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Official Description Edit

The French Revolution and the empire forged by Napoleon forever changed France. Decades of internal political struggles followed the Napoleonic wars, but throughout much of the 19th Century France remained a powerful state with which the other European powers had no choice but to contend.

France entered alliances with both Russia and Britain prior to Word War I in an effort to isolate its powerful neighbour, Germany. When WWI came, fighting rapidly degenerated into trench warfare and much of north-eastern France was decimated. The French lines ultimately held and the allies brought the war to a successful close in 1918. The French authorities, resolved to protect France from any future invasions, advocated severe terms for the Treaty of Versailles, which laid out the conditions for peace. France, along with the other major allies, received payments for damages from Germany as well as territory in Europe and abroad.

Between the World Wars, the French constructed the impressive Maginot Line along the German border from Switzerland to Belgium. This massive fortification was a modern marvel, impervious to a frontal assault. When the Second World War began, the German High Command was forced to send troops through neutral Belgium to avoid the Line.

Despite a formal surrender in 1940, the French Resistance operated throughout WWII, slowly gaining strength and inflicting damage on Germany’s occupying army. When Allied forces landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, the Resistance assailed the retreating German army at every opportunity. Paris was liberated and, on August 19, Free French troops marched into the city.

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