Marshall Petain and 11 november 2018

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,998
Dispargum
#2
Wasn't Petain half senile during the Vichy period? That should buy him a little bit of charity. His contributions during WW1 should be remembered.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,725
Sydney
#3
Petain is much more worthy of respect than Foch who misdirected the whole French army into near extermination for more than 2 years
or Foch with his fumous theory of the superiority of rapid charge to overcome a defense.

Petain cared for the men and was called upon to bring peace when the poilus revolted in 17 ,
he was opposed to the concept of the big push and didn't believe ,rightly ,that a breakthrough could be done .

certainly he collaborated with the German and buried the third republic , a rather pathetic governance which had thoroughly failed
Honestly what choice was there ,
a glorious final slaughter ? running to North Africa leaving France under Nazi occupation ?
as Chlodio mention he was as much a puppet as an actor , used by factions who wanted governing with his great reputation as a front
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
14,475
Wessex
#4
Petain knew exactly what he was doing, he was an old-fashioned reactionary of a certain type, it was not until after the fall of his regime that his health seriously declined.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
12,805
SoCal
#6
certainly he collaborated with the German and buried the third republic , a rather pathetic governance which had thoroughly failed
Honestly what choice was there ,
a glorious final slaughter ? running to North Africa leaving France under Nazi occupation ?
as Chlodio mention he was as much a puppet as an actor , used by factions who wanted governing with his great reputation as a front
The collaboration itself might have been defensible (due to the need to protect France and the French people) if it wasn't for the deportation and murder of a quarter of France's Jewish population. France didn't have to agree to these deportations considering that, AFAIK, they weren't included in the armistice agreement between France and Germany. This is where I think that Petain's dark spot lies.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,704
At present SD, USA
#7
Petain is much more worthy of respect than Foch who misdirected the whole French army into near extermination for more than 2 years
or Foch with his fumous theory of the superiority of rapid charge to overcome a defense.
I think you're thinking of Joffre here. Foch was a relatively minor commander in 1914, even more so than Petain was at that time. And while Foch would gain promotion for his services on Marne in 1914, it wasn't enough control the entire French army. That remained with Joffre until December 1916.

And while Petain was an excellent tactician and possibly the best tactician on the Allied side with regard to dealing with the realties of trench warfare, I would Foch as the better strategist and more willful TOO fight. Now, some of this may be a legacy of the losses France took between 1914 to 1917 than anything else, but by 1918 that a lot of the defeatism that would hit France hard in 1940 was there with Petain. Which mean it was quite likely that had Petain been named to Allied Supreme Commander in 1918, he would have put pressure on the French government to surrender to Ludendorff's distraction before Paris, just as he took lead of the move to surrender all of France to Hitler... essentially punishment to the republican government that he hated even then. By contrast, Foch WAS willing to fight and saw that Ludendorff's Spring Offense's drive south was more of a distraction than a genuine threat to Paris...

Petain only began to have ideas on how to continue the war only AFTER the Spring Offensive ground to a halt.

Petain cared for the men and was called upon to bring peace when the poilus revolted in 17 .
He did... and that was a good thing. Particularly as it related to his more defensive tactics, and in a way that was critical to France's recovery after the 1917 mutiny.

he was opposed to the concept of the big push and didn't believe ,rightly ,that a breakthrough could be done .
It's not so much that Petain was opposed to the concept. However, unlike Joffre, Petain far more quickly recognized the weaknesses the French Army had from 1914 to 1916 with regard to the cannon they depended on and the number of shells they had to fire. He also recognized how effective the guns they had could be and recognized how best to employ them. In this, with France's equipment and logistical issues early in the war, Petain was more in favor of small scale attacks where they could maximize the guns and shells to use. It wouldn't mean a huge penetration of the German lines, but it would have the potential to do more damage to the Germans than the French themselves took, as seen by his action at Malmaison in 1917 after the mutiny. The ground the French gained was small, but it was never intended to be a huge gain and the French inflicted more casualties than they lost. It wouldn't be until late 1918 that the French had the guns and shells in sufficient numbers to be able to blast a hole in the German lines, by which point he was more willing to the "big push" as by late 1918 the German position was such that the breakthrough was possible and actually happened.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,725
Sydney
#9
@ Sam-Nary , with a face reddeded with shame , I totally agree that I got my my names wrong ,blame it on emotion
for the placid butcher of the French that was Joffre ,
a miserable commander-in-chief more preoccupied with his own reputation than with the river of blood he unleashed

Certainly , the whole point of the argument is about Petain role during WW1
for memory , the statue to victory on the mort-homme summit , never has craft expressed history so well
https://www.reddit.com/r/france/comments/7drqnq
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,503
#10
Actually Foch does seem to have a fair share of the burden of "offensive à outrance" school of fighting, teaching it as the director of the École de guerre 1907-11 already. (Victory and defeat being mere states of mind, and so winning just required the right kind of mindset; something rubbished by Pétain and his pithy "le feu tue", fire kills, admonition.)

Pétain's problem was that he spent WWII re-fighting WWI, to the depredation of France and the French. His personal responsibility is so great because his personal authority, and trust with the French public, acquired by saving France's ass at least twice in WWI, meant that his acceptance of lending himself as a tool to the German Nazis was so dramatic.

It's akin to something like if a surviving George Washington in 1812 had accepted to surrender to the British, and then head a collabo government. Or Winston Churchill doing the same with successfully invading Soviets in the 1950's. Asking their nations to go along with it, and that it would be OK, because THEY were personally in charge.
 

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