Wine & Lockdown

A story that I've got assosiated with during my 10th week under the Lockdown

During World War II, Édouard Daladier, the Prime Minister of France, opposite to Charles de Gaulle view, strongly believed that a defensive strategy, symbolised by the Maginot Line, was the best way to protect France against a German invasion. Maginot Line soldiers entitled to a litre of wine a day. The French government considered that wine consumption from the front line was essential to prevent epidemics and comfort the soldiers.  

After all isn’t it why wine was born? As Dodd’s notes on Bacchae put it: “Wine takes away tension and worry: it was given to man by a god as the only remedy for distress. Bread the gift of Demeter, keeps man alive; wine, the gift of Dionysus, makes life bearable.”  Napoleon, for the same reasons, hauled wagon-loads of champagne on his campaigns. Some say that the reason that he lost the battle of Waterloo was that he did not have time to pick up any champagne and had to fight on Belgian beer alone.

During World War II, the shipment of wine was considered a state secret because if the Germans discovered the quantity, they could easily calculate the number and the exact location of troops there. Eight months after the war had been declared and still the front remained quit. The “fighting soldiers” were ended to plant rosebushes and gardens along the Maginot Line, while consuming a litre of wine a day as Jean-Pierre Azema describes. The inactivity of the front line did not go unnoticed back home. One of the soldiers, a shopkeeper in civilian life, received an irritated letter from his wife who asked him to deal with the paper work “since you don’t do anything and I’ve got my hands full”.

Unfortunately the two books De Gaulle has written in the early 1930s, has been read by the German commanders and were swiftly incorporating his offensive oriented strategy into their own Army. The rest is history… On 10th of May 1940, the German forces, employing some of the very tactics De Gaulle had advocated, breached the Meuse and plunged through the heavily wooded Ardenned, bypassing the Maginot Line. By June 12 they have overrun Champagne. Two days later, they entered Paris…

As our grandma was always saying wisely: "Isn’t it wine that gives people wit, gaiety and good taste? Drink it but don't let it drink you"