Understanding France: the governments.... (#2)
  •  France as seen by the US Army (in 1945)

The US Army : 112 questions on France

Almost one year after D-Day, in 1945, the American Army published a guidebook for the GI's, in order to answer their questions about the French. These 112 questions were translated and published in 2003 (Nos amis les Français ­ Guide pratique à l'usage des GI's en France 1944-1945, Le Cherche-Midi, 2003). We recommend this book : it is fascinating to read the questions and the answers. The answers are always articulate, moderate and full of common sense : congratulations to the US Army Information Service.

Read about what was life in France under German occupation in 1940-1944.

  • Some of the questions show how dangerous stereotypes are : more than 50 years later they do not make any sense, since the only thing they do is illustrate the situation of a poor, devastated country after a war.
  • Other questions illustrate the ambiguous relation between a nation and its liberators (transform " France " into " Iraq " and read again some of the questions).
  • And of course, many questions relate to some typically French aspects and are still pertinent (find them).
1. We rescued the French twice in 25 years. They are ungrateful  see Monsieur Perrichon   2. When we landed, they offered us everything they had (wine, cheese, fruit) and kissed us : what a welcome. But now, a year later, they have forgotten.  
3. They do not invite us to their homes.  see what to do   4. They are snotty  see arrogance
5. I'll never love the French. I hate them.     6. We keep rescuing them. Have they ever done anything for us ?  see image in history
7. You can't trust the French.     8. We have more problems with the French than with the Germans. The French keep arguing, criticizing, giving their opinion, when the Germans just do what we ask them to do. The French are not cooperative.  
9. We gave them everything : uniforms, jeeps, trucks, food, ammunition, everything.     10. We gave them billions of $ of equipment. They'll never pay us back.  
11. They use our gas but do not give us any.     12. A Frenchman told me that France gave us the Statue of Liberty. How can you hear such a thing ?  
13. We are not welcome in French restaurants.  see DOs & DONTs   14. Every time we go to a night club, they rip us off.  
15. They are incredible beggars for cigarettes, chocolate, soap, food... They have no dignity.     16. First they welcomed us and now they want us to leave.  
17. They are proud of their military participation but have you ever heard any Americans congratulating them for it ?     18. They dropped us when the combats became harder. What did they do for us ?  
19. They ride our jeeps and waste our gas.     20. They are not friendly.  
 21. Why bother with them : they'll weigh nothing after the war.  see economic ranking   22. They are too independent.  
 23. They see only their own interest and always bet on the winner.     24. They are mercenaries : they'll do anything for a dime.  
 25. They rip us off.     26. They are cynical.  
 27. They are not up-to-date, they are not modern and live in the past.     28. They refuse new ideas, they are not inventive.  see inventions
29. They are always critical, there is always something wrong with them.     30. What they want is only to have a good time.  see art de vivre
31. They are not sincere : it is genetic.     32. They are irresponsible, all they say is " laisser faire ".  
33. They have no guts, they are decadent.     34. What did these damned frog-eaters do for the world ?  
35. They act differently than we do : that's what I hate.     36. All they do is talk.  
37. I've never heard people talk that much : a real logorrhea.     38. Why do they look so miserable ?  
39. What shocks me is to see how well-dressed they are, when they want to make us believe that they have suffered so much.     40. Why are they constantly marching in the streets ?  see strikes
41. At the Folies Bergères, even the ushers ask for a tip : what a racket.     42. What don't all French houses have a decent plumbing? Bathrooms are a shame.  
43. French cities are dirty.     44. The French have no hygiene.  
45. They do not wash.     46. In the metro, you almost faint with the smell, sweat, garlic .. and perfume.  
47. French villages are pig pens : they pile up their manure in front of the house.     48. I'd love the French better if they were clean.  
49. Why do they stop working two or three hours every day ?  see work ethics   50. Instead of working, they spend their time drinking in bars.  
51. They are lazy.     52. In Paris, you can cross the whole town without seeing anybody working.  see quality of life
53. They are primitive : in the country, they still use wooden clogs.     54. Why don't they work in their fields. You never see anybody working, they are lazy.  
55. French women are women of easy virtue.  see la Parisienne   56. French women are immoral.  see women
57. What do the French think of all this prostitution, why do they close their eyes ?     58. Supporting one of these damned French girls is horribly expensive, they only think of money.  
59. The French drink too much.     60. Everytime a French girls sits, she lifts up her dress.  
61. The French are immoral, they are morally rotten.     62. They kiss everywhere : on the street, in public  
63. How can they tolerate women being assigned to keep toilets for men.     64. Why do those damned French drive so fast ?  see driving
65. They drive like crazy, they do not respect the rules and show no common sense.     66. They cannot drive a car : they do not know how to maintain our vehicles and damage them.  
67. French railways are a disaster and their quality is terrible.     68. We gave them locomotives and they do not use them.  
69. We have less affinity with the French than with the Germans.     70. The French are not as clean as the Germans.  
71. It is easier to get along with the Germans because they respect the laws.     72. The French are not as efficient as the Germans for mass production.  
73. The French are trouble-makers, when the Germans are basically peaceful.     74. We should have joined the Germans and fought against the French.  
75. The French are not as hardworkers as the Germans.  see productivity   76. They have no courage : why couldn't they defend themselves against the Germans ?  see a tentative answer
77. Their population is too small to resist the Germans.     78. They did not fight and just let the Germans in.  see the figures of military losses
79. In bombed cities, they do not clear away the rubble, whereas the Germans do.     80. They pillaged Stuttgart and stole everything from the Germans.  
81. They terrify women in occupied Germany.     82. They were supposed to hate the Germans but they lost no time picking up German girls.  
83. 50 Francs for a Dollar is a rip-off : the Dollar is worth 100 to 200 Francs.     84. High prices and inflation are a shame for France.  
85. When we buy beautiful gifts to send home, it costs us hell.     86. Prices are scandalously high.  see prices today
87. What did the French do to compensate this ridiculous exchange rate ?     88. For them giving us a monthly compensation is only a way to payback what we gave them under the Loan-Lease agreement.  
89. There is something suspicious in this monthly compensation.     90. The black market is a shame for France.  
91. Why don't the French do something stronger to put an end to the Black Market.     92. The heads of the French Resistance were behind the Black Market and made a fortune for themselves out of it.  
93. The French do nothing to keep some of their compatriots from using official vehicles for purely leisure trips.     94. I can't stand seeing French soldiers in American uniforms.  
95. The French behave as if they had won the war all alone.     96. Why don't the French soldiers ever clean their uniform ?  
97. In Paris we see hundreds of young Frenchmen in civilian clothes : why aren't they in the army ?     98. French soldiers look sloppy : you just have to look at them to understand that they are not good fighters.  
99. Why do they look so sloppy in their uniforms ?     100. All this publicity about French soldiers is driving me mad : the Press largely exaggerates their role.  
101. French soldiers steal everyhing : we have to put a guard next to each vehicle.     102. All the French were collaborators.  see French-bashing
103. The French largely collaborated with the Germans.     104. After the defeat of France, the French gave up and were only waiting for us to liberate them. Why didn't they fight ?  
105. When you look at their cities, like Paris, you do not have the feeling that there was a war     106. They finished the war with few casualties.  
107. Why don't they go to work and rebuild their country ?     108. All French politicians are rotten.  
109. The French do not have a decent political system, they have too many parties ; they will never get along together.  see politics   110. Politically, they are too radical.  
111. They are communists.  see communism   112. France is a decadent nation.  
To related pages : 50 questions by the Department of State (#1), questions about the French, a French Quiz, etc...

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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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