Reasons Why Germany Defeated France in WW2

Why was the German army so successful against the French army in World War II? After Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, the World War II broke out. At the same time, France and Great Britain decided to declared war on Germany. According to Wilde (2018), initially, France had enough power to defend against the attack from Germany because it was backed by its advanced arms industries and had built complete defense lines which were called the Maginot Line. However, according to Davis (2017), it only took the Germany few weeks to occupy France.

Specifically, the German army successfully defeated the French army mainly because France had backward tactical ideas, poor leadership, and political instability.

To begin with, the French leaders had poor tactics and leadership. Because France got substantial damages in World War I, it still didn’t fully recover from that devastating war before World War II started. According to WW1 Facts, the total number of casualties of France was approximately 1,300,000 in World War I (“WW1 Casualties,” n.

d.). Thus, the French government insisted on adopting different defense strategies while dealing with German enemies. This is why France spent substantial funds building the defense lines. Generally speaking, according to Wilde (2018), building the Maginot Line required billions of francs and massive raw materials. As a result, France didn’t have enough energy and financial support to develop its military. Besides, they didn’t anticipate that the Germany military was such advanced and powerful. At that time, according to Caruthers (2016), the French and British armies had over 1,000 more tanks than Germany.

Although it seemed that the alliance had more powerful military equipment, the German army had invested enormous funds in tanks and bombers. As a result, according to Caruthers (2016), Germany put in mass forces to adopted Blitzkrieg to the weak points of the Maginot Line. According to Land (2018) Bombers and airborne troops ‘attacks and on defense lines made the French forces be off guard which finally led to the occupation of French territories.

Furthermore, political divisiveness was another reason why France was defeated by Germany. According to Davis (2017), Unlike the German leaders’ fearless leadership which inspired troops greatly, French leaders didn’t have enough spirit of persistence while the military was in trouble. Although the French soldiers had the courage to be against German armies, many French leaders became indifferent to this battle.

By contrast, German leaders insisted in using constant attack although their troops appeared to be tired. According to Davis (2017), their constant pressure finally paid off and defeated the last of the French resistance. It was even more shocking that some French senior administration officials expressed their fear of German forces. According to Herold (2018), Paul Reynaud who was the French Prime Minister was ready to capitulate to Germany when he saw the advancement of German forces. According to Herold (2018), although the British Prime Minister gave confidence to Reynaud, he still could not cheer up.

In addition, political instability was one of the factors that France was defeated by German. The conflicts among political parties actually slowed the development of France instead of accelerating the growth. According to Histclo (2018), the Popular Front which involved Communists, Socialists, and other left-wing political parties was used to be the political party of France, and it made a lot of efforts on improving the economy and eliminating power concentration. However, according to Histclo (2018), the economic policy made by the Popular Front didn’t really work, and the French industries and factories were weakened. At the same time, the Popular Front was fiercely attacked by right-wing political parties which led to chaos within the government. Thus, France did not prepare very well in defending any possible aggression.


In conclusion, German could conquer France within a short period in World War II mainly because France adopted out-of-date tactical concepts, had unreliable leaders, and political uncertainty. In addition, the Maginot Line was proved not an insuperable obstacle. Because France relatively underestimated the strength of the German military, it finally paid a heavy price. Finally, the low morale of French leaders destroyed their last hope and eventually led to the fall of France in World War II.


  1. Caruthers, M. (December 19, 2016). Blitzkrieg in Western Europe: The fall of France and the third republic. Owlcation. Retrieved from
  2. Davis, D.L. (February 18, 2017). The super simple reason Nazi Germany crushed France during World War II. The National Interest. Retrieved from
  3. Gopnik, A. (August 20, 2018). How Charles de Gaulle rescued France. The New Yorker. Retrieved from
  4. Herold, D. (March 8, 2018). The WW2 battle of France – A disaster for the allies in World War Two. War History Online. Retrieved from
  5. Land, G. (August 8, 2018). How did Germany defeat France so quickly in 1940? History Hit. Retrieved from
  6. Wilde, R. (March 30, 2018). The Maginot Line: France’s defensive failure in World War II. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from
  7. Histclo. (May 25, 2018). World War II: France. Retrieved from
  8. WW1 Facts. (n.d.). WW1 casualties. Retrieved from
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