Why was France more determined to hold onto its colonial empire after WWII than Britain was?

Jan 2017
1,164
Durham
#81
Why was France more determined to hold onto its colonial empire after WWII than Britain was? AFAIK, Britain simply let its colonies go after the end of World War II while France actually put up an (unsuccessful) fight to keep its colonies. I understand France wanting to keep Algeria since it was officially a part of France, but why exactly was France so determined to hold onto (or perhaps "regain" would be a better term here) French Indochina after the end of World War II?

Also, were there any British colonies where Britain put up a fight after the end of WWII?
I think it was understood that we could no longer compete. Not only was there a nation of huge resources and a strong work ethic in the United States, but also the country was on its knees - rationing ended in 1953, which tells you what a state we were in.

We no longer had the resources, nor the clout, to impose ourselves. It was fairly obvious that we were going to have to take direction from the United States, a country which at that time wasn't overly fond of colonialism.

At some point during WW1, a US statesman, can't remember whom, said something like: "keep lending to the British and they will soon be dancing to our tune". During that 30 year period we used up our financial strength which meant we'd lost our bargaining power.
 
Likes: Futurist

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,005
#82
This comment is a bit off the cuff, but here goes.

My guess is that it has a lot to do with the fact that France got to sit on the sidelines twiddling its little thumbs after having surrendered a mere few weeks after the Germans invaded. Sitting on the sidelines tends to spare a country a lot of money, a lot of blood, and a lot of harsh experience. It may also make a proud humiliated country feel a need to assert itself in any way it can as soon as it is finally freed (by outside forces) from its own self-imposed humiliation. Season to taste.
Some sidelines... with 1,5 million men of working age effectively held hostage over in Germany as POWs. A rationing that if adhered to would literally mean slow starvation, meaning virtually every French man and woman was busy scrounging and trading on the black market just to have enough to stave off starvation. (Surpluses sent to Germany). Which wasn't helped any by both the German and Vichy governments coming down like a ton of bricks on black market trading, meaning Vichy alone hauled a cool million Frenchmen in front of their courts on charges for something the French public pretty much to a man considered a necessary evil to stay alive. (The scrounging for food in occupied France was on such a level it's actually reasonable to connect the slowness of French resistance to start to it. People were largely busy finding enough to eat most of the time.)

And this in a situation where the German government not only charged the French for the costs of their own occupation + exploitation, but where the German government unilaterally decided the currency exchange rate, i.e. how to evaluate what it was taking out of France (if had a distinct tendency to go up as the war went increasingly badly for Germany). Add to that how Allied targeting of French industries and as a consequence urban centers, made France the most bombed out country in western Europe, bar Germany itself. It was reasonable under the circumstances given how much use the German made of French industry, but still: "Bombs away!" and it would be Frenchmen under them. The French tend to be rather easy about the whole thing, and so rarely bring up the 70 000 civilians killed, the 100 000 civilians injured, the 400 000+ houses completely destroyed, and the about 900 000 damaged from it. (If I'm not mistaken, and for comparison, the UK civilian death toll from German bombings in WWII ended up at some 40 000 fatalities. If the British suffered from those bombings, then at least so did the French from the bombings they were subjected to-)

The idea that the French after the summer of 1940 somehow sat the war out in relative comfort is just weird, possibly even more so than it is wrong. There were worse occupations in WWI certainly (Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece), but France was a wreck after the years of Nazi German exploitation, with some extra help from those Allied bombings.
 
Dec 2014
7
Kent, England
#83
Britain actually fought Hitler and was bankrupted and exhausted by doing so. It would also have been impossibly unpopular with the electorate to fight, except in the few minor cases quoted above such as Cyprus. (Northern Ireland?) The British government overall always lost money on the Empire (though a lot of individual Brits did very well). Continuing subsidies was out of the question.

The French by contrast surrendered ignominiously and happily collaborated with rare exceptions until the last moment. They still had the money and the political will to fight for Algeria and their Empire. The Algeria campaign must count as one of the most savage of the 20th century. Systematic torture and massacre on a huge scale, mostly suffered by the unfortunate civilian population.
 
Likes: Futurist
Oct 2013
13,498
Europix
#84
That could well be true. I don't know a great deal about France, with the exception of WW1.

So the French language has a similar history to the English language? Vocabulary derived and borrowed from Latin, German, Norse, French? Including more than one word for pretty much the same meaning which are in the language due to the days when French and Anglo-Saxon/Norse were spoken alongside one another in England, e.g. luck and chance?

I'd assumed French was a more 'pure' language.
Well, 'pure' is already an allegation, not a reality (it's not for nothing You've put it with " "s).

No, of course French didn't followed the same development patern as English. It doesn't mean that English is more of a "mongrel".

Actually, your last phrase ("more than one word for pretty much the same meaning [...], e.g. luck and chance?") is what I consider being a huge richness of the English language: the capacity to retain the influences and give them a sense.

Luck and chance are almost synonymous. Almost. There is a small nuance between them.

These nuances, rarely exists in other languages. French have lot less.

It why I don't like calling English "mongrel" but "rich".
(not to say that almost all languages are mongrels)
 
Feb 2019
211
California
#85
Some sidelines... with 1,5 million men of working age effectively held hostage over in Germany as POWs. A rationing that if adhered to would literally mean slow starvation, meaning virtually every French man and woman was busy scrounging and trading on the black market just to have enough to stave off starvation. (Surpluses sent to Germany). Which wasn't helped any by both the German and Vichy governments coming down like a ton of bricks on black market trading, meaning Vichy alone hauled a cool million Frenchmen in front of their courts on charges for something the French public pretty much to a man considered a necessary evil to stay alive. (The scrounging for food in occupied France was on such a level it's actually reasonable to connect the slowness of French resistance to start to it. People were largely busy finding enough to eat most of the time.)

And this in a situation where the German government not only charged the French for the costs of their own occupation + exploitation, but where the German government unilaterally decided the currency exchange rate, i.e. how to evaluate what it was taking out of France (if had a distinct tendency to go up as the war went increasingly badly for Germany). Add to that how Allied targeting of French industries and as a consequence urban centers, made France the most bombed out country in western Europe, bar Germany itself. It was reasonable under the circumstances given how much use the German made of French industry, but still: "Bombs away!" and it would be Frenchmen under them. The French tend to be rather easy about the whole thing, and so rarely bring up the 70 000 civilians killed, the 100 000 civilians injured, the 400 000+ houses completely destroyed, and the about 900 000 damaged from it. (If I'm not mistaken, and for comparison, the UK civilian death toll from German bombings in WWII ended up at some 40 000 fatalities. If the British suffered from those bombings, then at least so did the French from the bombings they were subjected to-)

The idea that the French after the summer of 1940 somehow sat the war out in relative comfort is just weird, possibly even more so than it is wrong. There were worse occupations in WWI certainly (Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece), but France was a wreck after the years of Nazi German exploitation, with some extra help from those Allied bombings.

I don't think that any of the above undermines the logic of my post. In fact it really supports my conclusion. Or do you think the French were not itching to re-assert themselves in a sense that the Brits were not (however you might chose to characterize what the French were doing after 1940)?
 
Likes: Invicta
Sep 2011
5,005
#86
I don't think that any of the above undermines the logic of my post. In fact it really supports my conclusion. Or do you think the French were not itching to re-assert themselves in a sense that the Brits were not (however you might chose to characterize what the French were doing after 1940)?
They were itching to reassert themselves DURING WWII already. Explains a lot about French actions during the war following 1940.

I was taking issue with the dismissive attitude towards the French experience in WWII.