The military conflict, the centenary of which we commemorate this year, marked the end of an era and a prototype of modern warfare, when new weapons were used for the first time (or for the first time on such a scale). And also the things and technologies that we use to this day in civilian life. Some, such as the plane and the submarine, were not entirely new, but it was World War I that made them a powerful weapon that grew into a form over the following generations, forming key elements of modern armies of all modern powers. Others, such as the tank, flamethrower, or chemical weapons, appeared on the fronts of the First World War as innovations, which, however, then fundamentally influenced the shape of modern military conflicts.Submarine Germany was the first to deploy submarines en masse during the First World War, using them mainly to disrupt Allied supply routes and to fight British ships. As early as September 5, 1914, the German submarine U-21 sank the light British cruiser Pathfinder, which was the first warship sunk by a submarine. On September 22, the German submarine U-9 managed to sink three British armored cruisers (Abourkir, Hogue and Cressy) in a matter of minutes. In less than a month, the English merchant ship Glytra with a load of sewing machines and whiskey was sunk for the first time by a German submarine U-17. This event gave a fundamentally new direction to naval warfare, and submarine attacks on merchant ships eventually became commonplace. However, it was the German way of waging war at sea that provoked resistance, especially after the sinking of the cruise liner Lusitania on May 7, 1915, when a U-20 submarine under Captain Schwieger torpedoed a ship occupied by 1916 passengers without warning, of which 1152 died. Interestingly, it is not a well-known fact that a substantial part of the commanders of the Austro-Hungarian submarine fleet were Czech officers, and many of them, such as Josef Holub, achieved remarkable success as real submarine aces. The fate of Czech soldiers in the Czech Navy is also the subject of a special thematic exhibition "Our Sea - the Austro-Hungarian Navy" at the NTM in Prague. NTM in Brno again prepared the exhibition "Technology in Peace, Technology in War". In addition to nuclear-powered submarines, which can operate independently at sea for months, the most modern type of vessel is submarines using AIP technology, which stands for Air Independent Propulsion. This technology, which uses the combustion of diesel, hydrogen, etc., and pure oxygen in separate combustion chambers, was first used at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. It allows non-nuclear diesel-powered submarines to operate without surfacing for up to about one month. Other AIP options are hydrogen fuel cells using proton membrane exchanges. Compared to the classic drive, the advantage is also very quiet operation without waste heat, which makes it difficult to detect the submarine. Tank It is an original invention from the First World War. For the first time ever, this new weapon was deployed at the front, in the autumn of 1916, by the British army against the Germans. And even though they were relatively clumsy, cumbersome machines moving at low speed, the first Mark I tanks, which emerged from the fog in front of the German trenches, caused real panic among the soldiers. With the support of the infantry, they managed to break through the static front of the protracted trench warfare. This, of course, also inspired the enemy, and the British tanks soon clashed with the German ones at the front, and the French army also acquired a promising weapon. It also represented a clash of different concepts - mobility and speed vs. high resistance and firepower, on which mainly German designers built. Mark conceived their tanks more as mobile forts - Mark I had armor 10 mm thick, which was enough to protect against infantry weapons, type A7V had frontal armor up to 30 mm, which could protect it against artillery fragments. From the problems that the first tanks had, and the knowledge that their combat deployment brought, the designers then based on the development of modern tanks, which were used in the following world war. Thanks to Hitler's blitzkrieg, they essentially marked the end of classical cavalry and the advent of modern mobile armored vehicles as we know them today. Modern tanks: the American M-1 Abrams or the Israeli Merkava Mk4 represent the most modern generation of successors to the first tanks. High performance, speed, strong armor, composite armor and other elements of passive and active anti-ballistic protection, including powerful armaments and an overview of the environment and advanced communication systems, characterize the current cutting edge in this type of military technology. Automatic weapons - machine gun The term "machine gun" (from it. Maschinegewehr, ie machine gun), which is known to all readers of the Fates of the Good Soldier Švejk, characterizes the advent of a completely new generation of weapons enabling multi-shot continuous firing. More or less successful attempts to create them are older (Gatling gun, etc., if we omit ancient ancient or Chinese and Korean self-propelled systems), but only the implementation of a machine gun patented by Maxim or Vickers made the automatic weapon a revolutionary machine for the death of modern age. The machine gun, which was patented by Hiram Maxim in 1884, was used mainly as a stationary weapon in trenches and fortresses in their defense due to its weight and the need for a service team (3 to 4 men). However, unlike previous systems, which required certain activities to continue firing (e.g., turning a crank), Hiram's invention was equipped with a system that uses another mechanism to fire another blow to the gases generated during the shot. It was a principle that is used by today's modern automatic weapons. Already during the war, lighter models of machine guns were created, which allowed their portability and use as infantry weapons. Improved and more reliable automatic weapons also quickly became part of the armament of armored vehicles, where their heavier weight did not matter, problematic for infantry, but on the contrary, their destructive firepower could be used. Modern successors and successors: Machine guns remained constantly improved classical armament, but also led to the development of personal infantry automatic weapons, which are now the basis of armaments of all armies, not only them, as shown by the legendary American M16 or the most widespread automatic rifle in the world used all over the world from regular units to Somali pirates. Flamethrower The authorship of this drastic weapon in its modern form is attributed to Germany, but its history is older as usual. The German invention of 1901 (when engineer Richard Fiedler offered his first portable Flammenwerfer to the German armed forces) is essentially a modernized equivalent of the legendary Greek fire, an unquenchable incendiary device that was the fear of ancient and medieval battles. It experienced its renaissance in the First World War, where it was successfully deployed by virtually all warring parties, especially in the fight against trenches, machine gun nests and fortresses that are difficult to hit by fire. An inflammable liquid is fired from the tank by the pressure of an inert gas up to a distance of tens of meters in the form of short or several-second bursts. The first combat use of flamethrowers in bulk, as specialized weapons occurred on September 25, 1914 during the attack on the fortress Camp de Romains, in the trenches were used en masse in 1915 near Verdun. In 1915, the Germans created a special Flammenwerfer Abteilung (flamethrower division), commanded by Major Herman Reddemann - a civilian chief of the fire brigade from Leipzig. The high efficiency earned this weapon the admiration of military strategists, but also because of the drastic effects, the hatred of the soldiers - the operation of the flamethrowers certainly could not count on surviving the rest of the war as prisoners.Gas, chemical weapons Contrary to the general awareness that the "inventors" of the chemical war were the Germans, the fact that the very first use of gas as a weapon was the fault of the French, who already used several chloroacetone gas grenades during the first day of the war. However, the first mass gas attack on the Western Front was actually carried out by the Germans - at the Nouve Chapelle in October 1914, and at the end of January 1915, followed by another gas attack on the Eastern Front. However, in these cases it was mainly non-lethal, mostly tear gas. What started the real chemical war was the use of gas as a weapon in April 1915 at Ypres, where toxic chlorine was used. The British first used chlorine at Loos in August 1915, but it was here that the main problem with using the gas discharged from the cylinders arose - when the direction of the wind changed, the gas could damage the side that used it. Therefore, artillery gas grenades began to be used. One of the most insidious warfare agents of the First World War was the so-called mustard gas - mustard (the name was given to the place where it was first used - near the Flemish city of Ypres), which could not be seen or felt. He stayed at the affected place for a long time, which made it impossible for the winners to fill such a conquered position. Nearly 130,000 tons of combat gas used during World War I by all major powers (most of them by the German army) are responsible for tens of thousands of dead and maimed - statistics show 1,297,000 people affected by the gas attacks, of which 91,200 died.It is the tragic experience of the First World War that is the reason why a gas mask is still part of the equipment of all modern soldiers (although chemical weapons are already internationally banned). Aircraft carrier Yes, even this key element of today's armies has its roots in the First World War. The rebuilt British cruiser HMS Furious began to serve as the first ship of this type during this war. A 49 m long runway was set up at the bow of the ship, on which the historically first landing of the aircraft on a sailing ship took place on August 2, 1917 - it was carried out by Major Edwin Harris Dunning with his Sopwith Pup. After another reconstruction, which was completed in March 1918, Furious acquired a landing platform at the stern. On July 18, 1918, Furious carried out an air attack on the Zeppelin base in Tondern. However, the real turning point and the decisive stage that started the era of aircraft carriers was the Second World War and the years after it. Camouflage The Germans also found that their classic feldgrau - field gray, is not a universal solution in all circumstances, and an irregular pattern composed of different colors, which optically breaks the contours, works much better as camouflage. Coats made of multicolored 6-angles have appeared on the planes - the germ of modern camouflage, which uses the same principle that was later adopted by modern armies and brought to perfection. For example, BAE Systems is testing a special camouflage for tanks and armored vehicles made of proven 6-polygonal surfaces, on which the image of the environment in which the machines are currently is projected. The machines thus blend in perfectly with their surroundings and are really practically invisible, thanks to special technologies even for infrared systems. Aircraft Initially clumsy and fragile machines became powerful killing machines during the four years of the war. The aircraft were not armed at first and were used as a novelty mainly for reconnaissance purposes, but later the pilots began to take weapons with them and tried to attack enemy aircraft, albeit in relatively primitive ways - usually pistols, rifles, but also various heavy objects or hand grenades. that crashed into enemy positions. Since the autumn of 1914, aircraft with machine guns at the rear, controlled by another member of the crew, have appeared at the front. And then even faster and faster machines with a fixed machine gun, which could control a straight pilot - usually above the upper wing, or in front (for aircraft with a thruster like De Havilland DH9). The boom of fighter aircraft occurred mainly in the last years of the war at a time when some major technical problems of firing were solved - key inventions included synchronizing machine guns for firing around the propeller circuit instead of reflectors used until then, or placing weapons so that the trajectory passed out of range. propeller. This allowed for more accurate firing in the axis of the aircraft. The most famous machines of the time included the British Sopwith Pup and Camel, SE-5, the French Spad VII and the German Fokker DR-1 aircraft (which made the "Red Baron" von Richthofen famous), the Fokker D5 and the Albatross. In addition to fighters designed to destroy the enemy's air force, bombers quickly appeared, capable of hitting and destroying ground targets on a large scale, which was a harbinger of modern military conflicts. Air bombing brought a completely new element to the war - the ability to attack strategic targets such as factories, bridges, railways, etc. in the rear of the enemy, which were until then in the background safe. In addition to the German Gotha machines and the four-engine Riesenflugzeug, it was mainly the Russians who experimented with giant long-range bombers: as early as the end of 1914, the "Airship Squadron" was established in Tsarist Russia, the first special air unit of heavy bombers. Their designer was Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky, who created at that time a giant four-engine machine Ilya Muromec with a wingspan of 32 m and a speed of almost 100 kilometers. It was successfully tested even in the seaplane version - until then the largest seaplane ever built.Modern aircraft: in contrast to various design solutions from the pioneering days of armed aviation, modern machines are more or less identical, optimized thanks to computer design and simulations for maximum aerodynamics and exceeding several times the speed of sound. The main weapons are no longer firearms (machine guns and cannons) and precision sights, but advanced missile systems that, in conjunction with radars and advanced avionics, allow you to attack targets as far as many kilometers away, which the pilot does not even have to see physically. The deployment of new weapons is also characterized by the case of the first submarine destroyed by aircraft at sea on September 15, 1916. Two Austrian "flying" boats Lohner, piloted by frigate Lieutenant Walter Zelezny with observer von Klimburg, and Lieutenant Dimitri Konjovic with observer cadet North 70 Foucault The seaplanes dropped depth charges on the submarine, which damaged it, the submarine was still able to reach the surface, but the seaplanes bombed it again, so the captain decided to surrender with the crew, leave the submarine and sink. to remain on the hull and on the floats on the surface until they were taken on board by an Austrian torpedo boat.Medicine and medicine, radio engineering In the treatment and treatment of various injuries, doctors also gained significant knowledge, especially surgeons who operated in the often desperate conditions of victims of war, which was reflected in the development of modern surgery. Alexandr Fleming, who later became famous for the invention of penicillin, also followed up on the knowledge gained during the medical practice of the First World War in the study of antiseptic agents. These antibiotics helped save lives in the next war and beyond. During the First World War, it was found, among other things, that meat stored in warehouses after firing cotton and ammunition spoils less. This was due to sanitarium and guamo, which were part of these explosives and showed preservative effects. Soon, these raw materials were replaced by nitrite salt, which kept the food preserved. This technology began to be used industrially in the storage and preservation of food for its preservation. Military needs have also contributed to the progress of research in radio engineering. Marconi's wireless telegraphy began to be used in maritime communications in the pre-war years. In 1914, the American physicist Irving Langmuir perfected the tube with a high vacuum and the addition of a second grid, in 1915 the German engineer Walter Schottky constructed shielded tubes and the American researcher Lee de Forest the first tube transmitter - these and other innovations helped radio talk between Paris and Washington. at a distance of more than 9000 km.
Hamburg, Rathausmarkt, in the late afternoon of July 31, 1914: Infantry soldiers of the Hamburg Regiment march through the Alster metropolis. At its head: an officer on horseback, who stops in all public places and announces the imposition of the so-called siege, the final stage in the war. First World War: The "Great Catastrophe of the 20th Century"Austria-Hungary had already gone to war with Serbia three days earlier, an unofficial and secretly agreed procedure with Berlin. Serbia's largest ally, Russia, is to be forced to mobilize, which is expected to happen. This seems to confirm that an attack by Russia is imminent. The Germans believe they are going to wage a just defense war. General mobilization begins at 6 a.m. on the morning of August 1st across Germany. Russia is officially declared war. The First World War, the "Great Catastrophe of the 20th Century", has begun. Collective war frenzy: the "August experience"In the summer days in July and August 1914, enthusiasm for war first spread. A frenzied, collective nationalism, which is later mystified as an "August experience", affects large parts of the population. So also the citizens of Hamburg who come together in the elegant "Alster Pavilion" on Jungfernstieg. As the "Hamburger Nachrichten" reports, "the chapel has to play incessantly, and then the sounds of 'Germany, Germany above all' came to the ears of those who had to wait outside because the sound of thunder and roaring was not there for anyone would have been more space ". Such scenes of spontaneous war euphoria take place in almost all northern German cities. "Battle of the Jungfernstieg": Euphoria turns into violenceFrom the beginning, nationalistic enthusiasm also includes carnivalesque scenes, hooliganism and brutal violence. Even the landlord of the "Alster Pavilion" is not spared: When he tries to prevent a guest from repeatedly reading out an extra sheet, he is hit by the crowd when the café is turned into a heap of broken glass. The advancing police had to pull the sabers to stop the "Battle of Jungfernstieg". Something similar is repeated in Kiel: When the imperial anthem sounds there on July 28, students beat up other café guests who don't get up spontaneously, sing along and "Hooray!" roar. "Spyitis" and mass hysteria are spreading A kind of mass hysteria seizes the people: On August 4, 1914, at Bremen Central Station, the slogan "Stop the spy!" Is enough to trigger a mass psychosis, as a result of which a man is almost killed by a fanatical mob. When the police finally get the victim seriously injured, it turns out that he is a German soldier on the way to his unit. The Hanoverian philosophy professor Theodor Lessing, who is arrested on the same day because of his long beard on a platform as a "Russian spy", is finally saved only by a Prussian officer who turns out to be his former student. "How much abuse, how many malice, acts of revenge, bestialities were practiced in these hideous days," Lessing notes later, "nobody was sure of his life." "Clouds are mistaken for planes, bicycle handlebars for bombs"In the first days of August alone, 28 civilians were shot dead at wild roadblocks because there was a rumor that French gold would be smuggled from France to Russia by car. A police chief speaks of a "fool's house" in which "the population" is starting to go crazy: "Everyone sees a Russian or French spy in their fellow man and believes that they have a duty to bloody him and the policeman who takes care of him Clouds are mistaken for airplanes, stars for airships, bicycle handlebars for bombs and spies are shot legally. There is no telling how all this will work out when times get really difficult. " The beginning of the war: ordinary people are skeptical Contrary to the myth of the "August experience", according to which all sections of the population were equally enthusiastic about the war, this phenomenon primarily affects the nobility, the bourgeoisie, many intellectuals and of course the political leadership. In contrast, the mood is often very different in the working-class areas of the big cities and in the country. The agents of the political police note on their sneak tours through Hamburg workers' pubs that those present ask loudly what they are concerned with the Austrian heir to the throne and why they should give their lives for it. In Bremen, a social democrat observed on August 1 the "miserable mood" he "has ever experienced": "Mothers, women and brides get the young men to pull and cry. Everyone has the feeling that they are going straight to the slaughterhouse. " Not prepared for years of World War IIHowever, hardly anyone expects how quickly times will be more difficult. Most soldiers believe that Christmas will be back at home, and the state is in no way prepared for a long war. For the majority of the northern German civilian population, the outbreak of war does not pose any military threat, but in many villages there is "sudden horror" after the declaration of war, as a contemporary witness notes. Many farmers fear harvest and livelihood. In addition, horses and wagons are often confiscated by the military. Siegfried Jacobson, editor of the magazine "Schaubühne", writes during his summer vacation on the North Sea: "Bring the enthusiastic Berliners here between our 15 farmhouses and they will fall silent." Hunger and unemployment are spreadingThe war is particularly noticeable in the northern German ports. Due to the British naval blockade, shipping practically comes to a standstill. Despite the general mobilization, mass unemployment already prevailed in August. Shipowners, shipbrokers, trading and port companies in Hamburg, Bremerhaven and elsewhere lay off their employees. Although the men subject to military service go to war, 30,000 unemployed people are registered in Hamburg alone at the beginning of September 1914, many of them dockers. Already on August 21, the "Hamburger Echo" reports that "in the poorer districts, the need is infinite, yes, that in many cases there is already starvation". Many families can no longer pay the rent, the number of homeless increases from 7,000 to 16,000 within a month. Ten million soldiers die in the First World WarWith the first terrible front-line experiences, the "baptism of fire", disillusionment and disillusionment spread to the war volunteers. Theodor Reil from Oldenburg wrote to his teacher from Belgium at the end of August: "After a 33-hour train journey and a seven-hour wait, our people had a strenuous march. On the way, the first destruction, the horror of the war, burned-out houses, villages were completely destroyed . " At the latest with the defeat in the Battle of the Marne in September 1914, which made a quick victory against France impossible, many things are like the grocer Johanna Boldt. At the beginning of October, she wrote to her husband Julius on the Eastern Front: "People want nothing more than the end of this unfortunate war. And there is still no prospect." It is still four long years before this wish comes true in the course of the November Revolution of 1918, which begins in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. By the end of the war, ten million soldiers had died on the battlefields of Europe - including Julius Boldt.
During the Second World War, the Swiss border became fateful for numerous civilian refugees, partisans, deserters and troubled foreign troops. The smuggling on the southern border peaked. With the introduction of the war economy in Switzerland, the supply of the population, economy and army should be regulated via a state-controlled distribution system. In addition to government intervention in the economy and the distribution of food, more attention has also been paid to combating the black market and smuggling. In the first years of the war, the "sneak trade" fell noticeably. While smuggling activities remained relatively low, especially in northern and eastern Switzerland, they began to take on an unprecedented level on the southern border from autumn 1942 - in the opposite direction from Italy to Switzerland. The reason for this development was the chaotic situation in northern Italy. After the Allies landed in Sicily in July 1943, German troops occupied the area. The dictator-freed dictator Benito Mussolini became head of government of the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana), a German satellite state. The situation of the population living there deteriorated dramatically, many people fled to Switzerland. Numerous people who refused to serve, those fleeing the flags and partisans went underground or withdrew to mountainous regions along the Swiss border. There, however, it was no longer possible for them to do regular work, and they also no longer received any brands for the already poor food rations. In order to survive, many worked as smugglers. AGE OF TRAVELEntire columns of people set out to take food such as flour, butter, salami, cheese, but also shoes, bicycle tires, silk and donkeys across the border. By far the most smuggled good was rice, which is why people still remember the “epoca del riso” (“the age of rice”) in the border region. The amounts of rice confiscated at the southern border were impressive: 115 tons were confiscated only in the last year of the war! At the same time, 9,154 smugglers were caught, the effective number of illegal goods being transported was probably five times higher. The annual reports of the Ticino customs district spoke of a "real smuggler invasion". The Second World War marked a profound break in the history of smuggling. After smuggling from Switzerland to Italy was predominant, it was now mostly in the opposite direction. This phenomenon cannot be explained, as long believed, primarily by the high demand for food in Switzerland, but above all by the exchange rate between the Italian lira and the Swiss franc. During the war, the Swiss franc remained relatively stable due to the (controversial) monetary policy of the Swiss National Bank, while in Italy the devaluation of the lira progressed quickly. When the Italian smugglers sold their goods in Switzerland, they brought the amount collected to the black market in Italy, where the Swiss franc was in great demand. The proceeds could be used to buy many more goods than one had previously owned. PEOPLE smuggling across the borderSmugglers knew the border like their own pocket. Some of them also acted as "passeurs" by bringing Allied soldiers and Jews who had fled from prison camps across the border. Not infrequently, they shamelessly exploited the fear of death of the Jewish refugees and demanded horrendous amounts from them. Examples of up to 50,000 lire per transit are known. The Allied secret services based in Ticino also needed their help. Through the smugglers, they provided the Italian resistance with financial support and weapons. During the war, many weapons were in circulation in the border area. Especially when former soldiers or partisans worked as smugglers, the conflicts at the border sometimes turned into bloody clashes. For example, near the border guard post of Cantine di Gandria, where the Swiss Customs Museum is today, a soldier and three smugglers met on the morning of November 27, 1944. It ended fatally for a member of the smuggler group called Rinaldo Fiumberti. Such tragic incidents also mobilized the press, which commented on these events under the title “Wild West in Ticino”. The reporting contributed to the fact that the “smuggler invasion” is still firmly anchored in the collective memory of the population in the border region.
No, the French army is not so bad!Some British and Americans question the role of the French army in world conflicts. An English historian re-establishes the truth. When it comes to commemorating the terrible events of 1917, which were among the deadliest of the First World War, it is understandable that the British focus their attention on the battle of Passchendaele, while the Americans, themselves, put forward their entry into war against Germany. Unfortunately, these commemorations are often accompanied by a deplorable setback, which consists in denigrating the courage and skills of their French allies. In a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, which journalist Jonah Goldberg helped popularize in one of his articles in 1999, the French are even called "cowardly cheese eaters". One way to suggest, among other things, that the French abandoned Paris to the Germans in 1940 without even firing a shot. Obviously, this spade was intended to be satirical, but the damage was done, as we discovered in 2003; as proof of this, the invective addressed to the French by American and British politicians and the media following France's decision (however a wise decision, with hindsight) not to support military intervention in Iraq . If the Americans and the British want to take history seriously, they must be fair to the feats of arms of the French. A little honestyFrom August 1914 to early 1917, it was the French army that paid the price for the fighting on the Western Front - and this, with remarkable stoicism. In the space of two weeks - between August 16 and August 31, 1914 - there were 210,993 deaths on the French side. By comparison, the British lost 164,709 men in the first month of the Somme offensive in July 1916. The French army has also adapted very effectively to the challenges of trench warfare by perfecting its technique in barrage fire. She was also a pioneer in terms of tactics for the infantry platoon, with the development of new automatic weapons and rifle grenades. While the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916, was a disaster for the English, the French achieved all objectives. At the beginning of 1917, 68 French divisions were the crucible of mutinies. But the soldiers involved in these mutinies continued to defend their trenches, simply refusing to go to the pipe-breaker. The army rose brilliantly, playing a central role in the Allied victory of 1918. From July to November 1918, French troops captured 139,000 German prisoners. In the same interval, the American Expeditionary Force captured 44,142 Germans. Stop clichésDuring the interwar period, the French invested in defensive fortifications, with the Maginot Line, along the Franco-German border. This decision has often been ridiculed on the pretext that it revealed a defeatist attitude. But, France being less populated than Germany, she could not hope to compete with her only army. The fortifications had to compensate for this imbalance. The Maginot line aimed to protect the industrial heart of France from a lightning attack from the Germans and to create a funnel in Belgium to slow down the German invasion, and, at first, it worked. But the German army won the campaign of May and June 1940 thanks to its daring "sickle stroke" in the forest of the Ardennes, which was considered impassable by the Allied commanders. The British, French and Belgian armies were surrounded to the north, suffering a heavy defeat. French strategic planning is largely responsible for this catastrophe, but let's not forget that it was an Allied defeat, not just a French defeat. The Dutch and the Belgians being reluctant to risk their neutrality, there was little coordination with them, which facilitated the German attack. As for the British, they let France pay the price of the land war without giving it much support. The British Expeditionary Force in 1940 represented only 12 divisions. By 1918, there had been as many as 59. So it was not surprising that Nazi propaganda used to taunt its enemies by claiming that the British were "determined to fight until the death of the last French ”. The “miracle” of DunkirkAlthough their generals were surpassed in 1940, the French troops fought with courage and skill. For example, during the battle of Gembloux - from May 14 to 15, 1940 -, the first French army succeeded in repelling the German assaults on numerous occasions, saving time so that their comrades and their allies could withdraw. Without such rearguard actions, there would have been no "Dunkirk miracle" and the war could have been lost in 1940. After crossing the Meuse, the German divisions of Panzer only had to travel 240 km towards the Channel coast to trap the Allied forces - 1.8 million French soldiers were captured and 90,000 were killed or wounded. At the start of Operation Barbarossa - the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 - the Red Army lost nearly 5 million men, including 2.5 million who surrendered. The Russians also lost 100,000 square kilometers of territory. However, as Charles de Gaulle told Stalin after this terrible defeat, the Soviets still had vast territory in Eurasia, where they could retreat. The French did not lack courage in 1940, they lacked space. Contribution to the liberation of EuropeThe French military contribution to the Allied victory during the Second World War continued after 1940. Indeed, 550,000 French soldiers made a major contribution to the liberation of Western Europe in 1944. Operation Dragoon - the landing in Provence in August 1944 - was a Franco-American operation, with limited participation from Great Britain. Many French soldiers involved in Operation Dragoon were recruited from the colonies, as well as from the British side, since 2.6 million Indian soldiers were involved in the war effort. In any event, the French units which served in Italy and in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945 fought bravely, in the best tradition of the French army.
The Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and her German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, today ratified two agreements relating to the Franco-German MGCS tank project. "Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and her French counterpart Florence Parly have signed a framework agreement defining the organization of the project and the management structures," announced the German Defense Ministry this morning.The two ministers also signed a first implementation agreement (Implementing Arrangement 1) which constitutes the contractual basis for the study of system architecture entrusted to the three industrialists concerned, the French Nexter and the Germans Rheinmetall and KMW. "The Budget Committee recently paved the way for notification of the two-year study," said the German defense ministry. Agreements signed at a distance, the ministers were unable to meet due to sanitary measures. As previously announced, future architecture contracts will be funded equally between the two countries. They will also answer the question of intellectual property so that each country retains a right to monitor the use of the results of the R&D work carried out by their national industry. This announcement should reassure more than one French side, at a time when defense industries are calling for securing national and European R&D programs to offset the economic impact of the health crisis. Despite the crisis, work “continued with two ministries and three companies on the Franco-German tank program. The progress is remarkable since after having signed a cooperation agreement between industrialists last year, we now have a contract which is ready to be signed in order to be able to start the first phase of this program, "declared the CEO of Nexter, Stéphane Mayer, last week facing the Defense Committee of the National Assembly.
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