Originally Posted by Kevinmeath
And that was after how many months of planning? I am not sure when Britain really started to rearm--- was the 10 year rule still around then?
It was the French who had the 'best' army in the world in 1936.
Indeed we had, on paper.
Before 1939 Germany was not in a position to resist any vigorous intervention from the French. As has been said before, nobody dared do it and wanted to do it, unfortunately.
Although the commonly accepted reason is that nobody dared do it, by fear of escalating things and end up in another war, because of pacifism or even social decay, the more I read the more I get the distinct impression that there was in fact a divide in the French society about this, but not in the way people usually think.
As US embassador Bullitt told FDR on 1st July 1940, "the French people are as fine as they have always been. The French elites have failed completely."
There are more and more studies of the "elites" during the 1930's, and the more I read, the more I get the uncomfortable feeling that this reluctance to do something about Germany's provocations is not necessarily linked to what we usually think.
Many suspicious events uncovered and studied recently have led me to believe that the "elites" have a much greater responsibility in the rise of Germany and in the Allied defeat in June 1940.
- more than 2/3 of the French were in favour of military intervention by 1939, contrary to the usual idea that French society was mainly pacifist and did not want to fight.
- the French political agenda of the "elites" of the late 1930's was slowly drifting towards fascism
- most coercive and anti-freedom laws used by Vichy were laws passed in the few years before the war (Vichy didn't resort to create new legislation for about 2 years...) by Republican governments.
- the men who took part in the voting of these laws were largely "recycled" by Vichy, including former "complacent" marxist union leaders
- there were, in 1938-39 plans to push for State reforms banning rights of association, and even rights to vote. This is mentioned in correspondance and mettings between French officials and Italian Foreign minister in 1939.
- industrial and financial elites in France, but also in the UK and particularly in the US had massive investments and economic interests in Germany since the 1920's
I get the feeling that:
1- the protection of industrial and financial interests in Germany was more important to the "elites" than the danger represented by a strong and daring Germany.
2- The collapse of the the Republic and the suspiciously immediate readiness of the Vichy political structures was not an "accident".
I don't know if Anglophone historiography has looked into this a lot, but in France, there have been a few studies in the past two decades on this.