

descriptive of modern battles but which are not to be found in the 1913

5Reg 1ement 1913, p. 7.

6Instructions 1921, p. 61.

7Reglement 1913, p. 48.

B
Instructions 1921, p. 23.
56

Regulations. Such words as "annihilating," "crushing," and "irresistible"

simply do not portray the view of war that existed in 1914 but which per­

vaded the military after 1918.

There is no concrete or quantifiable cause and effect relation­

ship between this changing view of war and the evolution of doctrine,

but there is little doubt the final pessimistic view contributed to a

preference for the defense and for the batai11e conduite. Jean Dutourd,

in his own devastating manner, has described his view of the results

for France. "1 feel a personal grudge against these peace-loving generals.
9
Mistaking their own vocation, they sabotaged mine." France's generals

in 1940 may not have been "peace-loving" in the neKative sense Dutourd

implies, but they were definitely not "war-mongers." Nor were they as

anxious for or mentally as well prepared for war in 1940 as they had been

in 1914.

As for the military hierarchy's emphasis on the defense, the

lasting contribution of Marshal Petain durinR World War 1 and one of the

most important factors in the creation of his reputation had been his

halting of the futile and bloody charges against enemy defenses. In

contrast to the insanity of General Nivelle's offensive of April 1917,

Marshal Petain's preference for the defense and the husbanding of man­

power and lives seemed brilliantly logical. While describing the accom­

plishments of Petain, one military writer asserted that in order to

accurately describe the Marshal's route to success, future historians

would have to use the title, "How one becomes a great leader by loving

9
Jean Dutourd, The Taxis of the Marne, trans. Harold King (New
York: Simon and Schuster, 1957), p. 8.
57

one's soldiers."lO To end the careless and often useless wasting of

lives and to restore the morale of the French soldier, the slogan of the

army under Petain subsequently became t "The artillery conquers, the

infantry occupies."ll For the remainder of the First World War, needless

deaths were avoided by emphasizing the advantages of the defensive and

• the crushing nature of firepower t though losses continued to be more than

40 t OOO a month. 12 But the years of futile charges against the enemy's

trenches and barbed wire and the final welcome ending of the useless

losses had convinced many French leaders of the advantages of the defense,

and it was not to be a lesson easily forgotten. How could anyone escape

the haunting memories of the bloody and disastrous offensives?

The example and the memories of World War I continued to exercise

a strong influence over French military thought in the interwar period,

and this influence eventually became the object of much criticism. One

of the most forceful attacks on the military's use of h1storyt and in­

directly on doctrine t was made by Marc Bloch after the battle was lost in

1940. He said:

No worse charge can be brought against the teaching of history


as almost invariably practiced in our military schools than this-­
that it persuaded our army leaders of 1914 to expect the war then
imminent to resemble the wars fought by Napo1eon t and those of
twenty-five years later that the war of 1939 would be a repetition of
the war of 1914 • • • • 13
..
lOGeneral Arthur Boucher, L'Art de Vaincre aux Deux Poles de
l'Histoire: Sa Loi Eternelle (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1928), p. 289.

llThis quote was often cited by military writers, but see General
Arthur Boucher, L'Infanterie sacrifiee (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1930),
p. 57.

12

Theodore Ropp, War in the Modern World (New York: Collier Books,
1962) , p. 264.
13
Marc Bloch, Strange Defeat, trans. Gerald Hopkins (New York:
W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1968), p. 119.
58

The civilian segment of society was not alone in criticizing such a use

of history, for contemporary French officers also objected to placing

too much stress on lessons learned from history. One example of such

criticism is that made by General Eugene Debeney, who objected to the

attempt to obtain doctrine strictly from history. Obviously speaking in

a satirical sense., this former commandant of the War College and the

Center for Higher Military Studies stated:

Doctrine--with a capital "D"-should be a sheaf of principles


comprising the secrets of victory; it is dependent upon studies,
whether historic or whether simply didactic. One analyzes the
strategy and the tactics of the great captains, and after [labora­
tory] distillation, one extracts the quintessence of their ideas
and on the decanter glues the label, principles. Next one analyzes
the principles, adapts them to the situation of the moment, clothes
them in the technical form of the time, imagines them to be vital,
and serves a sauce plate of "Doctrine. rr14

His derisive description clearly illustrated what he considered to be the

foolishness of solely considering the great captains in history as the

supreme sources of wisdom and of doctrine, and attacked what he per­

ceived as an increasingly rigid approach to doctrine in the French army

in the 1930's. For General Debeney, the sources of this increasing

rigidity was eVidently French principles derived from an over-reliance

on history.

As one examines the evidence, however, he finds little proof of a

conscious attempt by the French leadership to emphasize military history

in order to convince the officer corps that a war in the future would be

a carbon copy of that fought from 1914-1918. In fact, the French were

l4Genera1 Debeney, La guerre et les Immmes (Paris: PIon, 1937),


pp. 264-265, 44-45. For General Weygand's efforts at the War College and
Center for Higher Military Studies, see his Memoires: Nirages et Realite,
II (Paris: F1ammarion, 1957), pp. 309-314, 326-327, 353.
59

cautious after World War I in their use of history, for they were aware

that unfortunate and improper lessons concerning the offensive had been

drawn from imperfect historical studies before that war. They never

rejected the idea of principles underlying doctrine, but at the same time

they attempted to heed the warning of those such as General Mangin who

quoted Napoleon's.dictum: "There are no definite rules." Hangin believed

that the ways of war were constantly changing, and it was always necessary

to keep in touch with the changes. One of his examples illustrates this.

He said:

The [history] instructor • • • should not select all his examples


from the same epoch. If someone should object because of the small
interest ancient wars hold for us on account of the difference in
armament, the instructor should • • • quote [Napoleon] the ~~ster:
"If Gustavus-Adolphus or Turenne arrived in one of our camps the
night before a battle, they could command an army the next day. But
if Alexander, Caesar, or Hannibal were to come back from the Elysian
fields, they would need at least one or two months to learn the changes
that powder, rifles, guns, howitzer and mortars have produced in the
art of the defense and the offense. They would have to spend that
time in an artillery park."lS

Mangin was thus in agreement with Marshal Petain that technological

changes were the basis for changes in the nature of warfare. At the same

time he was aware that the excesses of the offensive a outrance had come

from studying the campaigns of Napoleon without properly investigating

other eras.

After the war, the French officially emphasized their avoidance

of a military doctrine based solely on principles derived from historical

studies. This avoidance and its theoretical effect on doctrine were

most clear at the War College and the Center for Higher Military Studies.

Each of these schools, which represented the highest levels of military

l5General Mangin, Comment finit la Guerre (Paris: PIon, 1920),


pp. 317-318.
60

education, possessed a program designed to balance historical studies

and ~ concrets (or practical exercises).

The practical exercises, which were essentially case studies,

were designed to develop the military judgment and understanding of the

student officers. As General Loizeau told the students at the War College

in 1932, practical exercises were not intended to provide the student with

a "stereotype, a staunch mandarin theme of a model solution, that one

could apply to every circumstance •• The students were told that

if they considered numerous examples in which the mission, situation,

terrain, enemy, and friendly forces available varied, this would develop

their "qualities of decision, judgment, and initiative • • . , and lead

them to think as a leader, with their good sense, their character, and

their personality.,,17 The practical exercises were designed to develop

these qualities through a consideration of numerous cases, and solutions

to tactical exercises often included the disclaimer, "The enclosed orders

are given only as examples. They constitute neither the sole possible

solution for the situation studied, nor a schema applicable to every

analagous situation." l8

l6France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre (General Loizeau), La


Manoeuvre du Corps d'Armee dans l'Armee (Courbevoie: P. Chanove, 1932),
p. 4. See France, tcole Superieure de Guerre (Lieutenant Colonel Voisin),
Cours de Tactique Genera1e et d'Etat-Major, La Division au combat, Annee
1929-1930, p. 4; and General Duffour, ilLes exigences et les disciplines
actuelles du haut enseignement mi1itaire," (Part II) Revue de Paris
(March 15, 1935), pp. 354-359.

l7icole Superieure de Guerre (General Loizeau), La Manoeuvre du


Corps d'Armee dans l'Armee (1932), p. 4.

18France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Ecole de Perfectionnement


des Officers de Reserve du Service d'Etat-Major, Solution des deux
premieres situations etudiees, A~nee 1930-1931, p. 1. See Lieutenant
Colonel Guiselin, Preparation a Ecole de guerre (Paris: Charles-Lavauze11e,
1930), p. 16.
61
The practical exercises were also intended to expose the mili­

tary student to the theory or basic concepts of certain operations. As

another lecturer told the students at the War College, "Based most often

on practical exercises, lectures propose to show you the rational applica­

t i on 0 f t he reason i ng met t10 d 0


· d ec iSlone
f t he 1eader f or reac 11i ng 111S · ,,19

The cas concrets were examples endeavoring to illustrate military theory

and a method of reasoning to the officer student, and they successfully

provided a unity of doctrine or a common understanding of method among


20
the officer corps. They did not attempt to provide a single, or approved

solution appropriate for every combat problem, since the student was

supposed to learn a thinking process, not memorize a recipe for success.

At the same time, historical studies remained important. The

French recognized that exposure to theory was insufficient and that the

officer needed to learn how to think and decide for himself before he

was placed in a combat environment. Military history contributed to

this endeavor. In order to create a sense of realism and to illustrate

the complexities of the battlefield, most of the exercises at the War

College and the Center for Higher Military Studies were based on his­

torical problems. 21 The fear, the confusion, the unknown, the disorder

19Frans€, fcole Sup€rieure de Guerre, Conf€rence de Tactique


generale et d'Etat-Major, La Division, Annee 1932, p. 7.

20General Tanant, La Discipline dans les Arm€es Franiaises (Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle, 1938), pp. 282-284. See Lieutenant Colonel Pascal
Lucas, L'Evo1ution des Idees Tactiques et France et en Al1emagne pendant
La Guerre de 1914-1918 (Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1925), p. 21.
21
. Duffour, "Haut enseignement militaire," pp. 354-359; France,
Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Cours de Tactique Gen€rale et d'Etat-~~jor,
Conferences sur Ie Service d'Etat-Major, Annee 1920-1921, pp~ 4-5; France,
Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Cours de Tacti9ue Gcnerale et d'Etat-}~jor,
Lc Corps d'Arm€e, Ann€e 1928-1929, p. 31; Ecole Superieure de Guerre
(General Loizeau), La Manoeuvre du Corps d'Armee dans l'Armee (1932), p. 3.
62
of the battlefield could not be duplicated in the classroom, but the

student could gain a sense or a flavor of these complicating factors

through an exposure to history.

Military history also served as a vehicle to illustrate the

nature of change in warfare. A lecturer at the War College explained,

the attentive examination of the events of the past is a precious


source of education • • • • [Such an examination should] analyze the
facts, and methodically observe the cause and effect relationship
that • • • permits the reaching of positive deductions for the
future. 22

Another officer, who was also a historian, stated, "Hilitary history is

able to furnish, in times of peace, a base that permits the building of

a strategic or tactical doctrine, and then defining the changes that must

be accomplished if new conditions are going to appear." 23 In short, the

French viewed military history as a useful method of introducing the

officer to the problems and realities of war, while exposing him also to

the dynamic changes that occur during war. By understanding how and why

warfare had changed in the past, the officer would understand how warfare

could change in the future.

Nevertheless, the French utilization of history yielded unintended

results, especially, when pre-World War I thinkers were criticized.

Hi1itary lecturers and writers in the late 1920's and 1930's often

identified the 1815-1870 era as a period of "decadence" crowned with the

ignominious defeat of 1870-1871, the 1870-1895 era as a period of

22France, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Conferences de Tactique


genera1e et d'Etat-~mjor, La Division, Annee 1932, pp. 7-8.

23Lieutenant Colonel Rene Tournes, L'Histoire Militaire (Paris:


Char1es-Lavauzel1e, 1922), p. 26.
63

reflection and accomplishment, and the 1895-1914 period as the unfortunate

era of the offensive. 24 The failure of the offensive a outrance thinkers

to understand the effects of firepower on the battlefield was stressed,

and the mistakes made by the pre-World War I High Connnand with history

were meticulously pointed out. For example, in 1925-1926 a lecturer at

the War College quo,t.ed the commission that wrote the 1875 regulations for

the infantry: "The commission [of 1875] admits, as a veritable axiom,

the preponderant importance of fire." The officer then explained:

We are able to see this idea of the preponderance of fire


become increasingly blurred in our successive regulations . • . .
And it seems evident that in August 1914 the nearly absolute
contempt for enemy fire • • • may have been a terrible mistake for
our infantry, [for which we] dearly paid. 25

The error had been made in the past, and the officer concluded that

current regulations correctly recognized the preponderance of fire.

The implication is clear. Historical studies immediately prior

to World War I had supposedly ignored the true lessons to be learned

from history, and the French military was reassuring itself that it

would not make the same mistake again, that it had learned the true

lessons. For them, the inexorable lesson of history was that a future

war would be long and lethal.

24Among the many available, see General Rene Altmeyer, Etudes de


Tactique Generale (Paris: Charles-Lavauze11e, 1937), pp. II, 13; Ecole
Superieure de Guerre, Le Corps d'Arrnee, Annee 1928-1929, pp. 177, 180;
Commandant Bouvard, Les lecons militaires de la guerre {Paris: Masson,
~
64

As for the failure of the offensive! outrance, even the his­

torical methodology of tile creators of this ill-fated creed was critized.

Une French officer described the approach of Colonel Bonnal, who had

preceded Harshal Foch as Profes::.or of Hilitary History, Strategy, and

Applied Tactics, as being nothing more than interpreting "a document in

a sense in which nothing is justified unless it supported the thesis

which had to be defended.,,26 If nothing else, the trauma and tragedy

of the beginning days of World War I were vivid evidence that II improper"

lessons had come from the War College and from the course in military

history, strategy, and applied tactics, which had given a strong impetus
27
to the offensive a Dutrance. Consequently, this course disappeared

in 19lY after the War College had been reopened, and was replaced by

two different courses: one in military history and another on the

general staff, strategy, and tactics. 28 This change agreed with the

idea of having historical studies broaden the intellectual perspective

of officers, and having practical exercises demonstrate specific concepts

or teaelling points. Thus, strategic and tactical doctrine would supposedly

not be based on unchanging lessons of history but would be deduced from

evidence existing in the present, not that of the past.

One interesting result of the attempt to not misuse history was

a temporary backing away from the idea of principles of war. Before

World War I, France had published a list of principles in her lY13

26Tournes, L'Histoire militaire, p. 106.

27 For a defense of the War College, see G~n~ral UebeIley, La guerre


et les hommes (Paris: PIon, 1937), p. 277.
28 , '
1 ourucs, L'Histoire militaire, p. 109.
Regulations on the Conduct of Large lJnits,29 and these had embodied the

doctrine of the offensive a outrance. With that theory in disrepute

after World War I, however, the conunission charged with the writing the

.
1921 I nstruct10ns d ec id e d not to f urn i s h a 1i st 0 f pr i nC1p
. 1es 0 f war. 30

They did not reject principles of war; they simply avoided the issue. By

1936 principles of war were no longer avoided and were again included in

the new Instructions, but they differed remarkably from the 1913 list.

While the earlier ones had strongly emphasized the offense, the ones in
31
1936 emphasized principles that might apply to any military operation.

The Bir,h Conunand obviously sought to avoid the errors made before 1914,

and the safety of generalities was preferred over the danger of specifics.

Huch to France's misfortune the reaction against pre-World War 1

thought only hastened the closing of French eyes to all lessons, save

those of the defensive, the continuous front, and firepower. The mili­

tary, while accusing their predecessors of improperly using history,

conunitted the same error; they rejected ideas and formed concepts from

information gained from the improper use of history, not from opportunities

in the present. (;eneral Tony Albord has appropriately criticized this

failure as an intellectual one and as an indicator of an eclipse in

French military thought. J2 Remaining tied to a historical r.lethod inexactly

seeking infallible principles from the war, the military was unable to

29Reglement 1913, pp. 47-52.

30Instructions 1921, p. 14.

3lInstructions 1936, pp. 32-33.

32G~n6ral Tony Albord, Pourquoi cela est arriv~, ou les r~spon­


sabilities d'tine cneration militaire (Nantes: Aux portes du large,
1947 ; Albord, Appel a 1 imagination," Revue de defense nationa1e
(August-September, 1949), pp. 159-167.
66
see beyond those principles. Lieutenant Colonel Rohert Vial has accu­

rately described the historians seekin~ these principles as little more


33
than "physicists," since evidence was sought to reinforce previously

obtained perceptions. Given the sophistication of French historians

during this period, the primitive level of historical analysis by the

military is difficult to accept, but the evidence is clear.

As one surveys the lectures given at the \~ar College, it is

evident that the examples used in lecture halls were invariably those

of World War I. The master of the technique of manipulating history

to prove a point was General Narcisse Chauvineau, who has been des­
34
cribed as "one of the mos t celebrated professors" at the \-Jar College.

His very influential book, .!.!.~~ inv~sion, est-ellc en~orc possible?,

carefully examined the Fi rs t World War for lessons concerning the pO\ve r

of the defense. Marshal Petain in a preface to the hook surrrrnarized the

author's pyrrhic achievement: "The rare accomplishment of General

Chauvineau will be his having demonstrated that the continuous front is

simultaneously founded on the lessons of history and the technical pro­

perties of arms and forti fications. ,,35 In rea1i ty, Chauvineau had

committed the same error as Colonel Bonnal and the other priests of the

33Lieutenant Colonel Robert Vial, "L'armee francaise et


l'histoire," Revue historique, CCXVII (April-June, 1962), pp. 433-439.

34pau1-Marie de la Gorce, The French Army (New York: George


Brazil1er, 1963), p. 274. For a discussion of the role of General
Chauvineau, see Alvin D. Coox, "General Narcisse Chauvineau: False
Apostle of Prewar French Military Doctrine," Hilitary Affairs, XXXVII,
No.1 (February, 1973), pp. 15-19; Eugene Carrias, La pensee militaire
francaise (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1960), pp. 335-336;
and Paul Reynaud, In the Thick of the Fight, 1930-1945 (New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1955), pp. 170-174.

35Marechal Petain, "Preface," to General Narcisse Chauvineau, Une


invasion, est-e11e encore possible? (Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1939),
p. XXI.
67
offensive ! out ranee by seeking only the evidence that supported his

thesis, and after the war, General Gamelin acknowledged that Chauvineau's

book had encouraged France to be "lulled into slumber in complete con­

fidence" behind the Maginot Line. 36

Another example of this historical anamorphosis is military

journals, which we.re saturated with articles 'on the Great War. The

Revue d'Infanterie is an excellent journal for analysis, since its

contents before World War I and World War II can be compared. Using

the contents from January 1928 to December 1938 as broken down accord­

ing to historical subject by that journal, one finds that 65 articles

analyzed battles in the War of 1914-1918, 23 covered colonial campaigns,

one reviewed the war in Ethiopia, one described the Spanish Civil War,

and nine discussed ancient campaigns (meaning not in the twentieth cen­

tury). Of the nine articles discussing ancient campaigns, five were

devoted to the Foreign Legion, three to seiges or blockades, and one to

historical passages of the Rhine River. 37

The widely circulated and highly influential military journal

thus devoted the great majority of its historical studies to discussions

of the First World War or campaigns similar to those of that war. Since

the articles on colonial campaigns and the Foreign Legion were concerned

with "colonial" rather than "total" wars, there was practically no

36General Gamelin, Servir (3 Vols., Paris: PIon, 1946-1947), I,


pp. 236-237.

37Tab1e Analytique de matieres contenu dans les tomes 72 a 91


inclus de la Revue d'Infanterie, et Table A1phabetique des noms d'auteurs
(Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle,1939). Data from volumes 92 and 93 were
gathered from indexes contained within them. Beginning in September, 1937,
the Spanish Civil War was closely followed in the journal, not by
articles, however, but by reviews of other articles and books.
68

discussion of battles in "total" wars, that were dissimilar from the

pervasive model of the Great War. The resulting historical distortion

contrasts sharply with the contents of the Revue d'Infanterie before

World War I. Despite Bonnal, Foch, and Grandmaison's preoccupation

with the battles of Napoleon and despite Bloch's suggestion of the

contrary, less than 2% of the historical articles in that journal from

July 1905 to July 1914 actually dealt with the era of Napoleon. Over

41% discussed the Russo-Japanese War, and 32% discussed the Franco­
38
Prussian War of 1870-1871. The contents of the journal were strikingl v

more balanced in that era than in the interwar period.

The exceptions to this failure of the French military to impar­

tially consider evidence other than that from the r.reat War were often

hardly exceptions. For example, in the 1930's General Loizeau of the

War College lectured and wrote on "maneuvers of the wing" and analyzed

such ~reat captains as Hannibal, Frederick II, Napoleon, }-101tke,


39
Schlleffen, and Joffre. Nonetheless, his tactical methods envisioned

little more than a set-piece battle in which a mass of French troops

would sweep around an enemy flank into his rear. This is precisely what

Petain envisioned in his conception of a strategic maneuver from behind

the Maginot Line 40 and remarkably similar to what Gamelin tried to do in

38Data for the period July 1905 to July 1914 were taken from
indexes contained within the individual volumes. If an article were
spread through several issues, it was counted as only one article.

39Ecole Superieure de Guerre (General Loizeau), La Manoeuvre du


Corps d'Armee dans l'Armee (1932), pp. 97-129; General L. Loizeau, Deux
Manoeuvres (Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1933), pp. 3-70.

40Gcnera1 Paul-Emile Tournoux, Defense des frontieres. Uaut


commandement-Governement, 1919-1939 (Paris: Nouvelles editions latines,
1960), p. 79; Tournoux, "Les origines de 1a 1igne Maginot," Revue d'histoire
de la deuxierne guerre mandiale, IX, No. 33 (January, 1959), pp. 3-14.
69
the opening days of World War II. Loizeau's studies offered no real

alternative to the many other available, for he parrotted the common

belief that the rupture of an extended front "will always be a difficult

accomplishment and will exact heavy losses.,,41 At the same time, Loizcau

saw the maneuver of armies as being possible only in the first encounters

of war, before enough manpower and materiel had been mobilized to "permit

the immediate establishment of strong, unbroken fronts in the principal


42
theater of operations."

French military thought remained tied to the example of World

War I, since it was the clearest example of the modern, devastating

battlefield. The age and experience of France's military leaders un­

doubtedly contributed to this. The average age of generals commanding

brigades in 1940 was 59; generals commandinp, divisions, 62; and generals

commanding armies, 65. At the start of World \.Jar II, Gamelin was 67,

Weygand 72, and Petain 83. In contrast, Napoleon had been 46 at \'Jaterloo,
43
and Joffre had been 62 in 1914.

Marc Bloch has succinctly described the relationship between

the failure of French military thought and the age of the military

leaders.

Not only had they relived those glorious days [of the past war]
a hundred times in books or lectures: not only had they based on
them a whole curriculum of military education. They were soaked

4l E'co ~.
"" 1 e Superleure d e Guerre (G~enera1 L' ) La!Manoeuvre d u
01zeau,
Corps d'Armcc dans l'Armee (1932), pp. 92, 67-93.

42 Ibid • An English translation of Loizeau's lectures was used as


an auxiliary text at the Command and General Staff College at Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas, during the mid 1930's.

43Alfred Vagts, "Age and Field Command," Hilitary Affairs, VI,


No.1 (1942), pp. 15, 16, 18.
70

in them to the very marrow of their bones • • • • Incidents which,


for others, served merely to illustrate some objective lesson in
strategy were, for them, • • • unforgettable reminders. • • •
Everything • • • conspired to make them think that they need only
avoid the mistakes which had so nearly lost the last war to win
the next one; that they had merely to repeat the methods which,
~~n first tried out, had brought success • • • • Alas! the field
of possible mistakes is limitless. What, yesterday, was wisdom
may become, tomorrow, the worst of follies. 44

France had been unable to develop a concept of war disencumbered by

vivid memories of the past, and even though pre-World War I thoughts and

mistakes had been ardently criticized, she failed to realize she was

making similar mistakes in the 1920's and 19]0's. These mistakes accen­

tuated an already existing intellectual conservatism in the military.

Bloch's charge about the improper use of history to reinforce

preconceived beliefs is, thus, substantially correct, though the effort

was not a conscious, directed program. The failure was more one of pre­

occupation than one of commission--or even of omission. Of all the

accusations made against the French military hierarchy, perhaps none

are so devastating as this one, that the leadership was unable or

unwilling to disassociate itself from the perceptions of the past.

Part of the roots of the French failure to modify their concept of war

are to be found in this tragic error, for by overreliance on history as

a source of perpetual principles, Frencll doctrine was molded more by

past experiences than by technological advances. The French were not

ready to refight World War I, but they were ready to fight a similar

war. Had the memories of World \oJar I not been so vivid, the French may

have been more willing to change their concept of war and their doc­

trines of the defense, continuous front, and firepower.

44Bloch, Strange Defeat, p. 122.


71
The legacy of the past dampened military thought in other ways,

one especially important legacy being the vast amount of materiel remain­

ing after the First World '.Jar. This old and obsolete equipment acted

to retard modernization of the army, especially the armored forces, and

impeded France's understanding of the changes in the nature of war

during the 1920's and 1930's. One clear example of this was the 1917

l{enault FT; the long presence of this tank in the inventory reinforced

the French perception of the tank as an awkward, blundering, and vu1­

nerable vehicle with little potential for vast, independent movement.

According to figures given by Lieutenant Colonel J. Perr~, a

prolific writer on French armor during the interwar period, about 3,000

tanks--the vast majority being Renault FT's--wpre left over from the

First World War. 45 A number of battalions of FT tanks were actually


46
used in Hay-June 1940, with the Germans eventually capturing some 1,704.

Because of its long presence in the French inventory, this 47

hardy little tank exercised a remarkahle influence over French doctrine

during the period 1919-1935. With French units and depots overflowing

with these tanks, how could the military not decide to utilize them,

especially since the German threat was not so apparent during these

years and since military appropriations continued to he reduced. The

lightly armed, two-man tank \'leighed 6.5 tons, had a maximum range of 25

45Lieutenant Colonel Perre and Capitaine Le Gouest, "Chars et


statistiques, Les construction et les pertes," Revue d'Infanterie,
Vol. 87, No. 514 (July 1, 1935), pp. 86, 96-103. See Richard M.
Ogorkiewicz, Armor (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1960), p. 372.

46Commission • • • Rapport, II, pp. 293-296, 306-307.

47Portions of the following have previously been published in


Captain Robert A. Doughty, "The Enigna of French Armored Doctrine, 1940,"
Armor, LXXXIII, No.5 (September-October, 1974), pp. 39-44.
72

to 30 miles, and was only.capab1e of 4.8 miles per hour under ideal

conditions. On cross-country movements this was reduced to somewhere

between one and two-and-a-half miles per hour. For traveling long

distances, it had to be hauled by train or truck. Owing to their

slowness and light protection, the Renault 1"1' tanks would normally

advance with or slightly precede the infantry. To let the tanks auda­

ciously advance far ahead of the infantry would be a mistake and would

risk their being destroyed without actually helping the infantry in the

attack; only when these tanks attacked deliberately \-lith the infantry

in close attendance were they likely to succeed.

As a result of these obvious limitations of the principal tank in

their inventory, the French failed to completely understand the potential

of armor, and until 1934 or 1935, the main emphasis for tanks was on their

mission of accompanying the infantry. The only new type tanks hrought

into the French inventory until 1935 were the h-l and the V-I, both

medium tanks. The B-1, however, was not mass produced until after 19J),

with only three actually delivered before 1935. The V-l came into ser­

vice in 1931, but there were never more than a total of 150 of this tank
48
and subsequent models of it which followed. The military hierarchy

recognized that old equipment hampered French thought, and as early as

1930 the new Inspector of Tanks, General Segonne, called for the replace­

ment of materiel that had been "rendered obsolete by technical progress.,,49

But little was done until the B-1 came into mass production after 1935.

48Jeffrey Johnstone Clarke, "Hilitary Technology in Republican


France: The Evolution of the French Armored Force, 19l7-l9 L.0," unpub­
lished Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1968, p. 84.

49Quoted in Colonel Georges Ferre, Le defaut de l'armurej Nos chars


ouvaient-ils vaincre en 1940?--Ensei nements et ers ectives nouvelles
Paris: Charles-Lavauze1le, 1948), p. 55.
73
The noted armor expertcd Richard H. Ogorkiewicz has described

the unfortunate results:

The absence of a progressive doctrine was partly responsible


for the lack of understanding of the need for new equipment but,
at the same time, the lack of modern tanks was partly responsible
for the lack of understanding of the potentialities of mechanized
warfare: it was not easy to visualize it and almost impossible
to demonstrate it with a tank whose maximum speed was short of
5 m.p.h. 50

This very real legacy of the past hampered France's comprehension of how

warfare was changing. In a time of great technological advance, france

plodded along with her 1917 tank, ready to fight the war of the future

with the weapon of the past. But even then, her concept of the war of

the future bore a remarkable resemblance to the one fought in 1914-1918.

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 could have been the proving

ground to demonstrate the inadequacy of the old ideas and of France's

concept of war. The military recognized this, and a keen interest was
51
shown in the events and outcome of that war. Yet, the reader can

almost sense a feeling of relief in the French military community when

the Revue d'Infanterie was able to announce in November 1938 that

General J. C. M. S. Dufieux, Inspector General of Tanks and Infantry,

had concluded:

500gorkiewicz, Armor, pp. 174-175.

5l0f the many available, see General Duval, Les lecons de la


guerre d'Espagne (Paris: PIon, 1938); C. Rougeron, Les Enseignements
Aeriens de 1a Guerre d'Espagne (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1939); General
Armengaud, "Les lecons de la guerre d'Espagne," Revue des deux mondes,
XL (August 15, 1937), pp. 754-769; Louis Garros, "Les lecons militaires
de 1a guerre d'Espagne," Revue de France (July, 1937), pp. 33-48; General
Niessel, "Chars, antichars et motorisation dans 1a guerre d'Espagne,"
Revue mi1itaire genera1e, IV (December, 1938), pp. 745-760; and Raymond
Sereau, "Laguerre d'Espagne, signifie-t-elle la fail1ite de la
motorisation?" Revue hebdomadaire (September 11, 1937), pp. 222-232.
74

The Spanish experience has confirmed the lessons of the Great


War on two important points: (1) Tanks should be employed in mass
and on a front as extended as possible • • • ; (2) They [tanks] are
not able to fight without the support of the artillery and the
support of thE infantry, which is alone capable of clearing and
occupying terrain. 52

The Revue d'Infanterie could only remark, "Note the return to classic
,,53
ideas.

For France the "classic idea" remained the model furnished by

World War I, but there was no sense of relief felt when the deadly

nature of that war was considered. The appalliu8 number of casualties

of the Spanish Civil War was emphasized, and one observer asked:

Where is the limit? In the next war \l1hen all the men and
women of military age have disappeared, will we perhaps see chil­
dren mutilated by bombs using their stumps to aim machiner,uns, for
which cartridges are being made in the caves by their grandfathers. 54

The methodical, deadly, long battle survived as their concept of war,

and no new methods such as the "lightning war" made possible by armor,

would overturn at' replace that concept. Vacillation on the nature of

future \varfare which had become increasingly common in French thought

in the early 1930's was quieted somewhat,55 and ironically, the example

of World War I became more powerful than ever. The experience of the

Great War dominated French thought, and its lessons--in the opinion of

many in the military-had been corroborated by the Spanish Civil War.

52Quoted in Lieutenant Gelot, "Les enseignements de la guerre


d'Espagne," Revue d'Infanterie, Vol. 93 (Novemher, 1938), pp. 1038-1039.

53 Ibid ., p. 1038.

54Rougeron, Enseignements A6riens, p. 246.

55Compare Har6chal Petain, "Preface," to Chauvineau, Une invasion,


pp. V-XXI, with Petain, "La sccurite de la France au cours des anees
creuses," Revue de~ deux mondes, XA'VI (J~arch 1, 1935), pp. I-XX.
75
Few doubted that the war of the future would be a conflict of unparalleled

length, violence, destruction, and slaughter.


Chapter V

THE PROBLEH OF THE FRONTIERS

Despite France's faith in the nation in arms and the possihility

of mobilizing the entire resources of the nation if war carne, she reco~-

nized her resources were not unlimited. In comparison to the much larger

population and natural resources of Germany, France's potential for

mobilization was relatively small, and she found herself facing a poten­

tially more pmverful enemy for which she needed her every resource to

successfully repel and defeat. Much to France's misfortune, however,

much of her natural resources and industrial capability was located near

her frontiers and thus within easy striking distance of the Germans.

This vulnerability contributed to France's acceptance of a doctrine

emphasizing the defense and the continuous front. The problem of the

frontiers reinforced the concept already molded by the philosophy of the

nation in arms, the perception of the lethality of modern weaponry, and

the experience of the past.

The French perception of total war accentuated the need for a

complete agricultural, industrial, financial, and administrative mobili­

zation, but with the stress on materiel, industrial mobilization assumed

a position of particular importance. In a January 1936 meeting of the

High Hilitary Committee, a body of military and political leaders charged


1
with "coordinating the needs of national defense," General Gamelin noted

lCommandant Jean Vial, "La Defense nationale: son organisation


entre les deux guerres," Revue d'histoire de la deuxi~me guerre mondiale,
Vol. 5, No. 18 (April, 1955), p. 16.
76
77

it would be impossible to equal the number of German soldiers, but this


2
was not true in the case of materiel. If this optimistic hope for

equality or superiority in materiel were to be accomplished, however,

every industrial and natural resource of France would have to be utilized

in war, and they would have to be employed in a manner where the combat

power of the smaller number of Frenchmen could be magnified by the uti­

lization of materiel.

The problE~m of manpower for the French armed forces had long

been a source of gloom. From the time of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870­

1871, there was a progressive decline in the ratio of Frenchmen to Germans.

As Table 1 demonstrates, this ratio declined from near equality to one of

Germany's populat:lon more than doubling that of France.

Table 1

Males Aged 20-34 in France and Germany)

(Nillions)

(Territories are for dates given.)

Periods France Germany Ratio

Franco-Prussian War 4.4 (1866) 4.7 (1871) 1.0/1.07

World War I 4.5 (1911) 7.7 (1910) 1.0/1.71

World War II 4.3 (1940) 9.4 (1939) 1.0/2.19

2UDF , 1, No. 83, 18 January 1936, p. 122.

3Population figures are taken from Dudley Kirk, "Population and


Population Trends in Modern France," in Modern France: Problems of the
Third and Fourth Republics, ed., Edward Mead Earle (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1951), p. 317.
78
Faced with this much-larger enemy population and with the threat of the

so-called "lean years" when the smaller number of Frenchmen born during

the First World War would come of military age, France required a system
4
that would "enable fewer men to fight more efficiently."

The need for better efficiency was also accentuated by the law

of 1928, which reduced the term of military service from eighteen

months to one year. Approximately the same number would be drafted, but

their term of service would be cut by six months, or by one third. This

reduction in term of service also meant a one-third reduction in the

number of soldiers on active duty,.since the number of peacetime soldiers

depended directly on the over-lapping of terms of service from the various


5
drafted groups. At the same time, the reduction in the size of the

army meant that it would take longer to mobilize the entire nation, and

one deputy asserted that the French military had to "defend the frontier

• in an efficient fashion, for three or four months, • • • to give


,,6
the country time to attain its full potential ••

While the military of the late 1920's did not expect the cover­

ing forces along the frontier to hold for "three or four months," few

doubted that they had to be more efficient; this compelling need for

efficiency exercised a strong influence over the French decision to

4Richard D. Chal1ener, The French Theory of the Nation in Arms,


1866-1939 (New York: Russell & Russell, Inc., 1965), p. 221.

SEnno Kraehe, "The ~lotives Behind the Maginot Line," Military


Affairs, VIII, No.2 (1944), pp. 113-114.

6Journa1 Officie1 de 1a Repub1ique Francaise: Chambre Debats


(May 19, 1926), p. 1525 (Hereafter abbreviated as J.O. Cll. Deb); quoted
in Judith M. Hugh€~s, To the Haginot Line: The Politics of French Mili tary
Preparation in the 1920's (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971),
p. 178.
79

create fortifications along the frontier. With its faith in the superi­

ority of the defense, and with its recognition that the defense required

fewer personnel, the military hierarchy saw several advantages in creat­

ing a defensive system along the frontiers, perhaps the most important

advantage being that France's diminished forces could most effectively


7
be employed and protected in already-prepared defensive positions.

Such an emplOYment also agreed with the oft quoted principle of initially

conducting an economy of force operation in order to release badly

needed personnel t.o other parts of the front. 8 The need for fortifica­

tions was even more obvious after the evacuation of the Rhineland in

1930, which deprived France of an important buffer between herself and

the potential enemy. After the evacuation, nothing stood between France

and Germany that could stop the notorious attaque brusquee before it

reached French territory. As Enno Kraehe has noted, this threat became

the consideration most often discussed in the debate over increasing the
9
defenses of the French frontier.

National defense policy was greatly influenced by the nature of

the German threat and by the increasingly weak nature of the French army.

The smaller French army had to have something extra to successfully ward

off the dreaded attaque brusquee. At the same time, the presence of

much of France's industrial and natural resources along the frontier had

to be considered.

7General Paul-Emile Tournoux, Defense des frontieres. Haut


commandement-Gouvernement, 1919-1939 (Paris: Nouvelles editions latines,
1960), pp. 73-74.

8Instruction 1936, p. 32; Marechal Petain, "Preface,tf to General


Narcisse Chauvineau, Dne invasion, est-elle encore possible? (Paris:
Berger-Levrault, 1939), p. XV; General Maurice Gamelin, Servir (3 Vols.,
Paris: PIon, 1946-1947), I, pp. 245-247.

9Kraehe, liThe Motives Behind the Maginot Line," p. 113.


80
Before 1914 the frontier covering forces had been composed of

troops stationed in close proximity to the border, most being active-

duty personnel with some reinforcement from the reserves. Their mission

was to delay an attacking enemy until the remainder of the French army

could be mobilized and brought into action. Utilizing their thorough

knowledge of the terFain, the covering forces were to fight as long as

possible and then slowly withdraw before the probable enemy superi­

ority. After several days of delaying, the covering force would reach

the protection of the fortified system of the upper Moselle and the

Meuse. Here they would continue the fight in order to gain the required

time for the mobilization of the army. Space could thus be traded for
10
the time that was required to mobilize the French army.

The 1913 regulations on the tactical employment of large units

explained that the purpose of the covering forces was to permit mobili­

zation along the frontier and to protect the debarkation and concentra­

tion zones for th~~ mobilizing French army. The regulation said that the

covering force had to "assure the protection of lines of communication,

works of art, telt~graph lines, and provisions in the front ier zone, II 11

but there was no mention of protecting natural resources or industrial

capability.

After 1918, however, the problem changed, for no longer could

many of the frontier areas simply be abandoned to the enemy. The

experiences of World War I revealed the importance of protecting France's

fragile natural resources. As shown in Table 2, production of many

lOGenera1 Debeney, La guerre et les hommes (Paris: PIon, 1937),


p. 203. See Kraehe, "The Motives Behind the Maginot Line," p. 115.

llReg1ement 1913, p. 42.


81

important resources dropped significantly from 1913 to 1915, even though

wartime requirements vastly increased demand.

Table 2

Natural Resource Production 12

(thousands of metric tons)

1913 1915

Coal 40,844 19,533

Raw Steel 4,687 1,111

Lead Ore 9,600 1,500

Iron Ore 21,918 620

This dramatic decline in the production of critically needed resources

was primarily due to the occupation by the Germans of several crucial

areas along thE: frontier containing valuable resources.

Two clear examples of important natural resources being vulner­

able to the German threat are coal and iron ore. These were especially

critical in thE! opinion of the French, since "total war" would require

vast amounts of the two resources. As for coal, the total reserves of

France before World War II were estimated to be only 18 billion tons.

In comparison, those of Germany were approximately 423 billion, while

l2France, Institut national de la statistique, Annuaire


Statistique, Vol. 50 (1934) (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1935), pp.
335*, 338*, 341*, 347* (Hereafter abbreviated as Annuaire Statistique,
1934).
82

England's were 190 billion. 13 Within France, the most important coal­

field lay in the departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais, and were never

more than 25 miles from the Belgian border. These coal fields had been

severely damaged during World War I by heavy shelling and by the Germans

deliberately flooding the mines in 1915-1916. Full production from the

damaged mines was not achieved until some ten years after the end of the

war. 14

By 1932, 63% of the coal produced in France carne from this fron­

tier region, and another lli~ came from the department of Moselle within

Lorraine. 15 These Lorraine deposits were also located along the German

border, and thus almost 75% of French coal production was exceptionally

vulnerable to a minor German penetration of the frontier. To make

matters worse, France had to import about 30% of the coal and coke she

used. 16 These imports were also subject to the whims and changing politics

of foreign powers. 17

French iron ore was even more vulnerable. After the war of 1870­

1871, Germany acquired control of most of the iron-ore producing area

of Lorraine, but France still retained a portion of that region. By

l3William F. Ogburn and William Jaffe, The Economic Development


of Post-War France: A Survey of Production (New York: Columbia Univer­
sity Press, 1929), pp. 5, 219.
14
Hilda Ormsby, France: A Regional and Economic Geography

(London: Methuen & Co., LTD., 1931; Revised edition, 1950), pp. 433-435.

15 Computed from Annuaire Statistique, 1934, p. 115.

16

Ormsby, Regional and Economic Geography, p. 433.

17

See Pierre Bruneau, "Le charbon 'puissance' de paix et de guerre,"


Revue militarie genera1e, XXI, No.6 (June, 1924), pp. 450-469; and Camille
Rougeron, "L'Autarcie," Revue militaire generale, II, No.4 (April, 1938),
pp. 469-491.
83

1913, 83% of the iron ore produced in France carne from that part of

Lorraine still under French control. When the war began, however, pro­

duction of iron ore was almost completely halted by the German seizure

of the remainder of Lorraine. To make matters worRe, other mines that

had produced 9% of the pre-war production were also closed by military

operations. Cons eq·uent ly , wartime production of iron ore in France

never exceeded even 10% of that produced in 1913. 18 After the war and the

restoring of all of Lorraine to France, nearly 95% of the iron ore pro­

duced in 1932 came from Lorraine. 19 In the interwar period, these iron

fields were the largest in Europe, the second largest known in the world,

and the most economical of all to work. 20 In short, the iron fields

were immensely important to the French economy and to any war effort, but

they were located dangerously close to the potential enemy.

The problem of oil was different, since France possessed little

or no petroleum resources. Most of the oil fields were in Alsace, and

these had been controlled by Germany from 1870-1871 until the end of

World War I. When Alsace was returned to France, production immediately

jumped to some 47,000 metric tons in 1919 and reached 67,000 by 1926. 21

Unfortunately, this was only 1.8% of the petroleum consumed by France in

that year. 22 One military writer concluded, "French petroleum policy,

envisioned from the point of view of national defense t' is then essentially

l80 gburn and Jaffe, Economic Development, p. 279.

19Computed from Annuaire Statistique, 1934, p. 115.

200rmsby, Regional and Economic Geography, p. 441.


21
Annualre S tatis tique, 1934, p. 372*.
22
Op,burn and Jaffe, Economic Development, p. 248.
84

a question of foreign policy and naval policy. • • • ,,23 The protection

of her own minuscule oil reserves had little effect on defense planning,

and other than increasing her storage capability, France could do little

more than hope that her needs would be met 1f war came.

A majo:r portion of the French manufacturing industry was also

vulnerable to the. German threat. Since industry tends to locate near

sources of coal and raw materials, especially iron ore, many factories

were located around the Pas-de-Calais and Nord coal field and near the

Lorraine iron and coal fields. Another important industrial area was

Paris, which offered roads, railroads, water communication routes, highly

skilled labor, and reasonably easy access to the requisite coal and raw

materials. 24 But Paris was more than an industrial center. In many

ways, it was the heart of France. In the 1930's one out of every seven

Frenchmen lived in Paris, and the other six were greatly influenced by

what went on 1.n that city. It was the seat of government, the center of

French industI'y, the hub of the communications system, and the focus of

its will, tho\';.ght, and opinion. Yet, Paris was only a scant 110 miles

from the nearE~st frontier--that of Belgium--and a mere 125 miles from

Sedan--where General Heinz Guderian was to cross the Meuse River in May 1940.

C1earJ.y, a signif icant port ion of French economic weal th and

potential was dangerously close to the German threat. Within a triangle

formed by Dunkirk, Strasbourg, and Paris, France had about 75% of her

coal and 95% of her iron ore production. And most of her industry was

within that s,~e triangle. Drawing another triangle between Paris, Lille,

23Capitaine R. Granc1ement, "La politique mondiale du petrole,"


Revue militaire genera1e, II, No.5 (May, 1938), p. 622.

240rmsby, Regional and Economic Geography, pp. 426-431.


HS

and Rouen would encompass nine-tenths of the factories producing French

cloth in the 1930's and four-fifths of the factories producing woolen

goods. In that same area was produced most of France's chemical products,

all its automobiles, and all its aircraft. Since the French considered

coal, iron, and factories as the basis for the materiel side of total

warfare, France's war-making capability would have been seriously

threatened even if she were successful in again halting the enemy before

Paris. Similarly, a major portion of France's population resided near the

natural resource a.nd industrial centers. For manpower reasons, if

not patriotic ones" these Frenchmen could not be relinquished to the

enemy.

The 1914 covering forces had been able to trade much French

territory in order to gain the critically needed time for the mobiliza­

tion of the army; if France were to win a future total war, she would

110 longer have that "luxury." By the early 1930's the areas of north­

west France, Lorraine, and Paris had become far too important to a future

war effort to contemplate abandoning them to an enemy.

Nevertheless, fortifications would not be created along the

western portion of the northern frontier from Montmedy to the Pas-de-

Calais. This area between Belgium and France had little defensible

terrain and extending the Maginot Line would have disrupted or gone

behind (!.~., not protected) much valuable industry in the Lille area. 25

In March 1934, Ma-rshal Petain argued persuasively before the Senate Army

Commission, "To blJild fortifications on the frontier would not protect

them [the industrial regionsj • • • because they are too close to the

25Vivian Rowe, The Great Wall of France (London: Putnam, 1959),


pp. 60-61.
86

border. We must go into Belgium.,,26 After the evacuation of the

Rhineland in 1930, French war plans envisioned the establishment of

defensive lines by French troops within Belgium, though this was qualified

by the acknowledgm,~nt that entry would only occur by invitation of the


27
affected governments. But it was not simply a question of defensible

terrain. After th~ war General Gamelin explained, "If one considers the

devastation that a modern battle causes in the region where it takes

place, isn't the argument [for advancing into Belgium] even more con­

vincing?,,28 France had no desire for another battleground to be estab­

lished in the industrial region of the northwest. Her factories and

mines in the Pas-de-Calais and Nord departments could best be protected

by the establishment of French defensive positions in Belgium.

A strong buttress for the reluctance to permit the Germans to

seize any of the industrial capability of France was what Enno Kraehe

has described as an "emotional, almost fanatical fear of Germany.,,29

France had suffered four invasions (1814, 1815, 1870, 1914) by Germany

over the past century, and the profound desire by most Frenchmen was to

avoid another such incursion. On numerous occasions politicians lec­

tured the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on the terrible effects of

the German occupation during World War I, but one of the most emotional

of these presentation occurred on December 10, 1929, during the debate

over the concept clf the frontier defenses. 30 Albert Meunier passionately

26A transcript of Marshal Petain's testimony is included in


Gamelin, Servir, II, pp. 127-129. Quote from page 129.
27
Tournoux, Defense des fronti~res, pp. 337-338.
28 Gamelin, Servir, I, p. 92; III, p. 7.

29 Kraehe, "The Motives Behind the Maginot Line," p. 111.

30J • O• Ch. Deb. (December 10, 1929), pp. 599-601.


87

described to the Chamber of Deputies the horrors perpetrated by what he

described as the "brutes," "barbarians." "Germanic hordes," and "inexora­

bie enemy." He pa:Lnted a vivid picture of the rape of the occupied

areas and pleaded that no Frenchman should ever again come under German

control. Similarly, animals and all sources of support should be destroyed

rather than allow ~:hem to be used by the enemy. He repeated the tales of

villages burned and destroyed and their inhabitants shot. and although

these tales are mo're myth than fact. they continued to have an impac t on

France. The perception of the brutality of the Germans was more impor­

tant than the reality. Against this consuming fear of Germany, France

sought defenses to shield her countrymen from the Germanic pestilence.

After the second war. Jacques Mordal argued persuasively that France

had little choice but to construct a continuous front along the northern

and northeastern frontiers of France. According to him, the "myth" of

the continuous front was the belief after 1940 that France could have

avoided defending along the frontier. With critical industrial resources

concentrated along the frontier and with the routes of communication all

converging on Paris, Mordal saw no real alternative other than the con­

struction of the c.ontinuous front. 3l His perception agreed with that of

the military befol'e World War II, most of whom could not conceive abandon­

ing parts of France to the Germans. For them, the idea of not having a

continuous front \o'as a "myth," because France had to have every ounce of

coal and iron it possessed to defeat Germany. General Debeney summarized

'the need for defending along the frontier in several of his pre-war

publications:

3lJacques Hordal. "Le 'my the' du front continu," Revue de Defense

Nationale (March, 1954). pp. 298-302. Mordal's article was in reply to

an earlier one by General Ely, "Les lecons qu'il faut tirer des operations

de 1940," Revue d.~ Defense Nationale (December, 1953), pp. 563-582.

88

An invasion, even if it were not extensive, would have the result


of carrying thE! battle, [whether] winning or losing, onto the national
territory; thefle destructions would immediately affect the vital areas
of the country, the industrial regions of Lorraine and or Nord, unfor­
tunately placed by nature beside the frontiers. It is necessary then
to protect the arsenal of our forces while their concentration is
taking place, and this new requirement forces our covering forces to
the frontier itself. 32

The military hierarchy recognized the quandry and the danger of

defending along thE~ frontiers, and for example, General Bernard Serrigny

pointed out that on the Italian frontier in the Alps, the army could

establish a defensE! in depth and could conduct a delaying operation

against an enemy. But he added, "The zone to be ceded to the enemy cur­

rently has a secondary economic value.,,33 In contrast, the economic

value of the northE~rn frontier was far from being secondary.

From the nE!cessity for an effective covering force along the

German border came the slogan for winning the first battle. General

Gamelin declared, "It is necessary at the start to win or at least not to

lose the first battle. A clear first victory [by the enemy] is the con­

dition for a short war, especially if it can be exploited.,,34 Without

that first victory,. France would be forced to yield important war-making

potential to the enemy, and even if she were initially able to survive

an initial loss, dE!feat would soon come when she could not meet the

materiel needs of total war.

The essenttal purpose of the army, therefore, was to protect the

integrity of the national soil. This.was incorporated into French war

32General Debeney, "Le probleme de la couverture," Revue des deux


mondes, XXXVI (NovE~mber 15, 1936), p. 269; and La guerre, pp. 202, 58.

33General Serrigny, Reflexions sur l'Art de la Guerre (Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle" 1930), p. 105.

34General Gamelin, "Hier et demain," Revue militaire generale,


I (January, 1937), p. 28.
89
plans after 1935, which stated that the mission of the mobilized army

was to maintain the "absolute integrity of the fortified front" and to

"parry the maneuver of the enemy" around the "wings of the fortified

front. ,,35 In hj.8 post-war memoirs, Gamelin explained why the frontiers

had to be defended; "One should not forget that in modern war the neces­

sity appears for protecting to the maximum all the resources of the

national territury.,,36

l~d theJ:e been no requirement to protect the critical resources

along the front:Ler, the French army may have found the ideas of De Gaulle

and Reynaud on large armored formations more appealing, but with the

obvious vulnerability of the resources close to the border, large armored

formations seeml~d inappropriate. They could not create an impenetrable

barrier, and thl~ir very mobility promised that crucial areas could pass

to and fro from enemy hands to friendly hands. 37 From the French per­

spective, the main advantage of large formations, especially those

envisioned by De Gaulle and Reynaud, lay in their ability to act as "an

instrument of political intervention,,,38 not in their ability to protect

the frontier regions. And General Debeney graphically predicted the

armored corps' fate against a mass German army: "We will have a brilliant

35
Tournoux, Defense des frontieres, pp. 338-341.

36

Gamelin, Servlr, III, p. 529; see DDF, VIII, No. 127, 8 February
1938, pp. 256-257; and ~, VIII. No. 445, 15 March 1938, pp. 818-821.

31~. III, No.9, 21 July 1936, p. 19.

38"Note: pour le cabinet mi1itaire de Ministere," (July 11, 1936)


included in Gan~elin, Servir. III, p. 519.
90

communique at the beginning, then silence, and after a few days, a use­

less 5.0.5.,,39

Even worse, the creation of a special armored corps would tend

to split the rultional army into two armies, thereby causing the second-

line army to suffer. This was not a theory solely constructed to counter

De Gaulle. General Debeney had offered the objection as early as 1930,

when he described the problems and limitations of a professional army

for France. After De Gaulle offered his theory in 1934, Debeney's

argument resur:Eaced,40 and was a continual theme in the works of the

military hiera:rchy attacking De Gaulle's professional army as a siphon

that would progressively act to drain resources from the legitimate needs

of national defense. According to these critics, the special armored

corps would atl:ract the best personnel and the best equipment, to the

detriment of the larger second force.

As Genl~ral Weygand argued, France most of all had to "fear an

abrupt attack, unleashed without a declaration of war." She had to have

an army with enough strength in manpower and materiel to stop the initial

attack, and enough potential to expand its size for the long total war.

De Gaulle's professional army, he declared, detracted from both these

capabilities. It could possibly be checked and shattered in its initial

aggressive assiiult, leaving France ill-defended during national mobiliza­

tion. Furthe~nore, resources allocated to it would seriously detract

from the poten 1cial for molding an effective national army. As General

39Gene~['al Debeney, "Encore l' armee de metier," Revue des deux


mondes, XXVIII (July 15, 1935), p. 283.

40Genera
" 1 De beney, Sur 1a secur i te~ m
ilit
a ri e d e 1a France (P ar i s:
Payot, 1930); and "Encore l'armee de metier," pp. 279-295.
91
Weygand asserted, the second-line army would quickly "fall to the state

of a resigned militia, without pride, without life.,,4l And it would be

this "resigned militia" that would have to defend the crucial resources

along the frontiers and fight the final battle for the defense of France.

A large armc,red corps, especially a professional one, was thus

almost superfluous. It could not maintain the integrity of the national

territory and its maneuvers would unavoidably yield critical regions to

an attacking enemy. Even its presence would drain much needed resources

from the larger second force, and make the winning of the final victory

by France more improbable. General Chauvineau used the problem of

resources as a direet argument against armored formations. With France

producing only a s~lll percentage of the petroleum it consumed each

year, he argued, "I,; it logical to organize an army that is able to

serv(~ only with the authorization of the English fleet or the many nations

that produce the petroleum." 42 The crucial resources and the frontier

could best be defended by relying on the doctrine of the defense, the

continuous front, and firepower. Covered by an impenetrable curtain

of fire, the industrial resources could continue to serve the voracious

war-time needs of the military.

4lCeneral \leygand, "L 'Etat militaire de la France," Revue des


deux mandes, XXIX (October 15, 1936), p. 724; and "L'Unite de l'armee,"
Revue militaire generale, I (January 1937), pp. 16, 18-19.

42Chauvineuu, Une invasion, p. 101.


Chapter VI

INSTITUTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY

From the beginning of the Third Republic, a great deal of

controversy surrounded the question of the institutions of the French

High Command. Since the form given to the military hierarchy would

greatly influence the amount of control exerted by the government over

the army, the problem was to balance the requirement for an effective

command structure against the need to control the military establish-

mente Many republicans considered a high degree of control to be

essential, because they believed the French military could, as an

authoritarian and traditionally conservative institution, pose a threat

to the very existence of the republican government it was supposed to

protect. The resulting organization of the High Command, which was

essentially cOlnpleted by the early 1890's and which remained relatively

unchanged over the next fifty years, was the hierarchical structure

with which France entered World Wars I and II.

Regret'cably for France, however, suspicion and distrust of the

army led her to create a High Command that was neither as effective,

nor as efficient as it could have been especially in the incorporation

of new technology.l Plagued by an organizational structure that diluted

IOn the intricacies of the High Command, see Conunandant Jean Vial,
tiLe Defense nationale: son organization entre les deux guerres," Revue
d'histoire de la deuxieme guerre mondiale, V, No. 18 (April, 1955), pp.
11-32; and Stephen Ryan, Petain the Soldier (New York: A. S. Barnes
and Company, 1969), pp. 192-217. On the French problem with technology,
see Colonel Ail1eret, "Immobilisme des doctrines et progres des armaments,"
Revue de defenBe nat10nale (December, 1955), pp. 539-554.
92
93

everyone's authority, the military hierarchy found it simpler to follow

the less diffi.cult course of retaining the older concept of war and

adapting new t.echnology to that concept, rather than seeking new tech­

nology for oVE~rthrowing the older concept. The confusion of authority

also eventually prevented France from maximizing the potential of the

new technology she did accept.

The IDCLjor parts of the High Command of the French army were the

triad of the Hinister of War, the Superior Council of War, and the Chief

of the General Staff. By law and practice the war minister was the most

powerful and :~nfluential of the three. The Superior Council of War and

the Chief of the General Staff functioned beneath the war ministry with

the war counc:Ll acting as an advisory body (but including the highest

ranking military officers in the army), and the Chief of the General Staff

(and the General Staff) performing the function of preparing and plan­

ning for the lwentuality of war. These two bodies, the purely military

segments of the hierarchy, functioned independently of each other.

theoretically to prevent the proverbial "man on horseback" from acquir­

ing complete eontrol over the army. There was to be no repetition of

the pre-war aequisition by Marshal Joffre of virtually unlimited author­

ity, but neither was there to be a repeat performance of the accumula­

tion of vast :?owers over the military that Georges Clemenceau had

managed to acquire during World War I.

Befor,~ 1914 political leaders had argued, "When the guns begin
2
to speak, it is best that the politicians keep qUiet," and as a result

of the decrees of JUly 29, 1911, and January 20, 1912, Marshal Joffre

2J • O• eh. Deb. (1911), p. 2515.


94

gained more control over the French army than any general officer since

Napoleon Bonaparte. According to David B. Ralston, the powers of the

Minister of War were "effectively nullified" by this increase in author­

ity by Joffre .. 3 Hut three years of bloody trench warfare ultimately

ended the almost unchecked power of the military and the assumption of

power by the "Tiger," Georges Clemenceau, whose slogan became, "War is

too important to be left to the generals." This blunt but brilliant

politician represented the zenith of civilian power over the military in

the Third Republic.

After the war the High Command sought a new command structure

that would have ended the authority of the war minister and concentrated

all authority in the hands of a single military leader, but this pro­

posal was neVE:r even given to Clemenceau for consideration. General

Mordacq, the "Tiger' sIt military assistant, later stated that he did not

"dare" give such a proposal to the minister. 4 In the absence of an

alternative that was acceptable to both military and political author­

ities, the pre-19ll hierarchy was re-established. The Hinister of War

retained his legitimate, preponderant power over the military hierarchy,

but his authority was diluted by the duality of the Superior Council of

War and the Chief of the General Staff. Instead of creating a distinct

military chain of command, applicable in both war and peace, the French

..
"
constructed a bureaucratic trilogy of competing institutions and per­
',,'

sonalities.

3David H. Ralston, The Arm of the Re ublic: The Place of the


Military in the Political Evolution of France, 1871-1914 Cambridge:
The M.I.T. Press, 1967), pp. 340, 337.

4Genera1 Mordacq, Le Ministere Clemenceau (4 Vols., Paris: PIon,


1931), IV, pp. 40, 48-50, 55-58, 61-62, 95-96, 239, 255, 302-303; quote
is from page 302.
95
The "absurdity of this system,"S to use General Weygand's appro­

priate phrase, was the absence of a clear delineation of responsibility

and authority for the French army. This is particularly true in the

question of incorporating new technology into the army, for the several

bureaucratic departments eventually charged with monitoring the produc­

tion of war materiel were influenced in varying degrees by the three

major components o:c the High Command.

The weaknel~s of this command structure can be seen in the role

of the Superior Council of War. This council had an old tradition in

the Third Republic and had been established by presidential decree on

July 27, 1872, wit:l the mission of examining various measures pertaining

to the army, especially those dealing with the "armament of the troops,

the defensive works, military administration, and tactical marches.,,6

It was not extensively used over the next decade, and although modified

by decree in 1881, 1882, and 1886, its functions remained largely un­
7
defined with no specific areas of responsibility. It was not until

1888 that the Superior Council of War was established as the most

important military council in France, concerned with the direction of

military affairs. Duri.ng the tenure from 1888-1893 of Charles de

Freycinet as the !~ civilian Minister of War in the Third Republic,

the war council was act.ivated and enlarged to provide advice to the war

minister. This step was necessary to combat criticism against Freycinet's

lack of technical, military ability.

SGeneral ~reygand, Memoires (3 Vols., Paris: Flammarion, 1950­


1957), II, p. 366.
6Journal Officiel de la Republique Francaise (1872), p. 5165

(Hereafter abbreviated as J.O.).

7
~ (1881), p. 6571; J.O. (1882), p. 953; J.O. (1886), p. 1066.
96
According to that decree, the council was charged with "examin­

ing questions connected with the preparation for war." A long list of

specific subjects, for which it was mandatory to consult the council,

was also included. These included plans for mobilization and concen­

tration of troops~ the establishment of strategic railways, the organi­

zation and training of the army, the adoption of new engines of war,

the creation and suppression of fortified places, and coastal defenses.

Yet, as if th.ese subjects were not broad enough, an all-inclusive one

was added: the council was to be consulted "in a general manner, on all

measures able to affect the constitution of the army and the manner in

which it would be emp1oyed.,,8 This function of consultation was retained

essentially u.nchanged through World War II and was verified by the

decrees of Js.nuary 23, 1920, and January 18, 1935. 9

Though its exact composition was to change slightly over the

next five dec;ades, the membership included the Minister of War, the

Chief of the General Staff, and the most senior and powerful general

officers in t.he French army. The latter included those holding the

rank of marshal (after World War I) and the general officers who would

be commanding army groups or armies when mobilization occurred. The

President of the Third Republic, or the Minister of War in his absence,

served as thE~ president of the council J while the vice-president was

the officer cLesignated as the future commander of the army in the

eventuality (If war. This officer was commonly known as the "Generalissime,"

or GeneralisElimo.

8 J .O,~ (1888), p. 1964.

9Via J., "Organisation entre les deux guerres," p. 26.

97

Follow:lng the Great War, Marshal Petain was named the vice-pre­

sident of the war council. After accepting the position, Petain was

also offered the position of Chief of the General Staff. When it became

apparent that Petain might refuse the second position, Marshal Foch sent

General Weygand to plead with him to accept the position and thus

unify the mili'~ary elements of the High Command. But Petain refused.

His explosive :response to Weygand' s request was, "Chief of the General

Staff: I cannot see myself going every evening for the signature of

the minister ... lO The two key positions of the Chief of the General

Staff and vice··president of the Superior War Council remained separate,

and Weygand later confessed, "To have agreed to such a division of


11
authority was the greatest mistake of my life." While Weygand may not

have had enough influence at the time to prevent such a division, his

comment underlines the importance of Petain's decision.

An attempt was also made to place the Chief of the General Staff

under the influence of the Generalissimo. A decree in January 1922 named

Petain to the new post of Inspector General of the army, a position every

designated future commander of the army in the eventuality of war had

implicitly, but not legally held since the early 1890's. As Inspector

General. Petain could legally supervise and inspect the army's prepara­

tion for war. but these powers were no real expansion of the de facto

prerogatives of the acknowledged military leader of the army. The new

power given by the decree. and the most controversial, was the require­

ment that the Chief of the General Staff "submit for the examination

lOWeygand, Mernoires, II, p. 316.


11
Quoted in Pertinax [Andre Geraud], The Gravediggers of France

(New York: Dcubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1944), p. 325.

98
of the Inspector General of the army all questions concerning organiza­

tion, training, and mobilization." Such correspondence would require

the endorsement of the Inspector General before it was passed to the

war minister. 12

A roar of di.sapproval emerged from the Chamber of Deputies, 13

where many politicians perceived a lessening of the powers of the Hin­

ister of War and the Chief of the General Staff in favor of the General­

issimo. This apparent acquisition of power suggested a weakening of

civilian control of the military, something France's long republican

tradition simply would not accept. In spite of the political discon­

tent, Petain managed to retain the position of Inspector General, along

with being Generalissimo and vice-president of the Superior Council of

War, but political opposition prevented the subordination of the Chief

of the General Staff to him. 14 Thus, complete control of the military

hierarchy was not acquired by Petain or by Weygand, his successor.

Only Gamelin managed to be appointed in 1935 to the position of Chief

of the General Staff and vice-president of the war council, but he was

little more than one individual in two separate institutions. There

was never a complete melding of the military elements of the High Command.

In fact, the Superior Council of War never completely dominated

the French army, since, for example, it could be called into session

12The controversial A~ticle V of this decree is included in


Judith M. Hughes, To the Maginot Line: The Politics of French Military
Preparation in the 1920's (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971),
p. l21n.

13J • O• Ch. Deb. (1922), pp. 57-58.

14RichBrd Griffiths, Petain (Garden City, New York: Doubleday


& Company, Inc., 1922), p. 196.
99

only by the Minister of War or the President of the Third Republic.

Even then, many of the projects presented to the body for consideration

had already been "worked out, leaving little opportunity for its members
15
to demand major revisions." Also, the Generalissimo and the designated

commanders of army groups and armies did not "command" their units dur­

i11g peacetime. They only had the power to "inspect" their future units

and could command them only in the eventuality of mobilization. On

those rare occasions when the minister sought their advice, the role of

the council never exceeded that of examining, deliberating, and suggest­

lng, since it could not legally take action on its own.

Despite this narrow consultative role, members of the Superior

Council of War saw themselves as defenders of military programs, fre­

quently attacked by unknowing or misinformed politicians. Consequently,

relations between the~ war council and various war ministers became

strained on several occasions in the interwar period, especially when

General Weygand was vice-president of the council. Successive crises were

brought on by a move toward disarntament from 1930-1935 aud by the reduction

in the number of effectives during the "lean years," which were caused by

the low birth rate during World War I. The crises exacerbated already
16
angry tempers within the two critical institutions. The military hier­

archy's final victory in eluding French disarmament and reacquiring two-

year service was, however, a pyrrhic one, for open disagreement eventually

led to an even greater weakening of the power of the war council. After

1936 the role of the Superior Council of War became less important, and

15
Hughes, To the Maginot Line, p. 103.

16

Philip Charles Farwell Hankwitz, Haxime Weygand and Civil-


Military Relatic~l Modern France (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1967), pp. 49-115.
100

its meetings bE~came less frequent. As Stephen Ryan has ohserved,

"Daladier, who was Minister of War from June 1937 until the war and who

was considered unfriendly to the war council, never consulted it fOT

important questions and rarely for matters of detail."l7

But tht~ Sup,erior War Council was never a "hot spot" of demands

for modernizat:lon of the army.


18 The story of the formation of armored

divisions illuBtrates its unwillingness to incorporate n~w teclmology

that might o'l/e;~turn the French concept of war, since it was very 810w-­

one should say hesitant--in considering armored divisions. General

Gamelin, ·who became vice-president of the council and designated com­

mander-in-chief in case of war in 1935, stated in a meeting of the

council on April 29, 1936: "The problem of constituting large anuored

units has been studied in France since 1932. But the development of the

antitank weapon has caused the abandoning of this conception." Late in

1936 Gamelin's att1.tude apparently changed, for at a meeting on October

14, he "invited" the members of the council to study the question of

forming an armored division. On November 12, 1936, Edouard Ua1adier,

Minister of War, also gave the order for the General Staff to study the

same question. 19 An exercise was conducted in April 1936, studying the

proper role and composition of large armored formations, but the only

clear conclusion was that the Renault 1935 tank was unsuited for emp1oy­

ment in an armored division.

17Stephen Ryan, Petain the Soldier (New York: A. S. BQrnes and


Company, 19(9), p. 200. See Bankwitz, Maxime Weygand, pp. 103-104.
18
Purtions of the following have previously been published in
Captain Robert. A., Doughty, "The Enigma of French Armored Doctrine, 1940,"
Armor, LXXXIII, No,S (September-October, 1974), pp. 39-44.

19Commission • • • Temoignages, I, p. 23.


101
At another meeting of the council on December 15, 1937~ the

proper organization for an armored division was further discussed.

General J. C. M. S" Dufieux expressed some reservations about th~ dallgera

of placing all of France's heavy tanks in armored divisions. He roecog­

nized that the Hotchkiss 1935 and Renault 1935 tanks were nor appro­

priate for armored divisions, and that there would not he enough medlw.u

or heavy tanks in the inventory before 1939 for the formation of large

tank units. The final decision on that day was to continue the study

of the proper composition and employment of an armored division. The

war council was in no real hurry to constitute a unit unproved in war.

With the heating up of the international situation in 1938--the

annexation of Austria by Germany in March and the Munich crisis in

September--a more intense discussion of the capabilities of armor began.

However. General Gamelin and his associates, with the excep[ion of

General P. Hering and one or two others, still had an antiquated view

of the potential of tanks" In the December 1938 meetings General

Gamelin stated that with the development of the antitank weapon, he

could not conceive of any maneuver whatsoever in battle without strong

artillery support. But the council finally agreed in principle on the

formation of two armored divisions. There still was no plan to con­

stitute these units before the beginning of 1941, and clearly these

military leaders felt no sense of urgency to create this new type unit,

for which they hardly understood the proper employment, much less the

proper organization. And the beginning of World War I I was only nine

months away.

The term "indecision," therefore, aptly describes the war

council's faltering consideration of armored units from 1932-1940~ Even


102

if its members had unchecked authority over the incorporation of new

technology and doctrine, it is doubtful that they would have successfully

overturned the older concept of war. Other factors molding French

doctrine, such as the nation in arms and the experience of the past, were

evidently more important than this new unproved concept of war.

In contrast to this indecision on armored formations, the Superior

Council of War had been successful in the early 1930's in exerting a

positive influence over doctrinal and technological questions. When

Andre Maginot was Minister of War, General Weygand was successful in

beginning the conversion of a cavalry division into a light mechanized

division,20 the motorization of five infantry divisions, and the con­

version of one of the three brigades in each of the five cavalry divi­

sions into a motorized unit. 2l Weygand recognized the important role

played by the war minister during this period and paid him the highest

compliment: '~r. Maglnot thinks like a patriot, like a soldier one

might even say. ,,22 His opinion of other war minister was much

less favorable, and he complained in his memoirs, " . . • it is with the

arrival of Mr. [Joseph] Paul-Boncour [in June 1932] that the era of dif­

ficulties was opened.,,23

2Onivision Legere Mecanique.

2lSee Weygandt Memoires, II, pp. 348-355, 406-408; Jeffrey John­


stone Clarke, '~ilitary Technology in Republican France: The Evolution
of the French Armored Force, 1917--1940," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation,
Duke University, 1968, pp. 107-160; and Jeffrey Albert Gunsburg, "'Vaincre
ou Mourir': The French High Command and the Defeat of France, 1919-­
May, 1940," unpublished dissertation, Duke University, 1974, pp. 33-64.
22Weygand, Memoires, II, p. 348.

23Ibid., p. 383.
103
General Weygand openly complained of the poor utilization of the

war council by the successive war ministries of Marshal Petain and

General Louis Maurin, and in his last days before compulsory retirement

from the war council because of age, charged that "in spite of repeated

demands, the council has not been consulted on measures to take against
,,24
dangerous insufficiencies. • Conflict and mutual distrust con­

tinued after Weygand, and in his post-war apologia, Gamelin claimed that

when he was appointed the vice-president of the Superior Council of War

and also the Chief of the General Staff, General Maurin who was the war

minister told him, "For you, training and the preparation for operations;

for me, personnel,materiel [and] administration, while taking your

advice. ,,25

During the parliamentary investigation on the fall of France,

General Weygand identified this conflict between the political leader­

ship and the military as a key to understanding France's rapid collapse.

He testified, "This [mutual distrust] is properly insane • • • [and] is


at the base of our defeat. It is necessary that between our military

leaders. • • and those who have direct charge over our interests there

exist a complete understanding.,,26 Without such an understanding. France

suffered a loss of leadership or sense of direction in the crucial period

of the late 1930's when her concept of war should have changed as a

result of emerging new technology. Admidst the distrust and suspicion,

24 Ibid., p. 43. See Commission • • • Rapport, I, pp. 122-124;


and Bankwitz, Maxime Weygand, pp. 113-114.

25Genera1 Gamelin, Servir (3 Vols., Paris: PIon. 1946-1947), II,


p. 199.

26commission ~ •• Temo! na es, I, p. 236. See General Weygand,


Histo!re de 1 Armee Frania1se Paris: Flammarion, 1961), p. 420.
104

it was easier (and politically more palatable) to retain the old concept

of war and mold the new technology to that concept, than it was to alter

the prevailing concept of war because of new technology.

Under the more timid and politically cautious leadership of

General Gamelin, t.he strident demands of General Weygand would not be

repeated after 1935, and nothing would be done to risk a major confron 4

tation such as had. occurred during Weygand's reign. In Gamelin's view

there was no appal'ent need for a major political uproar, especially since

the military leadE~rship was not firmly convinced of the value of large

armored formatiou8. In 1937 Gamelin told Paul Reynaud, the parliamen­

tary defender of De Gaulle's ideas, "We work in your direction, but we


27
are at grips with contingencies." And it was to be these "contingencies,"

coupled with the lack of understanding, that bogged down France's move­

ment toward large armored formations and that prevented France from

having a clear sense of direction with this new technology. The desire

to avoid political confrontation ultimately contributed to the demand for

military orthodoxy through an unwavering "unity of doctrine," and the

die was thus cast, not by a decision to act, but by a decision not to

act.

Returning to the problem of confusion of authority in the

French High CommarLd, it is apparent that France lacked a func tioning

bureaucratic system for the incorporation of new technology or ideas

into its military arsenal. Part of the reason for an absence of a unity

of effort in the incorporation of new weapons and doctrine in France's

military system revolved around the confusion of authority in the

27
Gamelin" Servir, I, p. 257.
105
High Command between the Minister of War, Superior Council of War, and

General Staff, which spilled over into the arena of doctrine and tech­

nology. Professor I. B. Rolley, Jr., has noted the importance of having

an effective system tlo "translate ideas into weapons." According to

Professor Holley, "a failure to devise effective teclmiques for recog­

nizing and evaluating potential weapons in the advances of science and

technology" is one of the most i1uportant reasons for a failure to

deve 1 op new weapons.


28 He adds,

The prior acceptance and application of th~ thesis thac superior


arms favor victory, while essential, are insufficient unless the
"superior arms" are accompanied by a military doctrine of strategic
or tactical application which provides for full exploitation of the
innovation. 29

In France's case, doctrine lagged woefully behind technology, when the

new weapons, which should have profoundly modified France's strategic

doctrine, were simply incorporated into the older concept of war without

substantially modifying it. There was neither a clear system for evalua­

tion of new weapons, nor for the consideration of new doctrine.

In the decade following World War I, France's approactl tu new

technology can only be described as confusing, even though men, such as

General Maurin, argued, "Technical progress is the basis of tactical

success.,,30 The inability to maximize the potential of technological

28 I.B. Holley, Jr., Ideas and Weapons ( New Haven: Yale Univer­
sity Press, 1953), p. 10.
29 Ibid., p. 19.

30Gineral Maurin, L'Armee moderne (Paris: Flammarion, 1938),


pp. 28-267. For two penetrating analyses about technology and tactics,
see Commandant Armand Krebs, "Considerations sur l'offensive," Revue
militatre gen6rale, II, No.9 (September, 1937), pp. 324-366; and Albert
Courquin, '''ite uteriel commande la tactique, It Revue militaire generale,
II, No. 8 (August, 1937), pp. 240-250.
106

advances is especially apparent with the tank, which was developed

through three separate channels. A tank to accompany the infantry was

developed through infantry channels, a main battle tank was developed

under the aegis of the artillery through the energetic efforts of

General Jean Estienne, and a cavalry tank was developed, naturally, by

the cavalry. Each development channel sought to produce a tank with

characteristics designed to maximize its potential utilization within

that particular branch, whether to accompany the infantry, act as a main


31
battle tank, or perform in a cavalry role.

None of these channels ever seriously doubted that the tank was

an important addition to the battlefield. The significant debate con­

cerned how the tank was to be used on the battlefield, and the differ­

ing concepts existing among the several institutions prevented the

emergence of any single, dominant idea on the employment of armor. The

infantry believed the tank could best be employed as a support vehicle

for the soldier on the ground; they also believed the antitank weapon

would prevent any successful massive armored sweeps. The cavalry

envisioned the tank to be the perfect vehicle for exploitation, and their

approach was remarkably close to simply replacing the horse with a gaso­

line-powered vehicle. Only General Estienne, who was later to be known

as the "father of French armor," and his followers saw the tank playing

what one might describe as a "modern role." Or, at least it was more

modern than the contemporary infantry or cavalry concept. Estienne's

speeches emotionally described the potential of the tank.

31 See Clarke, "Evolution of the French Armored Force," pp. 76­


80, 82-84, 87-106.
107

First will come the breakthrough tanks of perhaps 50 to 100 tons,


which advance, disdaining detours, under the cover of the night or
the thick natuI'al or artificial fog, crushing every obstacle, rIpping
through houses. The armored infantry, the accompanying artillery
follow them, profiting from the opened paths. The first enemy lines
are soon broken, and then come the rapid exploitation tanks which arc
hurled forward, just as the cavalry of former days, for achieving
the victory.32

General Estienne's concept was far from that employed by the Gennan

General Guderian in. May 1940 t but his concept was still iae aheCld of

that of most Frenchmen :i.n the early 1920' s.

Though French armor was subordinated to infantry branch in 1920,

each branch of serv'ice was considered responsible for the development of

its own equipment--'!ncluding the tank. The results were initially

favorable for Frenc~h armor, since some of the tank studies remained

under the Artillery's Study and Armament Inspectorate and clearly under

the parochial thumb of General Estienne, who retained some influence

until the early 1930's.33 With the abolishment of the Tank Technical

Section in 1931, however, French armor no longer could develop 1ndepen­

dent of other arms. A much larger organization, the Technical Section

for Combat and Vehi.c1e Materiel, absorbed the functions of the Tank

Technical Section,34 and the drive for a "modern" medium battle tank

lost much of its impetus.

No effective centralized system for the consideration of new

technology existed within the French army until General Weygand became

vice-president of the Superior Council of War in the early 1930's. In

32Quoted in J .. R. Tournoux, Petain et De Gaulle (Paris: PIon,


1964), pp. 134-135~

33C1arke, "Evolution of the French Armored Force," p. 76.


34 Ibid., pp. 142-143e
108
his memoirs, Weygand notes that during his tenure as Chief of the General

Staff, he became convinced that "neither the vice-president of the

Superior Council of War, nor the Chief of the General Staff were able to

ensure, as their functions required, the direction and the verification

of the manufacture of war [goods]." He added, "No organization, 110

officer of the General Staff of the army was specially and exclusively

charged with centralizing the questions relating to the adopting, test­

ing, placing into production, and controlling the manufacture of mater­


35
1818 of war." Where there should have been a clear sense of direction,

confusion reigned.

To end this confusion, Weygand created two new organizations:

a Bureau of Materiel and a Consultative Council on Armament. The bureau

was designed 8S 8 focal point for the collection of information on the

researching, testing, and manufacturing of new weapons, and according to

General Weygand, permitted him "to give needed directives and to order

necessary changes [in order] to hasten research activities and to

realize the most impol·tant ones." 36 The bureau also provided liaison

between the Consult.ative Council and the technical sections of the

various branches. The purpose of the Consultative Council was to

facilitate coordination in the development of new armaments and to ensure

that the military hierarchy was properly informed on these developments.

Its membership included the vice-president of the Superior Council of

War, the Chief of the General Staff, the Directors and Inspector Gen­

erals of the several army branches, the Director of Fabrications, the

Secretary General of the War Ministry, and the chief of the Bureau of

35
Weygandt Memoires, II, p. 369.
36
I bid.. p. 370.
109
Materiel. Despite this impressive membership, neither the Bureau of

Materiel nor the Consultative Council had responsibility for the devel­

opment of new weaponry. Such responsibility remained with the individ­

ual branch.

General Bloch-Dassault, the first Chief of the Bureau of Materiel,

testified before the parliamentary investigating committee after the war

about the effectiveness of this new system. He praised the ending of

the "state of anarchy" that had reigned until the new system was esta­

blished and argued that new technology could now "follow a line of

development leading without too many digressions to the desired objec­

tive.,,37 The great stumbling block, however, remained the problem of

establishing the "desired objective."

Another attempt to improve the system was made in 1933 when

Edouard Daladier created a new Armaments Department and a new Corps of

Military Engineers that was to serve as an independent ordnance corps.

The new department would execute armament plans conceived by the various

branches or departments already existing in the war ministry or General

Staff. It did not influence the elaboration or development of armament

plans; it simply ordered the desired weapons. A Technical Study Section

was placed within the Armaments Department to assist the technical sec­

tions of each arm in the design and testing of their weapon systems. 38

Thus, the new Armaments Department served as a conduit for orders and as

a source of technical advice.

37General Bloch-Dassant's testimony is included in Weygand,


Memoires, II, p. 513.

38Jean-Marie n'Hoop, "La politique francaise du rearmement,"


Revue d'histoire de la deuxieme guerre mandiale, IV, No. 14 (April,
1954) I p. 5.
110

Nevertheless, the essential characteristics of the system

remained one of decentralization, because the responsibility for devel­

oping new technology remained with the individual branch, and DecaU8~

the system was confustng even to those who worked within it. After the

war. General Gamelin ELdmitted before the parliamentary investigating

cODDDittee that the entire process was complex and difficult to under­

stand. 39 Weygand and Daladier's reforms, therefore, had not created a

system for propelling new technological achievements forward. They had

ended some of the confusion and some of the redundancy, but they had

not created a system whereby the responsibility for development lay with

the High Command, rather than the bickering branches of services.

The problem of the various branches pursuing their 0~1 parochial

needs had long been identified 5 General Jean Mordacq, Clemenceau's roili­

tary assistant. for example, had earlier complained of the "anarchy" within

the General Staff of the army. After the re-establishment of the pre­

1911 command structure in the early 1920's, this perceptive, politically-

aware general had argued,

The directors [of the branches], no longer being under the


direct orders of the minister and depending on no one, have their
own way and act as if their bureau constitutes a small ministry
within the war m1nlstry.40

And none of the reforms in the interwar years effectively ended this

muddled independence.

Furthermore, the reforms of the early 1930's concerned only

technical advances. No changes were n~de for the consideration of new

39Commission • • .!._.Temoignages, II, p. 371.

40Mordacq, Le Ministere Clemenceau, IV, p. 303.


III

doctrine, and no new apparatus was created for the development of

doctrine for the new weapons. In short, no system for combining cech­

nological and doctrinul improvements had been made, and nothing was done

to .encourage the overturning of the old concept for a new one. But

perhaps that was too lnuch to ask.

Another significant problem revolved around who was to control

the direction of technological advances. A law of July 3, 1935, stated,

"The materiel programn to be realized and the conditions for eAecuting

these programs are fiJced by the General Staff. ,,41 But the important

question concerned who in the General Staff controlled these programs.

The thrust of the reforms, as Jeffrey Johnstone Clarke has argued, "only

reinforced the tendency of the military leadership to think in terms of

individual branch needs.,,42 Clearly, army needs were subordinated to

branch needs, an obvious perversion of priorities. Opting for the

individual branches to seek their own technological improvements without

firm direction from the High Command was effectively opting for the

status quo--and for the strategic doctrines of the defense, continuous

front, and firepower.

France even had difficulty with those weapons of war for which

there was little disagreement concerning their purpose and method of

employment. The example of the antitank mine illustrates this. After

the fall of France, General Gamelin admitted that France suffered a


43
"flagrant inferiority" with this valuable tool of war. In fact.

4lQuoted in D'IHoop, "La politique francaise du rearmement," p. 4.

42Clarke, "Evolution of the French Armored Force," p. 143.

43Commission " .~ Temoignages, II, p. 374.


112

France had only 40,000 mines on hand upon mobilization and had manu··

factured only 400,000 when Germany attacked. 44 The question then

becomes why France did not have more mines and who had failed to order

them. The post-wale parliamentary investigating committee sought an

answer to this question j and after questioning a numbec of officers and

civilians who had worked in the various armament sections of the General
45
Staff and War Ministry, General Martignon, the ex-director of the

Fabrications of Anlament Department under the Minister of War, gave an

answer:

It is the General Staff of the army which places them on order;


it is the Direc~tor of Fabrications of Armaments which executes
(that order]; it is the Director of the appropriate branch which
receives [the mines]; finally, it is the Secretary General [of the
Minister of War'] which furnishes the means of payment. The Sec re­
tary General has the responsibility of finding the funds and some­
times even the personnel. That is to say, if the General Staff
of the army lwd demanded the mines earlier, they would have been
manufactured earlier. 46

The failure of some unnamed officer in the General Staff to order 8uf­

ficient number of this extremely useful antitank device had resulted in

a woefully inadequate supply, and even this simpl, function had become

befuddled in France's complex institutional arrangement for the control

of technology and weapons. One might even say that the example of the

antitank mines demonstrates that France's bureaucratic system promoted

inefficiency, rathe1r than efficiency.

The willingness to mold new methods to the prevailing concept of

war was nothing new to France and was not always due solely to the con­

fusion of authority or inefficiency in France's High Command. Conflict

44Commission • • • Temoignages, V, p. 1488.

45Commission • • • Temoignages, V, pp. 1461, 1488; VI, pp. 1721­


1722; VII, p. 1999.
46Commission • • • Temoignages, VII, p. 2160.
113

in the 1920's over the nature of the Maginot Line is a cleac example of

this. Few Frenchmen disagreed with the desire to construct fortifica­

tioDa on France'a :frontiers, with even the future proponent of massive

armored offensives. Charles de Gaulle, declaring in 1925, "Fortification

of its territory i~ for France. a permanent national .necess1ty.,~7

Despite this agreew~at on the need for fortifications, various conflict­

ing views on the plcoper form for the fortifications SOOll appeared. 48

The debate begul as early as Hay 1920 in the Superior Council of

War when Harshal Pi;tain and General E. A. L. Bual, his war-time chief of

staff, indicated their preference for a continuous line of defensive works

along the northeastern frontier. reminiscent of the trench and barbed

wire system of World War I. Opposing this view were chose led by

Marshals Foch and Joffre who supported the concept of fortified regions

acting as centers of resistance to facilitate offensive actions by an

army. Such armies would maneuver around the centers of resistance seek­

ing the proper time and most favorable conditions for the launching of

an offensive. The centers of resistance were thus associated with the

offensive and with the defensive maneuver of armies, while the continuous

line of defensive works was associated with the static defense. 49

Marshal Joseph Joffre was appointed in 1922 8S the chairman of 8

commission to study the territorial defenses, but his committee failed

47capitaine De Gaulle, '~ole historique des places francaises,ll


"vue milit_ire franca1se. XVIII (December. 1925), p. 358.

48G&~ral Paul-Emile Tournoux, "Les origines de 18 ligne Maginot,"


Revue d'hi8toire de la deuxieme guerre mondtale, IX, No. 33 (January,
1959), pp. 3-14.
49Vivian Rowe, The Great Wall of France (London: Putnam, 1959),
p. 24; Hughes, To the MAiinot Line. p. 199.
114
to reach a final conclusion because of internal disagreements over the

form fortifications should take. In 1925 another commission was formed,

initially under Joffre and then under General Adolphe Guillaumat, which

eventually recommended the construction of three fortified regions along

the northeast frontier to permit the projection of French power into the

heart of Germany. As for the fortified regions, General Guillaumat's

commission soon recommended that they be used to augment the maneuver


50
of large military units. The initial concept for what later became

known as the Magine>t Line was thus not dominated by the defense.

Obviously enough, this concept did not survive. The commission's

recommendations were unfavorably received by the Superior War Council

with Marshal Peta111 leading the opposition. 51 The Marshal saw no reason

to abandon the methods proven effective in World War 1,52 and the war

council was unable to agree on the form the fortifications should take.

As pressure mounted for a decision, Marshal Petain decided to examine

the terrain himself. His reconnaissance in the summer of 1927 convinced

him that the large fortified regions initially suggested could be reduced

in size, the individual forts could be increased in number, and the


53
interval between them filled with smaller works. According to this

plan, the three major fortified regions could be constructed, but they

could also be connected by a series of separate forts and defensive works

linked by underground tunnels.

50General Paul-Emile Tournoux, Defense des frontleres. Haut


commandement-Gouvernement. 1919-1939 (Paris: Mouve1les editions 1atines,
1960), pp. 53-56, 75-83.
SlIbid., p. 83.

52 Ibid ., pp. 84-85.

53 Ibid ., pp. 96-114.

115

Opposition to the reconunendations of the Guillaumat commission

was also encountered in political circles. When General Debeney appeared

before a joint meeting of the Senate Finance and Army Commissioners in

1926, he found it necessary to reassure the senators that st~ps wuuld be

taken to protect the unfortified areas. Stronger opposition \I.-as late~:

encountered in the Chamber uf Deputies. Pierre Cot, 1l1Or.tental-ily lacking

the post-war wisdom that would enable him to charge the a111itary hier~

archy with a "lack of intellectual power and scientific trainiag" because

of its preference for the continuous front,54 became the spokesman in

the Chamber for those seeking fortifications providing a continuous line

of fire. 55 Since Cot's group preferred the building of smaller defenses

along the entire frontier, their concept closely coincided with the

initial one of Marshal Petain.

The concept eventually accepted was the one suggested by Petain

after his reconnaissance in the summer of 1927. While this concept was

ostensibly a compromise solution between the different initial plans

of Pitain and Joffre, it was simply a much more powerful continuouB line

than that initially envisioned. The prepared battlefront would no longer

consist of trenches and barbed wire but of vastly more expensive concrete

and steel. Joffre's vast underground fortresses had been expanded from

prescribed regions into a continuous front. Thus, France embarked on

the construction of a line far more suitable for hiding behind than

attacking from. The final concept for the Maginot Line was a "victory"

54Pierre Cot, Triumph of Treason, trans. Sybille aud Milton Crane


(Chicago: Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, 1944), p. 218.

55 Enno Kraehe, "'!'he Motives Behind the Maginot LJne, II MIlitary


Affairs, VIII. No. 2 (1944), p. 119; and Hughes, To the Maginut Line,
pp. 205-207.
116
not only for Petain but also for the political foes of the fortified

regions. Andre Mag1not eventually acknowledged in the Chamber of

Deputies that political opponents of the centers of resistance had

intervened successfully in the military question. The Hinister of War

explained that in consonance with the lessons of the wat of 1914~1918

the first objective of the frontier fortifications would be t,) es tablish

a "continuous line of fire.,,56

A military concept, potentially offensive, had been methodically

molded into one of the defensive. and the prevailing belief in the

dominance of the defense had not been overturned by Joffre's plan for

the offensive use of fortifications. The Maginot Line would be defen­

sive and would not be designed to facilitate the offeIlsive maneuver of

large wtits. The powerful intertwining of Petain's prestigious opinion

and the vigorous opposition of the political leaders had eabily over­

whelmed the proponents of fortified regions, and i.ustitutioIlB intended

to consider new technology thus were forced to surrender to the pres­

sures of politics and personality.

The story, then, of the relationship of French institutions and

the incorporation of new technology is one of confusion, indecision,

and failure. Beneath the confusing structure of a High Couunand con­

sisting of the Minister of War, the General Staff, and the Superior

Council of War, there existed an even more confusing bureaucratic system

for the consideration of new weapons. Where a clear sense of direction

and priorities was needed, France could only employ the time-honored

method of "S ys teme D," of muddling through the maze of problems,

56 J • O• Ch. Deb (December 10, 1929), p. 4235.


117

optimistically hoping the secret to victory could be found. But by

being preyed upon by contravening and intervening forces of politics

and personality, there was little chance France could ever break from

the "proven" methods of the past. The failure to devise an eftE:ctive

system for considering new technology hampered her acquisition of the

superior weapon and the superior doctrine that might have prevented her

defeat.
Chapter VII

CONCLUSION

By 1940 the French concept of war was influenced by a numbet" of

factors, including che aati.on in arms, the qoestion of the frontiers,


economics, per8ona1ity~ and experiences of the past. woile military

considerations, such as the belief in materiel, exercised an influence at

least equal to the others, no one consideration can be isolated as being

the formative influence. Rather, the French theory of war wa& a product

of a variety of factors, each acting to mold the beliefs and actions of

the French military and civilian society, and each acting as one piece

in an intricate puzzle. The resulting, final configuration was to be the

foundation for the structure of the French theory of war, and the edifice

for this structure--the doctrine and weaponry--was an outgrowth of the

concept formed by the numerous intervening factors. Thus, the French


theory of total war was the foundation, and the doctrine and weaponry

were the superstructure.

As for the various influences, the nation in arms furnished the

basis for the theory of total war. The struggle was not between armies,

but between entire peoples fighting for their very survival with every

resource of their nation. The military concept of materiel served to


substantiate the belief in the totality and in the destructiveness of

the coming war, since the French view of the evidence suggested an

increasingly deadly war, of unparalleled slaughter. Similarly, with the

crucially needed resources unfortunately located nea~ the bvraers, the

118

119

fight would have to take place on the frontier. The battle could hardly

be carried into the enemy's land, since political considerations and the

defensive nature of the nation in arms ruled out the possibility of any

aggressive attacks. World War I became the model for the concept of total

war, for it was the most recent and the most vivid of suell unlimited

struggles.

The nature of tht:: threat also convinced the French military that

the coming war would be a total one. With the threat of a massivt:: German

population and much larger industrial potential, the French were convinced

that any effort on their part short of total commitment could only l'esult

in defeat. If they were to respond to this grave threat, they had to

respond with every Frenchman, every factory, and with every speck of coal

dust and iron are. There was always the possibility of an immensely lucky

and quick victory by France. but she had little choice in preparing for

the "most unfavorable eventuality" 1 of the long total war, since she

could hardly hope to win the short war. Preparing for the worst and not

having it occur was better than not preparing and then having it occur.

That had been the lesson of 1914.

France thus prepared for the total war, and her doctrines became

those of the defense, continuous front, and firepower. Each, as previously

mentioned, was also profoundly influenced by such factors as the nation

in arms, the need to defend the frontiers, the French concept of materiel,

historical lessons, and the personality of such leaders as Harshal Petain

and General Gamelin.

1
Commandant H. Houvard, Les lefons militaires dc_la guerre (Paris:
Masson, 1920), p. 16. For a more thorough examination of the threat of
a long war, see General Serrigny, Reflexions sur l'Art de 1a Guerre (Paris:
Char1es-Lavauze1le, 1930), pp. 69-75.
120

Once these were established, technology bowed to the needs of

the French theory and strategic doctrines of war. Instead of new tech­

nology potentially molding the concept of war, the revers~ occurred.

The criteria for new weapons became affordability, capability, and

suitability, with the final two criteria being heavily flavored uy th~

French concept of war. For example, the concept of massive, highly

mobile, offensive armored formations simply did not fit within the French

concept of a defensive, pacific army. But the French army did manage to

become more mobile and more militarily effective. Unfortunately, it wa~

to witness a much more advanced concept of war and effective army in May­

June 1940.

In f.irness, one has to object to the charge of Cbarle~ Serre on

behalf of the parliamentary investigating committee after the war that

the French High Command had "retired to its Mount Sinai [after World War
2
I and sat] among its revealed truths and remnants of past glories.. II

The failure of the French military to formulate a new doctrine cannot be

explained simply in terms of "retiring" to a Mount Sinai or in the more

direct terms of "stupidity." The problem is immensely more complicated

than that, and considering the nature of the problem, the French mili­

tary probably entered World War II with the best doctrine available to

them. Any other dramatically different doctrine would have required not

only a drastic change in the concept of war, but also in many funda­

mantal military, political, social, and economic principles.

When the battle was fought in 1940, France committed an error

that she had committed in 1914 and in 1871. In these wars she had

2Commission • • • Rappo~t, I, p. 67.


121

expected to force her way of war on the enemy and had a doctrine of war

that was an ! priori concept. 3 That is, her approach was one of placing

less emphasis on enemy capability or the enemy situation than on select­

ing in advance the method and place where the enemy would be destroyed.

In 1870 France had believed that the changing quality of arma­

ments engendered by rapid fire artillery and increasingly effective small-

arms fire would give obvious advantages to the defender. After 1870 she

slowly erected her doctrine of the offensive a outrance, only to see the

bankruptcy of this false ideal in the blood-letting of 1914. After 1Y18

the pendulum moved back to the side of the defensive. While this was not

an attempt to refight the previous war, it was an attempt to force the

enemy to fight France's battle. And this was her mistake.

Given a concept of war molded by public pressure for the nation

in arms, a political abhorrence of an "offensive" army, an economic and

military necessity to defend the frontiers, a military awe tor the

lethality of the new materiel of war, and a general inability to separate

France from the war model and methods of the Great War, Frallce's military

again attempted to force the enemy to fight her battle. Had the Germans

fought the battle the war the French desired, the bataille conduite, the

results could have been a French victory. The Germans may have battered

themselves against the defenses of France until they were weakened enough

for the final decisive French offensive.

3For a discussion of the a priori versus the !.J.l0ster~ori. deci-·


sian, see France, tcole Superieure de Guerre, Cours de Tactique Generale
et d'Etat-Major, Le Corps d'Armee, Annee 1928-1929, pp. 180-201; F~ance,
Ecole Superieure de Guerre, Conferences de Tactique generale et d'Etat­
~jor, Le Corps d'Armee, Annee 1932, pp. 181-185; Generale Rene Altmeyer,
Etudes de Tactique Generale (Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle, 1937), pp. 14­
15; and Commandant Charles de Gaulle, "Doctrine a priori ou doctrine des
circonstances," Revue militaire francaise, XVC (1925), pp. 306-328.
122

But wars are won by armies that do the unexpected, as Sir B. H.

Liddell Hart has explained. 4 It is the ability of a commander and his

army to do the unexpected that is the most decisive ingredient in the

strategy of war. The French did the expected and lost; the Germaus did

the unexpected and won in 1940.

For France to have done the unexpected, she would have had to

abandon or profoundly modify her doctrines of the defensive, continuous

front, and firepower, even though those doctrines uniquely responded to

the requirements of French national defense. And to have successfully

altered her doctrines, France would have had to relinquish many impor­

tant resources crucial to the fighting of a war against Germany, surrender

a significant portion of her "sacred" soil to the enemy, reject many of

the lessons, traumas, and experiences of 1914-1918, abandon many funda­

mental tenets regarding civilian control of the military, and restructure

her army solely on an abstract and unproved relation between a new tech­

nology and ideas of war. She may have been able to do some of these, but

to accomplish all would have taken a leader of consummate nature and of

talent comparable to Napoleon, or a clear sense of purpose ending the

divisive fractionalism that had plagued France since 1871.

Unfortunately for France, neither existed in the years before the

collapse in 1940.

4B• H. Liddell Hart, Strategy (New York: Washington, 1967),


passim.
SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY

SEl.ECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY

The bibliography 18 organized as follows:

Bibliographic Essay

I. Primary Sources

A. Published Documents

B. Memoirs, Dlaries, and Personal Accounts

C. Official French Military Publication~

D. Contemporary Military Books

E. Contemporary Military Articles

II. Secondary Sources

A. Secondary Sources un the fall of france

1. Hooks

2. Articles

B. General Sources

124

125

BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY

The amount of material on the fall of France is literally

staggering. Because of the tragedy of the event bctng i:itudied and the

variety of controversies cl.1geildi=ced by the totteL'illf!, and eventual Lollapse

of France, an immense a"l"llOunt of material appeared immediately after the

war~ These studies, memoir~1 and personal accounts were heavi.ly flavored

by emotion and by the partisan viewpoints of the authors, mObt of whom

were witnesses or participants in the events of Hay··-June 1940, and most

of whom were bitter about the fall of the Third Republic and the subse­

quent charade of the Vichy Regime. The greater part of these earlier

works concentrated on the non-military causes of the collapse, and the

bitterness and the partisan squabbling that had marred the Third l{epublic's

birth continued to mar its obituary.

As for military accounts, the initial works were also primarily

memoirs or personal accounts. In most instances, the overwhelming power

of the Germans was emphasizeJ j or the finger ot guilt was pointed at the

politicians for bringing about the disaster of 1940. Unfortunately,

many of the politicians were pointing their fingers at the military at the

same time. Amidst the bitterness and the many attempts to prove that

someone else was responsible, however, Borne progress was made. Some of

the best earlier works were done by Colonels Pierre Lyet anli Alphonse

Goutard. Additionally, the work of Raoul Girardet stands as a clear

example of what can be done by an energetic historian. Contributions

have also been made by some of the journals specializing in the period,
126

especially the Revue .de 18 deuxieme guerre mondiale ~ But historians

have never shown as much interest in the army of France after 1871 as

they have shown in the German army of the same period. For example,

there has never been an in depth analysis of the French General Staff.

As for bibliographies., John C. Cairns has published two bibliog­

raphic essays that should be the beginning point for dnyone starting a

study of the fall of Fraucc" While persuasively arguing that some of

the best general studies of this era have been done by "outsiders," his

analysis (and sometimes scathing criticism) in The Journal of Modern

History of the recent works by Alistair Horne, William L. Shirer, and

Guy Chapman reveals that much is yet to be done. The works of Richard

D. Chal1ener and Philip Charles Farwell Bankwitz seem to point the

direction future studies of the French military should take. Challener's

work is fundamental for an i.lIlderstanding of the French military, and

Bankwitz's is overpowering in the richness of its footnotes and bibliog­

raphy. Though difficult to follow, Bankwitz's work if:; an unequaled study

of the interwar army.

A number of dissertations have been writteu about the lililitary' s

role in the collapse of the Third Republic, with the works of Fred Greene,

Alvin D. Coox, and D. J. Harvey being the earlier leaders in the field.

The doctoral studies have almost unanimously emphasized the inadequacy

of the French mode of warfare, except for a recent one by Jeffrey Guusburg

that purports to "downgrade the thesis that the doctrine of the French

army was deficient in 1940." Only Coox's 1952 dissertation attempted an

analysis of the army's doctrine, but many sources currently available

were not then accessible.


127

Despite the numerous studies, the best sources for the study of

the fall of France remain the primary ones. The definitive study uf the

fall of France has yet to be done, or perhaps even attempted. Meanwhile,

the testimony and documents collected by the parliamentary investigating

committee on the downfall of the Republic (though cut short for political

reasons and marred by an inadequate investigation into political causes),

the numerous military works of the 1920's and 1930's, the invaluable and

essential Journal Officie~, and the various publications of diplomatic

documents and minutes of committee meetings remain the most valuable

sources for the serious historian. Only by consulting them directly can

the historian hope to gain an understanding of the complexity of the

events of 1919-1939.
I. PRIHARY SOURCES

A. Published Documents

France. Assemblee Nationale. Commission d'enquete sur les evenements


survenus en France de 1933 a 1945. Rapport fait au nom de 1a
Commission d'enquete par1emelltaire par 11. Charles Strre. 2 Vols.
Paris: Presses universitaires de Franc l !, 1952.

Annexes. l'emoignages et documen:s recueil1is par_la


Commission d'enqu~te parlementaire. 9 10ls. Paris: Presses
universitaires de France, 1951-1952.

France. Institut national de 1a statistiqu~. Annuaire Statibtique.


Vol. 50 (1934). Paris: lmprimerie national, 1935.

France. Ministere des affairea etrangeres. Commission de publication


des documents relatifs aux origines de 1a guerre, 1939-1945.
Documents dip10matiques francais, 1932-1939. 2e Serie (1936-1939).
Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1963.

Journal officiel de 18 republique francaise, 1870--1940. Paris: Impri­


merie des journaux officiels, 1870-1940.

B. Memoirs, lJiaries, CluJ _Personal Accounts,

Beaufre. General Andre. Le draule de 1940. Paris: PIon, 1965.

Bloch, Marc. Strange Defeat. Translated ty Gerald Hopkins. New York:


W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1968.

Blum, Leon. L'oeuvre de Leon Blum. 6 Volf:. Paris: Albin Michel, 1955.

Chautemps, Camille. Cahiers secrets de 1 'li.rmistice. Parts: Plan, 1964.

Cot, Pierre. Triumph of Treason. Translat.ed by Sybille and Milton


Crane. Chicago: Ziff-Davis Publishin~; Company, 1944.

Doumenc, General A. Histoire de la neuvie11le armee. Paris: Arthaud,


1945.

Foch, Marshal F. The Memoirs of Marshal Foch. Translated by Colonel


T. Bentley Matt. London: William Heinemann, LTD., 1931.

Gamelin, General Maurice. Servir. 3 Vo1s., Paris: PIon, 1946-1947.

128
129

Grandsard, General C. Le._lO~ corps d'armee dans la bataille, 1939-1940.


Paris: Berger--Levrau1t, 1949.

Herriot, Edouard. Epi8odt8l._.. 19~O-1944. Pa::1s: Flawmarion, 1950.

Ironside, General Sir Edmund. Time Unguardl~d: The Ironside Diaries L


1937-1940. Edited by Colonel Roderick ltac1eod. New York: David
McKay Company, Inc., 1962.

Jacomet, Robert. L'armeme~~r;... de_...!.~ France, 1936-1939. Paris: Editions


Lajeunesse, 1945.

Joffre, Marshal Joseph~ l'lie Personal Memoi'rs of Joffre, Field Marshal


of the French Army: Translated by Colo:lel T. Bentley Mott. 2 Vola.
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1932.

Menu, General C. LG Lun!_j..:..~~~_._sur._1es ruines. Paris: PIon, 1953.

Pau1-Boncour, J. Entre_~~W{_~el"..(es_~ Souv:mirs.sur. 1a III e_


Republiyue.
3 Vo1s. New York: Brentano's Inc., 1946.

Pertinax [Andre Geraud]. lhe GYavediggers of France. New York: Double­


day, Doran & Company, Inc., 1944.

ReYnaud, Paul. La France a sauve l'Europe. Paris: F1ammarioll, 1947.

In the Thick of th_~ Fight, 1930-1945. Translated by James U.


Lambert. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955.

Memo1res. 2 Vo1s. Paris: F1ammar1on, 1960-1963.

Rotan, General G. Annees cruciales.


---~---_ .. _-.--­
Paris: Charles-Lavauzell~, 1947.

Ruby, General. Sedan,. terre dtepreuve. Paris, 1948.

Spears, Major General Sir Edward. Assignment to Catastrophe. Vol. 1:


Prelude to Dunkirk, J~1939-May 1940. New York: A. A. Wyn, Inc.

Weygand, General. Memoires. 3 Vo1s. Paris: F1ammarion, 1950-1957.

C. Official French Military Publications

France. Armee. Infanterie. The Conduct cf Infantry !ire according to


the French Regulations _.of _'1888. Transl ated by A. P. Ledward.
Manchester: Manchester Tactical Society, 1889.

France. ~cole Superieure de Guerre. ConfErences d'il1fanter1e. Annee


1925-1926 (Lieutenant Colonel Touchon).

____ Conferences. d '..!!~£an;er!~..l.. 1932-J.932 (Lieutenant Co lonel Dame).


Courbevo1e: P. Chanove~ 1931-1932.
130
,
France. Ecole Superieure ue Guerre. Conferences de Tactique generale et
d'Etat-Major. ~.Corp8 .d'Armee. Annee 1932.

La Division.. AUllee 1932.

I
France. Ecole Superieure de Guerre. Cours d'Arti11erie (Colonel de la
Porte du Theil). Courbevoie: P. Chanove & Cie •• 1930.

France. Ecole SuperleuI't'. de GuerI"€. Cours de cava1cl'ie (Lieutenant


Colonel Prioux). AUlI.ee] 923-·1924.
~

France. Ecole Superieur,.~ dl: Guerre. Cours d'histoire mi1itaire.


La bataille des Ardennes (Commandant Pugens). Annee 1928.

La direction de 1a guerre des empires centraux. 1914·~1918


(Commandant Larcher). Annee 1930 (1).

France. Ecole Superieure de Guerre. Cours de Tactique d'Artillerie


(Colonel G. Alexandre). Annee 1925.
.. ....
France. Ecole Superi.eure de Guerre. Cours de Tactique generale et
d'Etat-major. Annee 1922-1923.

France. Ecole Superieure de Guerre. Cours de Tactique genera1e et


d'Etat-major. Conference sur la defensive. Annee 1929-1930.
;"

Conferences sur Ie service d'Etat-major. Annee 1920-1921.

Le corps d'armee. Annee 1928-1929.

La division au ,combat (Lieutenant Colonel Voisin). Annee


1929-1930.
'"
Cours d'Etat-major. Aunee 1927-1928. RaLlboui11et: Pierre
Leroy, n.d.

France. Ecole Superieure de Guerre. La manoeuvre du corps d'armee dans


l'armee (General Loizeau). Courbevoie: P. Chanove, 1932.

France. Ecole Superieure de Guerre. Ecole de perfectionnement des


officiers de reserve du service d'Etat-major. Conferences. Annees
1928-1929, 1929-1930, 1930-1931, 1931-1932.

France. Ministere de la defens~ nationa1e et de 1a guerre. Regiement


de l'infanterie: Premiere partie, Instruction. Paris: Charles-
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Reglement~'infanterie: Deuxieme partie, Combat. Paris:


Char1es-Lavauzelle, 1939.
131
France. Ministere de 1a gUtrre .. Etat-major de l'annee. Direction de
1'infanterie. Aide-memoire de l'officier d'infanterie en campagne.
Paris: L. Fournier, 1936.

France. Ministere de la guerre w itat-major de l'armee. Decr~t du


28 Mai 1895 POI·~~~-:r.eglement sur Ie service des armees en campagne.•
Paris: Berger-Levrault, n.d.

Decret du ~8 Octobre 1913 portant reglement sur la conduite


des grandes unites_(Service des armees en campagne). Paris: Berger­
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Instruction...eE0visoire sur i'emplo! lact!que des grandes


unites. Paris: Char1es-Lavauzel1e, 1922.

Instruction SUt: .!.~eInploi tactique des g,randes unites. Paris:


Berger-Levrault, 1937.

Annexe No.1. lnstruction sur Ie service en campagne. Paris:


Char1es-Lavauzel1e, 1939.

Annexe No.2" Instruction sur la liaison et les transmissions


~campagne .• Paris: Charles-Lavauzel1e, 1939.

Annexe No.3.. ,Instruction sur Ie renseignement et


l'observation.. 2 Vols. Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle, 1939.

Annexe No.5. Instruction generale sur l'observation. Paris:


Charles-Lavauzel1e, 1937.

Annexe No.6. Instruction sur l'organisation des mouvements


et des transports militaires en temps de guerre. Paris:
Char1es-Lavauze11e, 1938.

Annexe No. l w Instruction sur les operations en montagne.


Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle, 1939.

_ _...--_e Instruction provisoire sur 1'organisation du terrain. 2 Vols.


Paris: Char1es-Lavauzel1e, 1927.

Instruction proviso ire sur l'organisation_du terrain. 3 Vols.


Paris: Char1es-Lavauze11e, 1936-1938.

________ e Instruction sur l'emploi des chars de combat. Paris: L.


Fournier. 1925.

____e Instruct.ion~~~ur 1~'


organisation et Ie fonctionnemellt des etats­
majors en campagne. Paris: Char1es-Lavauzel1e, 1927.

____e Manuel de Ereparation militaire superieure. Paris: Challes­


Lavauze11e. 1934.
132

Manuel de prepuration mi1itaire superieure: Artillerie.


Paris: Char1es-Lavauzelle, 1934.

Manuel de preparation militaire superieure: Cavalerie.

Paris: Charles-Lavauze1le, 1934.

Manuel de preparation militaire superieure: Genie. Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle, 1934.

Manuel de preparation mi1itaire superieure: Infanterie.


Paris: Char1es-Lavauze11e, 1934.

Reglement de la cava1erie. 3 Vols. Paris: L. Fournier,


1930.

____ Reglement des unites de chars 1egers. 2 Vols. Paris: L.


Fournier, 1930.

Reg1ement de l'infanterie. 3 Vols. Paris: L. Fournier,


1928.

Reg1ement de manoeuvre de l'arti11erie. 3 Vols. Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle, 1931.

Reg1ement sur la manoeuvre et l'emploi du genie. 2 Vols.


Paris: Charles-Lavauze11e, 1931.

D. Contemporary Military Hooks

Allehaut, General Emile. Etre prets. Paris: Herger-Levrau1t, 1935.

-1925.
. !:!.. guerre n' est pas une industrie. Paris: Berger-Levrau1t,

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1929.

Altmayer. General Rene. Etudes de tactique generale. Paris: Charles­


Lavauze11e, 1937.
/
Baux, Charles. Etudes sur Ie combat. Paris: Payot, 1921.

Benazet, Paul. Notre securite. Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1938.

Bouchacourt. Commandant. L'Infanterie dans 18 batail1e. Paris: Charles­

Lavauze11e, 1927.

Boucher, General Arthur. L'Art de vainc~e aux deux poles de l'histoire:


Sa 10i eternel1e. Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1928.

Les doctrines dans 18 preparation de la Grande Guerre. Paris:


Berger-Levrault, 1925.
133
L'Infanterie sacrifiee. Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1930.

Lea lois eternelles de la guerre: L'art de 18 guerre il y a


vingt-trois siecles. Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1922.

Les lois eternelles de 18 guerre: L'oeuvre du General de


M1ribel. Paris: Berger-Levrau1t, 1924.

Bourget, J. M. Gouvernement et commandement. Paris: Payut, 1930.

Bouvard, Conmwndant H u Les 1efons militaires de 18 guerre. ~arls:


Masson, 1920.

Brallion, General. EBsai Bur l'Instruction m11itaire. Paris: Char1es­


Lavauzelle, 1931.

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Chapelot, 1920.

llindenbu1lL~_Ludendorf strateges. Paris: Berger-Levrau1t,


1923.

Hugnet, Lieutenant Colonel eh. Rue St. Dominique et G.Q.G._ou les


Trois D1ctatures de 1a Guerre. Paris: PIon, 1937.

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geographiques, maritimes, et co1onia1es, 1929.

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Clemenceau, Georges. Grandeur and Misery of Victory. Translated by


F. M. Atkinson. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1930.

Clement-Grandcourt p General. Places fortes et places faib1es. Paris:


Librairie de l'Arc, 1940 (1).

Corda, Marie Louis Victor Henry. L'evo1ution des methodes offensives


de l'armee francaise (1914-1918). Paris: Gauthiers Villars, 1921.

Culman, General Frederic. La fortification permanente aux frontieres.


Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle, 1931.

Strategie. Paris: Charles-Lavauze11e, 1924.

Tactique genera1e d'apres 1'experience de 18 grande guerre.


Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle, 1926.

Debeney, General. La guerre et les hommes. Paris: PIon, 1937

Sur Is securite militaire de la France. Paris: Payot, 1930.


134

Douhet, Giulio. The Command of the Air. New York: Arno Press, 1972.

Dumoncel, Leon (Chef d'Escadron d'Artillerie). Esssi de Memento Tactique:


La Decision. Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle, 1937.
,;
Du Picq, Colonel Ardant. Etudes sur Ie combat. Paris: R. Chapelot,
1904. 3d Edition.

Duval, General. Lea lecons de la guerre d'Espagne. Palis: Pion, 193~.

Foch, Lieutenant Colonel F. Des principes de la guerre. Paris: Berger-·


Levrault, 1906.

The Principles of War. Translated by J. de Hor-inni. New


York: The 11. K. Fly Company, 1918.

Gaulle, General Charles de. Le fil de l'epee. Paris: Berger-Levrau1t,


1931.

La Franc~ et son armee. Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1938.

• Trois etudes" Paris: PIon, 1971.

Vers l'al~ee de I~tier. Paris: B~rger-Levrau1t, 1934.


,;
Guisel1n, Lieutenant Colonel. Preparation i l'Ecole de guerre. Paris:
r.harles-Lavauzelle, 1930.

H. M. (Lieutenant Colonel). La verite sur 18 Guerre, 1914-1918. 2 Vols.


Paris: Albin Michel, 1930.

Joly, Robert. Le contrale des defenses de Min1stere de 1a guerre. Paris:


Rousseau & Cie, 1935.

Langlois, General H. Enseignements de deux guerres recentes: Guerre


Turco-Russe et Anglo-Boer. Paris: Charles-Lavauze11e, 1930 (1).

Laure, Commandant. Au 3eme bureau du troisieme G.Q.G. (1917-1919).


Paris: Plan, 1922.

Liocourt, Lieutenant Colonel de. La defense de la France du Nord-Est.


Paris: Artheme F'ayard, 1940.

Loizeau, General L. ~ manoeuvres. Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1933.

Lucas, Lieutenant Colonel Pascal. L'evolution des idees tactiques en


France et en Allemagne pendant la Guerre de 1914-1918. 3d Edition.
Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1925.

Mangin, General. Comment finit 18 Guerre. Paris: Plan, 1920.

Maurin, General. L'armee moderne. Paris: Flammarion , 1938.


135

Mayer, Lieutenant Colonel Emile. La Theorie de la Guerre et l'Etude de


l'Art militaire. Paris: Felix Alcan, 1923.

Troix Marechaux: Joffre, Gallieni, Foch. Paris: Gallimand,


1928.

Nos chefs de 1914. Paris: Stock, 1930.

Mique1, Lieutenant Colonel. Enseignements strategiques et tactiques de


la Guerre de 1914-1918. Paris: Char1es-Lavauzelle, 1926.

Hontaigne, Lieutenant Colouel. Etudes sur 1a guerre. Paris: tlerger­


Levrault, 1911.

Montei1het, J.. Les in~tit:utions mi1itaires de la France" 1814-1932.


Paris: A1can, 1932.

Mordacq, General H. La defense nationa1e en danger. Paris: Les editions


de France, 1938.

Lea Iecons de 1914 et 18 prochaine guerre. Paris: F1ammarion,


1934.

Les legendes de 1a Grande Guerre. Paris: Flammarion, 1935.

Le Min1stere Clemenceau. 4 Vols. Paris: P1on, 1931.

Politique et str8tegie dans une democratie. Paris: P1on,


1912.

Normand, Colonel. L'evo1ution de la fortification de campagne en France


et en A11emagne, 1914-1918. Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1921.

Percin, General. 1914: Lea erreurs du haut commandement. Paris:


Albin Michel, 1919 (1).

Reynaud, Paul. Le probleme militaire francais. Paris: Flammarion,


1937.

Rougeron, C. Les enseignements aeriens de la Guerre d'Espagne. Paris:


Berger-Levrau1t, 1939.

Serr1gny, General. Riflexions sur l'Art de la Guerre. Paris: Charles­


Lavauze11e, 1930. 3d Edition.

Sikorski, General W. La guerre moderne. Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1935.

Tanant, General. La discipline dans les armees francaises. Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle, 1938.

Tournes, Lieutenant Colonel Rene. L'histoire mi1itaire. Paris:


Charles-Lavauzelle, 1922 ..
136

Vauthier, Colonel P. La doctrine de guerre du General Douhet~ Paris:


Berber-Levrault, 1935.

E. Contemporary Military Articles

Anonymous. "Analyse de l'ouvrage du general autrichien Vall Eimannsberger:


La Guerre des Chars," Revue militaire francaise, Vol. 56, No. 188
(June, 1935), pp. 359-386.

• uL'armee qu'il nous faut," Revue des deux mondes, LXI


- - (January 1. 1921), pp. 5-15.

"Contre l'attaque brusquee," Revue des deux mandes, XXIV


(December 15, 1934), pp. 742-764.

ULa doctrine de defense nationale," Revue militaire generale.


X (September, 1911), pp. 359-370.

ULa guerre des chars," Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 93, No. 554
(November, 1938), pp. 972-981.

"Notre reorganisation mi1itaire," Revue politique et

par1ementaire (September 10, 1926), pp. 371-406.

Armengaud, General. "Les lecons de 1a guerre d'Espagne." Revue des


deux mondes, Vol. 40 (August IS, 1937), pp. 754-769.

Bail1ot, Capitaine R. "Le General Maillard et les origines de la doc­


trine de guerre actuelle." Revue mi1itaire genera1e, Vol. 12, No.
11 (November 15, 1923), pp. 852-861.

Barjot, Lieutenant. "L'avion de batai11e de Douhet, est-il un archaisme."


Revue de l'armee de l'air, No. 53 (December, 1933), pp. 1323-1332.

Bethouart, Lieutenant Colonel.. "Principes et conditions de la guerre."

Revue m11itaire genera1e, I, No. 11 (November, 1937), pp. 616-647.

Bidou, Henry. "Que sera Ie haut commandement?" Revue de·Paris (January

1, 1937), pp. 70-80.

Blum, Leon. "A bas l'armee de metier:" Le Popu1aire (December 16, 1934),
p. 1.

"So1dats de metier et armee de metier." Le Populaire

(November 28, 1934), p. 1.

"Vers l'armee de metier." Le Populaire (November 30, 1934),


p. 1.

Brindel, General. "La nouvelle organisation militaire." Revue des deux

mondes, Vol. 51 (June I, 1929), pp. 481-501.

137
Brouillard, Capitaine. "Cas concrets de defense contre les chars,
premiere cas." Revue_.d'infanterie, Vol. 90, No. 536 (May, 1937),
pp. 879-907.

"Cas concreta de defense contre les chars, deuxieme cas. II


Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 90, No. 537 (June, 1937). pp. 1165-1201.

Bruneau, Pierre. "Le charbon 'puissance' de paix et de guerre." Revue


militaire generale, XXI, No.6 (June, 1924), pp. 450-469).

Cail10ux, Commandant. "L'aviation et 1es chars de combat." Revue


d'infanterie, Vol. 91 (September, 1937), pp. 540-554.

"Les enseignements de la guerre d' Espagne, d' aplOES deux


publications recentes." Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 92 (March, 193~),
pp. 670-691.

Camon, General. "La strategie et sou etude." Revue.militar1.e generale,


No.5 (May, 1937), pp. 542-566.

Castex, Vice-Amira1. "Les hautes etudes de defense nationale." Revue


militaire gener~l~, I, No.1 (January, 1937), pp. 37-49.

Chareyre, Contra1eur~·general. "Organisation et l' administration centrale


du Ministere de la Guerre." Revue militaire francaise, No. 10
(April, 1922), pp. 47-62.

Chaza1-Martin, Capitaine and Capitaine Suire. "Etude mathematique de Is


puissance des armes antichars." Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 95
(August, 1939), pp. 255-299.

Courquin, Albert. "Le materiel commande la tactique. 1l Revue militaire


generale, II, No.8 (August, 1937), pp. 240-250.

Cugnac, Chef de batail10n de. "Preparon-nous la guerre de mouvement ou


1a guerre de stabilisation?" Revue militaire genera1e, No. 10
(October, 1937), pp. 493-503.

Cugnac, General de. "La tour de Babel." Revue mi1itai'ce generale, No. 6
(June, 1937), pp. 679-688.

Currus. liLa renovation de notre armement d'infanterie." Revue


d'infanterie, Vol. 94, No. 560 (May, 1939), pp. 861-882.

Debeney, General. "Encore l'armee de metier." Revue des deux mondes,


XXVIII (July 15, 1935), pp. 279-295.

"Les exigences de la guerre de materiel." Revue des deux


mondes, XIV (March 15, 1933), pp. 259-286; also Revue d'infanterie,
Vol. 82, No. 488 (May, 1933), pp. 577-615.

"La motorisatlon des armees modernes." Revue des deux mondes,


XXXII (March 15, 1936), pp. 273-291.
138
"Le probleme de la couverture." Revue des deux mondes, XXXVI
(November 15, 1936), pp. 268-294.

Duch3ne. General. "Avona-nous un Ministre de la Defense national?" -


Revue

des deux mondes. XLIV (March, 1938).

Duffour. General. "Les exigences et les disciplines actuelles du haut


enseignement militaire." Revue de Paris (March 1, 1935), pp. 99-112;
and (March 15, 1935), pp. 339-359.

Duval, General. "L'armee francaise de 1938: Sa genese--son avenir."


Revue de Paris (Augu8t 15, 1938), pp. 721-147.

Epailly, Colonel. "La defense contre une attaque allemande par surprise."
Revue militaire generale, I, No.5 (Mary, 1937), pp. 605-618.

Estienne, General Jean. "Les forces materlelles a la guerre." Revue


de Paris, XXIX (January 15, 1922), pp. 225-238.

Etienne, Capita1ne P. "La doctrine officielle de l'aviation mi11taire


francaise." Revue de l' armee de l' air, No. 79 (February, 1936),
pp. 123-129.
Fabry, Lieutenant Colonel. "La 'strategie generale' affaire du gouverne­
ment." Revue militaire generale, I, No.4 (April, 1937), pp. 387­
390.

"Ou va notre armee?" Revue des deux mondes, V (September­


October, 1925), pp. 251-253.

Gallini, Lieutenant Colonel. "Bonaparte: avait-il, ou non, de la valeur."


Revue militaire generale, I, No.4 (April, 1937), pp. 423-474.

Gamelin, General. "Allocution prononces devant les eleves de l'ecole


polytechnique et de l'ecole special militaire." Revue militaire
francaise, CVI (May, 1936), pp. 137-142.

"Hier et demain." Revue militaire generale, I, No.1 (January,


1937), pp. 25-28.
"Reflexions sur Ie chef." Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 86, No.
511 (April, 1935), pp. 633-661.

Garros, Louis. "Les les:ons militaires de 18 guerre d'Espagne." Revue


de France (July, 1937),pp. 33-48.
Gaulle, Commandant Charles de. "L'action de guerre et Ie chef." Revue
militaire francaise, XCVIII (March 1, 1938), pp. 299-316.
t1
"Doctrine a priori ou doctrine des circonstances. Revue
mi1itaire francaise, XVC (1925), pp. 306-328.

"Du prestige." Rewe militaire francaise, CI (June, 1931)t


pp. 395-412.
139
"Role historique des places francaises. ll Revue mi1itaire
francais~, XVIII (December, 1925), pp. 356-382.

liVers l'armee de metier." Revue politique et parlementaire,


CLIV-CLV (January-June, 1933), pp. 288-301.

Goutard, Capitaine A~ uLe char en face de l'arme antichar dans la


rupture." Revue d'i.nfanterie, Vol. 93 (August, 1938), pp. 271-311.

Granclement, Capitaine R. "La politique mondiale du petro1e." Revue


m11itair~ generale, II, No.5 (May, 1938), pp. 591-623.

19notus. "Edouard Da1adier. 1I Revue de Paris (September 15, 1938), pp.


447-460.

"Le General Gamelin." Revue de Paris (June 15, 1939), pp.


741-755.

J. P. ilLes pertes des nations belligerantes au cour de 1a grande guerre."


Les Archives de 18 Grande Guerre. Paris: Etlnne Chiron, 1921, pp.
37-61, 191-207, 308-322.

Krebs, Coanandant Armand. "Considerations sur l'offensive." Revue


milit.ire generale, II, No.9 (September, 1937), pp. 324-366.

Lancon, Lieutenant Colonel. tlLa defensive devant la mecanisation."


Revue militaire francaise, No. 184 (October, 1936), pp. 27-66.

"Quelques reflexions sur 1'evolution de la tactique. 1I Revue


militaire francaise, Vol. 58 (October, 1935), No. 172, pp. 35-72.

Laporte, Commandant Henri. "La defense antichars. 1I Revue d'infanterie,


Vol. 98 (December, 1938), pp. 1140-1181.

Le Hingrat, Capitaine. "Loi sur l'organisation de 1a nation pour Ie


temps .de .guerre •" Revue d'infaaterie, Vol. 94 (June, 1939), pp.
1222-1246.

Linares, Capitaine de. "Le nouveau reg1ement de l'infanterie." Revue


d'infanterie, Vol. 93, No. 553 (October, 1938). pp. 714-749; and
Vol. 93, No. 554 (November, 1938), pp. 982-1004.

Lucius. "La refonte des I'egiements et notre doctrine de guerre. I.

Revue mi1itaire genera1e (16 parts) (January, February, July.


September, November, December, 1920) (January, March, April, June,
July, August, October. November, December, 1921) (January, 1922).

Magine1, General. "Le commandement unique." Revue mi1itaire genera1e,


I, No.6 (June. 1937), pp. 689-707.

Mainie, Colonel. "La defense des coupures." Revue mi1itaire francaise,


CVI (May, 1936), pp. 184-211.
140

"L'offensive et la defensive avec les engins blindees."

Revue militaire genera1e, (February, 1937).

Martin, Lieutenant Colonel. "Reflexions sur la defense centre les chars."


Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 84, No. 497 (February, 1934), pp. 268-276.

Maurin, General. ilL' annee moderne: Motorisation. II Revue Bleue, No. 10


(October, 1938), pp. 376-380.

Michel, Henri. "Pour l'enseignement de l'organization a l'ecole


superieure de guerre." Revue militaire francaise, III (1922), pp.
196-220.

Niessel, General. "Chars, antichars et motorisation dans la guerre


d'Espange." Revue militaire generale, IV (December, 1938), pp. 745­
760.

Perre, Commandant J. "Autre reflexions sur 1a defense contre les chars."


Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 84, No. 497 (February, 1934), pp. 277-288.

"Le char modeme." Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 92 (March, 1938),


pp. 630-639.

"Le char moderne, Sea posaibilites et ses servit.udes, Son


emploi dans 1'attaque." Revue d'infanterie, Vol.I·92, No. 546 (March,
1938), pp. 620-639.

"Chars et anti-chars." Revlue d' infanterie, Vol. 85 (July,


1934), pp. 21-49.

"Chars et statistiques, Les construction et les pertes."

Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 87, No. 514 (July 1, 1935), pp. 75-113.

• liLa guerre des chars." Revue d'lnfanterie, Vol. 87 (December,


--1935), pp. 951-1014.

Petain, Marechal. "L'Ecole de Guerre." Revue d'infanterie, Vol. 86,


No. 512 (May, 1935), pp. 821-829.

"Defense Nationale et commandement unique." Revue des deux


mondes, XXXV (May-· June, 1936), pp. 5-17.

"La Securite de la France au cours des annees creuses." Revue


des deux mondes, XXVI (March I, 1935), pp. I-XX.

Pichon, General Je "Guerre d'hier et de demain: defensive et motorisation."


Revue militaire francaise, Vol. 58, No. 172 (October, 1935), pp. 5-34.

Reynaud, Paul. "Avona-nous l'armee de n08 besoins ou l'armee de n08


habitudes?" La Revue Hebdomadaire, VII (July, 1924), pp. 5-11.

Rouge ron , Camille. "L'autarcie." Revue militaire generale, II, No.4


(April, 1938), pp. 469-491.
141
Rouge ron , L'Ingenieur en chef. "Douhet et la doctrine de lfUnite de
materiel," Revue de l'armee de l'air, No. 58 (May, 1934), pp. 503­
536; and No. 59 (June, 1934), pp. 627-652.

Tanant, General A. "Le probleme du cODDDandement." Revue d'infanterie,


Vol. 94, No. 559 (April, 1939), pp. 637-666.

Vauthier, Colonel. "Le General Douhet." Revue de Paris (November 15,


1935), pp. 269-293.

"Principes de 1a doctrine de Douhet." Revue de l'armee de


l'air, No. 69 (April, 1935), pp. 363-382.

Weygand, General. "L'Armee aujourdhui." Revue des deux mandes, XLV


(May 15, 1938), pp. 325-336.

"L'etat militaire de la France." Revue des deux mondes,


XXIX (October 15, 1936), pp. 721-736.

ilL'unite de l'armee." Revue militaire generale, I (Jwluary,


1937), pp. 15-19.

II. SECONDARY SOURCES

A. Secondary Sources on the Fall of France

1. Books

Albord, General Tony. Pourquoi cela est arrive, au les responsabilites


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Bankwitz, Philip Charles Farwell. Maxime Weygand and Civil-Military


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1953.

Bourret, General Victor. La tragedie de l'armee Francaise. Paris, 1947.

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Clarke. Jeffrey Johnstone. "Military Technology in Republican France:


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143

Maugham, William Somerset. France at War. New York: Doubleday, Doran &
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Maurois, Andre. Tragedy 1n France. Translated by Den·.,er Lindley. New


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Mengin, Robert. No Laurels for De Gaulle. New York, 1966.

Paoli, Francois Andre. L'Armee francaise de 1919 a 1939: La Reconversion.


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Pol, Heinz. Suicide of a Democracy. Translated by Heinz and Ruth Norden.


New York: Reyna1 & Hitchcock, 1940.

Prete1at» General. Le destin tragique de la ligne Maginot. Paris: Berger­


Levrault, 19500

Rossi-Laudi, Guy. La drole de _guerre: 1& vie politi.que en France


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Ryan, Stephen. Petain the Soldier. New York: A. S. Barnes and Company,
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Shirer, William L. The Collapse of the Third Republic. New York: Simon
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Simone, Andre. J'accuse. New York: The Dial Press, 1940.

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.-
Tournoux, General Paul-Emile. Defense des frontieres. HaUl Commandement·
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2. Articles

Albord, General Tony. "Appel a l'imagination." Revue de defense


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416.

Cairns, John C. "Along the Road Back to France 1940." American Histori­
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"Some Recent Historians and the 'Strange Defeat' of 1940."


Journal of Modern History, Vol. 46, No.1 (March, 1974), pp. 60-85.

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