A Psephological Cause of World War II - Women Did Not Get The Right To Vote In France Until 1949
The new book, STRANGE VICTORY - Hitler's Conquest of France by Ernest R. May shows that the causes of World War II are not as clear cut as current revisionist history would like to portray.
In Hitler's Germany, women were allowed to vote; while in "democratic" France, they were not. French Prime Minister Daladier was ruling by decree and in July 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, Daladier used his emergency powers to postpone legislative elections scheduled for the following spring. If the French were looking for ways to rally their people, preventing the democratic process from operating was not one of them. In other words, there was very little to distinguish the form of government of "democratic" France with the Nazi dictatorship in Germany. On the surface, the Germans were more democratic in some ways.
After the war, when Charles DeGaulle came to power at the head of the fourth republic, he decreed that women should be permitted to vote. Switzerland did not give women the right to vote until the 1970's, and in some localities, they were not allowed to vote in local elections until the 1990's.
Similarly, while everyone recognized and mostly abhorred the Nazi persecution of the Jews; the Holocaust was not that different from Belgian rule in the Congo thirty years earlier, or contemporary French rule in Indochina and Algeria and English rule in India. In Vietnam, natives were routinely given the death penalty for advocating independence from France. Naturally, the natives were not allowed to vote or considered capable of self-government. Germany had no colonies, so it had to be beastly to the people closer to home.
Colonial subjects were not considered equal to their white masters. Men were favored over women. Winston Churchill's will left everything to his male heirs and nothing to his female relatives. The Japanese and Germans wanted to have colonies just like the French and British. The allies did not really occupy the moral high ground. The axis powers were fighting for colonies with raw materials and native populations they could enslave. The allies were fighting to keep their colonies.
While it is currently popular to call the generation that fought World War II "the greatest generation," the truth is that generation precipitated and failed to prevent a conflict which killed 55 million people.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf