The first invasion of French territory was by invitation
only and occurred when Germany invaded in May 1940. In fairness to the German
leader he did so only eight months after France's declaration of war against
his own country, throughout which time France had constantly attacked
Germany's borders. This retaliatory action served the purpose of forestalling
Britain's plans to invade Europe.
Within a few weeks the German Army numbering just 100,000 had defeated the
French Army consisting of 6 million men.
Generally speaking the German Army was welcomed (see piece on Dieppe) in the
Low Countries and there was much collaboration not only in France but in
Holland and Belgium where people were glad to be rid of the British and French
standing armies. They had had enough of Britain fighting its wars on their
The behavior of German troops in France was impeccable and William L. Shirer
(Rise and Fall of the Third Reich) conceded as much. In his Berlin
Diary he writes: "I noticed open fraternizing between German troops and
the inhabitants. Most of the Germans act like naοve tourists and this has
proved a pleasant surprise to the Parisians. It seems funny every German
carries a camera."
Adolf Hitler even allowed the French to keep its own Navy saying France like
Britain needed it to defend her overseas territories.
THE SECOND INVASION
The British carried out the second invasion of French interests. Churchill
demanded that the French surrender their liberated fleet to the British. When
the French made it plain that they had no intention of doing so the British
attacked the French fleet based at the Algerian port Mers-el-Kebir. And 1,200
French sailors were killed. French sailors, floundering in the sea, were
strafed by RAF fighter planes. No, this won't be a follow-up movie to Pearl
THE THIRD INVASION
The third attack on French territory, again by the British, was carried out
against the French Navy based at Dakar, Senegal. This included the battleship
Richelieu, which was carrying £60 million of Belgian and Polish gold. Charles
deGaulle who had fled to Britain with the remnants of his defeated army wanted
to lead the invasion of Dakar, but the Senegalese authorities made it quite
clear that he would be repulsed.
However, on September 23, 1940 as dawn broke, the Royal Navy attacked the
Senegalese capital Dakar. David Irving the noted historian takes up the story.
"It was a humiliating fiasco. The assault forces never got off their
troopships. Charles deGaulle's aviators landed on the airfield and were
promptly arrested by the gendarmerie. His emissaries were fired upon as their
boat entered the port, and were turned back.
The Richelieu opened fire through the gathering fog with her new 15-inch guns,
as did the Dakar fortress batteries, which hit the cruiser Cumberland
amidships and put her out of action.
The next day's brawling off Dakar was equally messy. The British sank a French
submarine; the shore guns savaged the Barham. On the day after that, General
Spears accompanying deGaulle, radioed that the latter had thrown in the sponge
and would proceed to Bathurst (Gambia), a British colony 100 miles further
down the coast.
At 9.00 am a French submarine slapped a torpedo into the battleship Resolution
and she too beat an undignified retreat. Morale among the French defenders was
high. Churchill dithered; his ministers demanded that they cut their losses.
THE FOURTH INVASION
The fourth invasion was the D-Day allied invasion at which point the French
could be forgiven for echoing the sentiments of the Czech people. They had
rued that they could stand another war but not another liberation.
This was largely an American invasion with a British-supporting cast. Back
home in the U.S.A., the incredulous public was given the impression that their
sons were a band of angels welcomed by a grateful liberated population, but
what is new about that?
Covering these events much later NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw fell into line with
real history and said, 'The bloodied landscape of France (and) Belgium was
American made. The crimes committed by individual American soldiers rape,
thievery and murder surpassed the crimes of the 'Nazis' in every respect.
Even American generals were stealing from French civilians. During one period
over 500 rapes a month were being reported. It got so bad that General
Eisenhower threatened hangings, but it was an empty threat.
Before this fourth invasion the Allies dropped over 590,000 tons of bombs on
France equal to almost half the amount of bombs dropped on Germany during
the entire course of the war. Over 1 million French homes were destroyed by
Allied bombing attacks and some cities such as Caen, Saint-Lo, Carentan,
Montbourg and Valgnes ceased to exist.
For every German who lost his life resisting the American invasion of Europe,
the lives of four Frenchmen were taken. Whereas German troops had wandered at
will during their occupation of France, the British and the Americans were
repeatedly confined to barracks or had their movements restricted because of
the French resistance to their presence on French soil.
THE FIFTH INVASION
Finally there was the fifth invasion of France; this time an invasion by the
vengeful and humiliated ill- disciplined forces led by Charles De Gaulle. As
soon as the American forces had made it safe for the ousted French general
these brigands for that is precisely what they were - sought revenge for
their earlier humiliation.
The most appalling massacres of civilians began to take place whilst American
troops stood idly by. Generally the British media ignored these awful events
but one English journalist among others of various nationalities, recorded
these desperate tragedies.
"There has never been, in the history of France, a bloodier period than that
which followed the liberation of 1944-1945. The massacres of 1944 were no less
savage than the massacres of Jacquerie, of St. Bartholomew, of the
revolutionary terror, of the commune, and they were certainly more numerous
and on a wider scale.
The American services put the figures of 'summary executions' in France in the
first months of the liberation at 80,000. A former French Minister, Adrien
Tixier, later placed the figure at 105,000." Huddleston, op. Cit., 243 &
245-46. Note: (Under the Reign of Terror 18,000 fell in the frightful
butchery that followed the war and insurrection of 1870 71).
Footnote: Less than 1% of the French people had anything to do with the
'resistance'. From this we can deduce that 99% accepted or supported the
German occupation, which in any case was confined only to those territories
that would facilitate an Allied invasion.
A LESSON LIBERATION (AND DEMOCRACY)
After the fall of France in the summer of 1940 the French National Assembly's
Deputies (MPs) held the sessions in the city of Vichy's opera house. Here,
after several days of noisy debate, they agreed to abolish the Constitution
and the French Republic, and accord full powers to Marshall Petain for the
duration of the occupation. Of 649 deputies only 80 voted against. Surprise!
Surprise! none were arrested, imprisoned or er, gassed. The new French
Government was internationally recognised; the sole exception being Britain.
This beautiful French City immediately boomed with prosperity. It was almost
impossible to book a restaurant table and the shops did a roaring trade.
Whenever the new French leader, Marshal Petain took his daily constitutional
stroll crowds would gather to sing the Marseillaise or Marechal Nous Voile!
(Marshall we're ready) which was his personal anthem.
Children would hand flowers to the blue-eyed old gentleman and teenage girls
lined up to have their cheeks pinched by him.
The new motto was 'Travail, Famille, Patrie (Work, Family, and Patriotism).
The Catholic Church was once more free to teach in schools, and the
industrious peasantry became the models for the New France. The civil service
was cleansed of corruption and the Freemasons cleared out.
The 'Statut des Juifs' gave a much wider definition of Jewish identity than
did the National Socialist in Germany, though as citizens of France they were
protected from deportation. However, Jews were banned from holding many public
After the 'liberation' of France the 89-year old hero General was tried for
treason and sentenced to death but was later pardoned.
DID YOU KNOW
More Frenchmen died fighting for Nazi Germany than died fighting against her?