No one who lived through the French debacle of May-June 1940 ever quite got over the shock. For Frenchmen, confident of a special role in the world, the six weeks' defeat by German armies was a shattering trauma. For France's allies, her shocking collapse raised doubts about further resistance to Nazism's spread. Even Hitler, whom General Ludwig Beck, chief of the General Staff, had earnestly warned in 1938 that the French Army was "still the strongest in Europe," found himself casting about, after that much-photographed jig of triumph at the armistice-signing ceremony at Rethondes on June 25, for further plans. No one had imagined that German armies could reach the Pyrenees in a mere six weeks. The shock of this feat was all the more devastating.
- From Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944 by Robert O. Paxton