When Maciej started French Week (“fighting francophobia since wednesday”), Jason linked to the first installment, “Ten Reasons to Love France,” which was a breezy response to the frivolous tone of the fries/toast/kiss gag.
It’s not funny anymore. From day two, “WWII, the Real Story”
…But there’s a more profound, indirect reason for the French defeat [in 1940], which explains why the German armies were able to score this tactical coup in the first place. And that reason is the French experience in World War I.
World War I has almost comical connotations in our own popular culture. American doughboys, kaisers and marshals in funny hats, the Red Baron. But for France, the Great War was the most traumatic event of the twentieth century. No country lost as great a proportion of its population in that war: 1,400,000 men were killed outright, two million were wounded. A million of the wounded had debilitating injuries, and could never work again. They were a lost generation, and a living reminder to others of what war really meant.