Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Georges, Alphonse Joseph (1875–1951)

French army general. Born on 19 August 1875 at Montlu=on, Alphonse Georges graduated third in his class in 1897 from the French military academy of Saint Cyr and was posted to Algeria. During World War I, he was seriously wounded in 1914 while commanding a battalion. Following his recovery, he was posted to the army General Staff. He ended the war as chief of operations for Marshal Ferdinand Foch. After the war, he served as chief of staff to Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain during the Rif Wars in Morocco. He was a division commander in Algeria from 1928 to 1932 and was then assigned to the Supreme War Council in Paris. Georges was wounded during the assassinations of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and French foreign minister Louis Barthou at Marseille in 1934. This aggravated the wound he had received in 1914.

Georges's physical condition may have played a critical role in his deteriorating abilities during the late 1930s. He expected to be named chief of staff of the French Army in 1935, but the French premier, Édouard Daladier, suspected him of right-wing tendencies. Georges was also closely linked to Paul Reynaud, Daladier's political rival. Daladier thus named General Maurice Gamelin to the position instead and named Georges as Gamelin's assistant.

The troubled professional and personal relations between Gamelin and Georges severely weakened French preparations for war during the last half of the 1930s. Georges assumed responsibility for northeast France, placing him in direct command of the units most likely to meet a German invasion. In 1940, these units included two French army groups and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). Fully confident of the abilities of his force, Georges was stunned by its subsequent poor performance.

Georges also bears partial responsibility for the decision to implement the Dyle plan, which placed substantial Allied units on the road to Belgium rather than in the Ardennes, the main axis of German attack. As the military situation collapsed, so did any semblance of professionalism between Georges and Gamelin. On 17 May 1940, both men were relieved of command in favor of General Maxime Weygand. Georges refused to play any role in the subsequent Vichy government, but he also had no real role in the French Resistance because he did not enjoy the confidence of Charles de Gaulle. He briefly served as minister without portfolio in the French Committee of National Liberation in 1943. Georges died in Paris on 24 April 1951.

Michael S. Neiberg


Further Reading
Horne, Alistair. To Lose a Battle: France 1940. Boston: Little, Brown, 1969.; May, Ernest. Strange Victory: Hitler's Defeat of France. New York: Hill and Wang, 2000.
 

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