A Sight on European Defence

I do not know how far Marc Bloch is known in the English speaking world. In fact, in France or Germany as well. Bloch died in 1944, on a roadside, killed because of his involvement in the French Resistance. However this is not what made him so important among the historians. After a heroic participation to World War I, like all the people of his generation, he went back to his former job, teacher. More precisely teacher in History at the university of Strasbourg.

“The Strange Defeat” was written short after the French defeat in 1940 by this man, who had fought again in 1940 and decided to apply his scientific knowledge to the analysis of this unprecedented and unexpected collapse of army and government in less than 6 weeks. Let us remember that in 1939, France was supposed to have one of the very best, if not the best army of the world. All the studies published after World War II have proven that the balance of forces on the Western front was not especially in favour of the Germans.

While writing this work, Marc Bloch felt that the defeat was not exclusively a tactical one. As well, this was a defeat of the intellect, due to the weak capability of the French officers to think out of the box and to renew the doctrine inherited from the victory of 1918.

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