76. "The French have no courage. Why can't they defend themselves against the Germans ?"
Maybe it would be better to ask, "Why don't the Germans
pick on someone their own size ?"
Modern warfare is not simply a matter of courage. A great lightweight can't lick a great heavyweight - even if he has courage to
Hitler threw the manpower and industrial resources of over 80,000,000 Germans against 40,000,000 Frenchmen. The French did not have, and could not have had, the military and industrial power to
beat Germany. (For instance, for the past hundred years France has not had enough coal, especially coking coal, to supply her peacetime needs. French iron ore normally flows to Germany's Ruhr valley for smelting, just as the ore of Minnesota goes to the coal and limestone area of Pittsburgh.)
France was beaten by Germany because Germany was enormously superior to France in manpower, equipment, resources, armament, and strategy. Germany had the incalculable advantage of having planned an offensive, Blitzkrieg war - while France, which wanted peace desperately, devoted its energies and
training entirely to defensive measures. (That's why they built the Maginot Line.) The few advocates of modern mechanized armies (such as General de Gaulle) were like voices crying out in the wilderness. German propaganda, and "fifth column" activities financed from Berlin, helped to demoralize and confuse a nation that didn't want war in the first
The French lost 1,115,000 men and women, military and civilian, in dead, wounded and disabled. That is an enormous loss for a nation of 40 million. (The United States military casualties, up to
V-J Day, were about 1,060,000 in dead and wounded.