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Fall of France

 

Please take the time to enjoy a small selection of the artifacts that we have on display at the Museum of World War II. Every artifact in our collection has its own history, and ties to human lives. Each artifact has a small section of its story told here.

You can use this map to jump to any section of the Museum of World War 2 to view a selection of the artifacts displayed there.

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This section contains artifacts specifically about the Fall of France and what it meant. France's fall is chronicled in the full set of German invasion maps and reconnaissance books of France, propaganda posters and leaflets, and culminates in Roosevelt's message to French Premier Paul Reynaud.

PLEASE NOTE: All firearms displayed at the Museum of World War II have been rendered inoperable.

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A call to arms for French reservists. Uniforms worn by a British tank soldier and a French Red Cross worker.
 
German leaflet to British and French soldiers at Dunkirk
 
A message from Adolf Hitler to the soldiers of France. Message to the Paris populace that the Nazis were now in control of the city.
 
  Of special importance are letters and documents of Philippe Pétain and other Vichy French leaders, ranging from Pétain's notes for the armistice with Germany in June, 1940, to his message to the French people as the Allied armies overran France in August, 1944.
 
DeGaulle Phillipe Pétain, typewritten manuscripts with corrections by Pétain, June 21, 1940.  Pétain’s original draft of the armistice terms that were given to the Germans the next day and led to the signing of the armistice.
 
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DeGaulle's call to the French people to continue fighting Germany - "we have lost the battle, not the war"

 
This original photograph and corresponding news release document the Nazi march into Paris: "On August 10th, 1940, the boots of German conquerors echoed hollowly along the Champs Elysees as the Nazis marched in arrogant symbolism through the Arc de Triomphe." A brass statue of the Eiffel Tower, with a Nazi banner at the top.  This German souvenir celebrated the Nazi occupation of Paris.
 
De Gaulle’s pioneer article on mobile warfare.  It was widely ignored both in France and in England but avidly read by Adolf Hitler.
 
DeGaulle Charles De Gaulle, March 12, 1925: “The modest study which the Fr[ench] Mil[itary] Review just published….I had to point out to intellects capable of reflecting on their own the dangers of a doctrine which is too dogmatic and increasingly so….This manner of French military thinking is part of the very nature of our mentality.”
 
De Gaulle, July 8, 1927: “The capital idea of the complete transformation of war by the fact of aviation….This transformation will not suppress military order….It will give it new weapons—and that’s that.”
 
Charles De Gaulle, autograph letter, October 8, 1934: “I would like to laugh at…French politics….The professional army is making great progress….”
 
Charles de Gaulle: “The era of armed nations in nearing its end.  Military strength will reside more and more in mechanical and elite elements (Air Force, Navy, Armored Units)…”
 
Charles De Gaulle, October 9, 1944: “I hear that the Americans want to organize a ‘gala’ of American, English and French military music in Paris.  This is obviously unacceptable.  If there is a gala, it should be organized by us.  This should be shown to Koenig [the military governor of Paris] who lets our ‘allies’ do anything they want with him.”
 

Charles De Gaulle entering Bayeux, the first town liberated in France.

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