Jay Leno’s writers, amongst many, have had a field day with portraying France as a country of cowards, surrender-monkeys.
Even the most novice historians know that France surrendered to Nazi Germany in World War II in the midst of complete political and military collapse. Serious historians find this era fascinating and do not hold all of France collectively and perpetually responsible.
However there are a few terribly tragic events from this war that these same novices, and writers probably ignore. For instance, how many are aware that between 1940 and 1945, France was the second most bombed country of the War after Germany? How many know that by liberation, the Allies had dropped 600 000 bombs on 1500 cities, towns and villages. The Allied bombing campaign killed over 67 000 French civilians and wounded tens of thousands more. Most hit were, Boulogne, Clermont-Ferrand, Saint-Etienne, Caen, le Havre, Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire.
The reason this fact is hardly even mentioned is partly because of the French themselves. Knowing full well that “collateral damage” was the unfortunate consequence of American and British bombing campaigns, the subject of French casualties from Allied Bombings had become a sujet tabou of French History.
The French understood this was necessary, but anger at civilian deaths over five years could not always be squelched. Despite this, American or British airmen who had been shot down by the Germans over France were NEVER treated with hostility by the civilian population, quite the contrary.
By 1944, the bombing of France was so violent and widespread that Churchill started having reservations over the impact of these campaigns. Oddly enough, it was not only Roosevelt who felt these were necessary, but also Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French Forces.
The French knew what sacrifices were necessary to rid France of Nazi occupation. Jay Leno thinks this is all one big joke.