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The Humiliation of France
Mythmaking and the Paradox of Retribution; Ethnic Homogeneity, Migration and Society
In this Kvetch I dive into the fall of France, WWII mythmaking, and the paradox of retribution, as well as ethnic homogeneity and its effects. This is the fourth piece in an accidental series on WWII. Check out my pieces on Hitler’s charisma, idiots and enemies, and Stalin’s war.
Blitzkrieg and Mythology
Britain: Proud and Poor
No humiliation in terror
The Paradox of Myth: Thou Dost Protest Too Much
France in the 21st Century… and a caveat
Ethnic homogeneity: Good or Bad?
A favour: As my final (I hope!) piece on WWII, I would be grateful if you would send this to one person who may also enjoy it. Would be great to get this series to as many potential WWII-enjooooyers as possible. Thanks!
1. Blitzkreig and Mythology
In May 1940 it took the Germans 6 weeks to defeat France and evict Britain from Europe. The Germans killed 120,000 French soldiers, captured 1.2 million prisoners of war, and all of France’s artillery, tanks and trucks and industry. It was the greatest victory of WWII.
Even in the East, no single disaster of the Red Army can compare to the Anglo-French debacle of May 1940… On 22 June the French sued for peace and the Germans spared them no humiliation. The Armistice was signed in the same railway car in the forest of Compiegne in which, twenty-two years earlier, the Germans themselves had been forced to accept defeat. (Adam Tooze, Wages of Destruction)
Why did France fall?
How did the Germans topple the great power of Europe after 6 weeks, when the Battle of the Somme in 1916 involving the same powers cost over a million dead and wounded and moved the British and French forward only 10 kilometres?
Blitzkrieg, you probably whisper. The German tactical innovation: a lightening strike manoeuvre by a newly motorised army.
Tooze in Wages of Destruction traces the military and economic build up of Germany leading to its invasion of France and unravels the Blitzkrieg myth.
Our knowledge of the Wehrmacht's sweeping Blitzkrieg victory in 1940 tends to cloud our thinking on this point. In 1938 no one - neither the Germans nor their opponents - anticipated the Blitzkrieg.
The Wehrmacht was less motorised than the French army, it had fewer tanks and of a lower quality:
The German army that invaded France in May 1940 was far from being a carefully honed weapon of modern armoured warfare. Of Germany's 93 combat-ready divisions on 10 May 1940, only 9 were Panzer divisions, with a total of 2,439 tanks between them. These units faced a French army that was more heavily motorized, with 3,254 tanks in total. Altogether, the Belgian, Dutch, British and French tank forces numbered no less than 4,200 vehicles, heavily outnumbering the Wehrmacht.
And Germany's quantitative inferiority was not compensated for in qualitative terms. Whether we compare armaments or armour, the majority of the German tanks sent into battle in 1940 were inferior to their French, British or even their Belgian counterparts. Nor should one accept unquestioningly the popular idea that the concentration of the German tanks in specialized tank divisions gave them a decisive advantage. Many French tanks were scattered amongst the infantry units, but with their ample stock of vehicles the French could afford to do this. The bulk of France's best tanks were concentrated in armoured units that, on paper at least, were every bit a match for the Panzer divisions. Nor did the Luftwaffe, despite its fearsome reputation, have any numerical superiority. The Luftwaffe was rated at 3,578 combat aircraft in May 1940, compared to a total Allied air strength of 4,469 combat aircraft. French strength had been substantially bolstered by May 1940 through the delivery of more than 500 American aircraft, including high-quality fighters quite capable of scoring successes against complacent Luftwaffe intruders.
The decision to perform the daring ‘sickle cut’ manoeuvre that split the Allies was a last minute decision by Hitler: it was the result of a sudden change of plans after “two careless officers were shot down over French territory, carrying a briefcase of staff maps” in February 1940.
The lightning victory in France thus emerged not as the logical endpoint of a carefully devised strategic synthesis, but as an inspired, high-risk improvisation, a 'quick, military fix' to the strategic dilemmas
So why has the Blitzkrieg story dominated public discourse since?
Because the Blitzkrieg was a narrative that not only suited the Germans. It suited the British and the French to construct a narrative of German brilliance:
In retrospect, it suited neither the Allies nor the Germans to expose the amazingly haphazard course through which the Wehrmacht had arrived at its most brilliant military success. The myth of the Blitzkrieg suited the British and French because it provided an explanation other than military incompetence for their pitiful defeat
There’s a reason Blitzkrieg remains affixed in the modern vernacular and imagination.
It suited everyone for you to have heard of it.
You have probably not heard of the sinking of the French fleet by the British at Mers-el-Kébir, which killed some 1,300 French servicemen.
They’re not the same thing - vastly different in scale and importance - but is it not striking that the entire French fleet was sunk by the Brits?
You have probably not heard of it because it suited no one to remember it. The British did it only as a last measure to keep the fleet out of German hands after the French refused to get it out of harm’s way. The French lost their fleet, the Brits injured Allied forces, the Germans failed to capture their prey.
It suited no one for you to remember the attack at Mers-el-Kébir.
So what exactly do we remember, and why? I wonder that all the time.
It is hard to understate how shocking the defeat of France was. France was the natural bulwark against Germany. Germany itself was formed out of its constituent states following the Napoleonic Wars over a century earlier. France’s wars under Napoleon were:
“the most powerful agents of social change between the Reformation and World War I. They fundamentally transformed the nature of sovereignty in Europe and demonstrated the growing ability of European states to achieve levels of social-military mobilization and economic production that allowed them to engage in prolonged and destructive conflicts.” (Alexander Mikaberidze, The Napoleonic Wars)
They were deadly:
“Overall, the Napoleonic Wars probably claimed about two million soldiers’ lives in Europe; hundreds of thousands troops were wounded, and perhaps 15 to 20 percent of them were disabled for life… A rough estimate is that as many as 4 million people perished in Europe between 1792 and 1815—more than 2.5 percent of the estimated 150 million people living there…Well over a third of the generation of Frenchmen born between 1786 and 1795 died on the Napoleonic battlefields.”
France had wrought terrible wrath across Europe in the early 19th century.
The French could have stopped Hitler’s little jaunt with one division when he reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936.1 One well timed counter-attack would have stopped Germany cold when he launched his blitzkeig.2
But the truth is the French didn’t have the stomach.
France was a nation shell-shocked from finding her Napoleonic grandeur and her best boys left in the killing fields of Verdun.
And so, she succumbed.
The Nazis administered France with just 1,500 of their own people. So confident were they of the reliability of the French police and militias that they assigned (in addition to their administrative staff) a mere 6,000 German civil and military police to ensure the compliance of a nation of 35 million. The same was true in the Netherlands. In postwar testimony the head of German security in Amsterdam averred that 'the main support of the German forces in the police sector and beyond was the Dutch police. Without it, not 10 percent of the German occupation tasks would have been fulfilled.' Contrast Yugoslavia, which required the unflagging attention of entire German military divisions just to contain the armed partisans. (Tony Judt, Postwar)
But France isn’t little Holland or some Balkan backwater. Nor is she complicit and enthusiastic Nazi Austria, that somehow managed to cry poor postwar. She was Germany’s keeper, the grand monarch of Europe. And so for her “the occupation was experienced above all as a humiliation.”
Jean-Paul Sartre would later describe collaboration in distinctly sexual terms, as 'submission' to the power of the occupier, and in more than one French novel of the 1940s collaborators are depicted as either women or weak ('effeminate') men, seduced by the masculine charms of their Teutonic rulers. (Tony Judt, Postwar)
During the occupation de Gaulle himself watched on like a cuckold from Britain, his nation’s ancient rival, proud and prickly and ignored by his Anglo hosts, while his country succumbed to her Teutonic rulers.
Postwar there was much recrimination against women who slept with the occupiers.
The frequency with which women were charged—often by other women—with consorting with Germans is revealing…. Wreaking revenge on fallen women was one way to overcome the discomforting memory of personal and collective powerlessness.
The French found themselves living with a wife who had previously absconded.
With her loss of standing, the indignities piled on. France was granted a seat at the big boy’s table because she was useful, and by tugging at enough skirts:
post-war French statesmen and politicians insisted upon their country's claim to recognition as a member of the victorious Allied coalition, a world power to be accorded equal standing with her peers. This illusion could be sustained, in some degree, because it suited the other powers to pretend it was so. The Soviet Union wanted a tactical ally in the West who shared its suspicion of the 'Anglo-Americans'; the British wanted a revived France to take its place in the counsels of Europe and relieve Great Britain of continental obligations; even the Americans saw some advantage, though not much, in granting Paris a seat at the top table. So the French were given a permanent seat on the new United Nations Security Council, they were offered a role in the joint military administrations of Vienna and Berlin, and (at British insistence) an occupation district was carved for them out of the American zone in south-west Germany, in an area contiguous to the French frontier and well west of the Soviet front line.
But the net effect of these encouragements was to pour further humiliation upon an already humbled nation.
The decades that followed did not let on. After the subjugation of her nation, France then lost her empire. Already by WWI the national memory of empire was mixed - France had been routed by the British and lost the New World which had become decisively Anglo. But she clung on. First, against Indochinese independence, where the US Marshall Plan was effectively funding France’s war. And then in Algeria. To paraphrase Tony Judt, the idea of Algerian independence was unthinkable to the French, and so they avoided thinking about it.
Paris may have been the heart of intellectual life in Europe after the war. But this life was often warmly communist and obsequious towards the Soviet regime. The allure of Stalin to Western intellectuals postwar remains an enduring question. Postwar France seems to resemble the rebelliousness of adolescence: stripped of agency and former glory and ensconced in the comfort of US political, economic and cultural hegemony, she rebels. Rejecting the good-boy decadence of the West to flirt with the ascetic bad-boy of the East, mysterious behind the Berlin Wall. Her existentialists wondered whether anything could be right or wrong at all, then her post-structuralists rejected everything altogether, enjoying sordid escapades in Tunisia.
Sartre justified the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956:
Sartre characteristically insisted that the Hungarian uprising had been marked by a 'rightist spirit'
Czeslaw Milosz, living in Warsaw under Nazi then Soviet occupation, writes on Western Communists in The Captive Mind:
What fools they are. He can forgive their oratory if it is necessary as propaganda... Nothing can compare to the contempt he feels for these sentimental fools.
Partisan Review editor William Phillips complained to Hannah Arendt about the “endless nonsense” Simone De Beauvoir spoke about America. Arendt - in some ways Beauvoir’s opposite as a German-Jewish-American intellectual giant - told him in 1947:
The trouble with you, William, is that you don’t realize that she’s not very bright. Instead of arguing with her, you should flirt with her
France postwar: endless nonsense and flirting.
Economically, postwar France boosted forward along with the rest of Europe. We forget how backward France, along with the rest of Europe, was at the time. The armies of WWII were mechanising on the run. Civilian infrastructure and consumer goods took a while to catch up:
The French census of 1954 revealed the striking deficiencies in housing: less than 60% of households had running water, only 25% had an indoor toilet, and only 10% had a bathroom and central heating. By the mid-1970s refrigerators were in almost 90% of households, toilets in 75%, 70% had bathrooms, and about 60% enjoyed central heating and washing machines. By 1990 all these possessions became virtually universal, and 75% of all families also owned a car, compared to fewer than 30% in 1960. (Vaclav Smil, Energy and Civilization)
Yet France has never really recovered from her loss of face, despite the decades that followed being defined by her attempts at building a new national self-conception.
In part this is because her circumstances have not changed: writhe as she might, she remains within NATO 30 years after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. She has been a US protectorate for the better part of 80 years. She has also remained in the shadows of US economic and cultural hegemony: Coca Cola on every corner, cheese eating surrender monkeys beamed around the world from America. Even sexual submission to foreigners persists in its modern political and literary imagination, in Michel Houellebecq’s Submission.
3. Britain: Proud and Poor
'Of course, if we succeeded in losing two world wars, wrote off all our debts—instead of having nearly £30 million in debts—got rid of all our foreign obligations, and kept no force overseas, then we might be as rich as the Germans'. (Harold Macmillan quoted in Postwar)
Britain found herself mauled and indebted post-war:
Britain had exhausted itself in the epic struggle with Germany and could not much longer sustain even the outer trappings of a great power. Between Victory-in-Europe Day in 1945 and the spring of 1947 British forces were reduced from a peak of 5.5 million men and women under arms to just 1.1 million. In the autumn of 1947 the country was even forced to cancel naval manoeuvres in order to save fuel oil. (Postwar)
It is ironic that occupied states such as France could begin with a new slate, while Britain, which never surrendered, bore her costs and the costs of occupation postwar.
Even more painfully for Britain, West Germany sped ahead in the decades to come due to American subsidy and its freer economy. Judt also points to Nazi invested capital stock as a driver of German success:
The sources of this ironic reversal of fate are instructive. The background to the German economic 'miracle' of the fifties was the recovery of the thirties. The investments of the Nazis—in communications, armaments and vehicle manufacture, optics, chemical and light engineering industries and non-ferrous metals—were undertaken for an economy geared to war; but their pay-off came twenty years later.
One can’t help be a bit sceptical towards Judt’s assessment that the seed of Germany’s success lay in Nazi industrial policy. Even if Judt didn’t ‘fess up, which he does, one can chuckle at how very obviously this narrative was written by an Englishman:
But the notion that cars made in Germany would ipso facto be better crafted than others, or that Italian-designed clothing, Belgian chocolates, French kitchenware or Danish furniture were unquestionably the best to be had: this would have seemed curious indeed just a generation before.
If anything, it was English manufacture that had until quite recently carried this reputation, a legacy of Britain's nineteenth-century industrial supremacy… But in the course of the 1930s and 1940s British producers had so successfully undermined their own standing in almost every commodity save men's clothing that the only niche left to Britain's retail merchants by the 1960s was high profile, low quality 'trendy' fads—a market they were to exploit ruthlessly in the following decade.
Here is an author who appreciates a good English suit and scorns the faddish nonsense young people wear. Bless him.
Of course it was the Americans that emerged as the undisputed greatest power on Earth:
by the spring of 1945 America accounted for half the world's manufacturing capacity, most of its food surpluses and virtually all international financial reserves. The United States had put 12 million men under arms to fight Germany and its allies, and by the time Japan surrendered the American fleet was larger than all other fleets in the world combined. What would the US do with its power?
4. No humiliation in terror
If the fall of France was experienced as humiliation, what of the fall of the rest of Europe?
What, for example, of the local pogroms that sprung up across Eastern Europe? Like this one from Ian Kershaw’s Hitler:
In the Baltic, the butchery of Einsatzgruppe A was especially ferocious. The first massacre of Jews took place on 24 June, only two days after the beginning of ‘Barbarossa’, in the small Lithuanian township of Gargzdai, lying just behind the border. Men from the Security Police and a police unit from Memel shot dead 201 Jews that afternoon. By 18 July, the killing squads had claimed 3,300 victims; by August the death-toll had reached between 10,000 and 12,000 mainly male Jews together with Communists.
The killing units were assisted in the early stages by Lithuanian nationalists who were prompted into savage pogroms against the Jews. In Kowno, Jews were clubbed to death by a local enthusiast while crowds of onlookers – women holding their children up to see – clapped and cheered. One eye-witness recalled that around forty-five to fifty Jews were killed in this way within three-quarters of an hour. When the butcher had finished his slaughter, he climbed on to the heap of corpses and played the Lithuanian national anthem on an accordion. German soldiers stood by impassively, some of them taking photographs.
The experience in the East was altogether different to the West. Where Germany fought a more or less conventional European war in the West, in the East it fought one of genocidal colonisation: eradication or enslavement of the local untermenschen with an eye to a great future ethno-German empire.
Many of these cities and nations had perennially fluid borders, being occupied by some combination of Russians, Germans, Austria-Hungarians, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, then Poland and Ukraine and more. Before the invasion by the Germans they were brutally occupied by the Soviets. The Soviets then “liberated” them from the Germans to install decades long Soviet occupations.
There is no humiliation here. Or if there is it’s mixed in with layers upon layers of local tragedy and defiance and complicity and blood of every ethnic colour and stripe.
Of the Dutch and Belgians and Scandinavians: they did what they could but no one expected the Teutonic sword to break on their backs. Austria, keen to bury its enthusiastic Nazism, was assigned Hitler’s first victim postwar: a turn of fortune born of finding itself in the Western camp and bordering Soviet Eastern Europe.
It was France that was supposed to be their champion, the proud grand counterweight to Germany. There was no hiding her shame in the aftermath.
And what of Germany? While French women were tarred for consorting with Germans, German women experienced the "greatest phenomenon of mass rape in history" with at least 1.4 million women raped.
George Kennan, the American diplomat, described the scene in his memoirs: 'The disaster that befell this area with the entry of the Soviet forces has no parallel in modern European experience. There were considerable sections of it where, to judge by all existing evidence, scarcely a man, woman or child of the indigenous population was left alive after the initial passage of Soviet forces... The Russians . . . swept the native population clean in a manner that had no parallel since the days of the Asiatic hordes.'
Perhaps this narrative languished behind the Iron Curtain and was left to survivors to bear alone. Postwar, split between East and West, and a point of leverage against both Western and Soviet occupiers, the German national narrative emerged and evolved in many ways over the decades to come, landing in the deeply shame-filled culture of recent decades.
Clues as to each nation’s conception of itself and its shame can be seen in the way it dealt with collaborators postwar, as well as in the myths they forged.
5. The Paradox of Myth: Thou Dost Protest Too Much
Everyone has heard of the French Resistance.
Yet who has heard of the Greek resistance or the resistance in the Balkans, which was far more effective?
There is a curious paradox to these myths: the nations with the weakest resistence movements cried the loudest.
The only source of collective national pride were the armed partisan resistance movements that had fought the invader—which is why it was in western Europe, where real resistance had actually been least in evidence, that the myth of Resistance mattered most. In Greece, Yugoslavia, Poland or Ukraine, where large numbers of real partisans had engaged the occupation forces and each other in open battle, things were, as usual, more complicated.
The story of the French Resistance arose to meet the demand for pride in France, a balm to her humiliation.
There was no such need in places like Greece and Yugoslavia, where there was no romanticising the brutal fighting and retribution.
Consider also the paradox that those nations most complicit dolled out the least punishment. It is difficult to punish collaborators where the judges themselves were guilty, when the entire civil and administrative apparatus was complicit. In those cases, it was harder to punish and easier to forget.
In Denmark the crime of collaboration was virtually unknown. Yet 374 out of every 100,000 Danes were sentenced to prison in post-war trials. In France, where wartime collaboration was widespread, it was for just that reason punished rather lightly.
In the course of the years 1944-51, official courts in France sentenced 6,763 people to death (3,910 in absentia) for treason and related offences. Of these sentences only 791 were carried out. The main punishment to which French collaborators were sentenced was that of 'national degradation'… 49,723 Frenchmen and women received this punishment. Eleven thousand civil servants (1.3 percent of state employees, but a far smaller number than the 35,000 who had lost their jobs under Vichy) were removed or otherwise sanctioned, but most of them were re-instated within six years.
The story of German “de-Nazification” postwar is a story for another time, but I noted this in a previous kvetch:
Eli Weisel noted in his memoir Night how it was impossible to stay in Germany post-war as the citizenry at all levels, complicit in the Nazi regime machinery, determinedly looked forward as the Nazi administrative state was repurposed for Allied use.
Never forget the upright Norwegians:
In Norway, a country with a population of just 3 million, the entire membership of the Nasjonal Sammlung, the main organisation of pro-Nazi collaborators, was tried, all 55,000 of them, along with nearly 40,000 others; 17,000 men and women received prison terms and thirty death sentences were handed down, of which twenty-five were carried out. Nowhere else were the proportions so high.
6. France in the 21st Century… and a caveat
By now most readers have probably dropped off and I will admit feeling a little sheepish about relying so heavily on an Englishman’s account of France’s humiliation. Tony Judt in Postwar is very evidently grumpy about Britain’s postwar misfortunes. He is resentful of Germany’s renewed leverage between the Soviet Union and the US, and is totally dismissive of France throughout. I happen to agree with him, but that may also just be confirmation bias. I’m open to counterarguments, but I’m sceptical.
I am intrigued, however, in the idea that France has a renewed regional role to play in the 21st century. Peter Zeihan makes this case explicitly in Disunited Nations (I reviewed it here).
Its geography, industry and fertile soil may well continue to serve it well.
But for now, France’s glory seems to be in flying little French flags and eating baguettes on Bastille days around the world and constantly trying to assert itself against a quietly dominant Germany in the European sandbox, all under the watchful eye of America.
7. Immigration, ethnic homogeneity and economic performance
Not to pick on Tony Judt, but Postwar is a very nice example of the confused discourse around immigration, ethnic homogeneity and economic performance.
Judt makes the interesting observation that post-WWII Europe emerged with states far more ethnically homogenous than before (and outside of Europe too - e.g. Partition in India/Pakistan):
Europe's post-war history is a story shadowed by silences; by absence. The continent of Europe was once an intricate, interwoven tapestry of overlapping languages, religions, communities and nations. Many of its cities—particularly the smaller ones at the intersection of old and new imperial boundaries, such as Trieste, Sarajevo, Salonika, Cernovitz, Odessa or Vilna—were truly multicultural societies avant le mot, where Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Jews and others lived in familiar juxtaposition. We should not idealise this old Europe. What the Polish writer Tadeusz Borowski called 'the incredible, almost comical melting-pot of peoples and nationalities sizzling dangerously in the very heart of Europe' was periodically rent with riots, massacres and pogroms—but it was real, and it survived into living memory.
Between 1914 and 1945, however, that Europe was smashed into the dust. The tidier Europe that emerged, blinking, into the second half of the twentieth century had fewer loose ends. Thanks to war, occupation, boundary adjustments, expulsions and genocide, almost everybody now lived in their own country, among their own people. For forty years after World War Two Europeans in both halves of Europe lived in hermetic national enclaves where surviving religious or ethnic minorities — the Jews in France, for example—represented a tiny percentage of the population at large and were thoroughly integrated into its cultural and political mainstream. Only Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union—an empire, not a country and anyway only part-European, as already noted—stood aside from this new, serially homogenous Europe.
But the economic implications are schizophrenic.
Sometimes the economic benefits of homogeneity are self-evident - like apparently in the case of Sweden:
Obviously it would prove easier to achieve the ideals of the social state, 'from cradle to grave', in the small population of a wealthy, homogenous country like Sweden than in one like Italy.
Scandinavian societies inherited certain advantages. Small and socially homogenous, with no overseas colonies or imperial ambitions, they had been constitutional states for many years.
On the economic benefits of emigration: higher wages!
One incidental benefit was that the wages of those who remained behind, and the amount of land available to them, increased as a consequence.
On the economic benefits of immigration: cheap labour!
The economic benefit to the 'importing' country was considerable. By 1964, foreign (mostly Italian) workers were one quarter of the work force of Switzerland, whose tourist trade depended heavily upon cheap, seasonal labor: easily hired, readily fired.
Literally one page apart!
Which is it?
I don’t know what the answer is - and whilst many economists have tackled this via various means, not sure how trustworthy much research is given the politically charged nature of the conversation.
Another nice example of this is Patrick Wyman in The Verge who notes the economic outperformance of Europe after the Black Plague.3 Apparently it was as simple as splitting the economic pie among fewer people (count me as sceptical). But the controversial modern implications of this are always elided over. So do we take fewer immigrants?
Personally, I look around at where I live in Australia and I see a successful example of a genuinely multi-ethnic society. Australian ethnic minorities aren’t split into enclaves or self-managed under something like an Ottoman millet system (except for indigenous Australians I suppose). The largest foreign born population in the advanced world lives in more of a melting pot within a dominant Anglo-Australian culture. I’m one of them, so maybe I’m biased. But I see low ethnic strife and strong cultural and ethnic integration as well as ongoing economic performance.
But I also look at the ethnic melting pot of Europe pre-War, and compare post-War ethnic homogeneity, and consider the 80 years of peace we’ve had since, and wonder whether it is a coincidence….
one French division would have sufficed to terminate Hitler’s adventure. ‘Had the French then marched into the Rhineland,’ Hitler was reported to have commented more than once at a later date, ‘we would have had to withdraw again with our tails between our legs.’ (Hitler by Ian Kershaw)
If the French and British had held back substantial reserves, Army Group A's pincer movement would have been vulnerable to counterattack, or even counter-encirclement. In the event, it worked to perfection. The Sedan and Dinant bridges fell on 13 May before the French and British realized the danger. The Panzer generals exploited their breakthrough brilliantly. Following closely behind the forward units in specially adapted radio vehicles, they drove their forces westwards into the rear of the French army, throwing the Allies completely off balance and preventing them from establishing any coherent line of defence. The much-feared counterattack against the exposed flanks of the Panzer divisions never came. In a disastrous miscalculation, the French had deployed their entire reserve towards the western end of the Dyle-Breda movement and the laborious command and control procedures of the Allied armies were overwhelmed by the pace of events. (Wages of Destruction)
I admit I have a fully baked review of this book that’s been sitting in a drawer for about a year.