In the aftermath of World War II, many of the former empires began to disintegrate. The French and British were exhausted by war, both financially and militarily. Their hold on their former empires waned, and nationalist groups began to agitate for independence. Sensing an opportunity, imperial colonies began to agitate for self-government. Both the French and British had to deal with a new era in which they would no longer be capable of imperial control. Neither wanted to lose their former holdings, but both began to realize that the era of colonialism was waning. Whereas the British were proactive in helping their colonies gain independence and self-reliance, the French tried to exert military force to keep their empire intact.