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"Où est la Masse de Manoeuvre?": Maurice Gamelin and the Lessons of Blitzkrieg in Poland

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"Où est la Masse de Manoeuvre?": Maurice Gamelin and the Lessons of Blitzkrieg in Poland

Parker, Robert (2013) "Où est la Masse de Manoeuvre?": Maurice Gamelin and the Lessons of Blitzkrieg in Poland. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Abstract
“Où est la Masse de Manoeuvre?”: Maurice Gamelin and the Lessons of Blitzkrieg in Poland
Robert Parker
The spectacular defeat of the French army in May-June 1940 has invited a long tradition of criticism aimed at France’s Commander-in-Chief, Maurice Gamelin. In particular, Gamelin’s strategy has been criticised for failing to provide a strong strategic reserve behind the French continuous front. This thesis will endeavor to explain why the armies of France were left with no strategic reserve to counter the German breakthrough along the Meuse river on May 12th, 1940. How could the French high command fail to provide the country with such a fundamental safeguard?
It will be argued that Gamelin’s strategy was deeply affected by the Polish campaign of September 1939. This brief struggle had convinced him that the traditional use of strategic reserves had proven ineffective in a modern war. This conviction, coupled with erroneous intelligence grossly exaggerating the extent of the German military buildup, caused Gamelin to gamble recklessly with the deployment of his armies. His choice was to fortify France’s continuous front with the bulk of the country’s reserve forces in an attempt to receive the invader with the maximum concentration at the point of contact. This would leave the country defenceless in the event of a breakthrough anywhere along its extended front. Gamelin’s gamble was thus an “all or nothing” proposition. When the German army indeed broke through the center of his line, France’s generalissimo had no answer and in admitting the failure of his risky deployment, fell into an abject defeatism which paralysed attempts to stem the tide of German armor.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Parker, Robert
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:History
Date:2 September 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Ingram, Norman
ID Code:977623
Deposited By: ROBERT PARKER
Deposited On:25 Nov 2013 17:34
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:44
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