Published Date

June 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 40: Will the French Republic Live Again? (1944)


How to Use This Pamphlet

Types of discussion. The material in this pamphlet on the social and political institutions of France may well be treated in any one of four types of discussion:

  1. Informal discussion
  2. Panel discussion
  3. Single-speaker forum
  4. Symposium

Techniques for organizing and conducting these forms of discussion are outlined in Guide for Discussion Leaders, a numbered Education Manual published as one of the same series of pamphlets as the present one. This guide should be in the hands of every leader of off-duty discussions in the Army.

Since it is necessary to have a fairly detailed background sketched for the members of a group studying the future of France, you will be well advised to use the forum or symposium setting if you expect an audience of fifty or more persons. If your group is smaller, you should do one of two things: (1) Choose the panel discussion technique and arrange to have the panel members study the material carefully in advance so that they are familiar with essential facts. (2) Choose informal discussion and use one or more assistant leaders. If an expert on the subject of France is available, use him as an assistant—otherwise one or more intelligent and interested individuals who are willing to prepare themselves on the facts that will be needed during the discussion.

Charts. Be sure to secure a map of France and reproduce charts given in this pamphlet. Put them up around the room or fasten them on a blackboard or other stand so that they may be seen by all members of the group. It does not matter if the reproductions are crudely done on rough paper, but they should be of sufficiently large size to be legible to a person sitting at the back of the audience.

Reading by group members. The better acquainted the group members are with the facts about France, the more intelligent will be their questions or discussion. Have a copy or two of this pamphlet available for reading in the library or other reading room. Ask the librarian to prepare a reading shelf of books on the subject and to call it to the attention of visitors to the library. Announce publicly where preliminary reading may be done by those interested.

Panel discussion. In your introductory statement summarize the reasons for the collapse of France. You will find six major reasons listed under the heading “Looking Backward,” page 30. This list is a brief summary of the first 30 pages of the pamphlet, which will supply you with any other details you may wish to use. Your opening question might well be directed to an assistant leader who has some background in the subject. Suggested opening questions are: From what we know about the French, their institutions, and social and political ideals, is it likely that they will organize a democratic type of government after the war? Is fascism or communism likely to come to the fore?

During the course of your discussion you should have in mind three main lines of inquiry: (1) Reasons for the political confusion and final collapse of France in 1940. (2) Factors upon which the future of France will be built. (3) Political and economic issues to be settled. Questions in these three main lines of inquiry are suggested here.

  1. Collapse. Was military defeat the cause or the result of disintegration within France? To what extent did French pacifism bring about disintegration? Are the population trends in France good for the development of a strong nation? Does the multiple party system necessarily lead to weak political institutions? To what extent were fascists and communists within France causes of the collapse? Was the French concept of “liberty” an aid to strong national government? Were French bureaucrats a source of strength or weakness? What were the effects of French industry on the stability of government? Flow has the relationship between church and state in France affected the strength of the nation? What part did the farmers and high tariff play in French economic life before the war? (See pages 1–31.)
  2. Factors for the future. Will the population trend continue? What are the implications of this? Can France develop extensive heavy industry? Will the French system of landownership change? Are the French legal and administrative systems likely to change radically? (See pages 31–35.)
  3. Issues. Will there be a Fourth Republic? Do many Frenchmen believe in monarchy? Is it likely that the communists will sell their ideas to the French? What are the factors that will make economic recovery difficult? Will the De Gaulle Committee of National Liberation be a stabilizing influence during a transitional period? What may be the future of France as a world power? (See pages 35–43.)

Panel discussion. Divide the three main lines of inquiry among the panel, asking one or two members to make themselves expert on each of them. For the discussion, follow the same general plan as above.

Single-speaker forum or symposium. The same general outline will be useful for either forum or symposium. Do not use a single speaker unless you have an undoubted authority who speaks well. If you choose a symposium, select three speakers and assign one of the three main lines of inquiry to each. Allow each 10 to 12 minutes for his speech, and provide for a question period afterward.