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Apurva ParikhAP European HistoryResearch Paper DraftGeneral Thesis:The events of World War I left Germany in a political and economic mire for which it sought revenge against the Allied forces. About twenty years later, Adolf Hitler lifted Germany out of the doldrums in his worldwide campaign to expand the country magnificently. Hitler’s war machine, known as the Wehrmacht, quickly plowed through France in 1940 (during World War II) and would have usurped the entire country had it not been for national savior, Philippe Petain, who convinced Germany to leave a portion of France unoccupied. This unoccupied sector would soon be harnessed by the authoritarian Vichy Regime, led by Petain and Pierre Laval. While the Vichy Regime purported to be independent of German influence, it was actually a puppet regime of Germany, enacting anticipated German demands to give the illusion of French independence. However, Vichy collaboration with Germany was, at heart, Germany’s ploy to keep France out of war, but struck the French as Germany’s attempt at reconciliation. Thus, the Vichy period was brimming with hidden motives for both the conquered French and the steamrolling Germans. France’s surrender [to Germany] in World War II and the subsequent armistice heralded a new era in French history where the end of the antiquated Third Republic gave way to the new, authoritarian Vichy regime. World War II officially began on September 1st, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Two days later, France and Britain, followed by other members of the Commonwealth, declared war on Germany but did little to provide actual support to Poland. France deployed a small attack against Germany in what came to be known as the Saar
Offensive, in which the French attacked the 1stdefense sector of the German army in the Saarland (one of the German states). The purpose of the attack was to salvage Poland, which was then being attacked by Germany. However, the Germans were quick to squelch French forces and German forces remained unified. France and Britain soon employed a naval blockade against Germany (known as the Blockade of Germany), in which France and later the United States curtailed their shipment of foods, metals, minerals, and textiles to Germany in order to weaken Germany’s economy. Less than a year later, on May 10th, 1940, Germany invaded France and the Low Countries in what became known as the Battle of France. The Battle of France marked the end of the Phoney War (Sitzkrieg), in which Britain and France had declared war on Germany but had abstained from major military operations. The Battle of France consisted of two major phases—Fall Gelband Fall Rot. In the first phase, Fall Gelb, the Germans cut through the Ardennes to surround the Allied forces in Belgium. In the second phase, Fall Rot, German forces outflanked the Maginot Line (a line of fortifications and military defenses, which France