Its Defenses Undone by a Virus, France Seeks Lessons From a Lost WarHistorians in the News
tags: France, Germany, World War 2, COVID-19
PARIS — It became the indispensable book of the pandemic, its French author revealing how society’s weaknesses and human frailties gave way to disaster. As the coronavirus tore through France, intellectuals, historians and journalists cracked open their old copies in search of eternal truths in an unsettling time.
In the country that gave the world the classic novel, it is “Strange Defeat’’ — a scholarly dissection about the fall of France in 1940 not widely known even inside the country — that has instead become the reference to understand what went wrong this time.
Why did France record one of the world’s highest Covid-19 death tolls and mortality rates? Why is it expected to suffer a catastrophic drop of 11 percent in its gross domestic product?
Some French have sought clues in “Strange Defeat,’’ which described a country that, in 1940, believed it had the best army in the world but that was trounced by Hitler’s forces in six short weeks.
Bloch, a historian and army officer, wrote the book in the months following France’s collapse, explaining how an ossified bureaucracy and an out-of-touch elite had left his country without the proper defenses and without the critical capacity to adapt to a rapidly changing situation on the ground.
To some readers, the parallels to 2020 cannot be ignored.
comments powered by Disqus
- John Hume, Nobel Laureate for Work in Northern Ireland, Dies at 83
- Statue of White Woman Holding Hatchet and Scalps Sparks Backlash in New England
- 'We Always Knew What It Stood For': Small Texas Town Torn Over Its Confederate Statue
- UNC Tenured Faculty Tell Students to Stay Home Amid COVID Concerns: 'It Is Not Safe for You to Come to Campus'
- Counting Down with #19Suffrage Stories: 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment
- Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Women Survivors of the Atomic Bombs
- How White Supremacy Infected Christianity and the Republican Party
- Reaganland Is the Riveting Conclusion to a Story That Still Isn’t Over (Review)
- Returning From War, Returning to Racism
- Remembering Our Friend and Colleague, Professor David H. Bensman