The history of the melancholy capitulation to German arms or to German terrorism or to German bribery of the smaller countries, one by one, during World War II is a history of the disaster of suicidal disunity. Standing shoulder to shoulder, speaking and fighting simultaneously, they could have put up a vigorous resistance--sufficient to have brought worthwhile external aid in time. Further, the tragedy of France's quick catastrophic fall before the onslaught of Hitler's legions was twofold. On the mental side it was a tragedy of shameful treachery in high places, of divided counsels and clashing leadership, of corrupt politicians and conservative generals, and finally of national inability to rise above narrow interests. Even the military defeat of France was largely a stage-managed affair. A few highly placed French Nazis as good as betrayed their country to the German Nazis. Their intentions were good but their understanding was bad. The consequences of these defects appeared in the half heartedness with which she wasted the valuable opening weeks of the war, those weeks when Hitler was attacking Poland, and in the suicidal spirit of indifference and lack of conviction which permeated the army. On the physical side it was a tragedy of out-of-date technique and inferior equipment, of inability to understand that men could no longer hold out against machines. The Old Staff, wedded to the Maginot line as they were, did not perceive how rapidly it had become antiquated strategy. For armoured motorized divisions and blitzkrieg tactics had largely destroyed the value of line and position fighting. The plane, the tank, and the parachute, massed in synchronized attack, were the symbols of modern warfare--but the significance of this symbolism was only half-understood. The fact is that France was defeated from within even before she was attacked from without. Finally, during that fateful September of 1939, there was the pathetic spectacle of Polish generals--twentieth-century men with nineteenth-century minds--honestly and sincerely attempting to oppose Nazi tank offensives with cavalry charges!
-- Notebooks Category 11: The Negatives > Chapter 3: Their Presence in The World > # 193
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