French Resistance (French: La Résistance) was the collection of
French movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of
France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during the
Second World War. Resistance cells were small groups of armed men and
women (called the Maquis in rural areas), who, in addition to
their guerrilla warfare activities, were also publishers of
underground newspapers, providers of first-hand intelligence
information, and maintainers of escape networks that helped Allied
soldiers and airmen trapped behind enemy lines. The men and women of
the Resistance came from all economic levels and political leanings of
French society, including émigrés; academics, students, aristocrats,
conservative Roman Catholics (including priests) and also citizens
from the ranks of liberals, anarchists and communists.
French Resistance played a significant role in facilitating the
Allies' rapid advance through France following the invasion of
Normandy on 6 June 1944, and the lesser-known invasion of Provence on
15 August, by providing military intelligence on the German defences
known as the
Atlantic Wall and on
Wehrmacht deployments and orders of
battle. The Resistance also planned, coordinated, and executed acts of
sabotage on the electrical power grid, transport facilities, and
telecommunications networks. It was also politically and morally
important to France, both during the German occupation and for decades
afterward, because it provided the country with an inspiring example
of the patriotic fulfillment of a national imperative, countering an
existential threat to French nationhood. The actions of the Resistance
stood in marked contrast to the collaboration of the French regime
based at Vichy, the French people who joined the pro-Nazi Milice
française and the French men who joined the Waffen SS.
After the landings in
Normandy and Provence, the paramilitary
components of the Resistance were organised more formally, into a
hierarchy of operational units known, collectively, as the French
Forces of the Interior (FFI). Estimated to have a strength of 100,000
in June 1944, the FFI grew rapidly and reached approximately 400,000
by October of that year. Although the amalgamation of the FFI was,
in some cases, fraught with political difficulties, it was ultimately
successful, and it allowed France to rebuild the fourth-largest army
in the European theatre (1.2 million men) by
VE Day in May 1945.
1 Nazi occupation
2.1 1940: The refus absurde
2.2 1941: Armed resistance begins
2.3 1942: The struggle intensifies
2.4 1943: A mass movement emerges
2.5 1944: The height of the Resistance
3.1 Gaullist resistance
3.4 Vichy collaborators
3.4.1 Affiche Rouge
4 Networks and movements
4.1 BCRA networks
4.2 Foreigners in the Resistance
4.2.2 Spanish maquis
4.2.3 Czechs and Slovaks
4.2.4 German anti-fascists
4.2.7 Italian anti-fascists
4.2.8 Polish resistance in France during World War II
4.3 Beginnings of a coordinated resistance
4.5 Jean Moulin's intercession
5.1 Economic resistance
5.2 Clandestine press
5.5 Guerrilla warfare
6 Role in the liberation of France and casualties
7.1 Épurations ("purges")
7.2 Historical analysis
7.3 Literature and films
8 Cultural personalities
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 Popular culture
13 External links
The cemetery and memorial in
Vassieux-en-Vercors where, in July 1944,
Wehrmacht forces executed more than 200, including women and
children, in reprisal for the Maquis's armed resistance. The
town was later awarded the Ordre de la Libération.
Further information: zone occupée and German military administration
in occupied France during World War II
Battle of France
Battle of France and the second French-German armistice,
Compiègne on 22 June 1940, life for many in France
continued more or less normally at first, but soon the German
occupation authorities and the collaborationist Vichy régime began to
employ increasingly brutal and intimidating tactics to ensure the
submission of the French population. Although the majority of
civilians neither collaborated nor overtly resisted, the occupation of
French territory and the Germans' draconian policies inspired
a discontented minority to form paramilitary groups dedicated to both
active and passive resistance.
French Resistance fighter Lucien Pélissou's identity document.
One of the conditions of the armistice was that the French pay for
their own occupation; that is, the French were required to cover the
expenses associated with the upkeep of a 300,000-strong army of
occupation. This burden amounted to about 20 million German
Reichsmarks per day, a sum that, in May 1940, was approximately
equivalent to four hundred million French francs. (The artificial
exchange rate of the Reichsmark versus the franc had been established
as one mark to twenty francs.) Because of this overvaluation
of German currency, the occupiers were able to make seemingly fair and
honest requisitions and purchases while, in effect, operating a system
of organized plunder. Prices soared, leading to widespread food
shortages and malnutrition, particularly among children, the
elderly, and members of the working class engaged in physical
labour. Labour shortages also plagued the French economy because
hundreds of thousands of French workers were requisitioned and
transferred to Germany for compulsory labour under the Service du
Travail Obligatoire (STO).
The labour shortage was worsened by the fact that a large number of
the French were also held as prisoners of war in Germany. Beyond
these hardships and dislocations, the occupation became increasingly
unbearable. Onerous regulations, strict censorship, incessant
propaganda and nightly curfews all played a role in establishing an
atmosphere of fear and repression. The sight of French women
consorting with German soldiers infuriated many French men, but
sometimes it was the only way they could get adequate food for their
The ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane, in the
Limousin region of the Massif
As reprisals for Resistance activities, the authorities established
harsh forms of collective punishment. For example, the increasing
militancy of communist resistance in August 1941 led to the taking of
thousands of hostages from the general population. A typical
policy statement read, "After each further incident, a number,
reflecting the seriousness of the crime, shall be shot." During
the occupation, an estimated 30,000 French civilian hostages were shot
to intimidate others who were involved in acts of resistance.
German troops occasionally engaged in massacres such as the
Oradour-sur-Glane massacre, in which an entire village was razed and
almost every resident murdered because of persistent resistance in the
In early 1943, the Vichy authorities established a paramilitary group,
Milice (militia), to combat the Resistance. They worked alongside
German forces that, by the end of 1942, were stationed throughout
France. The group collaborated closely with the Nazis, and was the
Vichy equivalent of the
Gestapo security forces in Germany. Their
actions were often brutal and included torture and execution of
Resistance suspects. After the liberation of France in the summer of
1944, the French executed many of the estimated 25,000 to 35,000
miliciens for their collaboration. Many of those who escaped
arrest fled to Germany, where they were incorporated into the
Charlemagne Division of the Waffen SS.
1940: The refus absurde
In the aftermath of France's defeat in June 1940, the overwhelming
consensus was that Germany would win the war, and given the apparent
inevitability of the Reich's victory, the widespread feeling was that
resistance was futile. The experience of the Occupation was a deeply
psychologically disorienting one for the French as what was once
familiar and safe become strange and threatening. Many Parisians
could not get over the shock experienced when they first saw the huge
swastika flags hanging over the Hôtel de Ville and on top of the
Eiffel Tower. At the Paris-Bourbon, where the National Assembly
building was converted into the office of the Kommandant von
Gross-Paris, a huge banner was spread across the facade of the
building reading in capital letters: "DEUTSCHLAND SIEGT AN ALLEN
FRONTEN!" ("Germany is victorious on all fronts!"), a sign that is
mentioned by virtually all accounts by Parisians at the time. The
Henri Frenay wrote seeing the tri-color flag disappear from
Paris with the swastika flag flying in its place and German soldiers
standing guard in front of buildings that once housed the institutions
of the republic gave him "un sentiment de viol" ("a feeling of
rape"). The British historian
Ian Ousby wrote:
"Even today, when people who are not French or did not live through
the Occupation look at photos of German soldiers marching down the
Champs Élysées or of Gothic-lettered German signposts outside the
great landmarks of Paris, they can still feel a slight shock of
disbelief. The scenes look not just unreal, but almost deliberately
surreal, as if the unexpected conjunction of German and French, French
and German, was the result of a Dada prank and not the sober record of
history. This shock is merely a distant echo of what the French
underwent in 1940: seeing a familiar landscape transformed by the
addition of the unfamiliar, living among everyday sights suddenly made
bizarre, no longer feeling at home in places they had known all their
Ousby wrote that by the end of summer of 1940: "And so the alien
presence, increasingly hated and feared in private, could seem so
permanent that, in the public places where daily life went on, it was
taken for granted". At the same time France was also marked by
disappearances as buildings were renamed, books banned, art was stolen
to be taken to Germany and people started to disappear as under the
armistice of June 1940, the French were obliged to arrest and deport
to the Reich those Germans and Austrians who fled to France in the
Resistance when it first began in the summer of 1940 was based upon
what the writer
Jean Cassou called refus absurde ("absurd refusal") of
refusing to accept that the Reich would win and even if it did, it was
better to resist. Many résistants often spoke of some "climax"
when they saw some intolerable act of injustice, after which they
could not longer remain passive. The résistant Joseph Barthelet
told the British SOE agent George Miller that his "climax" occurred
when he saw the German military police march into the Feldgendarmerie
Metz a group of Frenchmen, one of whom was a friend. Barthelt
recalled: "I recognized him only by his hat. Only by his hat, I tell
you and because I was waiting on the roadside to see him pass. I saw
his face all right, but there was no skin on it, and he could not see
me. Both his poor eyes had been closed into two purple and yellow
bruises". The right-wing résistant
Henri Frenay who had initially
sympathized with the
Révolution nationale stated that when he saw the
German soldiers in Paris in the summer of 1940, he knew he had do to
something to uphold French honor because of the look of contempt he
saw on the faces of the Germans when viewing the French. In the
beginning, resistance was limited to activities such as severing phone
lines, vandalizing posters and slashing tyres on German vehicles.
Another form of resistance was underground newspapers like Musée de
l'Homme (Museum of Mankind) which circulated clandestinely. The
Musée de l'Homme was founded by two professors,
Paul Rivet and the
Boris Vildé in July 1940. In the same month,
Jean Cassou founded a resistance group in Paris while the
liberal Catholic law professor
François de Menthon
François de Menthon founded the group
Liberté in Lyon.
On 19 July 1940 the
Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive (SOE) was founded in
Britain with orders from Churchill to "set Europe ablaze". The F
Section of the SOE was headed by
Maurice Buckmaster and provided
invaluable support for the resistance. From May 1941, Freney
founded Combat, one of the first Resistance groups. Frenay recruited
Combat by asking people such questions like if they believed that
Britain would not be defeated and if they thought a German victory was
worth stopping, and based on the answers he received would ask those
whom he thought were inclined to resistance: "Men are already
gathering in the shadows. Will you join them?". Frenay, who was to
emerge as one of the leading resistance chefs, later wrote: "I myself
never attacked a den of collaborators or derailed trains. I never
killed a German or a
Gestapo agent with my own hand". For security
Combat was divided into a series of cells that were unaware
of each other. Another early resistance groups founded in the
summer of 1940 was the ill-fated Interallié group led by a Polish
Roman Czerniawski and a Frenchwoman
Mathilde Carré codenamed
La Chatte (the cat) that passed on intelligence from contacts in the
Deuxième Bureau to Britain via couriers from Marseilles.
The French intelligence service, the
Deuxième Bureau stayed loyal to
the Allied cause despite nominally being under the authority of Vichy;
Deuxième Bureau continued to collect intelligence on Germany,
maintained links with British and Polish intelligence and kept the
secret that before
World War II
World War II that Polish intelligence had devised a
method via a mechanical computer known as the Bombe to break the
Enigma machine that was used to code German radio messages. A
number of the Polish code-breakers who developed the Bombe machine in
the 1930s continued to work for the
Deuxième Bureau as part of the
Cadix team breaking German codes. In the summer of 1940, many les
Cheminots (railroad workers) engaged in impromptu resistance by
helping French soldiers wishing to continue the struggle together with
British, Belgian and Polish soldiers stranded in France escape from
the occupied zone into the unoccupied zone or Spain. Les Cheminots
also become the main agents for delivering underground newspapers
The first résistant executed by the Germans was a Polish Jewish
immigrant named Israël Carp, shot in
Bordeaux on 28 August 1940 for
jeering a German military parade down the streets of Bordeaux. The
first Frenchman shot for resistance was the 19 year-old Pierre Roche,
who was shot on 7 September 1940 after he was caught cutting the phone
lines between Royan and La Rochelle. On 10 September 1940, the
military governor of France, General
Otto von Stülpnagel
Otto von Stülpnagel announced in
a press statement that no mercy would be granted to those engaging in
sabotage and all saboteurs would be shot. Despite his warning,
more continued to engage in sabotage. Louis Lallier, a farmer was shot
for sabotage on 11 September in Epinal and Marcel Rossier, a mechanic
was shot in Rennes on 12 September. One more was shot in October
1940, and three more in November 1940.
Starting in the summer of 1940 anti-Semitic laws started to come into
force in both the occupied and unoccupied zones. On 3 October 1940
Vichy introduced the statut des Juifs, requiring all Jews in France to
register with the authorities and banned Jews from professions such as
the law, the universities, medicine and the public service. Jewish
businesses were "Aryanized" by being placed in the hands of "Aryan"
trustees who engaged in the most blatant corruption while Jews were
banned from cinemas, music halls, fairs, museums, libraries, public
parks, cafes, theatres, concerts, restaurants, swimming pools and
markets. Jews could not move unless informing the police first,
own radios or bicycles, were denied phone service, could only use
phone booths marked Accès interdit aux Juifs and were only allowed to
ride the last carriage on the Paris Metro. The French people at
the time distinguished between the Israélites (a polite term in
French) who were "properly" assimilated French Jews and the Juifs (a
derogatory term in French) who were the "foreign" and "unassimilated"
Jews who were widely seen as criminals from abroad living in slums in
the inner cities of France. All through the 1930s, the number of
illegal Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe was vastly exaggerated,
and popular opinion believed that the majority of Jews living in
France were illegal immigrants who were causing all sorts of social
problems. In a context where the number of Jews in France, and
even more so the number of illegal Jewish immigrants were much
exaggerated, Ousby noted about the introduction of the first
anti-Semitic laws in 1940: "There was no sign of public opposition to
what was happening, or even widespread unease at the direction in
which events were heading . . . Many people, perhaps even most people,
were indifferent. In the autumn of 1940 they had other things to think
about; later they could find little room for fellow-feeling or concern
for the public good in their own struggle to survive. What happened to
the Jews were a secondary matter; it was beyond their immediate
affairs, it belonged to that realm of the 'political' which they could
not longer control or even bring themselves to follow with much
From the beginning, the Resistance attracted people from all walks of
life and with diverse political views. A major problem for the
Resistance was that, with the exception of a number of Army officers
who chose to go underground together with veterans of the Spanish
Civil War, none had any military experience. About 60, 000 Spanish
Republican emigres fought in the Resistance. A further difficulty
was the shortage of weapons, which explained why the early resistance
groups that were founded in 1940 focused on publishing journals and
underground newspapers as the lack of guns and ammunition made armed
resistance almost impossible. Through not engaging in resistance
at this point, in October 1940 the French Communists founded the
Organisation Spéciale (OS), a secret arm that could be transformed
into a resistance group if the orders should be given.
Life in the Resistance was highly dangerous and it was imperative for
a good résistant to live quietly and never attract attention to
themselves. Punctuality was key to meetings in public as the
Germans would arrest anyone who was seen hanging around in public as
if waiting for someone. A major difficulty for the Resistance was
the problem of denunciation. Contrary to popular belief, the
Gestapo was not an omnipotent agency with its spies everywhere, but
Gestapo relied upon ordinary people to volunteer
information. According to the Abwehr officer Hermann Bickler, the
Germans needed 32 000 indicateurs (informers) to crush all resistance
in France, but he reported in the fall of 1940 that the Abwehr had
already exceeded that target. It was difficult for Germans to pass
themselves off as French, so the Abwehr, the
Gestapo and the SS could
not have functioned without French informers. In September 1940, the
Robert Desnos published an article titled "J'irai le dire à la
Kommandantur" in the underground newspaper Aujourd'hui appealing to
ordinary French people to stop denouncing each other to the
Germans. Desnos's appeal failed, but the phrase "J'irai le dire à
la Kommandantur" ("I'll go and tell the Germans about it") was a very
popular one in occupied France as hundreds of thousands of ordinary
French people denounced each other to the Germans. The problem of
what the French called indics or mouches as informers were known was
compounded by the corbeaux (poison pen letters). The writers of
the corbeaux was inspired by a mixture of motivations such as envy,
spite, greed, anti-Semitism, and sheer opportunism as many ordinary
French people wanted to ingratiate themselves with what they believed
to be the winning side. Ousby noted "Yet perhaps the most striking
testimony to the extent of denunciation came from the Germans
themselves, surprised at how ready the French were to betray each
other". The problem of denunciation was always the most serious
handicap for the resistance as there were a seemingly endless number
of ordinary French people who were desperate to denounce anyone they
suspected of engaging in resistance. In occupied France, one had
to carry at all times a huge cache of documents such as an ID card, a
ration card, tobacco voucher (regardless if one was a smoker or not),
travel permits, work permits, and so on. For these reasons,
forgery become a key skill for the resistance as the Germans regularly
required the French to produce their papers, and anyone whose papers
seemed suspicious would be arrested.
As the franc was devalued by 20% to the Reichmark, which together with
German policies of food requisition both to support their own army and
the German home front, leading Ousby to write "France was slowly being
bled dry by the outflow not just of meat and drink, fuel and leather,
but of wax, frying pans, playing cards, axe handles, perfume and a
host of other goods as well. Parisians, at least, had got the point as
early as December 1940. When Hitler shipped back the Duc de
Reichstadt's remains for a solemn burial in Les Invalides, people said
they would have preferred coal rather than ashes." People could
not legally buy items without a ration book with the population being
divided into categories A, B, C, E, J, T and V; among the products
rationed included meat, milk, butter, cheese, bread, sugar, eggs, oil,
coffee, fish, wine, soap, tobacco, salt, potatoes and clothing.
The black market flourished in occupied France with the gangsters from
the milieu (underworld) of Paris and
Marseilles soon becoming very
rich by supplying rationed goods. The milieu established
struggling networks bringing in rationed goods over the
Spain, and it was soon learned that for the right price, they were
also willing to smuggle people out of France like Allied airmen,
refugees, Jews, résistants and later on in the war, would smuggle in
agents from the SOE. However, the milieu were only interested in
making money, and would just as easily betray those who wanted to be
smuggled in or out of France if the Germans or Vichy were willing to
make a better offer.
On 10 November 1940, a jostle on the Rue de Havre in Paris broke out
between some Parisians and German soldiers, which ended with a man
raising his fist to a German sergeant, and which led to a man named
Jacques Bonsergent, who seems only to have been a witness to the
quarrel being arrested, through just why remains a mystery to this
day. On 11 November 1940, to mark the 22nd anniversary of the
French victory of 1918, university students demonstrated in Paris,
which were brutally put down by the Paris police. In December
Organisation civile et militaire (OCM), which consisted of
army officers and civil servants was founded to provide intelligence
to the Allies.
On 5 December 1940, Bonsergent was convicted by a German military
court of insulting the
Wehrmacht as he insisted on taking full
responsibility, saying he wanted to show the French what sort of
people the Germans were and he was shot on 23 December 1940. The
execution of Bonsergent, a man guilty only of being a witness to an
incident that was in itself only very trivial brought home to many of
the French the precise nature of the "New Order in Europe". All
over Paris, posters warning that all who challenged the might of the
Reich would be shot like Bonsergent were torn down or vandalized,
despite the warnings from General von Stülpnagal that damaging the
posters was an act of sabotage that would be punished via the death
penalty; so many posters were torn down and/or vandalized that
Stülpnagal had to post policemen to guard them. The writer Jean
Bruller remembered being "transfixed" by reading about Bonsergent's
fate and how "people stopped, read, wordlessly exchanged glances. Some
of them bared their heads as if in the presence of the dead". On
Christmas Day 1940, Parisians woke to find that in the previous night,
the posters announcing Bonsergent's execution had been turned into
shrines, being in Bruller's words "surrounded by flowers, like on so
many tombs. Little flowers of every kind, mounted on pins, had been
struck on the posters during the night-real flowers and artificial
ones, paper pansies, celluloid roses, small French and British
flags". The writer
Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir stated that it was not just
Bonsergent that people mourned, but also the end of the illusion as
"as for the first time these correct people who occupied our country
were officially telling us they had executed a Frenchman guilty of not
bowing his head to them".
1941: Armed resistance begins
On 31 December 1940, de Gaulle, speaking on the BBC's Radio Londres,
asked that the French stay indoors on New Year's Day between 3 and
4:00 pm as a show of passive resistance. The Germans handed out
potatoes at that hour in an attempt to bring people away from their
In March 1941, the Calvinist Pastor
Marc Boegner condemned the Vichy
statut des Juifs in a public letter, one of the first times that
French antisemitism had been publicly condemned during the
occupation. On 5 May 1941, the first SOE agent (Georges Bégué)
landed in France to make contact with the resistance groups (Andrée
Borrel was the first female SOE agent). The SOE preferred to recruit
French citizens living in Britain or had fled to the United Kingdom,
as they were able to blend in more effectively; British SOE agents
were people who had lived in France for a long time and could speak
French without an accent. Bégué suggested that the BBC's Radio
Londres send personal messages to the Resistance. At 9:15 pm every
night, the BBC's
French language service broadcast the first four
notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (which sounded like the Morse code
for V as in victory), followed by cryptic messages, which were codes
for the "personal messages" to the resistance. The SOE provided
weapons, bombs, false papers, money and radios to the resistance, and
the SOE agents were trained in guerrilla warfare, espionage and
sabotage. By June 1941, the SOE had two radio stations operating in
A major reason for young Frenchmen to become résistants was
Collaboration horizontale ("horizontal collaboration"),
the euphemistic term for sexual relationships between German men and
Frenchwomen. As the devaluation of the franc and the German policy
of requisitioning food created years of hardship for the French,
taking a German lover was a rational choice for many Frenchwomen.
"Horizontal collaboration" was widespread, with 85,000 illegitimate
children fathered by Germans born by October 1943. Many young
Frenchmen disliked the fact that Frenchwomen seemed to find German men
more attractive than them and wanted to strike back.
In Britain, the letter V had been adopted as a symbol of the will to
victory, and in the summer of 1941, the V cult crossed the English
Channel and the letter V appeared widely in chalk on the pavement,
walls, and German military vehicles all over France. V was to
remain one of the main symbols of resistance for the rest of the
occupation, though Ousby noted the French had their own
"revolutionary, republican, and nationalist traditions" to draw upon
for symbols of resistance. Starting in 1941, it was common for
crowds to sing
La Marseillaise on traditional holidays like May Day,
Bastille Day, 6 September (the anniversary of the Battle of the Marne
in 1914) and Armistice Day with a special emphasis on the line: "Aux
armes, citoyens!" (Citizens to arms!). The underground press
created what Ousby called "the rhetoric of resistance to counter the
rhetoric of the Reich and Vichy" to inspire people, using sayings from
the great figures of French history. The underground newspaper Les
Petites Ailes quoted
Napoleon that "To live defeated is to die every
day!"; Liberté quoted Foch that "A nation is beaten only when it has
accepted that it is beaten" while
Combat quoted Clemenceau "In war as
in peace, those who never give up have the last word". The two
most popular figures invoked by the resistance were Clemenceau and
Marshal Foch, who had insisted even during the darkest hours of World
War I that France would never submit to the Reich and would fight on
until victory, which made them inspiring figures to the
0n 22 June 1941, Germany launched
Operation Barbarossa and invaded the
Soviet Union. Following the appeal from the
Comintern for a
revolutionary war against Nazi Germany, the Parti Communiste Français
(PCF) which until then had refused to engage in resistance, took
action. As the Communists were used to operating in secret, were
tightly disciplined, and had a number of veterans of the Spanish Civil
War, they played a disproportionate role in the Resistance. The
Communist resistance group was the FTP (Francs-Tireurs et Partisans
Français-French Snipers and Partisans) headed by Charles Tillon.
Tillon later wrote that between June–December 1941 the
out 60 bombing attacks and 65 strafing attacks in France, which killed
a number of French people, while the FTP, during the same period, set
off 41 bombs, derailed 8 trains and carried out 107 acts of sabotage,
which killed no French people. In the summer of 1941, a brochure
appeared in France entitled Manuel du Légionnaire, which contained
detailed notes on how to fire guns, manufacture bombs, sabotage
factories, carry out assassinations, and perform other skills useful
to the resistance. The brochure was disguised as informational
material for fascistic Frenchmen who had volunteered for the Legion of
French Volunteers Against Bolshevism on the Eastern Front; it took
the occupation authorities some time to realize that the manual was a
Communist publication meant to train the FTP for actions against
On 21 August 1941, a French Communist, Pierre Georges, assassinated
the German naval officer Anton Moser in the Paris Metro, the first
time the resistance had killed a German. The German Military
Otto von Stülpnagel
Otto von Stülpnagel had three people shot in
retaliation, none of whom were connected to his killing. General
Stülpnagel announced on 22 August 1941 that for every German killed,
he would execute at least ten innocent French people, and that all
Frenchmen in German custody were now hostages. On 30 September
1941, Stülpnagel issued the "Code of Hostages", ordering all district
chiefs to draw lists of hostages to be executed in the event of
further "incidents", with an emphasis on French Jews and people known
Communist or Gaullist sympathies. On 20 October 1941,
Obersleutnant Karl Friedrich Hotz, the Feldkommandant of Nantes, was
assassinated on the streets of Nantes; the military lawyer Dr.
Hans-Gottfried Reimers was assassinated in
Bordeaux on 21 October.
Wehrmacht shot 50 unconnected French people in retaliation in
Nantes, and announced that if the assassin did not turn himself in by
midnight of 23 October, another 50 would be shot. The assassin did
not turn himself in, and so another 50 hostages were shot, among them
Léon Jost, a former Socialist deputy and one-legged veteran of the
First World War, who was serving a three-year prison sentence for
helping Jews to escape into Spain. The same day, the
Bordeaux had 50 French hostages shot in that city in
retaliation for Reimers's assassination. The executions in Nantes
Bordeaux started a debate about the morality of assassination that
lasted until the end of the occupation; some French argued that since
the Germans were willing to shoot so many innocent people in reprisal
for killing only one German that it was not worth it, while others
contended that to cease assassinations would prove that the Germans
could brutally push the French around in their own country.
General de Gaulle went on the BBC's
French language service on 23
October to ask that PCF to call in their assassins, saying that
killing one German would not change the outcome of the war and that
too many innocent people were being shot by Germans in reprisals. As
the PCF did not recognize de Gaulle's authority, the Communist
assassins continued their work under the slogan "an eye for an eye",
and so the Germans continued to execute between 50–100 French
hostages for every one of their number assassinated.
As more resistance groups started to appear, it was agreed that more
could be achieved by working together than apart. The chief promoter
of unification was a former préfet of Chartres, Jean Moulin.
After identifying the three largest resistance groups in the south of
France that he wanted to see co-operate, Moulin went to Britain to
seek support. Moulin made a secret trip, visiting Lisbon on 12
September 1941, from where he traveled to
London to meet General de
Gaulle on 25 October 1941. De Gaulle named Moulin his
representative in France, and ordered him to return and unify all
Resistance groups and have them recognize the authority of de Gaulle's
Free French National Committee in London, which few resistance groups
did at the time. To lend further support, in October 1941 de
Gaulle founded the BCRA (Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action
- Central Office for Intelligence and Action) under André Dewavrin,
who used the codename "Colonel Passy" to provide support for the
Resistance. Through the BCRA was based in an office in Duke Street
in London, its relations with the SOE were often strained, as de
Gaulle made no secret of his dislike of British support for the
resistance groups, which he saw as British meddling in France's
domestic affairs. Tensions between Gaullist and non-Gaullist
resistance groups led to the SOE dividing its F section in two, with
the RF section providing support for Gaullist groups and the F section
dealing with the non-Gaullist groups.
British SOE agents parachuted into France to help organize the
resistance often complained about what they considered the
carelessness of the French groups when it came to security. A
favorite tactic of the
Gestapo and the Abwehr was to capture a
résistant, "turn" him or her to their side, and then send the double
agent to infiltrate the resistance network. Numerous resistance
groups were destroyed by such double agents, and the SOE often charged
that the poor security arrangements of the French resistance groups
left them open to being destroyed by one double agent. For
example, the Interallié group was destroyed when Carré was captured
and turned by Abwehr Captain
Hugo Bleicher on 17 November 1941, as she
betrayed everyone. The same month, Colonel
Alfred Heurtaux of the
OCM was betrayed by an informer and arrested by the Gestapo. In
November 1941, Frenay recruited Jacques Renouvin, whom he called an
"experienced brawler", to lead the new Groupes Francs paramilitary arm
Combat resistance group. Renouvin taught his men military
tactics at a secret boot camp in the countryside in the south of
France and led the Groupes Francs in a series of attacks on
Lyon and Marseilles. Frenay and Renouvin wanted
to "blind" and "deafen" the French police by assassinating informers
who were the "eyes" and "ears" of the police. Renouvin, who was a
known "tough guy" and experienced killer, personally accompanied
résistants on their first assassinations to provide encouragement and
advice. If the would-be assassin was unable to take a life,
Renouvin would assassinate the informer himself, then berate the
would-be assassin for being a "sissy" who was not tough enough for the
hard, dangerous work of the Resistance.
On 7 December 1941, the
Nacht und Nebel
Nacht und Nebel degree was signed by Hitler,
allowing the German forces to "disappear" anyone engaged in resistance
in Europe into the "night and fog". During the war, about 200,000
French citizens were deported to Germany under the Nacht und Nebel
degree, about 75,000 for being résistants, half of whom did not
survive. After Germany declared war on the
United States on 11
December 1941, the SOE was joined by the American Office of Strategic
Services (OSS) to provide support for the resistance. In December
1941, after the industrialist Jacques Arthuys, the chief of the OCM,
was arrested by the Gestapo, who later executed him, leadership of was
assumed by Colonel
Alfred Touny of the Deuxième Bureau, which
continued to provide intelligence to the
Free French leaders in exile
in Britain. Under the leadership of Touny, the OCM became one of
the Allies' best sources of intelligence in France.
1942: The struggle intensifies
On the night of 2 January 1942, Moulin parachuted into France from a
British plane with orders from de Gaulle to unify the resistance and
to have all of the resistance accept his authority. On 27 March
1942, the first French Jews were rounded up by the French authorities,
sent to the camp at Drancy, from where they were sent on to Auschwitz
to be killed. In April 1942, the PCF created an armed wing of its
Main d'Oeuvre Immigée representing immigrants called the FTP-MOI
under the leadership of Boris Holban (ro), who came from the
Bessarabia region that belonged alternatively to Russia and
Romania. On 1 May 1942, May Day, which
Vichy France had tried to
turn into a Catholic holiday celebrating St. Philip, Premier Pierre
Laval was forced to break off his speech when the crowd began to chant
"Mort à Laval" (death to Laval).
As millions of Frenchmen serving in the French Army had been taken
prisoner by the Germans in 1940, there was a shortage of men in France
during the Occupation, which explains why Frenchwomen played so a
prominent role in the Resistance, with the résistante Germaine Tillon
later writing: "It was women who kick-started the Resistance." In
May 1942, speaking before a military court in Lyon, the résistante
Marguerite Gonnet, when asked about why she had taken up arms against
the Reich, replied: "Quite simply, colonel, because the men had
dropped them." In 1942, the Royal Air Force (RAF) attempted to
bomb the Schneider-Creusot works at Lyon, which was one of France's
largest arms factories. The
RAF missed the factory and instead
killed around 1,000 French civilians. Two Frenchmen serving in the
SOE, Raymond Basset (codename Mary) and André Jarrot (codename
Goujean), were parachuted in and were able to repeatedly sabotage the
local power grid to sharply lower production at the Schneider-Creusot
works. Freney, who had emerged as a leading résistant, recruited
the engineer Henri Garnier living in
Toulouse to teach French workers
at factories producing weapons for the
Wehrmacht how best to
drastically shorten the lifespan of the Wehrmacht's weapons, usually
by making deviations of a few millimetres, which increased strain on
the weapons; such acts of quiet sabotage were almost impossible to
detect, which meant no French people would be shot in reprisal.
To maintain contact with Britain, Resistance leaders crossed the
English Channel at night on a boat, made their way via Spain and
Portugal, or took a "spy taxi", as the British Lysander aircraft were
known in France, which landed on secret airfields at night. More
commonly, contact with Britain was maintained via radio. The
Germans had powerful radio detection stations based in Paris,
Brittany, Augsburg, and Nürmberg that could trace an unauthorized
radio broadcast to within ten miles of its location. Afterwards,
the Germans would send a van with a radio detection equipment to find
the radio operator. For this reason, radio operators in the
Resistance were advised not to broadcast from the same location for
long. To maintain secrecy, radio operators encrypted their
messages using polyalphabetic ciphers. Finally, radio operators
had a security key to begin their messages with; if captured and
forced to radio Britain under duress, the radio operator would not use
the key, which tipped off
London that they had been captured.
On 29 May 1942 it was announced that all Jews living in the occupied
zone had to wear a yellow star of David with the words Juif or Juive
at all times by 7 June 1942. Ousby described the purpose of the
yellow star "not just to identify but also to humiliate, and it
worked". On 14 June 1942, a 12-year-old Jewish boy committed
suicide in Paris as his classmates were shunning the boy with the
yellow star. As a form of quiet protest, many Jewish veterans
started to wear their medals alongside the yellow star, which led the
Germans to ban the practice as "inappropriate", as it increased
sympathy for men who fought and suffered for France. At times,
ordinary people would show sympathy for Jews; as a Scot married to a
Janet Teissier du Cros
Janet Teissier du Cros wrote in her diary about a Jewish
woman wearing her yellow star of David going shopping:
She came humbly up and stood hesitating on the edge of the pavement.
Jews were not allowed to stand in queues. What they were supposed to
do I never discovered. But the moment the people in the queue saw her
they signaled to her to join us. Secretly and rapidly, as in the game
of hunt-the-slipper, she was passed up till she stood at the head of
the queue. I am glad to say that not one voice was raised in protest,
the policeman standing near turned his head away, and that she got her
cabbage before any of us.
By 1942, the Paris Kommandantur was receiving an average of 1,500
corbeaux (poison pen letters)[clarification needed] a day, which kept
the occupation authorities informed about what was happening in
France. One corbeaux written by a Frenchwoman, typical of the
self-interested motives of the cobeaux writers, read:
Since you are taking care of the Jews, and if your campaign is not
just a vain word, then have a look at the kind of life led by the girl
M.A, formerly a dancer, now living at 41 Boulevard de Strasbourg, not
wearing a star. This creature, for whom being Jewish is not enough,
debauches the husbands of proper Frenchwomen, and you may well have an
idea what she is living off. Defend women against Jewishness-that will
be your best publicity, and you will return a French husband to his
In the spring of 1942, a committee consisting of SS Hauptsturmführer
Theodor Dannecker, the Commissioner for Jewish Affairs Louis Darquier
de Pellepoix, and general secretary of the police
René Bousquet began
planning a grand rafle (great round-up) of Jews to deport to the death
camps. On the morning of 16 July 1942, the grand rafle began with
9,000 French policemen rounding up the Jews of Paris, leading to some
12,762 Jewish men, women and children being arrested and brought to
the Val d'Hiv sports stadium, from where they were sent to the Drancy
camp and finally Auschwitz. The grand rafle was a Franco-German
operation; the overwhelming majority of those who arrested the Jews
were French policemen. Some 100 Jews warned by friends in the
police killed themselves, while 24 Jews were killed resisting
arrest. One Jewish Frenchwoman, Madame Rado, who was arrested with
her four children, noted about the watching bystanders: "Their
expressions were empty, apparently indifferent." When taken with
the other Jews to the Place Voltaire, one woman was heard to shout
"Well done! Well done!" while the man standing to her warned her
"After them, it'll be us. Poor people!". Rado survived Auschwitz,
but her four children were killed in the gas chambers.
Pierre-Marie Gerlier of Lyon, a staunch antisemite who had
supported Vichy's efforts to solve the "Jewish question" in France,
opposed the rafles of Jews, arguing in a sermon that the "final
solution" was taking things too far; he felt it better to convert Jews
to Roman Catholicism. Archbishop
Jules-Géraud Saliège of
Toulouse, in a pastoral letter of 23 August 1942, declared: "You
cannot do whatever you wish against these men, against these women,
against these fathers and mothers. They are part of mankind. They are
our brothers." Pastor Marc Boegner, president of the National
Protestant Federation, denounced the rafles in a sermon in September
1942, asking Calvinists to hide Jews. A number of Catholic and
Calvinist schools and organizations such as Jesuit Père Pierre
Chaillet's l'Amitié Chrétienne took in Jewish children and passed
them off as Christian. Many Protestant families, with memories of
their own persecution, had already begun to hide Jews, and after the
summer of 1942, the Catholic Church, which until then had been broadly
supportive of Vichy's antisemitic laws, began to condemn antisemitism,
and organized efforts to hide Jews. The official story was that
the Jews were being "resettled in the East", being moved to a "Jewish
homeland" somewhere in Eastern Europe. As the year continued, the
fact that no one knew precisely where this Jewish homeland was,
together with the fact that those sent to be "resettled" were never
heard from again, led more and more people to suspect that rumors of
the Jews being exterminated were true.
Ousby argued that, given the widespread belief that the Jews in France
were mostly illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe who ought to be
sent back to where they came from, it was remarkable that so many
ordinary people were prepared to attempt to save them. Perhaps the
most remarkable example was the effort of the Calvinist couple André
and Magda Trocmé, who brought together an entire commune, Le
Chambon-sur-Lignon, to save between 800-1,000 Jews. The Jews in
France, whether they were Israélites or immigrant Juifs, had begun
the occupation discouraged and isolated, cut off and forced to become
"absent from the places they lived in. Now, as the threat of absence
become brutally literal, their choices were more sharply defined, more
urgent even than for other people in France." As an example of the
"differing fates" open to French Jews from 1942 onward, Ousby used the
three-part dedication to the memoir Jacques Adler wrote in 1985: the
first part dedicated to his father, who was killed at Auschwitz in
1942; the second to the French family who sheltered his mother and
sister, who survived the Occupation; and the third to the members of
the Jewish resistance group Adler joined later in 1942.
As in World War I and the war of 1870-1871, the Germans argued that
those engaging in resistance were "bandits" and "terrorists",
maintaining that all
Francs-tireurs were engaging in illegal warfare
and, as such, had no rights. On 5 August 1942, three Romanians
belonging to the
FTP-MOI tossed grenades into a group of Luftwaffe men
watching a football game at the Jean-Bouin Stadium in Paris, killing
eight and wounding 13. The Germans claimed three were killed and
42 wounded; this let them execute more hostages, as Field Marshal Hugo
Sperrle demanded three hostages be shot for every dead German and two
for every wounded. The Germans did not have that many hostages in
custody and settled for executing 88 people on 11 August 1942.
The majority of those shot were communists or relatives of communists,
with the father and father-in-law of
Pierre Georges and the brother of
the communist leader Maurice Thorez. A number were Belgian,
Dutch, and Hungarian immigrants to France; all went before the firing
squads singing the French national anthem or shouting Vive la France!,
a testament to how even the communists by 1942 saw themselves as
fighting for France as much as for world revolution.
Torture of captured résistants was routine. Methods of torture
included beatings, shackling, being suspended from the ceiling, being
burned with a blowtorch, allowing dogs to attack the prisoner, being
lashed with ox-hide whips, being hit with a hammer, or having heads
placed in a vice, and the baignoire, whereby the victim was forced
into a tub of freezing water and held nearly to the point of drowning,
a process repeated for hours. A common threat to a captured
résistant was to have a loved ones arrested or a female relative or
lover sent to the
Wehrmacht field brothels. The vast majority of
those tortured talked. At least 40,000 French died in such
prisons. The only way to avoid torture was to be "turned", with
the Germans having a particular interest in turning radio operators
who could compromise an entire Resistance network. Captured
résistants were held in filthy, overcrowded prisons full of lice and
fleas and fed substandard food or held in solitary confinement.
On 1 December 1942, a new resistance group, the ORA, Organisation de
Résistance de l'Armée (Army Resistance Organization), was
founded. The ORA was headed by General Aubert Frère and
Henri Giraud as France's leader. For a time in
1942–1943, there were two rival leaders of the
Free French movement
in exile: General Giraud, backed by the United States, and General de
Gaulle, backed by Great Britain. For these reasons, the ORA had
bad relations with the Gaullist resistance while being favored by the
OSS, as the Americans did not want de Gaulle as France's postwar
leader. By the end of 1942, there were 278 sabotage actions in
France vs. 168 Anglo-American bombings in France.
1943: A mass movement emerges
On 26 January 1943, Moulin persuaded the three main resistance groups
in the south of France — Franc-Tireur, Liberation and
Combat — to
unite as the MUR (Mouvements Unis de Résistance or United Resistance
Movement), whose armed wing was the AS (Armée Secrète or Secret
Army). The MUR recognised General de Gaulle as the leader of
France and selected General
Charles Delestraint (codename Vidal) as
the commander of the AS. Moulin followed this success by
contracting resistance groups in the north such as Ceux de la
Résistance, Ceux de la Libération, Comité de Coordination de Zone
Libération Nord to ask to join. Reflecting the growth
of the Resistance, on 30 January 1943, the
Milice was created to hunt
down the résistants, through initially that was only one of the
Milice's tasks, which was presented first as an organisation to crack
down on the black market. The Milice, commanded by Joseph
Darnand, was a mixture of fascists, gangsters, and adventurers with a
"sprinkling of the respectable bourgeoisie and even the disaffected
aristocracy" committed to fight to the death against the "Jews,
Communists, Freemasons and Gaullists"; the oath to those who joined
required to them to commit to work for the destruction of the "Jewish
leprosy" in France, the Gaullists and the Communists. The Milice
had 29,000 members, of which 1,000 belonged to the elite Francs-Gardes
and wore a uniform of khaki shirts, black berets, black ties, blue
trousers and blue jackets. Their symbol was the white gamma, the
zodiacal sign of the Ram, symbolising renewal and power. The
Germans did not want any of the French armed, even collaborators, and
initially refused to provide the
Milice with weapons.
On 16 February 1943, the
Service du Travail Obligatoire
Service du Travail Obligatoire (STO)
organisation was created, requiring able-bodied Frenchmen to work in
Germany. In the Reich, with so many men called up for service with
Wehrmacht and the Nazi regime reluctant to have German women work
in factories (Hitler believed working damaged a woman's womb), the
German state brought foreign workers to Germany to replace the men
serving in the Wehrmacht. At the Dora works near the Buchenwald
concentration camp, about 10,000 slave workers, mostly French and
Russian, were building V2 rockets in a vast subterranean factory; they
were living in quarters meant to house only 2,500, allowed to sleep
only four and half hours every night, and regularly brutalised by the
guards. The chief pleasure of the slaves was urinating on the
machinery when the guards were not looking. The underground press
gave much coverage to the conditions at the Dora works, pointing out
those Frenchmen who went to work in Germany were not paid the generous
wages promised by the
Organisation Todt and instead were turned into
slaves, all of which the underground papers used as reasons for why
the French should not go to work in Germany. Under the law of 16
February 1943, all able-bodied Frenchmen aged 20–22 who were not
miners, farmers or university students had to report to the STO to do
two years labour in Germany.
As the occupation went on, service with the STO was widened, with
farmers and university students losing their exempt status until 1944,
when all fit men aged 18–60 and women aged 18–45 were being called
up for service with the STO. Men over 45 and all women serving in
the STO were guaranteed not to go to Germany and many were put to work
Atlantic Wall for the Organisation Todt, but had no way
of knowing where they would go. The so-called réfractaires
attempted to avoid being called up and often went into hiding rather
work in the Reich. At least 40,000 Frenchmen (80% of the
resistance were people under thirty) fled to the countryside, becoming
the core of the maquis guerrillas. They rejected the term
réfractaire with its connotations of laziness and called themselves
the maquis, which originated as Corsican Italian slang for bandits,
whose root word was macchia, the term for the scrubland and forests of
Corsica. Those who lived in the macchia of
Corsica were usually
bandits, and those men fleeing to the countryside chose the term
maquis as a more romantic and defiant term than réfractaire. By
June 1943, the term maquis, which had been a little-known word
borrowed from the Corsican dialect of Italian at the beginning of
1943, became known all over France. It was only in 1943 that
guerilla warfare emerged in France as opposed to the more sporadic
attacks against the Germans that had continued since the summer of
1941, and the Resistance changed from an urban movement to a rural
movement, most active in central and southern France.
Fritz Sauckel, the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment and
the man in charge of bringing slaves to German factories, demanded the
flight of young men to the countryside be stopped and called the
maquis "terrorists", "bandits" and "criminals". One of every two
French people called to serve in the STO failed to do so. Sauckel
had been ordered by Hitler in February 1943 to produce half a million
workers from France for German industry by March, and it was he who
had pressured Laval to create the STO with the law of 16 February
1943. Sauckel had joined the NSDAP in 1923, making him an Alter
Kämpfer (Old Fighter), and like many other Alte Kämpfer (who tended
to the most extreme Nazis), Sauckel was a hard man. Despite warnings
from Laval, Sauckel took the view that he was ordered by Albert Speer
to produce a quota of slaves for German industry, that the men joining
the maquis were sabotaging German industry by fleeing to the
countryside, and the solution was simply to kill them all.
Sauckel believed that once the maquis were wiped out, Frenchmen would
obediently report to the STO and go to work in Germany. When Laval was
presented with Sauckel's latest demand for French labor for German
industry, he remarked: "Have you been sent by de Gaulle?". Laval
argued the réfractaires were not political opponents and should not
be treated as such, arguing that an amnesty and a promise that the
réfractaires would not be sent as slaves to Germany would nip the
budding maquis movement.
As Laval predicated, the hardline policies that Sauckel advocated
turned the basically apolitical maquis political, driving them
straight into the resistance as the maquisards turned to the
established resistance groups to ask for arms and training.
Sauckel decided that if Frenchmen would not report to the STO, he
would have the Todt organisation use the shanghaillage (shanghaiing),
storming into cinemas to arrest the patrons or raiding villages in
search of bodies to turn into slaves to meet the quotas. Otto
Abetz, the Francophile German ambassador to Vichy, had warned that
Sauckel was driving the maquis into the resistance with his hardline
policies and joked to Sauckel that the maquis should put up a statue
of him with the inscription "To our number one recruitment
agent". The French called Sauckel "the slavetrader".
Furthermore, as Laval warned, the scale of the problem was beyond
Vichy's means to solve. The prefets of the departments of the Lozère,
the Hérault, the Aude, the Pyrénées-Orientales, and Aveyron had
been given a list of 853 réfractaires to arrest, and managed during
the next four months to arrest only 1 réfractaire.
After the Battle of Stalingrad, which ended with the destruction of
the entire German 6th Army in February 1943, many had started to doubt
the inevitability of an Axis victory, and most French gendarmes were
not willing to hunt the down the maquis, knowing that they might be
tried for their actions if the Allies won. Only the men of the
Groupe mobile de réserve paramilitary police were considered
reliable, but the force was too small to hunt down thousands of
men. As the Germans preferred to subcontract the work of ruling
France to the French while retaining ultimate control, it was the
Milice that was given the task of destroying the maquis. The
Milice was in Ousby's words "Vichy's only instrument for fighting the
Maquis. Entering the popular vocabulary at more or less the same time,
the words maquis and milice together defined the new realities: the
one a little-known word for the back country of Corsica, which became
a synonym for militant resistance; the other a familiar word meaning
simply "militia", which became a synonym for militant repression. The
Maquis and the
Milice were enemies thrown up by the final chaos of the
Occupation, in a sense twins symbiotically linked in a final
The established Resistance groups soon made contact with the maquis,
providing them with paramilitary training. Frenay remembered:
We established contact with them through our departmental and regional
chiefs. Usually these little maquis voluntarily followed our
instructions, in return for which they expected food, arms and
ammunition . . . It seemed to me that these groups, which were now in
hiding all over the French mountain country, might well be transformed
into an awesome combat weapon. The maquisards were all young, all
volunteers, all itching for action . . . It was up to use to organize
them and give them a sense of their role in the struggle.
The terrain of central and southern France with its forests,
mountains, and shrubland were ideal for hiding. and as the authorities
were prepared to commit thousands of men to hunt the maquis down, it
was possible to evade capture. The Germans could not spare
thousands of men to hunt the maquis down, and instead sent spotter
planes to find them. The maquis were careful about concealing fires
and could usually avoid aerial detection. The only other way of
breaking up the maquis bands was to send in a spy, which was highly
dangerous work as the maquisards would execute infiltrators.
Joining the men fleeing the service with the STO were others targeted
by the Reich, such as Jews, Spanish Republican refugees, and Allied
airmen shot down over France. One maquis band in the Cévennes
region consisted of German communists who had fought in the Spanish
Civil War and fled to France in 1939. Unlike the urban resistance
groups that emerged in 1940-42, who took political names such as
Combat, Liberté or Libération, the maquis bands chose apolitical
names, such as the names of animals (Ours, Loup, Tigre, Lion, Puma,
Rhinocéros and Eléphant) or people (Maquis Bernard, the Maquis
Socrate, the Maquis Henri Bourgogne, or one band whose leader was a
doctor, hence the name Maquis le Doc). The maquis bands that
emerged in the countryside soon formed a subculture with its own
slang, dress and rules. The most important maquis rule was the
so-called "24-hour rule", under which a captured maquisard had to hold
out under torture for 24 hours to give time for his comrades to
escape. An underground pamphlet written for young men considering
joining the maquis advised:
Men who come to the Maquis to fight live badly, in precarious fashion,
with food hard to find. They will be absolutely cut off from their
families for the duration; the enemy does not apply the rules of war
to them; they cannot be assured any pay; every effort will be made to
help their families, but it is impossible to give any guarantee in
this manner; all correspondence is forbidden.
Bring two shirts, two pairs of underpants, two pairs of woollen socks;
a light sweater, a scarf, a heavy sweater, a woollen blanket, an extra
a pair of shoes, shoelaces, needles, thread, buttons, safety pins,
soap, a canteen, a knife and fork, a torch, a compass, a weapon if
possible, and also a sleeping bag if possible. Wear a warm suit, a
beret, a raincoat, a good pair of hobnailed boots.
Another pamphlet written for the maquis advised:
A maquisard should stay only where he can see without being seen. He
should never live, eat, sleep except surrounded by look-outs. It
should never be possible to take him by surprise.
A maquisard should be mobile. When a census or enlistment [for the
STO] brings new elements he has no means of knowing into his group, he
should get out. When one of the members deserts, he should get out
immediately. The man could be a traitor.
Réfractaires, it is not your duty to die uselessly.
One maquisard recalled his first night out in the wildness:
Darkness falls in the forest. On one path, some distance from the our
camp, two boys stand guard over the safety of their comrades. One has
a pistol, the other a service rifle, with a few spare cartridges in a
box. Their watch lasts for two hours. How amazing those hours on duty
in the forest at night are! Noises come from everywhere and the pale
light of the moon gives everything a queer aspect. The boy looks at a
small tree and think he sees it move. A lorry passes on a distant
road; could it be the Germans? . . . Are they going to stop? 
Oubsy stated that the "breathless prose" in which this maqusiard
remembered his first night out in the forest was typical of the
maqusiards whose main traits were their innocence and naivety; many
seemed not to understand just precisely who they were taking on or
what they were getting themselves into by fleeing to the
Unlike the andartes, who were resisting Axis rule in Greece and
preferred a democratic decision-making progress, the maquis bands
tended to be dominated by a charismatic leader, usually an older man
who was not a réfractaire; a chef who was commonly a community
leader; somebody who before the war had been a junior political or
military leader under the Third Republic; or somebody who had been
targeted by the Reich for political or racial reasons. Regardless
whether they had served in the military, the maquis chefs soon started
calling themselves capitaines or colonels. The aspect of life in
the maquis best remembered by veterans was their youthful idealism,
with most of the maquisards remembering how innocent they were, seeing
their escape into the countryside as a grand romantic adventure, by
which, as Ousby observed, "they were nervously confronting new dangers
they barely understood; they were proudly learning new techniques of
survival and battle. These essential features stand out in accounts by
maquisards even after innocence had quickly given way to experience,
which made them regard danger and disciple as commonplace." The
innocence of the maquisards was reflected in the choice of names they
took, which were usually whimsical and boyish names, unlike those used
by the résistants in the older groups, which were always
serious. The maquis had little in the way of uniforms, with the
men wearing civilian clothing with a beret being the only common
symbol of the maquis, as a beret was sufficiently common in France not
to be conspicuous, but uncommon enough to be the symbol of a
maquisard. To support themselves, the maquis took to theft with
bank robbery and stealing from the Chantiers de Jeunesse (the Vichy
youth movement) being especially favored means of obtaining money and
supplies. Albert Spencer, a Canadian airman shot down over France
while on a mission to drop leaflets over France who joined the maquis,
discovered the distinctive slang of the maquisards, learning that the
leaflets he had been dropping over France were torche-culs (ass-wipes)
in maquis slang.
As the maquis grew, the
Milice was deployed to the countryside to hunt
them down and the first milicien was killed in April 1943. As
neither the maquis or the milice had many guns, the casualties were
low at first, and by October 1943 the
Milice had suffered only ten
dead. The SOE made contact with the maquis bands, but until early
1944 the SOE were unable to convince Whitehall that supplying the
Resistance should be a priority.
Until 1944, there were only 23 Halifax bombers committed to supplying
Resistance groups for all of Europe, and many in the SOE preferred
resistance groups in Yugoslavia, Italy and Greece be armed rather than
French ones. On 16 April 1943, the SOE agent Odette Sansom was
arrested with her fellow SOE agent and lover
Peter Churchill by the
Abwehr Captain Hugo Bleicher. After her arrest, Sansom was
tortured for several months, which she recounted in the 1949 book
Odette: The Story of a British Agent. She refused to talk. Sansom
In those places the only thing one could try to keep was a certain
dignity. There was nothing else. And one could have a little dignity
and try to prove that one had a little spirit and, I suppose, that
kept one going. When everything else was too difficult, too bad, then
one was inspired by so many things-people; perhaps a phrase one would
remember that one had heard a long time before, or even a piece of
poetry or a piece of music.
On 26 May 1943, in Paris, Moulin chaired a secret meeting attended by
representatives of the main resistance groups to form the CNR (Conseil
National de la Résistence-National Council of the Resistance).
With the National Council of the Resistance, resistance activities
started to become more coordinated. In June 1943, a sabotage campaign
began against the French rail system. Between June 1943-May 1944, the
Resistance damaged 1, 822 trains, destroyed 200 passenger cars,
damaged about 1, 500 passenger cars, destroyed about 2, 500 freight
cars and damaged about 8,000 freight cars.
René Hardy had been seduced by the French Gestapo
agent Lydie Bastien, whose true loyalty was to her German lover, the
Gestapo officer Harry Stengritt. Hardy was arrested on 7 June 1943
when he walked into a trap laid by Bastien. After his arrest,
Hardy was turned by the
Gestapo as Bastien tearfully told him that she
and her parents would all be sent to a concentration camp if he did
not work for the
Gestapo and Hardy, unaware that Bastien really
loathed him and was only sleeping with him under Stengritt's
orders. On 9 June 1943, General Delestraint was arrested by the
Gestapo following a tip-off provided by the double agent Hardy and was
sent to the Dachau concentration camp. On 21 June 1943, Moulin
called a secret meeting in
Caluire-et-Cuire suburb of
Lyon to discuss
the crisis and try to find the traitor who betrayed Delestraint.
At the meeting, Moulin and the rest were arrested by
SS-Hauptsturmführer Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon". Barbie
tortured Moulin, who never talked. Moulin was beaten into a coma
and died on 8 July 1943 as a result of brain damage. Moulin was
not the only Resistance leader arrested in June 1943. That same month,
General Aubert Frère, the leader of the ORA was arrested and later
In the summer of 1943, leadership of the
FTP-MOI was assumed by an
Armenian immigrant Missak Manouchian, who become so famous for
organizing assassinations that the
FTP-MOI came to be known to the
French people as the Groupe Manouchian. In July 1943, the Royal
Air Force attempted to bomb the Peugeot works at Sochaux, which
manufactured tank turrets and engine parts for the Werhmacht. The
RAF instead hit the neighborhood next to the factory, killing hundreds
of French civilians. To avoid a repeat, the SOE agent Harry Rée
contacted the industrialist Rudolphe Peugeot to see if he was willing
to sabotage his own factory. To prove that he was working for
London, Rée informed Peugeot that the BBC's
French language "personal
messages" service would broadcast a message containing lines from a
poem that Rée had quoted that night; after hearing the poem in the
broadcast, Peugeot agreed to co-operate. Peugeot gave Rée the
plans for the factory and suggested the best places to sabotage his
factory without injuring anyone by selectively placing plastic
explosives. The Peugeot works were largely knocked out in a
bombing organised by Rée on 5 November 1943 and output never
recovered. The Michelin family were approached with the same offer
and declined. The
RAF bombed the Michelin factory at
Clermont-Ferrand – France's largest tyre factory and a major source
of tyres for the
Wehrmacht – into the ground.
Despite the blow inflicted by Barbie by arresting Moulin, by 1 October
1943 the AS had grown to 241,350 members, through most were still
unarmed. For the most part, the AS refrained from armed
operations as it was no match for the Wehrmacht. Instead the AS
forced on preparing for Jour J, when the Allies landed in France,
after which the AS would begin action. In the meantime, the AS
focused on training its members and conducting intelligence-gathering
operations for the Allies. In October 1943, Joseph Darnand, the
chief of the
Milice who long been frustrated at the unwillingness of
the Germans to arm his force, finally won the trust of the Reich by
taking a personal oath of loyalty to Hitler and being commissioned as
Waffen-SS officer together with 11 other
Milice leaders. With
that, the Germans started to arm the Milice, which turned its guns on
the Resistance. The weapons the German provided the
were mostly British weapons captured at Dunkirk in 1940, and as the
maquis received many weapons from the SOE, it was often the case that
in the clashes between
Milice and the Maquis, Frenchmen fought
Frenchmen with British guns and ammunition.
In October 1943, following a meeting between
General Giraud and
General de Gaulle in Algiers, orders went out for the AS and ORA to
cooperate in operations against the Germans. One of the most
famous Resistance actions took place on 11 November 1943 in the town
of Oyonnax in the Jura mountains, where about 300 maqusiards led by
Henri Romans-Petit arrived to celebrate the 25th anniversary of
France's victory over Germany in 1918, wearing improvised
uniforms. There were no Germans in Oyonnax that day and the
gendarmes made no effort to oppose the Resistance, who marched through
the streets to lay a wreath shaped like the
Cross of Lorraine
Cross of Lorraine at local
war memorial bearing the message "Les vainqueurs de demain à ceux de
14-18" ("From tomorrow's victors to those of 14-18"). Afterwards,
the people of Oyonnax joined the maquisards in singing the French
national anthem as they marched, an incident given much play on the
French language service about how one town had been "liberated"
for a day. The next month, the SS arrested 130 Oyonnax residents
and sent them to the concentration camps, shot the town's doctor, and
tortured and deported two other people, including the gendarme captain
who failed to resist the maquis on 11 November. On 29 December
1943, the AS and the
Communist FTP agreed to cooperate; their actions
were controlled by the COMAC (Comité Militaire d'Action-Committee for
Military Action), which in turn took its orders from the CNR. The
Communists agreed for unity largely in the belief that they would
obtain more supplies from Britain, and in practice the FTP continued
to work independently. The SOE provided training for the
Resistance; however, as the SOE agent Roger Miller noted after
visiting a resistance workshop making bombs in late 1943:
If the instructors from the training schools in England could have
seen those Frenchmen making up charges the cellar would looked to them
like Dante's Inferno. Every conceivable school "don't" was being
1944: The height of the Resistance
By the beginning of 1944, the BCRA was providing the Allies with two
intelligence assessments per day based on information provided by the
Resistance. One of the BCRA's most effective networks was headed
Colonel Rémy who headed the
Confrérie de Notre Dame (Brotherhood
of Notre Dame) which provided photographs and maps of German forces in
Normandy, most notably details of the Atlantic Wall. In January
1944, following extensive lobbying by the SOE, Churchill was persuaded
to increase the number of planes available by 35 to drop in supplies
for the maquis and by February 1944, supply drops were up by
173%. The same month, the OSS agreed to supply the maquis with
arms. Despite the perennial shortage of arms, by the early 1944
there were parts of rural areas in the south of France that were more
under the control of the maquis than the authorities. By January
1944, a civil war had broken out with the
Milice and maquis
assassinating alternatively leaders of the Third Republic or
collaborators that was to become increasingly savage as 1944 went
Milice were loathed by the resistance as Frenchmen
serving the occupation and unlike the
Wehrmacht and the SS, were not
armed with heavy weapons nor were especially well trained, making them
an enemy who could be engaged on more or less equal terms, becoming
the preferred opponent of the Maquis. The men of the Wehrmacht
were German conscripts whereas as the
Milice were French volunteers,
thus explains why the résistants hated the
Milice so much. On 10
January 1944, the
Milice "avenged" their losses at the hands of the
maquis by killing
Victor Basch and his wife outside Lyon. The 80
year-old Basch was a French Jew, a former president of the League for
the Rights of Men and had been a prominent dreyfusard during the
Dreyfus affair, marking him out as an enemy of the "New Order in
Europe" by his very existence, through the elderly pacifist Basch was
not actually involved in the resistance. The milicien who killed
Basch was an anti-Semitic fanatic named Joseph Lécussan who always
kept a Star of David made of human skin taken from a Jew he killed
earlier in his pocket, making him typical of the
Milice by this
As the Resistance had not been informed of the details of Operation
Overlord, many Resistance leaders had developed their own plans to
have the maquis seize large parts of central and southern France,
which would provide a landing area for Allied force to be known as
"Force C" and supplies to be brought in, allowing "Force C" and the
maquis to attack the
Wehrmacht from the rear. The Supreme
Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHEAF) had rejected
this plan under the grounds that the disparity between the firepower
and training of the
Wehrmacht vs. the maquisards meant that the
Resistance would be unable to hold their own in sustained combat.
The maquis unaware of this tried to seize "redoubts" several times in
1944 with disastrous results. Starting in late January 1944, a group
of maquisards led by Théodose Morel (codename Tom) began to assemble
Glières Plateau near
Annecy in the Haute-Savoie. By
February 1944, the maquisards numbered about 460 and had only light
weapons, but received much media attention with the Free French
issuing a press release in
London saying "In Europe there are three
countries resisting: Greece, Yugoslavia and the Haute-Savoie".
The Vichy state sent the Groupes Mobiles de Réserve to evict the
maquis from the Glières plateau and were repulsed. After Morel
had been killed by a French policeman during a raid, command of the
Maquis des Glières was assumed by Captain Maurice Anjot. In March
1944, the Luftwaffe started to bomb the maquisards on the Glières
plateau and on 26 March 1944 the Germans sent in an Alpine division of
7, 000 men together with various SS units and about 1, 000 miliciens,
making for a grand total of about 10, 000 men supported by artillery
and air support which soon overwhelmed the maquisards whose lost about
150 killed in action and another 200 captured who were then shot.
Anjot knew the odds against his maquis band were hopeless, but decided
to take a stand to uphold French honor. Anjot himself was one of
the maquisards killed on the Glières plateau.
In February 1944, all of the Resistance governments agreed to accept
the authority of the
Free French government based in Algiers (until
Algeria was considered to be part of France) and the Resistance
was renamed FFI (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur-Forces of the
Interior). The Germans refused to accept the resistance as
legitimate opponents and any résistant captured faced the prospect of
torture and/or execution as the Germans maintained that the Hague and
Geneva conventions did not apply to the resistance. By designating the
resistance as part of the French armed forces was intended to provide
the Resistance with legal protection and allow the French to threaten
the Germans with the possibility of prosecution for war crimes.
The designation did not help. For example, the résistante Sindermans
was arrested in Paris on 24 February 1944 after she was found to be
carrying forged papers. As she recalled: "Immediately, they
handcuffed me and took me to be interrogated. Getting no reply, they
slapped in the face with such force that I fell from the chair. Then
they whipped me with a rubber hose, full in the face. The
interrogation began at 10 o'clock in the morning and ended at 11
o'clock that night. I must tell you I had been pregnant for three
As part of the preparations for Operation Overlord, Resistance attacks
on the rail system increased with the Resistance in the first three
months of 1944 damaging 808 locomotives compared to 387 damaged by air
attack. Starting with the clearer weather in the spring, between
April–June 1944 the Resistance damaged 292 locomotives compared to
1, 437 damaged in air strikes. These statistics do not completely
tell the story as Resistance sabotage attacks on the rail system in
the first half of 1944 were so pervasive that the Germans had to
import workers from the Reich Bahn (the German state railroad) and put
soldiers on trains as they no longer trusted the Cheminots. On 23
March 1944, General Pierre Koenig was appointed commander of the FFI
and flew to
London from Algiers to co-ordinate the operations of the
FFI at the SHEAF commanded by General
Dwight Eisenhower at a section
known as État Major des Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur (General
Staff, French Forces of the Interior). The American and British
officers at SHEAF distrusted the Resistance with the OSS agent William
J. Casey writing that many in the Resistance appeared more interested
in post-war politics than in fighting the Germans. Despite the
mistrust, SHEAF planned to use the Resistance to tie down German
forces. In April 1944, there were 331 drops of weapons by the SOE to
the marquis, in May 531 drops and in June 866 drops. The most
common weapon provided by the SOE was the Sten machine gun, which
through inaccurate except at short ranges and prone to breakdown was
cheap, light, easy to assemble and disassemble and required no special
skills to use. Other weapons dropped by the SOE were the Webley
revolver, the Bren machine gun, the Lee-Enfield rifle and the PIAT
anti-tank gun while the OSS provided the M3 "Greasegun", the Browning
handgun, the M1 rifle and the Bazooka anti-tank gun. In general,
American weaponry was preferred to British weaponry, through the
British-built Bren gun emerged as one of the favorite weapons of the
resistance. Reflecting the importance of weapons, organising
supply drops was the main concern for the Resistance in the spring of
1944. André Hue, a dual citizen of France and the United Kingdom
serving in the SOE who parachuted into
Brittany to lead the Hillbilly
resistance circuit recalled his principle duty in the spring of 1944
was organizing supply drops and attempting to avoid the
the Milice. Hue had been born in Wales to a French father and a
Welsh mother, and like many other Anglo-French dual citizens had
volunteered for the SOE. The
Communist FTP often complained that they
were being starved of arms by the BCRA with
Charles Tillon noting that
the BCRA had organized hundreds of supply drops, of which only six
were for the FTP. On 29 April 1944, the most famous of all the
SOE agents during the war returned to France when Nancy Wake, aka the
"White Mouse" parachuted into France. Despite the rampant sexism
in French society (French women were not allowed to vote until 1946 as
Frenchwomen were viewed as minors under the protection of their father
or husband), Wake took command of a marquis band numbering about 1,
000 men in the
Auvergne region and led it successfully, barking out
orders in her distinctive Australian accented French and threatening
to shoot any man who a problem with taking orders from a woman. A
sign of Wake's success as a guerrilla leader was the number of
maquisards under her command increased to about 7, 500 by the summer
The spring of 1944 is remembered in France as time of the mentalité
terrible, the period of la guerre franco-française when the Milice
and the Maquis fought one another without mercy. The
maquis were caught up in ever-escalating cycle of violence with Ousby
commenting: "1944 had simply become the time for settling scores, any
scores, for revenging grudges, any grudges. Agreed on this common
imperative, the sides in the conflict blur and become almost
indistinguishable from each other. The
Milice hit squads pretended to
be the Maquis; the Maquis hit squads pretended to be the Milice.
Sometimes it was impossible to tell which was really which, and
sometimes it hardly mattered". As it was starting to become more
and more clear that the Allies were going to win the war, the Milice
become more desperate and vicious as the knowledge that when the
Allies won, the miliciens would be tried for treason if they not
killed out of hand first, caused the
Milice to engage in increasing
savage torture and killings of the maquisards, hoping against hope
that they could annihilate all of their enemies before the Allies
won. For their part, some of the maquisards struck back in kind
against the Milice. In the town of Voiron, close to Grenoble, in April
1944, a Maquis assassination squad entered the home of the local
Milice chief and killed him, his wife, his infant daughter, his
10-year-old son, and his 82-year-old mother. Outside the village
of Saint-Laurent in the Haute-Savoie, a mass grave was discovered in
May 1944 of eight gendarmes known for their loyalty to Vichy kidnapped
by the Maquis from Bonneville who had been lined up and shot by their
captors. The killing of the gendarmes was denounced by the chief
Philippe Henriot on the radio as the
"French Katyn", who used the killings as an example of the sort of
"Bolshevik terrorism" that he maintained was typical of the
resistance. In the south of France, the Maquis had started to
form an alternative government to Vichy, which still controlled the
French civil service. Georges Guingouin, the
leader of the
Maquis du Limousin
Maquis du Limousin in the
Limousin region styled himself
a préfet and imposed his own system of rationing on the local farmers
that flouted the rationing system imposed by Vichy. In the Auxois
region, the Maquis Bernard had created its system of taxation with
people being taxed on the basis of their willingness to collaborate
with the authorities or support the resistance. When the British
A. J. Ayer
A. J. Ayer arrived in
Gascony as a SOE agent in the spring
of 1944, he described a power structure established by the maquis that
placed power "in the hands of a series of feudal lords whose power and
influence were strangely similar to that of their fifteenth-century
Reflecting their weakening power, the authorities grew more harsh in
their punishments. At the village of Ascq, close to
Lille 86 people
were killed in the
Ascq massacre on 1 April 1944 by the 12th Waffen SS
Division Hitlerjugend ("Hitler Youth") in reprisal for resistance
attacks on the railroads, the first of many villages martyrisés of
1944. Starting on 20 May 1944, there occurred another major clash
between the Germans and the maquis at
Mont Mouchet when the maquis
seized another "redoubt" which led to overwhelming force being brought
to bear against them. Émile Coulaudon, the chief of the FFI in
Auvergne believed that continuing inaction was bad for morale and
starting on 20 May 1944 began to concentrate the maquis at Mont
Mouchet under the slogan "
Free France starts here!", gathering about
2,700 men, who formed the Maquis du Mont Mouchet. German attacks
forced the Resistance off
Mont Mouchet by June, killing about 125
maquisards and wounding about another 125 with the rest escaping.
The Germans burned down several small villages in the Mont Mouchet
region and executed 70 peasants suspected of aiding the maquis..
The "résistants" answered by waging a ferocious guerrilla war against
Until the end of May 1944, SHEAF had a "Block Planning" policy for the
Resistance under which the Resistance would lie low until Operation
Overlord was launched and then afterwards, the Resistance was to
launch a full blown guerilla war in all of the French provinces one by
one. At the end of May 1944, Eisenhower changed his plans and
instead wanted a nationwide guerilla war launched in all of the
regions of France with the start of Overlord. The SOE had
informed the Resistance leaders to listen to the BBC's "personal
French language broadcasts on the 1st, 2nd, 15th and 16th of
every month for the messages telling them when Overlord was due to
start. If the phrase "l'heure des combats viendra" ("the hour
battle will come"), which was broadcast on 1 June 1944, that was the
signal that the Allies would land within the next 15 days. If a
line from a poem by Verlaine "Les sanglots longs de l'automne" ("The
long sobs of autumn") was read on the BBC, that was the signal that
the invasion was imminent and if the following line "bercent mon cœur
d'une langueur monotone" (wound my heart with a monotonous languor"),
which was broadcast on 5 June 1944, then the invasion would occur the
next day. In the spring of 1944, a number of uniformed American,
French and British soldiers known as the "Jedburgh" teams as part of
Operation Jedburgh were landed in France to make contact with the
maquis guerillas. A Jedburgh team was a three men crew consisting
of a commander, his deputy and a radio operator and one of the "Jeds"
was always French with the other two being either British or American
whose job was to maintain radio contact with Britain, to provide
professional military training to the maquis and in the words of the
British historian Terry Crowdy to "tactfully" give professional
military leadership. One "Jed", the British officer Tommy
Macpherson observed that the FTP used rough methods to motivate
"The leader of the FTP in the Department of Lot was a very strong
character who went under the name of Commissar Georges. He actually
held indoctrination classes as well as his military operations and
exercised a degree of almost forced recruitment among the young people
of the area, threatening their families. But once he got them on
board, he did operate against the Germans."
The plans for the Resistance in
Operation Overlord were:
Plan Vert-a systematic sabotage campaign to destroy the French
Plan Rouge-to attack and destroy all German ammunition dumps across
Plan Bleu-to attack and destroy all power lines across France.
Plan Violet-to attack and destroy phone lines in France.
Plan Jaune-to attack German command posts.
Plan Noir-to attack German fuel depots.
Plan Tortue-to sabotage the roads of France.
General de Gaulle himself was only informed by Churchill on 4 June
1944 that the Allies planned to land in France on 6 June. Until then
Free French leaders had no idea when and where Operation Overlord
was due to take place. On 5 June 1944, orders were given to
activate Plan Violet. Of all the plans, Plan Violet was the most
important to Operation Overlord, for destroying telephone lines and
cutting underground cables prevented phone calls and orders
transmitted by telex from getting through and forced the Germans to
use their radios to communicate. As the code-breakers of
Bletchley Park had broken many of the codes encrypted by the Enigma
Machine, this gave a considerable intelligence advantage to the Allied
generals. During the
Normandy campaign, the Resistance was so
effective in blowing up telephone lines and cables that the Wehrmacht
Waffen SS largely abandoned the French phone system as too
unreliable and used the radio instead, thereby allowing Bletchley Park
to listen in. On 9 June 1944 Eisenhower reached an agreement
recognizing the FFI was part of the Allied order of battle and that
Koenig was to operate under his command. On 10 June 1944, Koening
ordered the Resistance not to engage in insurrection nationale like
those attempted on the Glières plateau or at Mont Mouchet, instead
ordering: "Keep guerilla activity below its maximum level . . . Do not
mass together . . . Form small separate groups". A statement
issued by de Gaulle declared the FFI was part of the French Army and
resistance leaders were now all Army officers with those résistants
commanding 30 men becoming sous-lieutenants; those commanding 100
becoming lieutenants; those commanding 300 were becoming capitaines;
those commanding 1,000 men becoming commandants and those commanding
2,000 men becoming lieutenant-colonels. In a press communiqué
issued on 12 June 1944, Field Marshal
Gerd von Rundstedt
Gerd von Rundstedt declared that
he did not recognize the FFI as part of the French Army and ordered
Wehrmacht to summary execute any Frenchman or Frenchwoman serving
in the FFI.
The other major Resistance operations were Plan Vert and Plan
Tortue. In June 1944, the Resistance destroyed French railroads
at 486 different points and by 7 June 1944, the day after D-Day, the
Wehrmacht complained that due to sabotage that the main railroad lines
between Avranches and St. Lô, between Cherbourg and St. Lô and
Caen and St. Lô were now out of action. As the Wehrmacht
was forced to use the roads instead of railroads, Plan Tortue focused
on ambushing the
Wehrmacht and the
Waffen SS as they travelled to the
battlefields of Normandy. The maquis were joined in their
guerrilla campaign by the Jedburgh teams, SOE agents, the "Operational
Groups" of the OSS and by teams from the elite British
Service (SAS) regiment. The SAS commandos had jeeps armored with
machine guns that they used to travel across French countryside and
ambush German convoys. One SAS group, operating in Brittany, had
an artillery gun flown in, which they used to destroy German tanks,
much to the surprise of the Germans who were not expecting this much
firepower to be used in ambushes. A SAS officer, Ian Wellsted
described the maquis band in which operated with as:
"It was hard to well what they had been before German labour laws
threw them all together in the depths of the wild woods. Some had been
shopkeepers, artisans, young sons of wealthy parents. Others were
scrum of the gutter and many were soldiers. Now, however, all were
much the same. All wore the clothes, and many still the wooden clogs,
of peasants. Some lucky ones had scraps of uniforms and British
battledress, but predominantly their clothes consisted of drab colored
shirts, blue overall trousers and German field boots, whose owners no
doubt had ceased to require them for obvious reasons. They wore
neither brassards nor regular uniform of any kind. The only
distinguishable difference between the men of the Maquis and the men
of the country from they had sprung was the pistol cocked aggressively
from the trouser tops, the rifle on the shoulder, the Sten on the back
or the string of grenades depending on the belt.
Sometimes, the maquis wore armbands featuring the tricolor with either
Cross of Lorraine
Cross of Lorraine or the initials FFI stamped on them, so they could
maintain that they had insignia and thus a sort of uniform, making
them entitled to legal protection under the Geneva and Hague
Usually, the maquis and their Anglo-American allies would cut down a
tree to block a road in the wooded section of the French countryside,
sometimes an anti-tank mine would be planted under the tree trunk and
the Germans would be ambushed with machine gun and sniper fire when
they attempted to remove the tree blocking the road. Such
operations seriously delayed the Germans with the elite 2nd Waffen SS
Division Das Reich taking 18 days to travel from
Toulouse to Caen, a
journey that was expected to take only 3 days. The "Jed" Tommy
Macpherson who was attached to a maquis band of 27 French and Spanish
communists taught the maquisards to fire their Sten guns with wet
clothes wrapped around the barrels, which made the Sten guns sound
like heavy machine guns to experienced troops, which meant when the
maquis ambushed the men of the Das Reich division, the SS took cover
and responded more far cautiously than they would have if they had
known that they only under fire from Sten guns. In a typical
ambush of the Das Reich division, Macpherson had a bomb planted on a
bridge to knock out a half-truck while having the maquis fire on the
SS; when a Panther tank came up to engage the maquis, one of the
maquisards threw a "Gammon grenade", which knocked out the tank
tracks. As more of the SS tanks began to shell the maquis,
Macpherson ordered his men to retreat, content to know he had delayed
the Das Reich division by several hours and that he would do the same
again the next day, and the next. On 9 June 1944, the Das Reich
division took revenge for maquis attacks by hanging 99 people selected
at random in the town of
Tulle from all the lampposts in the
town. The next day, the Der Führer regiment of the Das Reich
division destroyed the town of Oradour-sur-Glane, killing 642 people
including 246 women and 207 children. SS Sturmbannführer Adolf
Diekmann, the commanding officer of the Der Führer regiment of the
Das Reich division had wanted to destroy another French town
Oradour-sur-Vayres, whose people were said to be providing food and
shelter to the maquis, but had taken a wrong turn on the road, which
led him and his men to Oradour-sur-Glane, whose people had never
supported the maquis. One
Wehrmacht division transferred from the
Eastern Front to the Western Front took a week to move from the Soviet
Union to the borders of France and another three weeks to move from
the French border to the Battle of
Caen as Resistance attacks slowed
down its movement. An estimate by SHAEF stated the Germans were
moving at only 25% of their normal daily speed due to the constant
attacks of the maquis all across France.
Through the maquis caused the Germans much difficulty, the guerrillas
tended not to fare well in sustained combat. The SOE agent André
Hue who was leading a maquis band in
Brittany later recalled about the
Battle of Saint Marcel as the firefight on 18 June 1944 at a farmhouse
outside Saint Marcel he was using as his base:
"Now every weapon that the enemy possessed was brought to bear on our
front line in a cacophony of shots and explosions which could not
drown an even more sinister noise: the occasional crack of a single
bullet. A man within feet of me slumped to the ground with blood
spurting two feet into the air from the side of his neck . . . We had
anticipated an infantry assault-possibly backed up with light
armour-but snipers, a threat we had not met before, were difficult to
counter. Within minutes of the first casualty, another seven of our
men lay dying within the farm complex: all had been shot from long
As the snipers continued to cut down his men while he could hear the
sound of panzers coming up in the distance, Hue ordered his men to
retreat into the woods under the cover of darkness while using his
radio to call in a
RAF airstrike that disorganised the Germans enough
to make escape possible. Summarizing up the Battle of Saint
Marcel, Hue wrote:
"The majority of the younger men had never been in battle, and seeing
their friends' brains and guts oozing on to the grass and mud made
them sick in the head and stomach. Just as terrifying to the young
Frenchmen was the sight of those who were wounded and who yet had to
die without help. I was not surprised that so many had enough. I was
perhaps astonished that the number of defectors were so low".
All over France, the maquis attempted to seize towns in June 1944,
expecting the Allies to be there soon, often with tragic results.
For instance, in Saint-Amand-Montrond, the maquis seized the town and
took 13 miliciens and their associated women prisoners, including the
wife of Francis Bout de l'An, a senior leader of the
intervened to take personal charge of the situation to get his wife
back. A joint German-milice force marched on
Saint-Amand-Montrond, causing the maquis to retreat and when the Axis
forces arrived, eleven people were shot on the spot while a number of
hostages were taken. The
Milice chief of Orléans and the
Bourges were able to negotiate an exchange on 23 June
1944, where the Maquis released their female hostages (except for one
woman who chose to join the maquis) in exchange for the Milice
releasing their hostages, though the Germans refused to free any of
their hostages and instead deported them to the concentration
camps. As for the miliciens taken hostage, the maquisards knew if
they were freed, they would reveal their hideout and their names as
both the miliciens and maquisards had grown up in the same town and
knew each other well (men on both sides had once been friends) while
at the same time food was in short supply, making their hostages a
drain on their food supplies; leading to the maquisards to hang their
hostages (shooting them would make too much noise) out in the
woods. Bout de l'An decided to seek revenge for his wife's
captivity by sending a force of miliciens under Lécussan to round up
the surviving Jews of
Bourges and buried 36 Jews alive out in the
woods, as Bout de l'An believed that the Resistance was all the work
of the Jews.
On 23 June 1944, Koenig began to operate, giving orders to all the SOE
and OSS agents via the
Special Forces Headquarters. By this time,
the maquis had formed assassination squads to kill collaborators and
on 28 June 1944, a group of maquisards disguised as miliciens were
able to enter the apartment of the radio newscaster Philippe Henriot
who was serving as Minister of Information and
Propaganda in the Vichy
government and shot him down in front of his wife. Darnard had
Milice go on a rampage after Henriot's assassination, massacring
résistants in Toulouse, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble,
Lyon and other
places with for example, seven résistants being publicity shot by the
Milice in the town square of Mâcon. All over France, the Germans
lashed out against the Resistance in an orgy of killings, of which the
Oradour-sur-Glane is merely the most infamous.
Speaking of an atrocity committed outside of
Nice in July 1944, one
man testified at Nurnberg:
"Having been attacked . . . by several groups of Maquis in the region,
by way of reprisals, a Mongolian detachment, still under the SS, went
to a farm where two French members of the Resistance had been hidden.
Being unable to take them prisoner, these soldiers then took the
proprietors of that farm (the husband and wife), and after subjecting
them to numerous atrocities (knifing, rape, et cetera) they shot them
down with submachine guns. Then they took the son of these victims who
was only three years of age, and, after having frightfully tortured
him, they crucified him on the gate of the farmhouse".
The reference to the "Mongolians" were to Asians serving in the Red
Army who been captured by the
Wehrmacht and joined either the German
Ostlegionen or the SS; the French called all these men
"Mongols" regardless if they were Mongols or not. The
especially hated by the Resistance and captured miliciens could expect
little mercy. One maquisard fighting in the
Haute-Savoie wrote in his
diary about the fate of a milicien taken prisoner in July 1944:
"Aged twenty-nine, married three months ago. Made to saw wood in the
hot sun wearing a pullover and jacket. Made to drink warm salted
water. Ears cut off. Covered with blows from fists and bayonets.
Stoned. Made to dig his gave. Made to lie in it. Finished off with a
blow in the stomach from a spade. Two days to die".
The rejection of the "Force C" plan had not reached many of the maquis
leaders operating out in the countryside and after the news of D-Day,
the maquis attempted to seize "redoubts", most notably at the Vercors
plateau. Eugène Chavant, the FFI chief in the
ordered all maquis bands to concentrate on the
Vercors plateau after
hearing of D-Day. By 9 June 1944, some 3,000 maquisards had
heeded the call and 3 July 1944 the "Free Republic of the Vercors" was
proclaimed. Through the Allies did try to fly in supplies to the
"redoubts" and the marquis fought bravely, all these operations ended
with the Resistance defeated. In the middle of June, the
Wehrmacht had taken the village of
the Maquis du Vercors, which severed the link between the Vercors
plateau and Grenoble. To celebrate Bastille Day, the US Army Air
Force sent in 360 B-17s to drop supplies of weapons to the maquisards
on the Vercors plateau. However, the weapons the American dropped
were all light weapons and Chavant sent a radio message to Algiers on
night of 21 July 1944 asking for heavy weapons to air-dropped, called
the leaders in Algiers criminals and cowards for not arranging more
support, and ended with the line: "That's what we are saying criminals
and cowards". In the Battle of the Vercors Plateau, the SS landed
a glider company and the maquis suffered very heavy losses. Many
of the "German" units fighting on the Vercors were Ostlegionen
(Eastern Legions), Red Army POWs, mostly Russians and Ukrainians, who
had joined the SS after being taken prisoner in 1942 or 1943. By this
point the Germans had taken such heavy losses on the Eastern Front
that they needed the manpower of the
Ostlegionen to compensate. While
the same Alpine division that taken the Glières plateau in March
stormed up the
Vercors plateau supported by a tank unit based in Lyon,
the SS landed via glider. The maquis lost about 650 killed during
the fighting on the
Vercors plateau and afterwards, the Germans shot
about 200 maquisards, mostly wounded who had been unable to escape
together with the medical team that had stayed behind to take care of
them. In the aftermath of the Battle of the Vercors, the local
people were victims of massive reprisals which included numerous cases
of looting, rape and extrajudicial executions.
In early August 1944, Hitler ordered Field Marshal Günther von Kluge
Operation Lüttich against the Americans, and as the
Resistance had severed the telephone lines, the orders for Lüttich
were transmitted via the radio in a code that had been broken by the
Government Code and Cypher School, leading to Ultra intelligence that
gave the Americans advanced notice and time to prepare for the coming
offensive. After the breakout from Normandy, Eisenhower had
planned to by-pass Paris while Hitler had ordered General Dietrich von
Choltitz to destroy Paris rather allowing the city be liberated,
stating "Paris must be destroyed from top to bottom, before the
Wehrmacht leaves, do not leave a church or cultural monument
standing". The FFI in Paris led by
Alexandre Parodi and Jacques
Chaban-Delmas urged patience while Henri Tanguy (codename Colonel
Rol), the FTP chief in Paris wanted to start a revolt, being deterred
only by the fact that the Resistance in Paris had about 15,000 men,
but only 600 guns, mostly rifles and machine guns. On 19 August
1944, the Paris police, until then still loyal to Vichy, went over to
the Resistance as a group of policemen hosted the tricolore over the
Préfecture de Police on the Ile de la Cité, which was the first time
the tricolor had flown in Paris since June 1940. All over Paris,
the outlawed tricolore started to fly over schools, mairies and police
stations, an open challenge to German power, and a sign that the
French civil service was shifting its loyalty. Emboldened, Tanguy
and his men started to attack German forces on the Boulevard
Saint-Michel and Boulevard Saint-Germain, leading to a mass
insurrection as Parisians started to build barricades in the
streets. By the end of the day, about 50 Germans and 150
résistants had been killed and not wanting the Communists to have the
credit for liberating Paris, the Gaullist Parodi sanctioned the
uprising. Faced with an urban uprising that he was unprepared
for, Choltitz arranged a truce with Parodi via the Swedish consul
Raoul Nordling, marking the first time that the Germans had treated
the resistance as a legitimate opponent.
On 21 August 1944, Koenig was given command of all the BCRA agents,
the SOE's F section and RF section agents and the Jedburgh teams,
which reflected the political need to put all of the resistance under
French control. By the end of August 1944, the SOE had a total of
53 radio stations operating in France, up from the two it had begun
with in May 1941.
De Gaulle disapproved of the truce as he used the uprising to order on
22 August General Jacques Leclerc's 2nd Armored Division to liberate
Paris, stating he did not want the Communists to liberate the
city. On 24 August, French soldiers entered Paris, which led to
some hours of intense fighting before Choltitz surrendered on 25
August, through pockets of German and milice forces fought on for
several more days as Choltiz simply did not inform his forces of his
plans to surrender. On the afternoon of August 25, 1944 de Gaulle
returned to Paris, a city he not set foot in since June 1940, to be
greeted by vast cheering crowds as he walked down the
As various cities, towns and villages were liberated in France, the
Resistance was usually the most organized force that took over.
Many résistants were disgusted by the mass influx of new members in
the dying days of the struggle, contemptuously calling them the FFS
(Forces Françaises de Septembre-French Forces of September) or the
Septemberists for short, as all these people had conveniently only
discovered their French patriotism in September 1944. In the
middle of 1944, Chaban-Delmas had reported to de Gaulle that the FFI
numbered 15, 000 in Paris, but the time of the liberation of Paris on
25 August 1944, between 50, 000-60, 000 people were wearing FFI
armbands. The liberation of France began with
D-Day on 6 June
1944, but different areas of France were liberated at different
times. Strasbourg was not liberated until November 1944, and some
of the coastal towns on the
English Channel and the Atlantic like
Dunkirk were still in German hands when the war ended on 8 May 1945.
Ousby observed: "There was no national day for Liberation. Each town
and village still celebrates a different day, the gaps between them
marking advances that often looked bogged down, pockets of German
defense that often turned out to be unexpectedly tough. It proved the
bitterest of ends to a bitter war." As France was liberated, many
résistants enlisted in the French Army, with 75, 000 résistants
fighting as regular soldiers by November 1944, and by the end of the
war, 135, 000 résistants were serving with the French forces
advancing into Germany. For many resistance leaders who gave
themselves the title of captain or colonel, it was quite a comedown to
be reduced to a private.
Besides for attempting to establish a government, the Resistance took
its revenge on collaborators who were often beaten or killed in
extrajudicial executions. Miliciens were usually shot without the
bother of a trial, and at least 10,000 miliciens were shot in
1944. The young women who had engaged in collaboration
horizontale by sleeping with the Germans were singled out and had
their heads publicly shaven as a mark of their disgrace, which meant
that a good percentage of the young women in France were shaven bald
in 1944. The attacks on the young women who had German lovers had
the "atmosphere of a savage carnival" as the women were rounded by
mobs to be insulted, beaten and shaven. One résistant in the
Gard region explained the violence to a reporter in September 1944:
"I'll simply say that the majority of the FFI have been outlaws. They
are lads from the mining areas...they have been hunted; they have been
imprisoned; they have been tortured by miliciens whom they now
recognize. It is understandable that they should now want to beat them
up". At the time, many feared that France was on the verge of
civil war as it was felt that the FTP might attempt to seize power,
but owing to the shortage of arms and loyalty to Moscow which
recognized General de Gaulle as France's leader, the Communists chose
to pursue power via ballots rather than bullets.
In the aftermath of the Liberation, the SOE agents were all ordered
out of France as the Anglophobic de Gaulle wished to maintain a
version of history where the SOE never existed and the Resistance was
entirely a French affair. De Gaulle also promoted a version of
history where France for the entire occupation from 1940 to 1944 had
been a "nation in arms" with the Resistance representing almost the
entirety of the French people had been waging a guerrilla struggle
from the beginning of the occupation right to its end. On 17 September
1944, in Bordeaux, the SOE agent Roger Landes, who become the leader
of the Resistance in
Bordeaux after André Grandclément, the previous
leader had been exposed as a
Gestapo informer, was taking part in the
celebrations of the liberation of
Bordeaux when General de Gaulle
motioned to him to come aside for a chat. De Gaulle told Landes,
who was wearing the uniform of a British Army officer that he was not
welcome in France and had two hours to leave the city and two days to
leave France. The Francophile Landes who had been born in
Britain, but grew up in France was profoundly hurt by this request,
and sadly left the nation he loved so much. De Gaulle had wanted
a resistance to give proof of France éternelle that held out against
the occupation, but never hid his distaste for the résistants, who he
regarded as trouble-makers. Everywhere, the résistants were
pushed out of power to be replaced by the same civil servants who had
served first the Third Republic to be followed by Vichy or the
naphtalinés, Army officers who gone into retirement in 1940, and
resumed their service with the liberation. Many résistants,
especially those on the left, who been expecting a new France after
the Liberation were disappointed with the conservative de Gaulle, who
insisted on a return to the world that existed before June 1940.
Resistant prisoners in France, July 1944
Resistant prisoners in France, 1940
French Resistance involved men and women representing a broad
range of ages, social classes, occupations, religions and political
affiliations. In 1942, one resistance leader claimed that the movement
received support from four groups: the "lower middle" and "middle
middle" classes, university professors and students, the entire
working class and a large majority of the peasants.
Emmanuel d'Astier de La Vigerie observed, in
retrospect, that the Resistance had been composed of social outcasts
or those on the fringes of society, saying "one could be a resister
only if one was maladjusted". Although many, including d'Astier
himself, did fit this description, most members of the Resistance came
from traditional backgrounds and were "individuals of exceptional
strong-mindedness, ready to break with family and friends"[attribution
needed] to serve a higher purpose.
The question of how many were active in the Resistance has been
raised. While stressing that the issue was sensitive and
approximate, François Marcot, a professor of history at the
Sorbonne, ventured an estimate of 200,000 activists and a further
300,000 with substantial involvement in Resistance operations.
Robert Paxton estimated the number of active resisters at
"about 2% of the adult French population (or about 400,000)", and went
on to observe that "there were, no doubt, wider complicities, but even
if one adds those willing to read underground newspapers, only some
two million persons, or around 10% of the adult population", had
been willing to risk any involvement at all. The post-war government
of France officially recognised 220,000 men and women.
The French flag with the Cross of Lorraine, emblem of the Free French
Free France and Gaullism
The doctrine of
Gaullism was born during the
Second World War
Second World War as a
French movement of patriotic resistance to the German invasion of
1940. Men of all political stripes who wanted to continue the fight
Adolf Hitler and who rejected the armistice concluded by
Philippe Pétain rallied to General Charles de Gaulle's
position. As a consequence, on 2 August 1940, de Gaulle was condemned
to death in absentia by the Vichy régime.
Between July and October 1940, de Gaulle rejected the
unconstitutional, repressive and racist laws instituted by Pétain,
and established his own bona fides (good faith) as the principal
defender of republican values. He asked, in his Appeal of 18 June
1940, that every patriot who could reach British territory should do
so and join the
Free French Army to fight in company with the Allies.
Free French forces also rallied the various French overseas
colonies to fight back against the Vichy régime. His approval of this
link between the Resistance and the colonials legitimised it.
De Gaulle's influence grew in France, and by 1942 one resistance
leader called him "the only possible leader for the France that
fights". Other Gaullists, those who could not join Britain (that
is, the overwhelming majority of them), remained in the territories
ruled by Vichy. The Allies helped build networks of propagandists,
spies and saboteurs to harass and discomfit the occupiers. Eventually,
leaders of all of these separate and fragmented Resistance
organizations were gathered and coordinated by
Jean Moulin under the
auspices of the
National Council of Resistance
National Council of Resistance (CNR), de Gaulle's
formal link to the irregulars throughout occupied France.
During the Italian campaign of 1943, 130,000
Free French soldiers
fought on the Allied side and, by the time of the
Free French forces numbered approximately half a million regulars and
more than 100,000
French Forces of the Interior
French Forces of the Interior (FFI). The Free French
2nd Armored Division, under General Philippe Leclerc, landed in
Normandy, and, in the waning days of summer 1944, led the drive toward
Paris. The FFI in
Normandy and the
Île-de-France region surrounding
Paris began to harass German forces intensively, cutting roads and
railways, setting ambushes and fighting conventional battles alongside
Free French 2nd Armored Division rolled ashore in
Normandy on 1
August 1944, and served under General Patton's Third Army. The
division played a critical role in Operation Cobra, the Allies'
"breakout" from its
Normandy beachhead, where it served as a link
between American and Canadian armies and made rapid progress against
German forces. The 2nd Armored all but destroyed the 9th Panzer
Division and mauled several other German units as well. During the
Normandy this German division lost 133 killed, 648 wounded
and 85 missing. The division's matériel losses included 76 armored
vehicles, seven cannons, 27 halftracks and 133 other vehicles.
Free French Generals
Henri Giraud (left) and
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle sit
down after shaking hands in the presence of
Franklin Roosevelt and
Winston Churchill at the Casablanca Conference, on 14 January 1943.
The most celebrated moment in the unit's history involved the
liberation of Paris. Allied strategy emphasized destroying German
forces retreating towards the Rhine, but when the French Resistance
under Colonel Rol staged an uprising in the city, Charles de Gaulle
pleaded with General Eisenhower to send help. Eisenhower agreed, and
Leclerc's forces headed toward Paris. After hard fighting that cost
the 2nd Division 35 tanks, 6 self-propelled guns and 111 vehicles,
Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, surrendered the
city in a ceremony at the Hotel Meurice. Jubilant crowds greeted the
French forces, and de Gaulle led a renowned victory parade through the
De Gaulle not only kept the patriotic resistance alive; he also did
everything possible to re-establish the French claim to independence
and sovereignty. As a leader, the American and British governments
preferred the less popular, but less abrasively vindictive, General
Giraud to de Gaulle, but for the French population de Gaulle was
almost universally recognised as the true leader in their victory.
These events forced Roosevelt to recognise, finally and fully, the
provisional government installed in France by de Gaulle.
Communist prisoner in France, July 1944
After the signing of the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the outbreak of
World War II
World War II in 1939, the French
Communist Party (PCF) was declared a
proscribed organisation by Édouard Daladier's government. Many
of its leaders were arrested and imprisoned or forced to go
underground. The PCF adopted an antiwar position on orders of the
Comintern in Moscow, which remained in place for the first
year of the German occupation, reflecting the September 1939
nonaggression pact between Germany and the USSR. Conflicts
erupted within the party, as many of its members opposed collaboration
with the Germans while others toed the party line of neutrality as
directed by Stalin in Moscow. On Armistice Day, November 11,
1940, communists were among the university students demonstrating
against German repression by marching along the Champs-Élysées.
It was only when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 that French
communists actively began to organize a resistance effort.
They benefited from their experience in clandestine operations during
the Spanish Civil War.
On 21 August 1941, Colonel
Pierre-Georges Fabien committed the first
overt violent act of communist resistance by assassinating a German
officer at the Barbès-Rochechouart station of the Paris Métro.
The attack, and others perpetrated in the following weeks, provoked
fierce reprisals, culminating in the execution of 98 hostages after
the Feldkommandant of
Nantes was shot on 20 October.
The military strength of the communists was still relatively feeble at
the end of 1941, but the rapid growth of the Francs-Tireurs et
Partisans (FTP), a radical armed movement, ensured that French
communists regained their reputation as an effective anti-fascist
force. The FTP was open to non-communists but operated under
communist control, with its members predominantly engaged in acts
of sabotage and guerrilla warfare. By 1944, the FTP had an
estimated strength of 100,000 men.
Towards the end of the occupation the PCF reached the height of its
influence, controlling large areas of France through the Resistance
units under its command. Some in the PCF wanted to launch a revolution
as the Germans withdrew from the country, but the leadership,
acting on Stalin's instructions, opposed this and adopted a policy of
cooperating with the Allied powers and advocating a new Popular Front
During the Nazi occupation of France, the French Trotskyist group
Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste printed the clandestine magazine
Arbeiter und Soldat (Worker and Soldier) to German troops. The
publication opposed both fascism and western imperialism, and 12
issues were distributed from July 1943 through July 1944.
Many well-known intellectual and artistic figures were attracted to
Communist party during the war, including the artist Pablo Picasso
and the writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Philosophers
Georges Politzer and
Valentin Feldman and writer
Jacques Decour were
among others. After the German invasion of the USSR, many Russian
white émigrés, inspired by Russian patriotic sentiment, would
support the Soviet war effort. A number of them formed the Union of
Russian Patriots, which adopted pro-Soviet positions and collaborated
closely with the French
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At the end of the summer of 1940,
Daniel Mayer was asked by Leon Blum
to reconstitute the SFIO (in ruins because of Paul Faure's defection
to the Vichy regime). In March 1941
Daniel Mayer created, with other
socialists like Suzanne Buisson and Félix Gouin, the Comité d'action
socialiste (CAS) in Nîmes. The same thing was created by
Jean-Baptiste Lebas in the
Nord-Pas-de-Calais (administratively joined
with Belgium) in January 1941, along the lines of a prior network
created in September 1940.
In 1942, Le Populaire, newspaper of the SFIO from 1921 to 1940, was
publishing again, clandestinely. The same year,
André Philip became
commissaire national à l'Intérieur of the
Free French (France
Félix Gouin joined
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle in
represent the socialists. In Algeria, left-wing networks of resistance
were already formed. As the
Riom trial began in 1942, the fervour and
the number of socialists in the Resistance grew. The CAS-Sud became
the secret SFIO in March 1943.
There was a majority from the SFIO in Libération-Nord, one of the
eight great networks to make up the National Council of the
Resistance, and in the Brutus network. Socialists were also important
in the organisation civile et militaire and in Libération-Sud.
Other socialist leaders in the Resistance included Pierre Brossolette,
Gaston Defferre, Jean Biondi, Jules Moch, Jean Pierre-Bloch,
Guy Mollet and Christian Pineau. François Camel and
Marx Dormoy were assassinated, while Jean-Baptiste Lebas, Isidore
Thivrier, Amédée Dunois, Claude Jordery and
Augustin Malroux died
during their deportation.
French milice and résistants, July 1944
Before the war, there were several ultrarightist organisations in
France including the monarchist, antisemitic and xenophobic Action
Française. Another among the most influential
factions of the right was
Croix-de-Feu (Cross of Fire), which
gradually moderated its positions during the early years of the war
and grew increasingly popular among the aging veterans of the First
Despite some differences in their positions on certain issues, these
organizations were united in their opposition to parliamentarism,
a stance that had led them to participate in demonstrations, most
notably the "political disturbance" riots of 6 February 1934. At
about the same time, La Cagoule, a fascist paramilitary organisation,
launched various actions aimed at destabilising the Third Republic.
These efforts continued until
La Cagoule could be infiltrated and
dismantled in 1937.
Like the founder of Action Française, Charles Maurras, who acclaimed
the collapse of the Republic as a "divine surprise", thousands
not only welcomed the Vichy régime, but collaborated with it to
one degree or another. But the powerful appeal of French nationalism
drove others to engage in resistance against occupying German forces.
In 1942, after an ambiguous period of collaboration, the former leader
of Croix de Feu, François de La Rocque, founded the Klan Network,
which provided information to the British intelligence services.
Georges Loustaunau-Lacau and Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, who had both
supported La Cagoule, founded the Alliance network, and Colonel
Groussard, of the Vichy secret services, founded the Gilbert network.
Some members of
Action Française engaged in the Resistance with
similar nationalistic motives. Some prominent examples are Daniel
Cordier, who became Jean Moulin's secretary, and Colonel Rémy, who
founded the Confrérie Notre-Dame. These groups also included Pierre
de Bénouville, who, together with Henri Frenay, led the
and Jacques Renouvin, who founded the group of resisters known as
Sometimes contact with others in the Resistance led some operatives to
adopt new political philosophies. Many gradually moved away from their
antisemitic prejudices and their hatred of "démocrassouille", 'dirty
democracy' (which many equated with mob rule), or simply away from
their traditional grass-roots conservatism. Bénouville and
Marie-Madeleine Fourcade became députés in the French parliament
after the war;
François Mitterrand moved towards the left and joined
Henri Frenay evolved towards European socialism,
and Daniel Cordier, whose family had supported Maurras for three
generations, abandoned his views in favor of the ideology of the
republican Jean Moulin.
Jean-Pierre Azéma coined the term vichysto-résistant
to describe those who at first supported the
Vichy regime (mostly
based on the patriotic image of Pétain rather than the Révolution
Nationale) but later joined the Resistance. The founder of Ceux
de la Libération ("Those of the Liberation"), Maurice Ripoche,
initially defended Vichy but soon placed the liberation of France
above all other goals and in 1941 opened his movement to leftists. In
contrast, many extreme right-wing members of the Resistance, such as
Gabriel Jeantet and Jacques Le Roy Ladurie, never renounced their
tolerant attitudes towards Vichy.
Affiche Rouge (red placard) was a famous propaganda poster
distributed by the Vichy French and German authorities in the spring
of 1944 in occupied Paris. It was intended to discredit a group of 23
Franc-Tireurs known as the "Manouchian group". After its members were
arrested, tortured and publicly tried, they were executed by firing
squad in Fort
Mont-Valérien on 21 February 1944. The poster
emphasised the composition of the group's membership, many of whom
were Jews and communists, to discredit the Resistance as not "French"
enough in its fundamental allegiance and motivations.
Ariadna Scriabina, (daughter of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin),
Armée Juive and was killed by the pro-Nazi milice in
1944. She was posthumously awarded the Croix de guerre and Médaille
de la Resistance.
The Vichy régime had legal authority in both the north of France,
which was occupied by the German Wehrmacht; and the southern "free
zone", where the régime's administrative centre, Vichy, was
located. Vichy voluntarily and willfully collaborated with
Nazi Germany and adopted a policy of persecution towards Jews,
demonstrated by the passage of antisemitic legislation as early as
October 1940. The Statute on Jews, which legally redefined French Jews
as a non-French lower class, deprived them of citizenship.
According to Philippe Pétain's chief of staff, "Germany was not at
the origin of the anti-Jewish legislation of Vichy. That legislation
was spontaneous and autonomous." The laws led to confiscations of
property, arrests, and deportations to concentration camps. As a
result of the fate promised them by Vichy and the Germans, Jews were
over-represented at all levels of the French Resistance. Studies show
that although Jews in France constituted only one percent of the
French population, they comprised ~15–20 percent of the
Resistance. Among these were many Jewish émigrés, such as
Hungarian artists and writers.
The Jewish youth movement Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs israélites de
France (EEIF), equivalent to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in other
countries, had, during the early years of the occupation, shown
support for the Vichy regime's traditional values, until it was
banned in 1943, after which its older members soon formed armed
A militant Jewish
Zionist resistance organisation, the Jewish Army
(Armée Juive), was founded in 1942. It was established and led by
Abraham Polonski, Eugénie Polonski, Lucien Lublin, David Knout
and Ariadna Scriabina (daughter of the Russian composer Alexander
Scriabin). They continued armed resistance under a
until liberation finally arrived. The Armée juive organised escape
routes across the Pyrenées to Spain, and smuggled about 300 Jews out
of the country during 1943–1944. They distributed millions of
dollars from the American Joint Distribution Committee to relief
organisations and fighting units within France. In 1944, the EIF
and the Jewish Army combined to form the Organisation Juive de Combat
(OJC). The OJC had four hundred members by the summer of 1944,
and participated in the liberations of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Grenoble
In the southern occupation zone, the Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants
(roughly, Children's Relief Effort), a French-Jewish humanitarian
organisation commonly called OSE, saved the lives of between
7,000-9,000 Jewish children by forging papers, smuggling them into
neutral countries and sheltering them in orphanages, schools, and
Artist's impression of a meeting of the PCF (Parti communiste
français) central committee at Longjumeau, 1943. Left to right:
Benoît Frachon, Auguste Lecoeur,
Jacques Duclos and Charles Tillon.
The Armenian community of France played an active role in the
Resistance. Armenian poet and communist Missak Manouchian
became one of the leaders of the
French Resistance and commander of
Manouchian Group (the family of
Charles Aznavour had supported
Missak and his wife Meliné when they were in hiding). Arpen Tavitian,
another executed member of the Manouchian group, industrialist
Napoléon Bullukian (1905–1984), poets Kégham Atmadjian
Rouben Melik were other famous participants in the
French Resistance. The Anti-Fascist Underground Patriotic Organization
was also commanded by Armenian officiers. Armenian-French writer
Louise Aslanian (1906–1945), another
French Resistance activist, was
arrested among with her husband
Arpiar Aslanian on July 24th, 1944,
taken to the Nazi concentration camps by Nazis and killed in
1945. Many of Louise's manuscripts and diaries were confiscated and
destroyed by Nazis. Resisters Alexander Kazarian and Bardukh
Petrosian were awarded by the highest military orders of France by
General Charles de Gaulle. Henri Karayan (1921–2011), a member
of the Manouchian Group, participated in illegal distribution of
L'Humanité in Paris and was engaged in armed struggle until the
Libération. In 2012, 95-year-old Arsene Tchakarian, the last
survivor of the Manouchian resistance group who fought against
occupying Nazi German forces during the Second World War, was
decorated as Officer of the
Legion of Honour
Legion of Honour by the president of
Free France legionnaires in French Morocco, 1941
Georgians living in France and the French colonies and people of
Georgian ethnicity played an active and symbolic role in the French
resistance. One of the most renowned figures of the
Free French Forces
Dimitri Amilakhvari who participated in every important
operation that involved French forces until 1942 and led the Légion
étrangère into battle in the Norwegian and later African campaigns
against Rommels Africa Corps. Under general Koenig, he and his
heavily outnumbered troops committed daring raids dealing decicive
losses to the Germans at the Battle of Bir Hakeim. During the
battle he is said to have written: "We, foreigners, have only one way
to prove to France our gratitude: to be killed ..." General Degaulle
personally awarded Amilakhvari with the
Order of Liberation
Order of Liberation and
posthumously named him and his men the honour of France. He was
also known by the French populace as "Bazorka". The Lt.Col was
one of the 66 French recipients of the
Norwegian War Cross
Norwegian War Cross and was
also posthumously awarded the Legion of Honour. He led his troops by
example and died in combat during the
Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein in
October 1942. Another known resistance fighter was Beglar
Samkharadze, a captured Soviet soldier who got transferred to France
where he escaped and joined the Resistance. Upon return to his
homeland, he was imprisoned by Soviet authorities on charges of high
treason but two commanders of the
French Resistance testified for his
commitment in the fight against Nazi Germany.
Further information: Women in the French Resistance
"Nicole Minet", a French Partisan who captured 25 Nazis in the
Chartres area (August 1944).
Although inequalities persisted under the Third Republic, the cultural
changes that followed the
First World War
First World War allowed differences in the
treatment of men and women in France to narrow gradually, with
some women assuming political responsibilities as early as the 1930s.
The defeat of France in 1940 and the appointment of the Vichy
régime's conservative leader, Philippe Pétain, undermined
feminism, and France began a restructuring of society based on
the "femme au foyer" or "women at home" imperative. On at least
one occasion, Pétain spoke out to French mothers about their
Mothers of France, our native land, yours is the most difficult task
but also the most gratifying. You are, even before the state, the true
educators. You alone know how to inspire in all [our youth] the
inclination for work, the sense of discipline, the modesty, the
respect, that give men character and make nations strong.
Despite opposing the collaborationist regime, the French Resistance
generally sympathised with its antifeminism and did not encourage the
participation of women in war and politics, following, in the words of
historian Henri Noguères, "a notion of inequality between the sexes
as old as our civilisation and as firmly implanted in the Resistance
as it was elsewhere in France". Consequently, women in the
Resistance were less numerous than men and averaged only 11% of the
members in the formal networks and movements. Not all of the
women involved in the Resistance were confined to subordinate
roles. Intellectuals like
Germaine Tillion and Suzanne
Hiltermann-Souloumiac, highly aware of the signification of Nazism and
collaboration were among the few early resistants. Suzanne
Hiltermann-Souloumiac played an important role in the Dutch-Paris
movement, specialised in rescuing allied pilots. Lucie Aubrac, the
iconic resister and co-founder of Libération-Sud, was never assigned
a specific role in the hierarchy of the movement. Hélène
Viannay, one of the founders of
Défense de la France
Défense de la France and married to a
man who shared her political views, was never permitted to express her
opinions in the underground newspaper, and her husband took two years
to arrive at political conclusions she had held for many years.
Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, the only female leader in the
Resistance, headed the Alliance network. The
Organisation Civile et Militaire had a female wing headed by
Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux, who took part in setting up the Œuvre
de Sainte-Foy to assist prisoners in French jails and German
concentration camps. But no women were chosen to lead any of the
eight major Resistance movements. After the liberation of France, the
provisional government appointed no women ministers or commissaires de
Networks and movements
A volunteer of the
French Resistance interior force (FFI) at
Châteaudun in 1944
Main article: List of networks and movements of the French Resistance
In this context, it is customary to distinguish the various
organisations of the
French Resistance as movements or networks. A
Resistance network was an organisation created for a specific military
purpose, usually intelligence-gathering, sabotage or aiding Allied air
crews who had been shot down behind enemy lines. A
Resistance movement, on the other hand, was focused on educating and
organising the population, i.e., "to raise awareness and organise
the people as broadly as possible."
German military and résistants, in Brittany, July, 1944
German military and résistants, July, 1944
Further information: Operation Jedburgh
In July 1940, after the defeat of the French armies and the consequent
armistice with Germany, British prime minister
Winston Churchill asked
Free French government-in-exile (headed by General Charles de
Gaulle) to set up a secret service agency in occupied France to
counter the threat of a German operation code-named Operation Sea
Lion, the expected cross-channel invasion of Britain. Colonel André
Dewavrin (also known as Colonel Passy), who had previously worked for
France's military intelligence service, the Deuxième Bureau, took on
the responsibility for creating such a network. Its principal goal was
London of German military operations on the Atlantic coast
and in the English Channel. The spy network was called the Bureau
Central de Renseignements et d'Action (BCRA), and its actions were
carried out by volunteers who were parachuted into France to create
and nourish local Resistance cells.
Of the nearly 2,000 volunteers who were active by the end of the war,
one of the most effective and well-known was the agent Gilbert
Renault, who was awarded the
Ordre de la Libération
Ordre de la Libération and later the
Legion of Honour
Legion of Honour for his deeds. Known mainly by the pseudonym
Colonel Rémy, he returned to France in August 1940 not long after the
surrender of France, where the following November he organised one of
the most active and important Resistance networks of the BCRA, the
Confrérie de Notre Dame (Brotherhood of Our Lady), which provided the
Allies with photographs, maps and important information on German
defences in general and the
Atlantic Wall in particular. From 1941
on, networks such as these allowed the BCRA to send armed
paratroopers, weapons and radio equipment into France to carry out
Another important BCRA operative, Henri Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, a
naval officer, developed a 26-person network in France. He was
betrayed, arrested in May 1941, and shot on 29 August 1941.
Christian Pineau, one of the founders of the Libération Nord
movement, also had BCRA roots. During his trip to
London in April
1942, the BCRA entrusted him with the creation of two new intelligence
systems, Phalanx and Cohors-Asturies. Both networks proved vital later
in the war.
Mouvements Unis de la Résistance (Unified Movements of the
Resistance, MUR) was a
French Resistance organisation resulting from
the regrouping of three major Resistance movements ("Combat",
"Franc-Tireur" and "Libération-Sud") in January 1943. Later that
year, the BCRA and the United Movements of Resistance merged their
Another BCRA appendage was called Gallia, a fact-gathering network
specialising in military intelligence and police activities. Its
importance increased throughout the second half of 1943 and into the
spring of 1944. It eventually became the largest BCRA network in the
Vichy zone, employing about 2,500 sources, contacts, couriers and
analysts. Gallia's work did not stop after the 1944 landings in
Normandy and Provence; it provided information to the Allies that
allowed for the bombing of the retreating German armies' military
Foreigners in the Resistance
Dutch-Paris built an important network in France to help resistants,
Jews and allied pilots to cross the
Pyrenees and flee to Britain. 800
Jews and 142 pilots were saved. Near the end of the war, because of a
denunciation, nearly all members of the network were caught and
deported to concentration camps, where many died.
Main article: Spanish Maquis
Following their defeat in the
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War in early 1939, about
half a million Spanish Republicans fled to France to escape
imprisonment or execution. On the north side of the Pyrenees,
such refugees were confined in internment camps such as
Camp Gurs and
Camp Vernet. Although over half of these had been
repatriated to Spain (or elsewhere) by the time Pétain proclaimed the
Vichy Régime in 1940, the 120,000 to 150,000 who remained
became political prisoners, and the foreign equivalent to the Service
du Travail Obligatoire, the Compagnies de Travailleurs Étrangers
(Companies of Foreign Workers) or CTE, began to pursue them for slave
labour. The CTE permitted prisoners to leave the internment camps
if they agreed to work in German factories, but as many as 60,000
Republicans recruited for the labour service managed to escape and
join the French Resistance. Thousands of suspected anti-fascist
Republicans were deported to German concentration camps instead,
however. Most were sent to Mauthausen where, of the 10,000
Spaniards registered, only 2,000 survived the war.
Many Spanish escapees joined
French Resistance groups; others formed
their own autonomous groups which became known as the Spanish maquis.
In April 1942, Spanish communists formed an organisation called the
XIV Corps, an armed guerrilla movement of about 3,400 combatants by
June 1944. Although the group first worked closely with the
Francs-Tireurs et Partisans
Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP), it re-formed as the Agrupación de
Guerrilleros Españoles (Spanish Guerrilla Group, AGE) in May
1944. The name change was intended to convey the group's
composition: Spanish soldiers ultimately advocating the fall of
General Francisco Franco. After the German Army had been driven
from France, the Spanish maquis refocused on Spain.
Czechs and Slovaks
Among Czechs and Slovaks who joined the
French Resistance were Otakar
Věra Waldes and Artur London.
From spring 1943, German and Austrian anti-fascists who had fought in
International Brigades during the
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War fought in
Lozère and the
Cévennes alongside the
French Resistance in the
Francs-Tireurs et Partisans. During the first years of the
occupation they had been employed in the CTE, but following the German
invasion of the southern zone in 1942 the threat increased and many
joined the maquis. They were led by militant German communist Otto
Kühne, a former member of the Reichstag in the Weimar Republic who
had over 2,000 Germans in the FTP under his command by July 1944. He
fought the Nazis directly, as in an April 1944 battle in
Saint-Étienne-Vallée-Française in which his soldiers destroyed a
Feldgendarmerie unit, or in an ambush of the
Waffen-SS on June 5,
400 men from
Luxembourg (which was annexed into Germany), many of whom
had refused to serve in, or who had deserted from, the German
Wehrmacht, left their tiny country to fight in the French maquis,
where they were particularly active in the regions of Lyon, Grenoble
Ardennes although many of them were killed in the war. Others,
like Antoine Diederich, rose to high rank in the Resistance.
Diederich, known only as "Capitaine Baptiste", had 77 maquis soldiers
under his command and is best known for attacking
Riom prison, where
he and his fighters freed every one of 114 inmates who had been
sentenced to death.
Many Hungarian émigrés, some of them Jewish, were artists and
writers working in Paris at the time of the occupation. They had gone
to Paris in the 1920s and 1930s to escape repression in their
homeland. Many joined the Resistance, where they were particularly
active in the regions of Lyon, Grenoble,
Marseille and Toulouse.
Jewish resisters included Imre Epstein in the Hungarian group at
Toulouse; György Vadnai (future
Lausanne rabbi) at Lyon; the writer
Emil Szittya at Limoges. Also participating were the painter Sándor
Józsa, the sculptor István Hajdú (Étienne Hajdu), the journalists
László Kőrös and Imre Gyomrai; the photographers Andor (André)
Lucien Hervé and Ervin Martón. Tamás Elek (1924–1944),
Imre Glasz (1902–1944) and József Boczor (1905–1944) were among
23 resisters executed for their work with the legendary Manouchian
Group. The Germans executed nearly 1,100 Jewish resisters of different
nationalities during the occupation, while others were killed in
On 3 March 1943, representatives of the Italian
Communist Party and
Italian Socialist Party
Italian Socialist Party who had taken refuge in France, signed the
"Pact of Lyon" which marked the beginning of their participation in
the Resistance. Italians were particularly numerous in the
Moselle industrial area, where they played a
determining role in the creation of the Département's main resistance
organisation, Groupe Mario.
Vittorio Culpo is an example of
Italians in the French Resistance.
Polish resistance in France during World War II
Main article: Polish resistance in France during World War II
The majority of the Polish soldiers, and some Polish civilians, who
stayed in France after the German victory in 1940, as well as one
Polish pilot shot down over France (one of many Polish pilots flying
for the RAF), joined the French Resistance, notably including Tony
Halik and Aleksander Kawałkowski.
While not part of the French Resistance, French-speaking Cajun
soldiers in the
United States military posed as local civilians in
France to channel American assistance to the Resistance.
Beginnings of a coordinated resistance
Resistants from Huelgoat.
From 1940 to 1942, the first years of the German occupation of France,
there was no systematically organised Resistance capable of
coordinated fighting throughout France. Active opposition to the
German and Vichy authorities was sporadic, and carried out only by a
tiny and fragmented set of operatives. Most French men and women
put their faith in the Vichy government and its figurehead, Marshal
Pétain, who continued to be widely regarded as the "savior" of
France, opinions which persisted until their unpopular
policies, and their collaboration with the foreign occupiers, became
The earliest Resistance organisations had no contact with the western
Allies, and received no material aid from
London or anywhere else.
Consequently, most focused on generating nationalist propaganda
through the distribution of underground newspapers. Many of the
major movements, such as Défense de la France, were primarily engaged
in publishing and distributing their newspapers. Even after they
became more intensively activist, propaganda and the cultivation of
positive morale remained, until the very end of the war, their most
Early acts of violent resistance were often motivated more by instinct
and fighting spirit than by any formal ideology, but later
several distinct political alignments and visions of post-liberation
France developed among the Resistance organisations. These differences
sometimes resulted in conflicts, but the differences among Resistance
factions were usually papered over by their shared opposition to Vichy
and the Germans; and over time, the various elements of the
Resistance began to unite.
Many of the networks recruited and controlled by the British and
Americans were not perceived by the French as particularly interested
in establishing a united or integrated Resistance operation, and the
guerrilla groups controlled by the communists were only slightly more
attracted by the idea of joining of a Resistance "umbrella"
organisation. Nonetheless, a contact between de Gaulle's envoys and
the communists was established at the end of 1942. The liberation of
Corsica in September 1943, a clear demonstration of the strength of
communist insurgency, was accomplished by the FTP, an effective force
not yet integrated into the Secret Army and not involved with General
Henri Giraud, the
Free French or the political unification of the
French Resistance began to unify in 1941. This was evidenced by
the formation of movements in the Vichy zone centred on such figures
Henri Frenay (Combat), Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie
(Libération-Sud) and François de Menthon, (Liberté), each of whom
was, independently, an agent of the Free French. Formal consolidation
was accomplished through the intervention of Jean Moulin.
Eure-et-Loir in 1939, Moulin was subsequently a part of the
Air Ministry of Pierre Cot. In this context, he had forged a strong
network of relationships in anti-fascist circles. Some time after
November 1940, the idea of teaming up with his former colleague,
Gaston Cusin, to identify and contact a number of potential Resistance
"centres of influence" occurred to him; but only during the summer of
1941 was he able to make the most critical contacts, including contact
with Henri Frenay, leader of the movement not yet called
still known as the National Liberation Movement. He also established
contact with de Menthon and Emmanuel d'Astier. In the report he wrote
for de Gaulle, he spoke of these three movements and entertained the
possibility of bringing them together under the acronym "LLL".
The Maquis (French pronunciation: [maˈki]) were rural
guerrilla bands of
French Resistance fighters, called maquisards,
during the Occupation of France in World War II. Initially, they were
composed of men who had escaped into the mountains to avoid
conscription into Vichy France's
Service du travail obligatoire
Service du travail obligatoire (STO)
to provide forced labor for Nazi Germany. To avert capture and
deportation to Germany, they became increasingly organized into
non-active resistance groups.
Jean Moulin's intercession
The majority of resistance movements in France were unified after
Moulin's formation of the
Conseil National de la Résistance
Conseil National de la Résistance (CNR) in
May 1943. CNR was coordinated with the
Free French forces
under the authority of French Generals
Henri Giraud and Charles de
Gaulle and their body, the Comité Français de Libération Nationale
The 30 September 1943 issue of the Resistance newspaper, Défense de
By June 1941, 81% of the miners of the national coal mining company,
Charbonnages de France, were on strike, slowing deliveries of coal to
German industrial plants supporting the war effort.
The first action of many Resistance movements was the publication and
distribution of clandestine press material. This was not the case with
all movements, since some refused civil action and preferred armed
resistance by groups such as CDLR and CDLL. Most clandestine
newspapers were not consistent in their editorial stance and often
consisted of only a single sheet, because the sale of all raw
materials –- paper, ink, stencils –- was prohibited.
By 1942, however, about 300,000 copies of underground publications
reached around two million readers. Resistance workers used friendly
print-shop facilities at night. Staff risked the Germans noticing that
a resistance newspaper used the same type face as officially
sanctioned documents. Profession-specific newspapers also existed. Le
Médecin Français advised doctors to immediately approve known
Service du travail obligatoire
Service du travail obligatoire while medically
disqualifying everyone else. La Terre advised farmers on how to send
food to resistance members. Bulletin des Chemins de Fer encouraged
railroad workers to sabotage German transportation. Unter Uns ("Among
Us"), published in German for the occupiers, printed stories of German
defeats on the eastern front.
In September 1940,
Agnès Humbert and Jean Cassou, then employed at
the Musée national des Arts et Traditions Populaires in Paris and
finding they were to be replaced by German-approved staff, used a
roneo machine belonging to the Museum to publish an open letter by
Paul Rivet to Marshal Pétain. This was followed by their first tract,
Vichy fait la guerre ('Vichy wages war'), written by Cassou. At
the end of 1940, a group of 10, including Humbert, Cassou, Marcel
Claude Aveline founded a clandestine newsletter called
Résistance, respecting and supporting De Gaulle but circumspect in
references to "that ridiculous old fool Pétain". It ran to five
issues before the arrest of the editors in March 1940.
In the northern zone, Pantagruel, the newspaper of Franc-Tireur, had a
circulation of 10,000 by June 1941 but was quickly replaced by
Libération-Nord which attained a circulation of 50,000, and by
Défense de la France
Défense de la France was distributing 450,000
copies. In the southern zone, François de Menthon's newspaper
Liberté merged with Henri Frenay's Vérité to form
December 1941, which grew to a circulation of 200,000 by 1944.
During the same period Pantagruel brought out 37 issues,
Libération-Sud 54 and Témoignage chrétien 15.
The underground press brought out books as well as newspapers through
publishing houses, such as
Les Éditions de Minuit (the Midnight
Press), which had been set up to circumvent Vichy and German
censorship. The 1942 novel
Le Silence de la Mer ("The Silence of the
Sea"), by Jean Bruller, quickly became a symbol of mental resistance
through its story of how an old man and his niece refused to speak to
the German officer occupying their house.
Francs-tireurs and Allied paratroopers reporting on the situation
during the Battle of
Normandy in 1944.
The intelligence networks were by far the most numerous and
substantial of Resistance activities. They collected information of
military value, such as coastal fortifications of the
Atlantic Wall or
Wehrmacht deployments. The BCRA and the different British intelligence
services often competed with one another to gather the most valuable
information from their Resistance networks in France.
The first agents of the
Free French to arrive from Britain landed on
the coast of
Brittany as early as July 1940. They were Lieutenants
Mansion, Saint-Jacques and Corvisart and Colonel Rémy, and didn't
hesitate to get in touch with the anti-Germans within the Vichy
military such as
Georges Loustaunau-Lacau and Georges Groussard.
The various Resistance movements in France had to understand the value
of intelligence networks in order to be recognized or receive
subsidies from the BCRA or the British. The intelligence service of
Francs-Tireurs et Partisans
Francs-Tireurs et Partisans was known by the code letters
FANA and headed by Georges Beyer, the brother-in-law of Charles
Tillon. Information from such services was often used as a bargaining
chip to qualify for airdrops of weapons.
The transmission of information was first done by radio transmitter.
Later, when air links by the
Westland Lysander became more frequent,
some information was also channeled through these couriers. By 1944,
the BCRA was receiving 1,000 telegrams by radio every day and 2,000
plans every week. Many radio operators, called pianistes, were
located by German goniometers. Their dangerous work gave them an
average life expectancy of around six months. Even children
partook in radio work (see Eddy Palacci). According to the historian
Jean-François Muracciole, "Throughout the war, how to communicate
remained the principal difficulty of intelligence networks. Not only
were the operators few and inept, but their information was
USAAF B-17 Flying Fortresses dropping supplies to the Maquis du
Vercors in 1944.
Sabotage was a form of resistance adopted by groups who wanted to go
beyond just distributing clandestine press publications. Many
laboratories were set up to manufacture explosives. In August 1941,
the Parisian chemist
France Bloch-Sérazin assembled a small
laboratory in her apartment to provide explosives to communist
Resistance fighters. The lab also produced cyanide capsules to
allow the fighters to evade torture if arrested. Indeed, she
herself was arrested in February 1942, tortured, and deported to
Hamburg where she was beheaded by guillotine in February 1943. In the
southern occupation zone,
Jacques Renouvin engaged in the same
activities on behalf of groups of francs-tireurs.
Stealing dynamite from the Germans eventually took preference over
handcrafting explosives. The British
Special Operations Executive
Special Operations Executive also
parachuted tons of explosives to its agents in France for essential
sabotage missions. The railways were a favorite target of
saboteurs, who soon understood that removing bolts from the tracks was
far more efficient than planting explosives.
Train-derailment strategies varied considerably in their
effectiveness. The Germans managed to repair the tracks quickly in
agricultural areas with level ground, since the salvage of some
matériel was a relatively easy proposition in such terrain. But
unbolting a connector plate on an outside rail in a mountainous area
(given the higher speed of trains going downhill) could result in the
derailment of an entire train with considerable amounts of front-ready
matériel strewn far down the mountainside. Among the
who joined the resistance, a subset were in Resistance-Fer which
focused on reporting the movement of German troops to the Allied
forces and sabotaging the railways' rolling stock as well as their
infrastructure. Following the invasions of
Normandy and Provence in
1944, the sabotage of rail transport became much more frequent and
effectively prevented some German troop deployments to the front and
hindered the subsequent retreat of German occupying forces.
Generally, the sabotage of equipment leaving armaments factories and
derailment in areas where equipment could not readily be salvaged was
a more discreet form of resistance, and probably at least as effective
Sabotage by resistants freed up vulnerable and expensive
aircraft for other uses rather than risk heavy losses by attacking
heavily defended targets. It was also preferred since it caused less
collateral damage and fewer civilian casualties than Allied
After the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, communists
engaged in guerrilla warfare, attacking German forces in French
cities. In July 1942, the Allies' failure to open a second front
resulted in a wave of communist guerrilla attacks aimed at maximizing
the number of Germans deployed in the West to give the USSR military
The assassinations that took place during summer and autumn 1941,
starting with Colonel Pierre-Georges Fabien's shooting of a German
officer in the Paris Métro, caused fierce reprisals and executions of
hundreds of French hostages. As a result, the clandestine press was
very discreet about the events and the communists soon decided to
discontinue the assassinations.
From July to October 1943, groups in Paris engaging in attacks against
occupying soldiers were better organized.
Joseph Epstein was assigned
responsibility for training Resistance fighters across the city, and
his new commandos of fifteen men perpetrated a number of attacks that
could not have been carried out before. The commandos were drawn from
the foreign branch of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, and the most
famous of them was the Manouchian Group.
An FFI fighter.
Role in the liberation of France and casualties
A group of resistants at the time of their joining forces with the
Canadian army at Boulogne, in September 1944.
Defining the precise role of the
French Resistance during the German
occupation, or assessing its military importance alongside the Allied
Forces during the liberation of France, is difficult. The two forms of
resistance, active and passive, and the north-south occupational
divide, allow for many different interpretations, but what can
broadly be agreed on is a synopsis of the events which took place.
Following the surrender of Fascist Italy in September 1943, a
significant example of Resistance strength was displayed when the
Corsican Resistance joined forces with the
Free French to liberate the
island from General Albert Kesselring's remaining German forces.
On mainland France itself, in the wake of the
D-Day landings in
Normandy in June 1944, the FFI and the communist fighting groups FTP,
theoretically unified under the command of General Pierre Kœnig,
fought alongside the Allies to free the rest of France. Several
color-coded plans were co-ordinated for sabotage, most importantly
Plan Vert (Green) for railways, Plan Bleu (Blue) for power
installations and Plan Violet (Purple) for
telecommunications. To complement these missions,
smaller plans were drafted: Plan Rouge (Red) for German ammunition
depots, Plan Jaune (Yellow) for German command posts, Plan Noir
(Black) for German fuel depots and Plan Tortue (Tortoise) for road
traffic. Their paralysis of German infrastructure is widely
thought to have been very effective. British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill later wrote in his memoirs praising the role the
Resistance played in the liberation of Brittany, "The French
Resistance Movement, which here numbered 30,000 men, played a notable
part, and the peninsula was quickly overrun."
Leclerc's 2nd Armoured Division parading after the Battle for Paris,
French resistance fighters in Paris at the Hotel de Ville, 1944.
Memorial to French resistance fighters Marchant and Olivier, shot by
the SS near
Hill 60 (Ypres)
Hill 60 (Ypres) in 1944
Liberation of Paris
Liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944, with the support of
Leclerc's French 2nd Armored Division, was one of the most famous and
glorious moments of the French Resistance. Although it is again
difficult to gauge their effectiveness precisely, popular anti-German
demonstrations, such as general strikes by the Paris Métro, the
gendarmerie and the police, took place, and fighting ensued.
The liberation of most of southwestern, central and southeastern
France was finally fulfilled with the arrival of the 1st French Army
of General de Lattre de Tassigny, which landed in Provence in August
1944 and was backed by over 25,000 maquis.
One source often referred to is General Dwight D. Eisenhower's comment
in his military memoir, Crusade in Europe:
Throughout France, the
Free French had been of inestimable value in
the campaign. They were particularly active in Brittany, but on every
portion of the front we secured help from them in a multitude of ways.
Without their great assistance, the liberation of France and the
defeat of the enemy in Western Europe would have consumed a much
longer time and meant greater losses to ourselves.
General Eisenhower also estimated the value of the Resistance to have
been equal to ten to fifteen divisions at the time of the landings.
(One infantry division comprised about ten thousand
soldiers.) Eisenhower's statements are all the more credible
since he based them on his GHQ's formal analyses and published them
only after the war, when propaganda was no longer a motive. Historians
still debate how effective the
French Resistance was militarily,
but the neutralization of the
Maquis du Vercors
Maquis du Vercors alone involved the
commitment of over 10,000 German troops within the theater, with
several more thousands held in reserve, as the Allied invasion was
Normandy and French
Operation Jedburgh commandos were
being dropped nearby to the south to prepare for the Allied landing in
Provence. One American officer, Ralph Ingersoll who served in SHEAF
wrote in his book Top Secret:
what cut the ice with us was the fact that when we came to France the
Resistance was so effective that it took half a dozen real live German
divisions to contend with it, divisions which might otherwise have
been on our backs in the Bocage. And it made the most cynical sit up
and take notice when we learned from German field officers that the
Germans in central France were truly terrified, had to live under
arms, could not move freely, had lost all control in sizable sectors
even before we came . . . It was a military fact that the French were
worth at least a score of divisions to us, maybe more".
It is estimated that FFI killed some 2,000 Germans, a low estimate
based on the figures from June 1944 only. Estimates of the
casualties among the Resistance are made harder by the dispersion of
movements at least until D-Day, but credible estimates start from
8,000 dead in action, 25,000 shot and several tens of thousands
deported, of whom 27,000 died in death camps. For perspective,
the best estimate is that 86,000 were deported from France without
racial motive, overwhelmingly comprising resistance fighters and more
than the number of Gypsies and Jews deported from France.
Veterans of the resistance raise flags at the annual commemoration
Canjuers military camp.
SNCF personnel killed during the
Second World War
Second World War in Metz
Immediately following the liberation, France was swept by a wave of
executions, public humiliations, assaults and detentions of suspected
collaborators, known as the épuration sauvage (wild purge). This
period succeeded the German occupational administration but preceded
the authority of the French Provisional Government, and consequently
lacked any form of institutional justice. Approximately 9,000
were executed, mostly without trial as summary executions,
notably including members and leaders of the pro-Nazi milices. In one
case, as many as 77 milices members were summarily executed at
once. An inquest into the issue of summary executions launched by
Jules Moch, the Minister of the Interior, came to the conclusion that
there were 9,673 summary executions. A second inquest in 1952
separated out 8,867 executions of suspected collaborators and 1,955
summary executions for which the motive of killing was not known,
giving a total of 10,822 executions. Head-shaving as a form of
humiliation and shaming was a common feature of the purges, and
between 10,000 and 30,000 women accused of having collaborated with
the Germans or having had relationships with German soldiers or
officers were subjected to the practice, becoming known as les
tondues (the shorn).
Women accused of collaboration with their heads shaved.
The official épuration légale ("legal purge") began following a June
1944 decree that established a three-tier system of judicial
courts: a High Court of Justice which dealt with Vichy ministers
and officials; Courts of Justice for other serious cases of alleged
collaboration; and regular Civic Courts for lesser cases of alleged
collaboration. Over 700 collaborators were executed
following proper legal trials. This initial phase of the purge trials
ended with a series of amnesty laws passed between 1951 &
1953 which reduced the number of imprisoned collaborators from
40,000 to 62, and was followed by a period of official
"repression" that lasted between 1954 & 1971.
During this period, and particularly after de Gaulle's return to power
in 1958, the collective memory of "Résistancialisme" tended
toward a highly-resistant France opposed to the collaboration of the
Vichy regime. This period ended when the aftermath of the events
of May 1968, which had divided French society between the conservative
"war generation" and the younger, more liberal students and
workers, led many to question the Resistance ideals promulgated
by the official history.
In coming to terms with the events of the occupation, several
different attitudes have emerged in France, in an evolution the
Henry Rousso has called the "Vichy Syndrome". The
questioning of France's past had become a national obsession by the
1980s, fuelled by the highly publicized trials of war criminals
Klaus Barbie and Maurice Papon. Although the occupation
is often still a sensitive subject in the early 21st century,
contrary to some interpretations the French as a whole have
acknowledged their past and no longer deny their conduct during the
Because so many resistance members were shot at Fort Mont-Valérien,
in Suresnes, the France Combattante memorial was installed there.
After the war, the influential French
Communist Party (PCF) projected
itself as "Le Parti des Fusillés" (The Party of Those Shot), in
recognition of the thousands of communists executed for their
Resistance activities. The number of communists killed
was in reality considerably less than the Party's figure of 75,000. It
is now estimated that close to 30,000 Frenchmen of all political
movements combined were shot, of whom only a few
thousand were communists. Others were deported, though, many of
which died in concentration camps.
The Vichy Regime's prejudicial policies had discredited traditional
conservatism in France by the end of the war, but following the
liberation many former Pétainistes became critical of the official
résistancialisme, using expressions such as "la mythe de la
Résistance" (the myth of the Resistance), one of them even
concluding, "The 'Gaullist' régime is therefore built on a
Literature and films
French Resistance has had a great influence on literature,
particularly in France. A famous example is the poem "Strophes pour se
souvenir", which was written by the communist academic
Louis Aragon in
1955 to commemorate the heroism of the Manouchian Group, whose 23
members were shot by the Nazis. The Resistance is also portrayed in
Jean Renoir's wartime This Land is Mine (1943), which was produced in
the USA. In the immediate postwar years, French cinema produced a
number of films that portrayed a France broadly present in the
La Bataille du rail (1946) depicted the
courageous efforts of French railway workers to sabotage German
reinforcement trains, and in the same year Le Père tranquille
told the story of a quiet insurance agent secretly involved in the
bombing of a factory. Collaborators were unflatteringly portrayed
as a rare unpopular minority, as played by Pierre Brewer in Jéricho
(also 1946) or
Serge Reggiani in Les Portes de la nuit (1946 as well),
and movements such as the
Milice were rarely evoked.
In the 1950s, a less heroic interpretation of the Resistance to the
occupation gradually began to emerge. In Claude Autant-Lara's La
Traversée de Paris (1956), the portrayal of the city's black market
and the prevailing general mediocrity disclosed the reality of
war-profiteering during the occupation. In the same year, Robert
Bresson presented A Man Escaped, in which an imprisoned Resistance
activist works with a reformed collaborator inmate to help him
escape. A cautious reappearance of the image of Vichy emerged in
Le Passage du Rhin (The Crossing of the Rhine)(1960), in which a crowd
successively acclaims both Pétain and de Gaulle.
After General de Gaulle's return to power in 1958, the portrayal of
the Resistance returned to its earlier résistancialisme. In this
manner, in Is Paris Burning? (1966), "the role of the resistant was
revalued according to [de Gaulle's] political trajectory". The
comic form of films such as
La Grande Vadrouille (also 1966) broadened
the image of Resistance heroes in the minds of average Frenchmen.
The most famous and critically acclaimed of all the résistancialisme
L'armée des ombres (Army of Shadows) by French filmmaker
Jean-Pierre Melville in 1969, a film inspired by Joseph Kessel's 1943
book as well as Melville's own experience as a Resistance fighter who
participated in Operation Dragoon. A 1995 television screening of
L'armée des ombres described it as "the best film made about the
fighters of the shadows, those anti-heroes." The shattering of
France's résistancialisme following the civil unrest of May 1968 was
made particularly clear in French cinema. The candid approach of the
The Sorrow and the Pity
The Sorrow and the Pity shone a spotlight on
antisemitism in France and disputed the official Resistance
ideals. Time magazine's positive review of the film wrote
Marcel Ophüls "tries to puncture the bourgeois myth
—- or protectively skew memory -— that allows France generally to
act as if hardly any Frenchmen collaborated with the Germans."
Franck Cassenti, with L'
Affiche Rouge (1976); Gilson, with La Brigade
(1975); and Mosco with the documentary Des terroristes à la retraite
addressed foreign resisters of the EGO, who were then relatively
unknown. In 1974, Louis Malle's
Lacombe, Lucien caused scandal and
polemic for his lack of moral judgment regarding the behavior of a
collaborator. Malle later portrayed the resistance of Catholic
priests who protected Jewish children in his 1987 film Au revoir, les
enfants. François Truffaut's 1980 film
Le Dernier Métro
Le Dernier Métro was set
during the German occupation of Paris and won ten Césars for its
story of a theatrical production staged while its Jewish director is
concealed by his wife in the theater's basement. The 1980s began
to portray the resistance of working women, as in Blanche et Marie
(1984). Later, Jacques Audiard's Un héros très discret (1996)
told the story of a young man's traveling to Paris and manufacturing a
Resistance past for himself, suggesting that many heroes of the
Resistance were impostors. In 1997
Claude Berri produced the
Lucie Aubrac based on the life of the Resistance heroine of the
same name, which was criticized for its Gaullist portrayal of the
Resistance and its overemphasizing the relationship between Aubrac and
Main article: List of people involved with the French Resistance
The well-known personalities of France – intellectuals, artists, and
entertainers – faced a serious dilemma in choosing to emigrate or to
remain in France during the country's occupation. They understood that
their post-war reputations would depend, in large part, on their
conduct during the war years. Most who remained in France aimed
to defend and further French culture and thereby weaken the German
hold on occupied France. Some were later ostracized following
accusations that they had collaborated. Among those who actively
fought in the Resistance, a number died for it – for instance the
writer Jean Prévost, the philosopher and mathematician Jean
Cavaillès, the historian Marc Bloch, and the philosopher Jean
Gosset; among those who survived and went on to reflect on their
experience, a particularly visible one was André Malraux.
Among prominent foreign figures who participated in the French
Resistance was the political scientist and later Iranian Prime
Minister Shapour Bakhtiar. After serving as the prime minister and
strong man of the authoritarian Shah regime in Iran, he was forced
back into Paris in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution. He was
assassinated on order of the Iranian Islamic Republic in 1991.<ref
name="German-repression">Saxon, Wolfgang (9 August 1991). "Shahpur
Bakhtiar: assassinated on order of the by Khomeini's Followers". New
York Times. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
Breton nationalism and World War II
Chant des Partisans
Military history of France during World War II
Polish Underground State
Women in the military
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^ a b Ousby 2000, p. 147.
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^ Ousby 2000, p. 118.
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^ a b c d e f Ousby 2000, p. 208.
^ a b c d e f g h Ousby 2000, p. 193.
^ Crowdy 2007, p. 24.
^ a b c d e Crowdy 2007, p. 25.
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^ Ousby 2000, pp. 222–223.
^ a b c Ousby 2000, p. 220.
^ a b c d e f g Crowdy 2007, p. 11.
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^ a b c d Crowdy 2007, p. 46.
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^ Ousby 2000, p. 292.
^ a b Ousby 2000, p. 293.
^ Ousby 2000, p. 294.
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^ a b Ousby 2000, p. 301.
^ a b Ousby 2000, p. 278.
^ a b Ousby 2000, p. 302.
^ Ousby 2000, p. 303-304.
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^ Ousby 2000, p. 300-302.
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^ Paxton 1972, p. 294.
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^ a b c d Weitz 1995, p. 60.
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^ Jackson 2003, p. 421.
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^ McMillan 1998, p. 136.
^ Curtis 2002, pp. 50–1.
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^ This expression has been used by many of Azéma's colleagues,
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Henry Rousso in L'Express n° 2871, 13 July 2006.
^ Jackson 2003, p. 497.
^ Christofferson & Christofferson 2006, p. 35.
^ Moore 2000, p. 126.
^ Knapp 2006, p. 3.
^ Weisberg 1997, pp. 56–8.
^ a b Weitz 1995, p. 29.
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^ Weisberg 1997, p. 2.
^ Suhl 1967, pp. 181–3.
^ a b Kiss, Edit Bán; Munkás, Béla Mészöly; Wittmann, Zsigmond.
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^ a b Jackson 2003, p. 368.
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^ Laroche 1965.
^ Les Arméniens dans la Résistance en France
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^ a b Weitz 1995, p. 65.
^ Jackson 2003, p. 491.
^ Weitz 1995, pp. 65-66.
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^ Weitz 1995, p. 175.
^ Weitz 1995, p. 66.
^ a b Moore 2000, p. 128.
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^ Humbert 2008, p. 23.
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^ Cointet 2000.
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^ Jackson 2003, pp. 410–3.
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^ Christofferson & Christofferson 2006, p. 175.
^ Kedward 1993, p. 166.
^ a b Jackson 2003, p. 541.
^ van der Vat 2003, p. 45.
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^ Eisenhower 1997.
^ Paddock 2002, p. 29.
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^ a b Marlston & Malkasian 2008, pp. 83-90.
^ Crowdy 2007, pp. 58-59.
^ Simonnet 2004, p. 68.
^ Marsura, Evelyne. "Combien y a-t-il eu de déportés en France?".
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^ a b c d Jackson 2003, p. 577.
^ (in French) Henri Amouroux, 'La justice du Peuple en 1944',
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^ Jackson 2003, p. 581.
^ Weitz 1995, pp. 276-277.
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^ Williams 1992, pp. 272–3.
^ a b Conan, Rousso (1998), p. 9
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^ Jackson 2003, p. 603.
^ Weitz 1995, p. 305.
^ Mendras & Cole 1991, p. 226.
^ Jackson 2003, p. 613.
^ Jackson 2003, p. 646.
^ Jackson 2003, p. 614.
^ Jackson 2003, pp. 615–8.
^ Davies 2000, p. 613.
^ Suleiman 2006, p. 36.
^ Marshall 2001, p. 69.
^ Weitz 1995, p. 98.
^ Godin & Chafer 2004, p. 56.
^ Jackson 2003, p. 601.
^ Christofferson & Christofferson 2006, p. 127.
^ Furtado 1992, p. 157.
^ Laffont 2006, p. 1017.
^ Quoted in Kedward, Wood (1995), p. 218
^ Jackson 2003, p. 604.
^ Mazdon 2001, p. 110.
^ a b c Hayward 2005, p. 194.
^ Lanzone 2002, pp. 168–9.
^ Lanzone 2002, p. 286.
^ Hayward 2005, p. 131.
^ Laffont 2006, p. 1002.
^ Jackson 2003, pp. 604–5.
^ Burdett, Gorrara & Peitsch 1999, pp. 173-174.
^ Weitz 1995, p. 13.
^ Greene 1999, pp. 69–73.
^ "Truth and Consequences". TIME. 27 March 1972. Retrieved
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^ Greene 1999, pp. 80–3.
^ Ezra & Harris 2000, p. 188.
^ Hayward 2005, p. 303.
^ Jackson 2003, p. 627.
^ Suleiman 2006, p. 43.
^ Jackson 2003, pp. 301–4.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to French resistance.
The Kellner Affair: Matters of Life and Death by Peter M. Larsen and
Ben Erickson. Published by Dalton Watson Fine Books.
Encarta Encyclopedia – History of France – The Resistance
History Learning Site – The French Resistance
Shelburne Escape Line Shelburne Escape Line
Spartacus Educational – The French Resistance
Jean Moulin and the
French Resistance at the Wayback
Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
SOE Agents in France – Secret agents sent to work with the French
Northwest Historical Association – Building the French Resistance
Order of the Liberation – Chronology 1940–1945
Special Forces Roll of Honour – French Secret Agents
European Resistance Archive – Video Interviews with Resistance
Pierre Albert – The Journalism of the French Resistance
Rebecca Halbreich, The San Francisco State University – Women in the
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at the Internet Archive
European Centre of Deported Resistance Members – History and memory
of the European Resistance movements and deportation.
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