How would you influence France so that it would build a better Maginot Line?

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
13,797
Europix
#11
I'd say that, besides the good points already mentioned, investing in a diplomacy that would have made Belgium an ally instead of a neutral country would have been the best investment.

The lack of coordination and cooperation between the two countries remains one of the most underestimated factors in the German success.
 
Apr 2018
828
Upland, Sweden
#12
But it DID make a difference. The French wanted to slug it out in the low countries, and not destroy their own cities like in WW1. Maginot line was used to funnel the bulk of German forces into Belgium and Netherlands, instead of directly into France (First part of the plan). It is the second part of the plan, defense of that German hammer is what backfired spectacularly.
Here's how I see it: The Germans broke through already on May the 13th (the Netherlands surrendered on May the 15th, but Belgium surrendered later you are correct). Ultimately the French lost. Therefore the question becomes if the French would have been more helped by a larger airforce/ more tanks, rather than the Maginot line, even if the Maginot line did some good in the sense that you pointed out, the Germans still broke through (on the 13th? Or 15th at least?). Part of what I'm suggetsting is that the French would not have lost tactically as well as strategically if they were not so mentally reliant on the idea of the Maginot line.

Do you have any more exact troop estimates for the number of German soldiers/ front by the way? I'm curious about just how many troops the Germans committed to Belgium (especially).

Had nothing to do with tanks. The Germans captured most of the tanks and other materials anyway. It was a total strategic & tactical defeat which resulted in a relatively easy campaign for the Germans.
My thought was that if the French had more tanks (or airforce for that matter) that would imply their military would have focused less on static defences generally, and so not been defeated as completely as they were. Part of the whole shabang is psychological. If you have a big line of forts you think will protect you, then you are not going to be in a position to think outside the (pill)box once the enemy breaks through that line of forts. From what I've gathered the French freaked out when the Germans concentrated their power and pushed through the Ardennes. According to Churchill (... which in turn is according to Wikipedia, I will admit) at least, Maurice Gamelin seems to have lost his nerve completely, and the French prime minister seems to have been totally despondent already on the 15th of May, even though the French only formally surrendered more than a month later.

What's your interpretation of why the French committed so many tactical and strategic blunders, despite overall numerical advantage etc.? I am no expert in this, but the interpretation I've been spoonfed is precisely that they were "fighting the last war" etc. (in this case expressed through the construction of and reliance on the Maginot line).
 
Last edited:
Jan 2010
4,364
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#13
But it DID make a difference. The French wanted to slug it out in the low countries, and not destroy their own cities like in WW1. Maginot line was used to funnel the bulk of German forces into Belgium and Netherlands, instead of directly into France (First part of the plan). It is the second part of the plan, defense of that German hammer is what backfired spectacularly.

Had nothing to do with tanks. The Germans captured most of the tanks and other materials anyway. It was a total strategic & tactical defeat which resulted in a relatively easy campaign for the Germans.
Perhaps a moral defeat would be more accurate: France was worn out and did not want to fight another war, William Shirer makes this convincing argument in The Collapse of the Third Republic.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,687
SoCal
#14
Perhaps a moral defeat would be more accurate: France was worn out and did not want to fight another war, William Shirer makes this convincing argument in The Collapse of the Third Republic.
One wonders whether a continued alliance with the US would have made France more committed to the war effort in 1939-1940.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,687
SoCal
#16
Good question. In 1939-1940 I don’t think the US had much military might to offer France. Of course, my view of this has been formed by repeat viewings of From Here to Eternity.
The US could have given France the hope of a lot of additional troops eventually arriving to help it, though.
 
#17
I'd say that, besides the good points already mentioned, investing in a diplomacy that would have made Belgium an ally instead of a neutral country would have been the best investment.

The lack of coordination and cooperation between the two countries remains one of the most underestimated factors in the German success.
Maybe you or others can answer also this, but why didn't the Belgian situation change much when the Germans completed the Siegfried Line to the ocean?
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,085
Sydney
#18
half a dozen good divisions with one armored brigade would have stopped the Germans ,
instead of a couple of category B under-equiped , untrained and without any anti-aircraft guns
alternatively , the armored brigade advance on the Belgian roads and make a mess of the German movement
on contact a simple fighting retreat would have aggravated to monstrous German traffic jam

Fortified lines , as the Sinai Bar Lev line and the Chinese Great Wall proved is only useful if there is some good troops to hold them
 
#19
half a dozen good divisions with one armored brigade would have stopped the Germans ,
instead of a couple of category B under-equiped , untrained and without any anti-aircraft guns
alternatively , the armored brigade advance on the Belgian roads and make a mess of the German movement
on contact a simple fighting retreat would have aggravated to monstrous German traffic jam

Fortified lines , as the Sinai Bar Lev line and the Chinese Great Wall proved is only useful if there is some good troops to hold them
The points and counterpoints have already been made countless times on other threads, but this thread is really not about such opinions. Instead, this thread is more about learning the specific details at the specific points in history while speculating about the better Maginot designs (that does not include not building it).
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,072
#20
Whenever something "works as designed" without making a difference I always become suspicious that the particular something is at best not very helpful and at best a complete waste of time money and energy.
It forced the Germans to adopt a quite risky plan to get around the problem of the Maginot line. Fortunately for the Germans, and to a certain amazement on their part, the plan worked our perfectly for them. If something had gone wrong for them, at the very least it's likely to have become a much longer campaign.

It's also telling that the Germans, who fought the French in 1940, subsequently never came up with the kind if systematic denigration of French military ability that those who did not fight the French in 1940 went for. The surmise is that the Germans actually knew what the French were about, and the extent to which they had managed to pull a fast one on them in 1940, pleased as they might be about it of course.
 

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