Sunday, June 1, 2008

Show Notes - "Paris: Open City"

"In the space of several days we have lost all certainty...Nothing that we can fear is impossible; we can fear and imagine absolutely anything." Paul Valery, 18th June, 1940

Show Notes for La Resistance I - "Paris: Open City"

First, I'd like to apologize for discussing a quote in which Marshal Pétain linked the low birth rate in France with personal decadence without giving the quote itself. I came across it in my recent research but promptly lost it. I apologize if I'm misrepresenting Marshal Pétain, that was not my intent. If anyone can point me in the direction of this or another quote on the topic, it'd be appreciated.

I'd also like to apologize for any problems with the sound quality of the file. I'm still in the 'what does this button do?' stage of learning audio editing.

The Cutting Room Floor:

* France was actually ready for the Germans from a supplies standpoint. Relaxed immigration policies after WWI meant they had enough manpower to keep themselves well-armed. I don't know if military high command was aware of this though, and I can't blame them if they looked at the Blitzkrieg and felt under-dressed.

* When thousands of refugees were pouring through Paris a farmer from Holland who'd refused to leave his livestock behind could be seen letting his cows and sheep graze on the grass by Les Invalides.

* The strength of the Maginot Line may have been over-stated, but there's no reason to believe the Germans didn't believe the hype. Bear in mind their assault went around it, entering the country through the Belgian boarder in the Northeast and then swinging down like a door on its hinge.

* Pétain was so trusted that for months many believed he was playing a double-game, encouraging the Germans to spread themselves too thin and/or let their guard down while the army prepared a counter-attack. Some even believed Pétain was in league with De Gaulle and that the two were acting as a sword and shield.

* If you like irony, remember Pétain's description of the sort of people who were the cause of the defeat: the childless, Socialists, and politicians, and that he said courage and duty needed to be 're-introduced' in France. Bear all this in mind when we get to an episode called "Herding Lions: Maximizing the Resistance." Trust me, Alanis Morissette would love this one.

Also, if anyone finds 'the military' on Pétain's list of people responsible for the defeat, please inform the house manager or turn it into the lost and found.

* If you were a British citizen alive during the invasion of France, félicitations ! Vous êtes presque devenu un citoyen français ! At the 11th hour, in an attempt to co-ordinate and ensure the continuation of the fight, the UK war cabinet proposed to offer duel-citizenship* to the British and French populations. It was one of those ideas that should've been followed by someone saying 'that plan's so crazy it just might work!' But it was no joke: There was a croissant in their pocket, and they were happy to see you.

Both Churchill and De Gaulle approved, but this is one of the things filed under the heading 'Too Bad De Gaulle Wasn't In Charge at the Time." The idea came too late, to the wrong leaders in France, and to nothing.

(Before you write in to correct my spelling of 'dual-citizenship' remind yourself which two countries we're talking about here. My spelling's not looking so bad now, is it?)

* There was a General in the French high command that had a good understanding of the potential of tanks and their uses. He was such a nut on the subject he was referred to as 'General Tank.' His theories were unpopular, but there were some high-ranking men who understood his vision. Unfortunately, they were German.

Say what you will about General De Gaulle, but he had every right to give post-war France a pretty big 'I told you so.'

*I couldn't add this because I wanted the only geography in this ep to be Parisian: When he Marshal gave his famous radio address, the moment he began to speak a torrential thunderstorm broke over the city of Bordeaux. Pétain was broadcasting from Bordeaux at the time.

* Bill Bullitt has the best name ever for an American ambassador in WWII. By Hollywood law he should be forced to also run a private detective agency. Or fight crime.

Before our next episode, there may be an episode 1.5 where I'll make the standard introductions and answer any questions I think you may have. The reason you don't have this already is it seemed presumptuous to expect anyone to be interested in background info for a podcast that hadn't been created yet.

ETA for the next real episode will be after I recover from this one in about a month or two. If that sounds like a long time, bear in mind the audio quality level of this one and ask yourself what it would sound like if I rushed. (Not a pleasant thought, is it?) In the meantime, I'll provide extra Resistance-related content on this blog.

Thank you all for sharing your time with La Resistance. On a side note: I'm happy our premier came at an hour that counted as May 27th in France but here in America was still May 26th, Memorial Day. I can't think of a better hour to offer something in memory of the people who stood by democracy when it had a target on its back.

Until next time, vive la Resistance.

Sources: "France: The Dark Years," Julian Jackson - "The Fall of France," Julian Jackson - "The Week Paris Fell," Noel Barber - "The Trial - Marshal Pétain," Jules Roy - "The Collapse of the Third Republic," William Shirer - "An Uncertain Hour," Ted Morgan - "Vichy France: Old - Guard and New Order" Robert Paxton - "The Resistance," Martin Blumenson -