Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[H&F] "Armistice Day and a Strasbourg Monument"

History and Futility co-blogger The Oberamtmann writes from Strasbourg where he takes a look at the way in which the French perspective on the 11th of November differs from the American.

In World War Two, France lost about 567,600 people in total, 1.35 percent of the population, of which just under half were military personnel (and 83,000 Jews lost in the Holocaust, with a role played by Vichy that has still not been completely dealt with). The United States lost 418,500, the vast majority military casualties, and an even smaller 0.32% of the total population. Does not seem that different. The United States proper was never invaded, too. France surrendered, suffering the indignity of having a puppet regime set up run by a hero of the Great War. So why would the USA add veterans of the Second World War to its holiday and France not?

The answer lies in the
other world war. In World War One, America lost 117,465, 0.13% of the population, and fought only at the end. The standard narrative of the war is fresh American troops coming and making the difference because they had not already been fighting for four straight years. France lost 1,697,800 soldiers and civilians, making up 4.29% of the population, a much bigger blow. The vast majority of World War One’s Western Front was on French soil. France’s early defeat in World War Two spared it from many of the human losses, in terms of body count, that it suffered in World War One. World War Two was America’s second-bloodiest war after the Civil War. I think France limiting November 11 to the First World War is a sensible decision.

Canadian casualties, incidentally, were 0.93% for the Dominion of Canada proper, and 0.6% for then-independent Newfoundland, roughly midway between the American and French casualties rates. Canada, unlike France, was thankfully spared entirely conflict in its homeland.

Want to know what might be sketchy about the dates memorialized as Strasbourg, a sort of category error?

I won't spoil that for you. Go, read the post in full.
Tags: canada, first world war, france, h&f, history, newfoundland and labrador, united states, war
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