HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. The non-occupied region of France, known as Vichy France, was set up by the Germans and governed by Marshall Pétain. Whatever its initial shortcomings, the Resistance was substantially strengthened when in early 1943 the collaborationist Vichy government made a fateful concession to the Germans—agreeing to the Service du travail obligatoire (STO), new work rules requiring the forced labor in Germany of virtually all able-bodied Frenchmen. They initially served as propagandists, intelligence gatherers and couriers to return downed Allied airmen to England. By contrast, when the Germans invaded Greece and flew their garish banner from the Acropolis, resisters tore it down within days. They circle around an area map to plan strategy, as one of the... World War II. For further reading Stephan Wilkinson recommends France: The Dark Years, 1940–1944, by Julian Jackson, and Occupation: The Ordeal of France, 1940– 1944, by Ian Ousby. French Resistance fighters confer with American troops during their advance in France. The Vichy government had handed over to the Germans all foreign Jews who had fled to France as refugees, most of whom died in concentration camps and forced labor. Kindle $0.00 $ 0. Jews were another major group of resisters, for obvious reasons. The murder on the Métro elicited from the Germans a brutal but effective response: reprisal executions. 00 $6.95 $6.95. Accustomed to being a law unto themselves, resisters and others took out their fury on everybody from acknowledged collaborators—particularly women who had slept with Germans—to innocents on the wrong end of an informant neighbor’s grudge. So the Resistance was an amateur “army,” ready and able to produce anti-Nazi propaganda and gather intelligence but not do battle. This founding narrative allowed French people to forget the humiliation of Nazi Occupation and rebuild national self-esteem. Resisters ultimately had as much to fear from countrymen-turned-informants as they did from the Nazis. The German attack on Russia – Operation Barbarossa – led to many French communists joining the resistance movement. The resisters also learned they didn’t even need explosives and the accompanying danger. 12 November 2020. German soldiers were stunned when some of the French they captured in June 1940 danced jigs and sang folksongs, delighted to be done with warfighting. The French Resistance, in turn, supplied vital intelligence reports. In response, Hitler allowed the creation of a new French government in Vichy, France. T2. Small groups of Resistance fighters did harass and annoy the German occupiers, but whenever larger bands gathered to fight the occasional skirmish, Wehrmacht firepower, armor and air support quickly destroyed them. But for the first time, the Resistance had planned specific, well-coordinated sabotage campaigns against railroads, power networks, highways, fuel and ammunition depots, command centers and communications lines to aid the invasion they knew was inevitable. They called themselves the Maquis, a word that loosely translates to “the bush.”. It was the intelligence they provided he felt was priceless. Audible Audiobook $0.00 $ 0. Moulin, given the task of uniting the Resistance by the leader of Free French forces in London, was killed on 8 July 1943. Politics took a back step and the French communists gained a reputation for being aggressive and successful resistance fighters. The French Resistance refers to the many groups of French citizens who fought German occupation of France during WWII. Daniel Webster, congressman from New Hampshire, Massachusetts senator, and secretary of state before the Civil War. A.A. [Alan Alexander] Milne, novelist, humorist and journalist (Winnie the Pooh). The Resistance came to maturity in the months just before and after the June 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy. Within weeks of the 1940 collapse, tiny groups of men and women had begun to resist. In May 1941, the first SOE agent was dropped into northern France to assist the work of the resistance. Britain, via the SOE, supplied the French with equipment and trained agents. The French Resistance played a vital part in aiding the Allies to success in Western Europe – especially leading up to D-Day in June 1944. Nor was there any way to get more guns until the British began air-dropping weapons, ammunition, explosives and other supplies in 1943. This meant that the whole country was occupied and the attitude of the north quickly transferred itself to the south. … It was an offense that could get one arrested, jailed, tortured or even executed, so this was indeed resistance. Consequently, there was little unity in the resistance movement during the early phase. In May 1944 alone, they sent 3,000 written reports to the Allies and 700 wireless reports. The shooter was Pierre Georges, a communist. This was their chance to liberate their country, and they seized it with both hands. Perhaps, in some places at some times, but its value was often grossly exaggerated. Although the Hollywood image is one of vast derailments, with entire trains and their cargoes tumbling down mountainsides, such sabotage was more annoying than disruptive to the Germans, who usually made repairs and resumed service within hours. Still, for those of us who have never experienced enemy occupation or ill-equipped, marginal guerrilla warfare—criticism comes too easily in retrospect. The truth, however, was that the German unit had been ordered to move deliberately and pulverize the Maquis in the region through which it passed, which it did. Just one year earlier, there were just 40,000 members.. By the spring of 1944, there were 60 intelligence cells whose task was solely to collect intelligence as opposed to carrying out acts of sabotage. The intelligence, maps, photos and reports they sent to England were helpful to invasion planners and would have been even more useful had the Allies fully trusted the resisters. FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon. A WWII French Resistance museum in Paris has re-opened with access to an original underground bunker. On 8 th June 1940, De Gaulle spoke to the French people from London after the “fall of France”. The Parti Communiste Fran- çais was at the core of much of the early Resistance movement. 00. The first violent act of armed resistance to the occupation of France is generally thought to have been the shooting of Alfons Moser, a low-level German naval adjutant, in the Paris Métro on Aug. 21, 1941. So, was the French Resistance effective? Most civilians evidently no longer wanted to be part of any war, and many French soldiers lacked the will to continue the fight. That image has also shaped modern-day impressions of the French Resistance, the multifaceted, misunderstood World War II movement that eventually coalesced among brave civilians after Germany steamrolled France in 1940. On November 11th 1942, German forces occupied the whole of France. On June 22nd 1941, all the communist groups within France joined forces to create one group. Oliver Hardy, film comedian, one half of Laurel and Hardy. About sharing. He called on the French people to continue the fight against the Germans. The Resistance reportedly destroyed 1,800 railway targets in the months before and after the invasion, versus 2,400 hit by Allied bombers. Some of the intel made its way to England in the hands of British agents, picked up at night in pastures and fields by slow, black-painted Westland Lysanders of the Royal Air Force. Between April and May, the resistance destroyed 1,800 railway engines. Women were generally confined to underground roles in the French Resistance network. He had been betrayed to … With the August 1944 Liberation of Paris, spearheaded by General Philippe Leclerc and his Free French 2nd Armored Division, the work of the Resistance was essentially finished, yet it also augured its darkest hour: Resisters were not the only citizens to indulge in the orgy of lynchings and summary executions that followed the liberation, but many were enthusiastic participants. There is no doubt that De Gaulle’s speech was undeniably influential and motivated the people of France. But the Hemingwayesque view of resistance in For Whom the Bell Tolls (set during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War) bears little semblance to the real-life French Resistance. Éditions du Seuil, Paris 1993. In the immediate aftermath of the June 1940 surrender, France went into a period of shock. The creation of a Nazi-approved Vichy government, primarily in the centreand south of the country, was, in the minds of many, further proof that politicians had let down France. Experienced agitators, skilled at organizing strikes and rabble-rousing, the communists gravitated toward the Resistance, especially after Adolf Hitler broke his nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union and attacked on the Eastern Front on June 22, 1941. To many, collaboration meant making the best of an awkward situation, sharing space (and sometimes beds) with fellow Europeans, albeit ones in gray Wehrmacht and black SS uniforms. Liberation of Paris, 25 August 1944. “A myth of a people united in hostility to the Nazi occupiers, of a nation of résistants.” In truth France was far from a nation of resisters. While some Resistance mythologizers have compared this network to the 19th century Underground Railroad, others say it bore more similarities to the “coyotes” who today prey on illegal immigrants, as many of the passeurs who guided the escapees over the Pyrenees were well paid for their work. The people in the countries occupied by Germany in World War II often tried to resist the invasion. Two dates are important in explaining the work of the resistance movement in France. But the treatment of the Jews was a major cause of resentment towards the Vichy government and many joined the resistance as a means of fighting against a policy that the vast majority found abhorrent. However, by June 1941, the resistance movement had become more organised and its work against the Germans increased accordingly. Despite Ike’s “extra six divisions” valuation of the Resistance, his Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force wouldn’t even provide de Gaulle with the D-Day date, a snub the French commander never forgave. However, when the Vichy government began to openly collaborate with the Germans, attitudes hardened. The Real Story of the French Resistance Paris Martyrisé, Paris Libéré The most effective resistance in WWII was disproportionately made up of immigrants, students, and Spanish communists. The Resistance, for example, claimed it had killed 6,000 members of the vicious Das Reich Division. In: Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung. Special Ops History: The French Resistance In spite of their organization’s clandestine nature, many members of the Resistance still had IDs like this one. In: La France des années noires. French Resistance has been represented and commemorated in the epic mode.” (Nathan Bracher, “Remembering the French Resistance; Ethics and Poetics of the Epic” History and Memory, v.19, spring/summer 2007, p. 39) As you will learn in this presentation, some of the deeds undertaken by French women during the Nazi occupation are At first the Germans chose victims from among existing prisoners—communists, anarchists, Gaullists and other categories of offenders. 23 August 2019. The French Resistance: The History of the Opposition Against Nazi Germany's Occupation of France During World War II. The French Resistance (or Maquis in the countryside), were an organized resistance movement in France during Nazi Germany's occupation and the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II. Paris and much of the rest of occupied France flew swastika flags on every hotel and public building until the August 1944 liberation. To Jodl, the French Resistance was irrelevant. 2. Initially, at least, the French were far more interested in getting along with the Germans than in challenging them. The resistance movement developed to provide the Allies with intelligence, attack the Germans when possible and to assist the escape of Allied airmen. Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Military History. There had always been a strong undercurrent of doubt, particularly among the Americans, regarding the veracity of the intel the amateurs provided. However, after the Second World War, de Gaulle’s speech of 18 June 1940 became enshrined in French history as the starting point of the French Resistance, which led directly to the Liberation four years later. Many believed that the government had let the people down. Free with Audible trial. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the French Resistance like never before, in no time at all. Regardless, few early resisters ever heard the de Gaulle speech. Lonely Planet Writer. We see a man in makeshift army fatigues to the left and a young man on the right. If anything, the inflated mythology that today surrounds the French Resistance only profanes the memory of those who really did serve bravely. His reputation was still high and in the early days of Vichy, his leadership gave it some stability and kudos. The French have long boasted the Resistance so harried that division that it took the Germans more than three weeks to move from Strasbourg to Caen after the Normandy Invasion, normally a three-day slog for an armored division. Between January and June 1943, there were 130 acts of sabotage against rail lines each month. The Resistance also sometimes charged fees for its intelligence, saying “the cause” needed the money. As a result of this greater organisational security, the resistance became more effective in 1943. Frenchmen who made their way to England often discounted resisters as those who had cravenly “stayed behind,” while the resisters considered the expatriates Frenchmen who had “fled to safety.” Few understood or respected the other’s motive. Such mythmaking abounds in French, British and American postwar accounts. The public had been assured that the French army, along with the Maginot Line, was more than strong enough to resist a German attack. Anti-Nazi partisans in Yugoslavia, Poland and Greece were far more effective and constituted a substantially higher percentage of the population of each country. Aufl., Berlin 2006. Director: Gillian Armstrong | Stars: Cate Blanchett , James Fleet , Abigail Cruttenden , Charlotte McDougall The French Resistance: Is the term used to describe a group of active opponents of Hitlers Invasion of France during WW 2. His speech is one of the most important speeches in French history. by Charles River Editors and Kevin Kollins. Eventually, however, they became less discriminating about whom they shot or hanged. Daniel Hale Williams, physician who performed the first open heart surgery, founder of Chicago's Provident Hospital. A considerable number of French men and women were outright collaborationists, and those who weren’t were content to simply coexist with their conquerors. Because of the peculiar political complexities of France, the resistance movement got off to a difficult start. Copy link. French Resistance fighters learning how to use a radioset. Some groups were violent in nature, aiming to hurt or kill the German occupiers; these were called maquis . The Resistance first revealed itself as underground publishers of anti-Nazi broadsides and mimeographed mini-newspapers. The Maquis officially disbanded once France had been liberated in 1944. The British and Americans dismissed much of the Resistance intelligence, however, as amateurish, useless or just plain wrong. Home; Contact us; Log In ; Search; Directory. Resistance records claim that ultimately there were 400,000 resisters. As an example, the British attack on the radio base at Bruneval in 1942 could have been a lot more costly in terms of lives lost, if the British had not received intelligence reports from the resistance with regards to the building of new blockhouses there. Heft III/2007. The movement eventually comprised wellmeaning anti-Fascist activists, especially communists; a relatively small number of the bourgeoisie and intellectuals; the inevitable young thugs, malcontents and outcasts who gravitate toward the action; and a core of men and women who despised what the Germans had done to France. A measure of enmity also existed between the Free French and the Resistance. The Maquis (French pronunciation: [maˈki]) were rural guerrilla bands of French Resistance fighters, called maquisards, during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II. There were resistance movements that took direct orders from the Special Operations Executive, there was the communist resistance, groups loyal to de Gaulle, regional resistance movements that wanted independence etc. close. Stars: Gorden Kaye, Carmen Silvera, … A museum with a very long name has just re-opened in a brand new location in Paris and it will tell the story of the people who risked their lives to join the French Resistance. The French Resistance: The History of the Opposition Against Nazi Germany’s Occupation of France during World War II looks at the legendary Resistance and its efforts to undermine Vichy France. Ever since he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), the popular image of the wartime partisan has been one of T-handles shoved down into detonator boxes, of bridges blowing and railway tracks pretzeling, of snipers taking out troops that stumble into their sights. History Learning Site Copyright © 2000 - 2021. Ulla Plener: Frauenalltag in der französischen Résistance. This acted independently but planning was carried out in co-operation with the SOE which supplied equipment. With such information, the British paratroopers could plan accordingly. French Resistance. In the north, the target was simply the Germans while in the south, the Vichy government was a target as well as the Germans. Many in the south were angered by the compulsory labour service that had been brought in. Attacks on the French rail system increased greatly. Clandestine publishing also made good use of the talents of these early French partisans, for many were intellectuals and had no idea how to fire a gun. Fully 90 percent of France’s population either supported the collaborationist Vichy regime or were too frightened to have anything to do with the underground. Among the most caustic comments on the Resistance was uttered by German Reichminister for Armaments and War Production Albert Speer. The French Resistance was never a homogeneous organization. Much more was transmitted by radio. To subscribe, click here. The Resistance Movements fought the Nazi German Occupation of France and the collaborationist Vichy regime using clandestine methods. The Germans did their part by being polite to the French populace, giving up Métro seats to old people, handing candy to children and spending freely at Paris cabarets, restaurants and couturiers. Toggle text. Resistance leaders soon realized these maquisards were not only numerous but desperate, brave, trainable and useful. When asked by British economic historian Alan Milward to comment upon the effectiveness of the Resistance in hampering German wartime efforts, Speer responded, “What French Resistance?” And when General Alfred Jodl, operations chief of the German Armed Forces High Command, in November 1943 outlined for Heinrich Himmler the military situation on the Western Front, the only guerrilla group Jodl saw fit to mention was the Yugoslav partisans. Entirely separate cells and cadres formed spontaneously among such disparate groups as Paris museum curators and angry café esthetes. “So powerful was the Resistance myth, so important did it become to French self-esteem, that only gradually, and not without controversy, have historians been able to assess its size and significance.”, Citizen resistance works well, Porch points out, when a populace is deeply committed to the cause.
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