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

Aug 2014
296
New York, USA
Sorry- but No it did not work- it was intended to stop the germans from invading france. They simply went around it.
Your analysis is completely wrong.
The Maginot line was created to:
1. Protect French industrial regions bordering Germany.
2. Make the Germans go around it and funnel most of the German army through the low countries, so that minimal fighting would occur on French soil.
Historically, it worked exactly as intended and exactly as predicted by French defensive plans. The narrative that they teach in high school history about this subject is just flat out wrong. In my opinion, it is done because there is simply not enough time in a school year to cover this subject in detail and get through the rest of WW2 material. Also, modern military strategy & tactics is not a part of high school curriculum.

Also, as a historical note: Out of ~140 German divisions involved in the invasion of France, only 10 of them were mechanized panzer divisions. The vast majority of the German army in early 1940 were simple infantry divisions.
 
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Jun 2012
520
Your analysis is completely wrong.
The Maginot line was created to:
1. Protect French industrial regions bordering Germany.
2. Make the Germans go around it and funnel most of the German army through the low countries, so that minimal fighting would occur on French soil.
Historically, it worked exactly as intended and exactly as predicted by French defensive plans. The narrative that they teach in high school history about this subject is just flat out wrong. In my opinion, it is done because there is simply not enough time in a school year to cover this subject in detail and get through the rest of WW2 material. Also, modern military strategy & tactics is not a part of high school curriculum.

Also, as a historical note: Out of ~140 German divisions involved in the invasion of France, only 10 of them were mechanized panzer divisions. The vast majority of the German army in early 1940 were simple infantry divisions.
Thanks Teslatron. I wasn't sure if sculptingman was being serious or just horsing around. Anyways, I have to work right now but thanks again for your good post.
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
Your analysis is completely wrong.
The Maginot line was created to:
1. Protect French industrial regions bordering Germany.
2. Make the Germans go around it and funnel most of the German army through the low countries, so that minimal fighting would occur on French soil.
Historically, it worked exactly as intended and exactly as predicted by French defensive plans. The narrative that they teach in high school history about this subject is just flat out wrong. In my opinion, it is done because there is simply not enough time in a school year to cover this subject in detail and get through the rest of WW2 material. Also, modern military strategy & tactics is not a part of high school curriculum.

Also, as a historical note: Out of ~140 German divisions involved in the invasion of France, only 10 of them were mechanized panzer divisions. The vast majority of the German army in early 1940 were simple infantry divisions.
1. And yet the Maginot line failed in this, since the Germans ended up occupying or otherwise ruling France (including said industrial heartland) for five years.
2. How many divisions were in the low countries compared with France in May 1940? Even if this funneling succeeded, what difference did it make in the end?

No one is disputing that the Maginot line was of some use. The question is, what are the oppurtunity costs involved... the money, tech and energy spent on it could have been spent in other fields, and it is in thid that it seems for example to me that the French could have done so much better.

You say that the French suffered a "tactial and strategic defeat" - okay, how is this unrelated to their building of the Maginot line? What do you make of Churchill's claims of the French feeling caught off guard and with difficulty to act that I posted earlier? Your point about the Germans only having 10 mechanized panzer divisions is crucial here, given that the French tanks and aircraft were decent I really don't see how investing in more tanks and aircraft would not be a better idea than a long defensive wall. It's a no brainer to me.
 
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Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
For some comparisons: the French spent 3 billion francs(in that days money this is a lot) between 1930 and 1940 to build the maginot line. According to wiki the per unit cost of the Char B1(a somewhat heavy tank) was 1,5 million francs. The per unit cost of french aircraft I can't find any data on, but given the somewhat arguably higher degree of technical complexity involved suppose it's double that to make a conservative estimate.

So, essentially the French could have had 2000 more tanks or 1000 more aircraft, but instead invested in a fixed line defense only a minute minority of which actually saw use during combat, while also maybe giving the French a false sense of security and therefore making them unable to act once Guderian came in and "moved their circles". It does not seem like a good trade off to me.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,634
For some comparisons: the French spent 3 billion francs(in that days money this is a lot) between 1930 and 1940 to build the maginot line. According to wiki the per unit cost of the Char B1(a somewhat heavy tank) was 1,5 million francs. The per unit cost of french aircraft I can't find any data on, but given the somewhat arguably higher degree of technical complexity involved suppose it's double that to make a conservative estimate.

So, essentially the French could have had 2000 more tanks or 1000 more aircraft, but instead invested in a fixed line defense only a minute minority of which actually saw use during combat, while also maybe giving the French a false sense of security and therefore making them unable to act once Guderian came in and "moved their circles". It does not seem like a good trade off to me.
neither aircaft or tanks last forever. Aircraft particularity date and wear. TOtal aircraft built by Germany in 1939 (14,000 IIRC) compared to totall opertaional aircrfat (around 4,000). Larger production numbers does not translate 1 for 1 into operational aircraft strength. . Building larger numbers of 1930 aircraft and tankls is going to be of very limited value in 1940.
 
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Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
neither aircaft or tanks last forever. Aircraft particularity date and wear. TOtal aircraft built by Germany in 1939 (14,000 IIRC) compared to totall opertaional aircrfat (around 4,000). Larger production numbers does not translate 1 for 1 into operational aircraft strength. . Building larger numbers of 1930 aircraft and tankls is going to be of very limited value in 1940.
You have a point, and a good one. The maginot line was a "sunk cost" (in the non-fallacious sense...), which had it's advantages, and is reusable. A bunker is a bunker is a bunker. Sure. But it's not only the French who need to refurbish their forces, the Germans will as well, and probably had a few 1930-era units in the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe by 1940. Also the 1930 units are likely to be cheaper, relatively speaking....

It's a question of priorities. Given how off guard the French seem to have been caught as my Churchill quote seemed to indicate and as @David Vagamundo pointed out, if it was largely a failure of morale... then I can't help but feel that tanks and aircraft give more freedom of movement. Partly it's a psychological advantage, as fluffy and "unserious" as this sounds: a General staff used to thinking of the Maginot line as a constant will not be likely to adapt their thinking once this "constant" is either rendered irrelevant or the board of the game is changed, as the Germans managed to do. Investing in more tanks and aircraft would have forced the French to be more mentally flexible if nothing else.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,634
I take it those 14 000 are accumulated built aircraft since 1930 or something similar.
.
no is menat to be aircraft produced just IN 1939, real number is 8,250.

It's a question of priorities. Given how off guard the French seem to have been caught as my Churchill quote seemed to indicate and as @David Vagamundo pointed out, if it was largely a failure of morale...
It was NOT a failure of Morale. Most of the French army fought resonable well during the camapign. There were some poor morale perfomcnes by second line reserve divsions in bad situations. But overall I do not think French Morale mattered during the decisive phase of the battle of France.
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
no is menat to be aircraft produced just IN 1939, real number is 8,250.


It was NOT a failure of Morale. Most of the French army fought resonable well during the camapign. There were some poor morale perfomcnes by second line reserve divsions in bad situations. But overall I do not think French Morale mattered during the decisive phase of the battle of France.
That is a lot of aircraft....


Allright. What do you make of the idea that the Maginot line helped cement a "defensive" and inflexible mentality? According to wiki for example, most French tanks did not have radios, and so could not coordinate effectively the same way the Germans could. Perhaps the French general staff would have been more keen to compensate for those kinds of weaknesses if they had not built the Maginot line...
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,634
That is a lot of aircraft....

Allright. What do you make of the idea that the Maginot line helped cement a "defensive" and inflexible mentality? According to wiki for example, most French tanks did not have radios, and so could not coordinate effectively the same way the Germans could. Perhaps the French general staff would have been more keen to compensate for those kinds of weaknesses if they had not built the Maginot line...
Yeah sort of . There was areal horror of mass warfare that lingered from ww1, the infested the leaders in teh west leading up to ww2. They also believed that a second war would have greater civilian horrors, that aerial bombing would level cities with huge civilian casualties. This reluctance to start the fighting as it would lead to massive casualties drove the Phony war , though also the belief that time was on their side was also a factor,.

The French lack of empahiss of communications. Two Headquarters in northern France (the divided command structure was also just madness in of itself) communicating by dispatch riders. They *DID* had radios. They could have been used at this level quite easily. They was something very wrong at teh top of the French military, And it was not a money thing.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,189
Sydney
The main strategic issue for French planing was the horrendous loses of men during WW1
there was a total commitment to be on the defensive and avoid as much casualties as could be possible
Germany would be blockaded into starvation and submission

hence a strong defensive line of fortification , which wouldn't be obsolete within a life time
and the all important British alliance to enforce a blocus