French Resistance

Resistants prisoners in France, July 1944

Resistants prisoners in France, July 1944

Summary: In 1940 after the Battle of France, France set up a pro-German Vichy government with German occupation of northern France and the Vichy government-controlled south of France. Many dissatisfied with the German occupation of France set up a secret resistance organization. They published their own underground newspapers, to combat by the use of guerrilla warfare and harassment against the Germans and to provide intelligence and other supports to the Allies. In 1944, after the Allied landing in Normandy, these organizations were re-integrated into Interior Ministry troops Team FFI. So that the size of the French army rapidly expanded and re-scaled and the army had millions of people before the end of the war.

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The French Resistance, called in France the Resistance, includes all clandestine movements and networks during the Second World War continued the fight against the Axis and its relay collaborationist the territory French since the armistice of 22 June 1940 until the Liberation in 1944.


This battle consisted of intelligence operations, sabotage or military operations against the occupation forces (mainly German) and also the forces of the Vichy regime.  But it also includes more civilians and non-violent aspects such as the existence of a vast underground press, distribution of leaflets, producing false documents, organizing strikes and demonstrations, the establishment of multiple channels to save the escaped prisoners of war, refractory to STO and Jews persecuted.

Resistance was able to demonstrate in the city and in the country, especially after the birth of the bush in spring 1943.  Army of Shadows brought together men and women from all backgrounds, all exposed to a strong repression from the RSHA (which includes the Gestapo), the Abwehr, the Wehrmacht and the French Militia , or of the police of the French state .

If the active and organized resistance has never attracted more than 2 or 3% of the French population, it would be able to survive or grow without many popular complicity, especially at the time of the maquis.

The history of the Resistance, it is quite different from that of free France, is inseparable from it. The General de Gaulle, leader of the Free French, has its agents busy metropolis through networks BCRA or sent as Jean Moulin, Pierre Brossolette and Jacques Bingen.  They receive the support to unify the Resistance under the auspices of London and Algiers.  The creation of the National Council of Resistance by Jean Moulin , on 27 May 1943 and that of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) by Jacques Bingen, on 1 February 1944, marking the essential foundation for a process of unification sometimes difficult, but unparalleled in the rest of occupied Europe.

Forms of resistance have also existed in French North Africa and the rest of the French colonial empire , and in the three attached departments .

Different ways of looking at resistance

Historian resistant commitment Olivier Wieviorka shows that resistance can be organized according to a logic of war, to which are attached networks and the armed struggle, or through a process of occupation, which the movements and shapes civil. Henri Michel , founder of the History Committee of the Second World War, defined as resistance to him as “the totality of the fighting in the name of freedom of the homeland and human dignity” against the occupier and his aides.

Historians such as Jacques Sémelin or François Marcotte distinguish “Resistance as a social movement,” often unorganized, and which occupied people strive to maintain their values ​​and show their spirit of denial, the “resistance organization,” she coating or not non-violent forms.  But all historians do not give the same importance to the fundamentalist theory of organized resistance (this is the approach Olivier Wieviorka ) and the social theory of civil resistance  .

France free and inner strength

On 18 June 1940, the General de Gaulle called for the radio that the French had any military competence to join him in London.  Those who responded to his call are normally classified as members of the ” Free France “or resistant outside.

Resistance inside for men and women, in France, in the occupied zone , said zone North or in the South zone , not held until November 1942 , organized to carry out actions against the forces of the Nazi Germany , so contrary to the legality of the occupant or the Vichy government .

Originally, in 1940, France created in the free city of intelligence networks, and the first contact with the internal resistance movements are established in late 1941.  The unification of the two resistors under the auspices of General de Gaulle, is made ​​including Jean Moulin in 1942-1943.  This is to symbolize the joint resistance of the “France captive” and “Free France” as it is known in France fighting in July 1942.

Administrative point of view

Before that historians have taken the time to define what should be include in the term “resistance” had to administratively determine who was entitled to claim in, that is to say, receive the pension to which she was eligible.  It was particularly important for widows, widowers and orphans of 60,000 political prisoners who were not returned from the camps and 30,000 were shot between 1940 and 1944.

At the end of the war, 250,000 cards Affairs Volunteers Resistance are distributed to candidates nominated by 45 registered movements of the French Resistance and the 270 networks fighting France – which depended directly on Central Bureau of Investigation and Action (BCRA) of London.  According to the administrative definition, members of networks Special Operations Executive (SOE) are not counted as they were dependent on a foreign power, the United Kingdom.  Some movements were more lax than others to give their approval to dubious candidates.

Military point of view

The historian may want to consider the various manifestations of resistance from a strictly military point of view.  It often refers to the appreciation ‘of Eisenhower estimated that the equivalent of five divisions of the input resistance to the Allied forces. An author as Philippe Masson  gives a much lower estimate, but remains in the same issue: how many divisions? In such a vision, not directly military manifestations of resistance, for example, the production of an underground press, are to be taken into account if they are likely to drain forces to effective assistance to allied forces.  In addition, actions such as the rescue of Jews , who are partially defeat the Nazi genocidal plans, are not included in a military sense.

Political point of view

Unlike the military point of view, the historian may have a strictly political point of view where events are considered resistance to the extent that they change the political landscape, including giving legitimacy to free France first and new powers emerge in Liberation.

Resistance prevents any power vacuum at the Liberation, the country avoids civil wars or any foreign government, restores freedoms and is a remarkable pool of renewal of municipal and national political elites.  In 1946, three-quarters of MPs are former resistant.  Resistance is at the origin, the program National Council of Resistance.  (15 March 1944), the overhaul of the French social pact, generating major economic and social reforms of the Liberation. According to this perspective, the military actions of the Resistance have no value if they have a political impact.

But many networks or movements (such as the ORA Giraud) refuse categorically to “play politics”.  Conversely, many former resistance fighters, beyond the few Communist ranks, further demonstrate their bitterness of not being able to change society and political life as radically as they wanted (Claude Bourdet , Frenay ).

In particular, the resistance has always been divided on what should be the fate of political parties after the war.  Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie (Head of Liberation) and Frenay (Chief Combat) and other leaders of the resistance movements that wish to replace the old parties disqualified a large “party of Resistance” is form and takes charge of public life.  They point to the failure of the parties in 1940 if under the Third Republic, graduate, and the absence of most of them as such in the Resistance. Jean Moulin has fought a long standoff against Pierre Brossolette or Frenay parties to admit the National Resistance Council (June 1943): the Allies could not actually understand their absence.  This reintegration parties and rapid failure of the Resistance to generate its own political parties after the war are subject to our day long controversy, especially given the many disappointments caused by the Fourth Republic, often taxed “party system”.

But the considerable weight of Communists, the Socialists and Christian Democrats in the Resistance could not prevent the PCF, the SFIO and MRP play anyway a key role in liberated France.  In addition, a resistance movement is not a political party.  He co-opt random multiple secret meetings independent of each other, it brings so disparate men of all beliefs and backgrounds and has no files or members of internal democracy.

Finally, can we change politics in just four years, as intense as they are?  Socialism, radicalism, communism, etc.  then existed for decades and want to say something to the clear majority of French.  Resistant are only 2 or 3% of the population, and their training does not mean much as such voters.

Blum , from prison, also emphasizes that parties are essential to democracy, and that any attempt to disqualify and replace them would return in the ruts of the anti-parliamentarism and authoritarian temptations, which have already done so much damage in the 1930s and then in Vichy.

Also, if the resistance had an undeniable political effectiveness and, for many, a brilliant public destiny after the war, the resistance as well as beautiful and fails to extend in a political form .


Motivations for engagement resistant


Political and military components of the resistance can sometimes be separated.  There are actually several aspects of the activity of the Resistance in France during the Second World War:

a national reaction against foreign occupation and military struggle for national independence, one of the main motivations for the majority of resistant;

moral and political struggle against the Nazis , against the dictatorship , against the racism and deportation , he must also take into account if we want to explain the presence of Germans in the French Resistance and even a bush of fascist Germany between 1942 and 1944 , in the Cevennes .  In this political and moral component must also place the National Movement against Racism and Society, which publishes J’Accuse or networks of Christians behind Christian Witness .  It may also be in this single political dimension the Trotskyite resistance and the Spanish units of guerrillas in the south-west.

This is the promulgation of the STO that makes hundreds of thousands of French joined the maquis of the first hour.

External factors: brief chronology

The history of the French resistance is partly determined by a number of external factors arising from the historical context of World War II and occupied France.  It is important to keep in mind the dates of some events of importance:

30 September 1938 : signing of the Munich Agreement .

23 August 1939 : Signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact .

3 September 1939 : following the invasion of Poland , the United Kingdom and France declare war on Germany .

17 June 1940 : The Marshal Petain called to stop the fight and asked the armistice .

18 June 1940 : General de Gaulle’s appeal : the military and weapons scientists are invited to join him in London to continue the fight.

22 June 1940 : Signing in Rethondes clearing of the Franco-German armistice .

11 July 1940 : Philippe Petain took the title of head of the French state .

24 October 1940 : Pétain and Hitler to define Montoire principles of political cooperation.

22 June 1941: the Wehrmacht attack the Soviet Union.

8 December 1941: entry into the war the United States, the day after the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor .

4 September 1942: establishment of the STO (Service compulsory labor in Germany).

8 November 1942: Operation Torch American landing in North Africa.

11 November 1942: Wehrmacht enters the Free Zone.

14 December 1942: arrival in Corsica the Pearl Harbour secret mission by submarine Casabianca prepare for landing.

30 January 1943 : creation of the French Militia formally replaces the armistice army, but will be in a position to suppress resistance.

2 February 1943 : surrender of the German army at Stalingrad .

16 February 1943 : Second Act STO , onset of scrub .

9 September 1943: landing in Corsica battalions of French North Africa by submarine Casabianca shock.

4 October 1943 : total liberation of Corsica to the Italian-German occupation (1st French department released).

6 June 1944 : Allied landings in Normandy .

15 August 1944 : Franco-American landing on the coast of Provence .

24 August 1944 : Check the 2nd DB in Paris .

23 November 1944 : release of Strasbourg by the 2nd Armored Division .

8 May 1945 : Armistice in the region Europe .

Origins and movements of the Resistance


Resistant Emmanuel d’Astier de La Vigerie in The Sorrow and the Pity, wanted, not without provocation, to give them a retrospective of “misfits” image on the margins of society.  In fact, even if you count in the resistance authentic characters and romantic bohemians such Astier himself, studies combine to show that the vast majority of resistant are married, have a job, a qualification and life family.  It is thus one of them academics, teachers, journalists, engineers, clergymen, military, and reject the middle and upper classes, as well as skilled workers, shopkeepers or craftsmen.  Contrary to popular belief, only a minority lives full-time in complete secrecy.

All social strata, all political, all philosophical and religious sensitivities are represented in the Resistance.

Beyond the few left-wing circles, classes are inversely blamed upon occupancy for their under-representation in the clandestine struggle, starting with the peasants, at least until the birth of the maquis in 1943, and especially bourgeoisie and employers .  The Catholic François Mauriac and wrote in 1943 that “only the working class was in his homeland remained faithful to the ground wounded.”  However, one can not equate the left or the people to resistance, or the right or above the collaborative classes.  If employers are little represented in spite of spectacular exceptions (Peugeot, Michelin), however many traditionally conservative elements such as churches, military or aristocracy pay a significant price for the resistance struggle.

Many foreigners fought alongside the French Resistance: Italian anti-fascist, anti-Nazi German and Spanish Republicans  refugees in France, Polish and Armenian immigrants, stateless Jews.  French or foreigners, Jews were over-represented in the Resistance, at all levels of responsibility and in all forms of underground fight early in 1940.

Inevitably the question “How were they?” Of all of the French Resistance, François Marcotte has tried to give an answer while stressing the matter was delicate and necessarily approximate  , and he comes to propose the figure of 200,000 resistant to the beginning of the 1944 and estimated at 500,000 the number of people who had substantial involvement in the Resistance.

In the bush, the population is more specifically young men.  In the jungle of Burgundy, for example, 90% of the guerrillas are young and unmarried men, typically in the age range 22-25 years.

Population movements of resistance is mostly urban.  The social origin of resistance will be specific to each movement.  Thus, the CMO consists primarily of middle-aged men, often executives in the private sector and the public sector. Defence of France recruited specifically for students and staff.  The National Front of Resistance, created by the communists, has a clearly working color at birth, but then loses part of this specificity.

The intelligence networks recruit especially in certain professions related network activity: army officers, railway, sales representatives, who travel a lot and shopkeepers who can serve mailbox.  For example, among the 600 agents network Handles 20% of women are counted, 50% less than thirty years.  The vast majority of agents are urban dwellers.  25% are skilled workers and technical staff, 25% of employees or subordinate officials.  The rest is made up of students, professionals and military.  13% have the war of 1914-1918, only 36% of the 1939-1940 war and the rest did not state prior service.

Women in the Resistance

Less than men, women represent 15 to 20% resistant and 15% of political prisoners.

They are usually confined to subordinate roles. Lucie Aubrac resistant emblematic has never actually had a defined role in the hierarchy of movement Liberation South . Viannay Helen , graduated more than her husband Philippe Viannay , founder of Defense of France , never wrote a single article for the underground newspaper of the same name, any more than other companions leaders DF, while they attend all meetings of writing.  However, Suzanne Bush , co-founder of the Socialist Action Committee (SAC) is the Treasurer until his arrest.  One woman, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade , is head of the network (by the British believe that the real leader ‘s Alliance is a man).  No leader is a movement, a bush or a Committee of Liberation, or Commissioner of the Republic or the Minister release.

Only a very small minority took part in the armed struggle.  While women are typical figures, critical and quite numerous in the partisan movements in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and the USSR occupied, they are congruent in the portion maquis of France – maybe – because they are not subject to OTS and do not need to flee.

Women organize demonstrations household in 1940, active in the Popular Committees PCF illegal, ubiquitous in the encouragement and material support to the strikers (and in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais in May 1941) as well as refractory maquis  .  They are essential as typists, especially as liaisons – in part because the Germans were suspicious least women, and countless identity checks directed against refractory to STO does not apply. Olivier Wieviorka stresses that the strategy movements were often, in fact, to highlight women because they are less exposed to repression: Vichy and the Germans are still not firing on household demanding food for their children.

If the NRC fails to mention the women’s vote in its renewal program in March 1944 , the General de Gaulle , however, sign in Algiers on 21 April 1944 , the order declaring women voters and eligible under the same conditions as men: the emancipatory role of resistance is well recognized.

We should also mention that countless fighters shadow live throughout the war as a couple, and their resistance would be impossible and unbearable without the presence of their partner on their side: Cecile Henri Rol-Tanguy , Raymond and Lucie Aubrac , Paulette and Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont , Hélène and Philippe Viannay , Marie-Hélène and Pierre Lefaucheux , Cletta and Daniel Mayer , etc..  form inseparable couples.

Many are resistant to marry and have children in full secrecy, without interrupting their fight.  Some save the life of their husband as Lucie Aubrac or Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux.  Others share their fate to torture, deportation and death.  The famous convoy of 24 January 1943 in Auschwitz wins French resistant (non-Jewish majority and Communists) including many widows shot and Mai Politzer , wife of Georges Politzer , or Helen Solomon, daughter of the great scientist Paul Langevin and wife of the writer Jacques Solomon .

Army and administration

The armistice agreements have limited the size of the army of the Vichy government to 100,000, confined exclusively in the unoccupied zone.  Among these soldiers, they are part of the armistice army or have been demobilized, many people who want to prepare for revenge against the Germans, without wanting to join General de Gaulle in London.  As the vast majority of the French, they are loyal to the new head of state, Marshal Petain.

Captain Frenay , which was paid to the 2nd office armistice army commits at the end of 1940 in the constitution free zone movement fighting organized according to the rules of hiding and become one of the most important movements of resistance.

In the northern zone, the colonel Touny and Jacques Arthuys founded the civil and military organization (CMO).

Captain Paul Paillole , chief of espionage against before the defeat, continues to perform these duties in the military armistice, but it works with the British and continues to chase the agents of the Abwehr and RSHA .

A second wave of soldiers will engage in strength after the invasion of the free zone in November 1942 :

under the authority of General Brother , who was part of the court which sentenced him to death de Gaulle, a large number of officers and NCOs gather from late 1942 in the Organization resistance army (ORA) , it claims to be “apolitical” (in fact, conservative) and refers to General Giraud .

in the civil and military organization (CMO).

Networks BCRA

In October 1941, in the Free France De Gaulle, is created the Central Bureau of Intelligence and military action BCRA, led by Colonel Passy and specialize in intelligence missions or sabotage.  Networks of BCRA, created and directed in London, so lie on the border between the outer and inner resistance Resistance.

The Brotherhood of Our Lady, one of the most famous of these networks is created by Colonel Rémy in November 1940 when the secret services of Free France was not yet called the BCRA. Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves officer Marine who had formed a network in the occupied zone of twenty-six, was arrested in May 1941 and executed on 29 August 1941. During his trip to London in April 1942, Christian Pineau was given the task of creating a new network information, Phalanx.  In 1943, the Central Bureau obtains United Movements of Resistance combine their intelligence networks.  This creates the network Gallia , attached to the BCRA, and specialized in military intelligence.

British Secret Service

Three British secret services operate on the French territory: the Special Operations Executive (“Special Operations Executive”), created in July 1940, is responsible for the action, the MI6 (the Intelligence Service) is responsible for intelligence, mission permanent, the MI9 is responsible for breakouts.

In the SOE, several sections control the action in France (see SOE in France ), mainly Section F, RF and AMF style.

Section F, which is not required coordination with the Free France, is entrusted in November 1941 to Maurice Buckmaster (for this reason, networks of Section F in France are also called “networks Buckmaster”).  Airdrops in France began in May 1941 , but it was not until September 1942 that they are growing.  The recruiting agents parachuted many agents in France who depend directly on British throughout the war.  Section F angered General de Gaulle, who asked in vain deletion.  De Gaulle could not stand that there were networks operating in France beyond the control of the Free France.

RF section, created later, cooperates with the BCRA.

The AMF section, based in Algiers, after briefly worked with Giraud, is at the service of the Gaullists.

According to British historian Michael RD Foot, SOE in France sent 1,800 employees, including 1,750 men and fifty women during the conflict.  One in four is stopped, proportion, but less than that found in other countries: one in two to the Netherlands , one in three in Belgium .  SOE agents were 250,000 French armed resistance and engaged in effective sabotage.  General Eisenhower said that the work of SOE equivalent to the reinforcement of five or six divisions  .

The MI6 (the intelligence service) creates several networks in France and supports others, including Alliance , Jade Fitzroy and officers of the military intelligence services who chose Vichy resistance.  In addition, this service works closely with the BCRA.  In particular, Claude Dansey , Deputy Chief of the Secret Service, introduces Colonel Passy intelligence and good relations with him throughout the war.  MI6 is exclusively intelligence, the action being the monopoly of the SOE  .

Finally, MI9 service responsible for the escape of Allied soldiers, using channels such as Comet (en).

U.S. Secret Service

Founded in 1942, the Office of Strategic Services deploys most of its business in Europe and the Mediterranean, the military intelligence dominate in the Pacific War , and the FBI is charging of Latin America .  OSS has three branches: in London in Geneva and Tangier.  If the first cooperating with the SOE, OSS policy differs from that of the British services: Americans prefer not help Gaullist networks, especially those who are driven or inspired by General Henri Giraud .  As part of the implementation of the secret mission Pearl Harbor in November 1942 by the special services of National Defense based in Algiers, she endorses without interfering in the internal organization.

OSS provides the United Movements of Resistance triple the funding by Free France and the establishment of networks crossing between France and Switzerland, in exchange for the premiere of the information. Bénouville Pierre , then for External Relations the MUR, agrees to make the connection between the Swiss branch of the OSS and WALL one hand, WALL-occupied France on the other.  Robert Frank as an attempt to separate the free WALL France;. Robert Belot sees it as the logical consequence of a lack of funding, followed by a refusal expressed by the British services will supplement Jean Moulin strongly opposes agreement, but after his death, he is finally applied  .

The U.S. agency encounter fewer difficulties with the National Rally of prisoners of war of François Mitterrand and Maurice Pinot , funded by OSS through Pierre Bénouville .  Long reserved towards Charles de Gaulle , OSS eventually noted in its report in mid-1944, it is “considered the only possible political leader of the time.”

SOE and the OSS in 1944 created the ” Jedburgh “, groups of three men (one French, one English and one American) parachuted in uniform after landing in Normandy and that of Provence, to help scrub.

Communist resistance

The Communist Party was disbanded in September 1939, after the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact , since the party apparatus survived in hiding.

On 17 June 1940 , one day before the call of General de Gaulle , Charles Tillon , in charge of reorganizing the Communist Party in the southwest, calls for resistance against ” fascism Hitler

“[...] But the French people did not want slavery, poverty and fascism, nor did he want war capitalists.  It is the number, united, it will force … – In a popular government, freeing workers restoring the legality of the Communist Party, fighting against Hitler’s fascism.  People factories, fields, shops and offices, traders, artisans and intellectuals, soldiers, sailors and airmen still under arms, unite in action. ”

Local or regional projects appear.  Communist literature Bordeaux differs from that broadcast Paris by an explicit struggle against the fascist occupier appeal.  In Britain , the Communist Auguste Havez (former secretary of the Communist parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies) will be even more powerful, June 22, 1940:

“[...] There will be no respite before the goodness Hitler boots out of our country [...]”

The direction of the PCF during the summer 1940 , makes contact with the occupation forces in order to obtain the reappearance of Humanity .  This month-long initiative was quickly condemned by many communist activists as well as Maurice Thorez present in Moscow .  Exclusions will be made.

The Communists install, from July 1940 , in many plants, popular committees in order to obtain better working conditions and higher wages, to fight against the restrictions and combat the influence of trade unions in balance of Vichy.  These committees give rise, in some companies, at the end of 1940, groups of destruction and sabotage.

The first network of academic strength was founded by the Communist Jacques Decour , Georges Politzer and Jacques Solomon in September 1940 .  They publish the Free University and Free Thought.  Hunted by the French police, they were arrested in February 1942 , tortured and shot in May 1942 .

In October 1940, the PCF establishes the Special Organization , which aims to protect the activists (billposters, distributors of leaflets, activists speak in queues household, markets), the organization to sabotage the German war material, telephone cables, weapons collection, handling of explosives.

FCP participates with other movements in the first major anti-Nazi protest November 11, 1940 in Paris.

Late May – early June 1941, the PCF organized in the North and Pas-de-Calais a strike which includes 100,000 children and deprive the Nazis of some of the coal produced.  Over 200 minor s are deported.

May 15, 1941, the CPF calls for the establishment of a National Front for the liberation and independence of France. The experience of the communist underground then gives a step ahead of other movements.  However, military means communists are still very low, mainly because of the refusal of the BCRA to surrender weapons.

In August 1941, the Communist Pierre Georges said Colonel Fabien committed the first symbolic attack against a German officer, who somehow mark the beginning of armed resistance from them.  The Communists quickly develop an armed resistance movement, the Mavericks and French partisans (FTPF), directed by Charles Tillon. Open to non-communists, however FTPF are still under Communist control.  The same is true of the National Front , created by the PCF in May 1941 political resistance movement organized by profession, became one of the largest resistance movements, even the largest of the French Resistance movement.

The Communists then play an important role in resisting the Nazi occupiers of their organizational capacity.  According to the leaders of the Free France , in fact, the resistance movements, except the Mavericks and partisans (FTP) and other Communist-led resistance, were then most often unorganized and poorly coordinated.

The French communist resistance then go out of their isolation and are close to other elements of the French Resistance as Free France: in mid-1943, the National Front participates in the National Council of Resistance (NCR).  The clandestine organization of the PCF, headed by Auguste Lecoeur, gains in power to take control of the widely CNR and National Command of French Forces of the Interior .

The Manouchian Group (Paris section of the FTP-MOI ) was for a time in 1942-1943 the movement’s most active armed resistance of France, making a military operation every two days.  Participants were very active and determined as directly affected by the Vichy regime, being foreign communists a majority of Jews.  The Manouchian Group totals approximately 150 bombings in the city of Paris alone with the execution of General Julius Ritter , head of STO in France.  Manouchian the Group becomes a symbol of the French Resistance with the publication of the Red Displays and execution of most of its members.

The Communist Georges Guingouin form several small groups from 1940 and plays an important role in the formation of the maquis du Limousin in 1942-1943, although the subsequent operation of the underground or under joint control.  Thereafter, increasing the partitioning rules inherent in hiding before the party discipline, Guingouin still retains a high degree of independence vis-à-vis the structures of the party.

Of the three main leaders of Military Action Committee (COMAC) created by the National Council of Resistance (NCR) to direct the French Forces of the Interior (FFI), two were Communists ( Pierre Villon and Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont ) The third is Jean de Vogue .

Communists are also present in the non-communist resistance movements.  They are often activists who were not involved before the war, a central place in the party apparatus and, deprived of contact with the underground party, had the opportunity to join another movement.  The party were then encouraged to stay in these organizations.  For example, Jean-Pierre Vernant , academic who ended the war as head FFI 9 departments Southwest disavowed the Nazi-Soviet pact and joined the movement Liberation .

Socialist Resistance

Many in the Resistance, the Socialists are less visible as such because unlike communists, they rarely bind rebuilding the party and joining resistance movements.  Socialist resistance is more dispersed, largely because the SFIO itself was incomparably less centralized than the PCF, based much more on local politicians and executives.

At the end of the summer of 1940, Daniel Mayer is charged by Blum to reconstitute the SFIO, sleep by Paul Faure .  In March 1941 , Daniel Mayer created with other socialist activists like Suzanne Buisson and Félix Gouin , the socialist Action Committee (SAC) to Nimes .  A CAS was created by Jean-Baptiste Lebas for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (administratively attached to Belgium ) in January 1941 , and another was founded in September 1940 , covers the northern area.  In 1942, The People , the organ of the Socialist Party from 1921 to 1940, reappears in hiding.  The same year, André Philip became National Commissioner of the Interior of Free France, and Félix Gouin joined Charles de Gaulle to London to represent the socialists.  In Algeria, the resistance groups are already formed.  They are composed of socialist militants but also left-wing activists.  They will be part of the companions of 8 November 1942 and then leave to London, Paris, the South West and Corsica.  Following the Riom trial , the heat and the number of socialist resistance increases.  The CAS-south becomes illegal SFIO in March 1943 .  CAS merge in June.  From the SFIO, Pierre Brossolette is in contact with the CAS-South, then illegal SFIO parallel to its activities to the Brotherhood of Our Lady .

Socialist activists hegemonic Liberation North in intelligence networks from this movement ( Phalanx , Cohors-Asturias ) and the Brutus network of Defferre , which are the main relay illegal SFIO with the free France and domestic resistance.  The civil and military organization , sliding from right to socialism throughout the war, due to the increasing participation of Socialists (as Jacques Piette and Guy Mollet ), and the arrests of its founding members.  For cons, the commitment to growing the socialist Liberation South , where they account for almost half of the members, resulting in a less political influence.

Several parliamentarians SFIO play an important role in the resistance, including John Biondi , Jean Bouhey , Edward Wheat , Lucien Hussel , Moch , Jean Pierre-Bloch and Tanguy-Prigent . François Camel and Marx Dormoy are murdered, Jean-Baptiste Lebas , Isidore Thivrier , Claude Jordery and Augustin Malroux die in exile.  Among the socialist resistance, are also men of device, such as Amédée Dunois , editor of Popular clandestine death Bergen-Belsen .

In the Lyon area, activists and peasant Socialist Workers Party created in 1940 the resistance movement The Insurgent , led by Marie-Gabriel Fugère .  The movement publishes underground 26 issues of the newspaper.

Hard right, extreme right and vichysto-resistant

Before the war, it refers to as the far-right leagues, such as the French Action , inspiration of monarchist, anti-Semitic “state” by theorist Charles Maurras and xenophobic , or French Solidarity and Youth patriots .  The most important league is none other than the Cross of fire of Colonel de La Rocque , as the only refuse Semitism, although more moderate, especially trained veterans.  Leagues are characterized by their anti-parliamentarianism , which pushes the street action, for example during riots February 6, 1934 , when De La Rocque, however refused to join.  Still later, The Hood , a paramilitary organization and activist rather cultivates illegal seditious action plotting against the Republic until it was disbanded in 1937 .

Like Charles Maurras , founder of the French Action for which the fall of the Republic is a “divine surprise”  , part of the right-wing circles strongly welcome the Vichy Regime.  But nationalism also grows some of its members to engage in the struggle against the occupier, at the same time as others engage in collaborationist movements or inhabit the surroundings of Petain in Vichy.

Thus, Colonel de La Rocque founded the Klan network , linked to Alibi network itself linked to the British intelligence service. Loustaunau-Lacau Georges and Marie-Madeleine Fourcade , former Cagoulards, founded the network Alliance , while Colonel Groussard , from Vichy secret services, founded the “network Gilbert.”  Some members of the French Action engage in resistance for the same reasons as Daniel Cordier , who became secretary of Jean Moulin , or as Colonel Remy , founder of the Brotherhood of Our Lady , one of the most celebrated chefs networks of information.  We must also mention Pierre Bénouville which became one of the leaders Fight alongside ‘s Frenay or Jacques Renouvin who founded the groups francs movement.

Sometimes, illegal contact with other communities and other political philosophies did change some of these men.  Many gradually relinquish their anti-Semitic views or their hatred of the “démocrassouille”, or just their traditionalist and conservative views. Bénouville and Marie-Madeleine Fourcade become Gaullist deputies after the war, François Mitterrand passes left Frenay moving towards a humanist and European socialism, the young Daniel Cordier , whose family for three generations maurassienne, slides to the left after experiencing the Republican Jean Moulin .

Jean-Pierre Azéma coined the term vichysto-resistant for those who qualify, having believed in the Vichy regime (often in the same person Petain in the National Revolution), have become separated “without thought of return “and joined the Resistance.  This category does not exactly cover the hard right and the extreme right.  Former Cagoulard Claude Hettier of Boislambert joined de Gaulle in the summer of 1940, Maurice Ripoche (founder of People’s Liberation) defends initially very similar to Vichy regime, but placing the liberation of the country above all do not enter the Pétain government, and in 1941 opened the movement of leftists.  In contrast, all passed by Vichy resistant not deny their ideas, as Gabriel Jeantet and Jacques Le Roy Ladurie .

The vichysto-resistant join the fight against the occupier:

From 1940 to 1941 for Pierre Bénouville and Frenay , and then break, especially from 1942, with the principles of Vichy.

After the return of Pierre Laval to power in April 1942 , and the invasion of the free zone, in November of the same year as the founding of the ORA and François Mitterrand .

After the creation of the Militia, in January 1943 , and the defeat of Stalingrad , the following month, as François Valentin .

In addition to the names already mentioned, may be mentioned, among vichysto-resistant, Maurice Clavel , Maurice Couve de Murville , Michel Debré and Alexandre Sanguinetti .


In contrast to the extreme right of the political spectrum, anti-fascists, among many academics, have an important role in the founding of the movement Liberation : Emmanuel d’Astier de La Vigerie , principal leader of the movement is a journalist. John Cavaillès , philosopher and mathematician of the University of Strasbourg , meeting Astier and Lucie Aubrac in Clermont-Ferrand, where the university is folded.

The antifascist intellectuals are also many around Jean Cassou and Boris Vilde in what has been called the network Museum of Man , the first Resistance bulletin is broadcast from December 1940 .  It is in this movement that we can classify Freemasons as Brossolette Pierre and François Verdier .

Activists Vigilance Committee of Antifascist Intellectuals among the first resistant, as Paul Rivet .


In the France of 1940 , the majority of the population is Catholic .  We thus find the Christians , without religious motivation expressed in almost all categories cited as the current resistance.  The bishops, the clergy and the majority of Catholic circles represent one of the best support to Marshal Petain .  Resistant as Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves and some of the Resistance movements are motivated by a strong Catholic roots, as in Freedom, founded by François de Menthon to be one of the components of the movement fighting the Cahiers du Christian Witness founded by Father Pierre Chaillet or Young Christian fighters , founded by Gilbert Dru (1920-1944) and Maurice René Simonnet .  These activists believe that their faith Christian duty to act alongside the resistance  .  This awareness leads to condemn abuse and personal revenge perpetrated under the guise of resistance: In a statement of 17 February 1944, the bishops of France officially condemn “the incitement to violence and terrorist acts that cause the killing of people and looting mansions ”


As stated above, the Jews were over-represented at all levels of the Resistance.  The fate of their promised the Germans hiding was to them not only an attribute of strength, but a way to avoid raids.  Many of them fought in organizations and non-Jewish networks.  However, the specifics of the threat that hung over all Jews led some of them to come together to rescue interned in French camps ( Beaune-la-Rolande , the Camp des Milles , etc.) foster the development evasion, making false documents and fight for liberation.  The first clandestine networks were formed around the Jewish Scouts of France in 1941 with Robert Gamzon  said Castor and the Work of Save the Children (OSE) with Dr. Joseph Weill  and Georges Loinger.  A military strength also organizes with Jacques Lazarus  around the Jewish Army (later to release the Jewish Combat Organization or OJC) who went underground in the Black Mountains near Castres  .  The OJC involved in the liberation struggle including Castres and Puy-en-Velay and will be integrated with FFI.  One of its leaders, Maurice Loebenberg said Maurice Cachoud  , responsible for making false papers in the area of Nice is called by the MLN to Paris to centralize the service of false papers.  Following a betrayal led by Karl Rehbein the same one who will be responsible for the massacre of young resistance fighters shot at the waterfall in the Bois de Boulogne , when he was arrested by the French Gestapo and tortured to death in July 1944 .  Members of the OJC will still be among the last victims’ of Alois Brunner who had deported the 17 August 1944 at Drancy.  This will be the “last car”  or the convoy of 51 hostages.  27 prisoners in the last transport, Jacques Lazarus, manage to escape by jumping from the train.


Networks of foreign Jews

Many foreign political refugees have little choice: administrative detention promised to foreigners, or the Resistance.  When communists, they form what are called units Mavericks and supporters – Labour immigrant (FTP-MOI).  The FTP-MOI group Joseph Epstein and Missak Manouchian practicing urban warfare in the Paris region and will be made ​​famous by the red poster , plastered on walls in January 1944 , includes a large number of Jews in Central Europe.

Several foreign Jews join networks rescue their brethren, like Marianne Cohn , or Léon Poliakov .

Red and black Spanish

In the bush of South West, there are thousands of Spanish Republicans, Communists ( Luis Fernandez , etc..) or anarchists everywhere, Brittany ( Roque Carrion , etc..) as in the Cevennes or Poitiers , Bordeaux , Angouleme , Avignon , Montelimar , Valencia , Annecy , etc..  There is also the battalion Gernika Basque refugees are nationals Spanish.  The Labour immigrant ( Celestino Alfonso , etc..) will occupy a major place and host the majority of Spanish communists.  The city of Foix was released only by the Spaniards.

Commanded by Captain Raymond Dronne , the first detachments of the 9th armored company are the first Allied forces into Paris by the Porte d’Italie to 20 h 41, on 24 August 1944 .  Guadalajara is the chariot which crosses first the outer boulevards.  It is composed entirely of Spanish anarchists.  They speak Spanish .  The 9th then participate in the liberation of Strasbourg.

Italian antifascists

On 6 September 1941 , representatives of the Communist Party and the Socialist Party of Italy , refugees in France, signed the “Appeal of Toulouse” and the “Pact of Lyon”, 3 March 1943 , that seal the unit action in the Resistance.  The Italians, especially many industrial Moselle, played a key role, as the Poles elsewhere in the constitution of the “Mario Group” (pseudonym of Jean Burger teacher who was the founder), the main resistance organization in this department which was then annexed to Hitler’s Reich.

On 10 June 1943 the headquarters of the Italian Fascist party that is Paris, Sédillot Street , is attacked by a commando FTP-MOI controlled by the Italian Rino Della Negra .


Some 400 Luxembourg, antifascist, and youth who refused to serve or who deserted the Wehrmacht left the Luxembourg to continue their fight in the French maquis.  They were particularly active in the areas of Lyon, Grenoble and in the Ardennes .  Thus a considerable number of Luxembourgers have died fighting alongside their French comrades.

Some, like Antoine Diederich , occupied important tasks in some networks.  Antoine Diederich, better known by his fighting name “Captain Baptiste”, had some 77 guerrillas under his command.  He became famous in the attack on the prison of Riom where Diederich and guerrillas freed 114 strong, including 30 sentenced to death  .

Germans in the Resistance in France

German communists and fascists  and also participate in the Austrian resistance , especially in the organization German Labour .  Three thousand Germans participated in the anti-Nazi French Resistance.  German resistance fighters managed to recruit German soldiers in France, which helped the French Resistance, providing them with weapons and information .

A German fascist underground (mostly communists) fighting in Upper Lozère and in the Cévennes (scrub Bonnecombe Marvejols and then scrub Montaigne), alongside the French Resistance, in the spring of 1943.  It is about a former quarantine International Brigades .  First used in groups of foreign workers (GTE), then they are threatened by the occupation of the southern zone and go underground.  It is directed by Otto Kühne (name Robert resistant), former member of the Reichstag , which will, in July 1944 , more than two thousand FTP under his command.  He gave battle against Nazi forces directly, as in the battles of 7 and 8 April 1944 in Saint-Étienne-Vallée-French (Lozère), where they destroy a patrol Feldgendarmerie or in an ambush against the Waffen SS, the 5 June 1944 , at The River (Lozère).


On 9 November 1940 , the Vichy government dissolved the workers ‘and employers’ unions.  CGT and CFTC no longer exist officially. René Belin , Secretary of Industrial Production and Labour government Marshal Petain , establishes a single trade union system based on corporatism.  Former member of the confederation CGT office, he resigned on 9 May 1940 to join the July 14 , the Vichy regime, accepting a government post.

From November 15, the three union leaders of the CFTC and the new CGT signed the Manifesto of the Twelve  which is a text of mistrust vis-à-vis the Vichy government.  Avoiding both all allegiance to the Vichy regime and any outright opposition, the spirit of the document is marked by a desire to preserve the independence of trade unions (“The unions can not claim to absorb the state. It should not either be absorbed by it “).  On the other hand, the document (and on this point it frontally opposed to the ideology of Vichy) rejects all racist conception: “In any case, under any circumstances and in any form, the French trade unionism can not admit distinctions between people based on Race, Religion, Death, Opinions or Money. ”

In November 1940 , Louis Saillant , Christian Pineau and Albert Gazier , all three members of the Confederation office of the former CGT involved in the founding of the Resistance movement Liberation North .

For their part, Benoît Frachon , André Tollet , Eugène Hénaff excluded and some other leaders of the former CGT in September 1939 for refusing to condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact , which had escaped the French police, resume under conditions aggravated illegal work already begun in the “phony war.”  They will ensure the publication and regular dissemination of illegal trade union press the Workers Life mainly: 338 illegal numbers of this journal will be published during the period of occupation.  Under their leadership, at the end of the summer of 1940, held demonstrations in front of the Town Councils of unemployed in the Paris region.  Soon strikes for wages explode in some companies.

The reaction of the occupant and his minions French soon.  On 5 October 1940 , 63 former heads of major unions and federations are arrested, including most of those who were shot to Chateaubriant a year later.  A few days later, Jean-Pierre Timbaud , head of the Paris metal is taken in turn.

From 17 May 1941 , talks were initiated between the CGT union of the former and those of the former CGTU .  They take place in Paris.  Both trends begin a process of reconciliation.  This is confirmed on 22 September 1942 with the meeting in Cahors between Jouhaux in the presence of Louis Saillant, for ex-Confederates, and Pierre Semard , former secretary of the Federation of Railwaymen and communist activist.  Following this interview, George Bush was sent to London to represent the CGT from the French Committee of National Liberation chaired by General de Gaulle .  Vichy is not mistaken about the danger posed to him this rapprochement.  On 26 September 1942 , he arrested Jouhaux and Vivier-Merle , secretary of the UD of the Rhone, and tries to get hold of Perrier, secretary of the DU Puy-de-Dome.  But these arrests do not interrupt the talks, so that the 17 April 1943 the Perreux Agreements, signed by Robert Bothereau and Louis Saillant for ex-Confederates, and Henri Raynaud and André Tollet for single, reunified CGT.

In general, unionists are often well placed to create networks of information or sabotage in many factories working for the German armament.  Relational networks of former unionists can also be used to attract a number of activists to resistance movements. Gaston Cusin its reactive networks customs has already implemented to smuggle in favor of Republicans, the time of the Spanish Civil War.  They are going to turn gold from the Bank of France in favor of free France.  He finds Pineau to release North .

Forms of resistance against the current of national unity

Social or political groups, because they were a small minority in the country had a significant influence in the evolution of the French Resistance.  Such is the case of the Trotskyites.  However, they have implemented specific forms of resistance to the Nazis by organizing an underground political work at the soldiers of the German army.

Main article: French Trotskyists during the Second World War .

This is also the case of the anarchists.  Some rallied to free France , some other networks adhere to the Resistance.  A properly anarchist resistance was the fact mainly to Jean-René Saulière with the distribution of leaflets, posters bonding night and secret reconstruction of the international syndicalist federation.  This anarchist resistance is hostile to Vichy and the Nazis, but also to the USSR and to free France.

The proletarian revolutionary group , guidance Councilist , is also in this type of resistance.

Other movements

Some elected moderate right (or right) have meanwhile played locally or nationally, an important role, as Leonel de Moustier and Joseph Laniel .

The work of the academic Jean-Jacques Monnier  ,  , also showed the commitment of more than 250 cultural, language activists, regionalist (URB, etc..) or nationalistic Britons of different faiths (GNP LFB etc.. longer than forty people) in the Resistance, so dispersed or organized (or the Freedom Group Timoleon to Saint-Nazaire involved in Operation Chariot, in conjunction with the network of the Museum of Man and integrated Battalion of the pocket, the Bleiz Mor group in central Brittany, the scrub Seilla and fluke in Saint-Gilles-du-Led ), the FFL (including Sao Breizh group) or in the rest of France, in traditional networks.  Many were also those involved in the cover-refractory STO resistant to leakage, airmen, Spanish refugees and Jews.  Lieutenant Ned Urvoas said Utrillo (FFI and former international brigades) created with other resistant and deported Breton (Colonel Charles Moreau Captain Luc Robet , General vallerie, Dr. Paul and deported Loheac, Colonel Muller, Gwenn-Bolloré Aël the former commando Kieffer , Yves Moreau (FTP), the remote MP Hervé Nader) Arbed Alumni Brittany resistant and their descendants, mutual aid association and regionalism in favor of specific political and cultural rights granted to Britain.

Unification of the Resistance

At the beginning of the occupation, the resistance movements and networks are very isolated, but gradually, the resistance tends to unify.  However, even if the construction unit of the French Resistance can be presented in a simple and linear array, it should not overshadow some aspects beyond the history of unification:

Thus, many controlled by the British or the Americans networks are not affected by the unification of the resistance while those of the communist resistance are only partially: the contact between the envoys of De Gaulle and the Communists s’ established at the end of 1942 .  Similarly, the liberation of Corsica in September 1943 , which is one of the greatest feats of strength is mainly the work of FTP Communists are not yet integrated into the army and secret Giraud , who are not involved in the political unification of the Resistance.

Arrival of Jean Moulin in London

The history of the unification of the resistance is inseparable from that of Jean Moulin .  In 1941, an internal resistance begins to form, embodied in the southern zone created by movements around Frenay , of Emmanuel d’Astier de La Vigerie or François de Menthon , independent agents of Free France.  To assert its legitimacy, it needs to be recognized by the Resistance, which itself needs the financial and material support of Free France.  This is because he understood that this meeting is to Jean Moulin will play a key role in bringing inner and outer resistors.

Prefect of Eure-et-Loir in 1939 , Jean Moulin was part of the cabinet of the Minister of the air Pierre Cot .  He has developed a strong network of contacts in the anti-fascist circles.  From November 1940 , he had the idea of identifying with his former colleague Gaston Cusin a number of potential resistance, but it was not until the summer of 1941 he was the most decisive, including contacts with Frenay leader of the movement that does not yet called Combat , but National Liberation Movement.  It also has contacts with Freedom, François de Menthon and Liberation of Emmanuel d’Astier de La Vigerie .  In the report he wrote for the benefit of De Gaulle, he speaks of these three movements by grouping them under the acronym LLL.  It is the merger of Liberty and the National Liberation Movement which gave birth to the Combat movement.  Jean Moulin arrived in Lisbon on 12 September 1941 , makes contact with the SOE and then went to London where he met de Gaulle on 25 October .  He managed to impersonate a representative of the three movements LLL in whose names it requires a financial and logistical support.  Moulin also reported contact with Colonel Groussard former Cagoulard, which gives its mission even more eclectic.  The contacts he has had with the different movements are real, but the terms on which he relies are less.

Mission Jean Moulin

The spark between the two men: Jean Moulin , a man of the left, recognizes a Democrat Charles de Gaulle, a man of tradition.  General and entrusted him with the mission to rally and unite the resistance movements, and create a unified Secret Army, establishing a distinction between military and political organizations forces.

Moulin was parachuted in the night of 1 to 2 January 1942 with funds (one and a half million francs) for movement and communications equipment.  It acts with tact and firmness to the various heads of movement for their allegiance to free France.  During the year 1942 , Mill, whose nickname is Rex before becoming Max focuses on the southern zone where a new movement emerged, Sniper headed by Jean-Pierre Lévy .  The reconciliation between the two strong personalities that are Frenay and Astier is not easy, and Mill Levy and often play the moderators resolve conflicts.

Astier, resolutely antifascist looks for political action that would build on popular layers while Frenay, especially anti-German advocates the rule of the military policy.  From late 1941 , the relative leniency with the Vichy police showed against non-communist underground movement ends and activists of various organizations are arrested.  D’Astier is very difficult to bear than Frenay go to explain the Interior Minister Pierre Pucheu .

Common administrative services are established: in April 1942 , the Information and Propaganda Bureau, a sort of underground press agency, in July 1942 , General Study Committee to study the political and economic reforms to implement the Liberation.  Movement coordination in the southern zone and merge their military capabilities come up against internal rivalries that require organizing a trip of four leaders in London.  Frenay and Astier de la Vigerie go to London in September 1942 , but Levy and Mill can not cross the Channel.  De Gaulle listen to arguments both present and decides in favor of Jean Moulin, then manages to accept the creation of a Coordinating Committee of the southern zone.  Now, the two main resistance movements clearly recognize the authority of the Free France, became Fighting France.  They agreed to form the Secret Army .  Responsibility is entrusted to General Delestraint .  Jean Moulin is informed of these decisions by a typed letter of General dated 22 October 1942  .  The first committee will be held in Lyon on 27 November 1942 .

Creation of the United Movements of Resistance (MUR) and the Secret Army (SA)

It takes a year to reach Mill form a solid core around which can crystallize the other components of the Resistance, including those of the North zone: the 26 January 1943 , the three major movements Combat , Maverick and Liberation South merged to form the United Movements of Resistance (MUR). Jean Moulin in the Presidency, Frenay is statutory “military affairs”, Emmanuel d’Astier de La Vigerie the “political affairs” and Jean-Pierre Levy on ‘information and administration. ”

Relations between the Secret Army, assumed integrate the various armed groups and corps movement, and WALL, a problem: the heads of WALL do not want a separation between military activity and political activity; they do not want either the AS depends directly from London.  Frenay Delestraint and are often in conflict, and the arrest of the Delestraint 9 June 1943 left the whole problem.  The independence of the underground press is not a problem: every movement retains its independent press.

During the second half of 1943 , the territories of the French Empire and the external and internal forces become addicted to the French Committee of National Liberation (CFLN) created in June and it takes the 4 April 1944 , the name the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF).  Therefore, the resistance form an organic whole and can draw its strength from its insertion even in the new political structure.  The GPRF includes a consultative assembly in which there are representatives of all resistance movements, so in spring 1944 , the union being fulfilled gradually between the Secret Army, the Organization of resistance of the Army (ORA) and the Mavericks and supporters (FTP).

Unification in the northern zone and junction Communists and de Gaulle

The unification of the Resistance in the northern zone is done with almost a year to offset the process begun in the southern zone.  Moulin has sent his old companion cabinet Cot, commander Henri Manhès in the northern zone, but basically the process of unification in the northern zone is rather margin Mission Mill.  It is a term of various movements and unions that Christian Pineau , who founded Liberation North , went to London in March 1942 and negotiates his support for de Gaulle  .

In early 1943, de Gaulle load Pierre Brossolette and Colonel Passy a mission focused on the unification of the armed resistance, partially divergent from the mission entrusted to Jean Moulin.  The Coordinating Committee created 26 March 1943 includes all movements of the former North zone, that is to say, the civil and military organization (CMO), those of the Resistance (CDLR) and People’s Liberation (cdll) and organizes their services “Action” under the authority of Fighting France.

Communist resistance did not come into contact with de Gaulle in the second quarter 1942.  This is not Jean Moulin, who yet in his relations a number of relatives of the PCF, which is the actor of this merger.  This is a gray eminence of the Communist Party, Jean Jerome may contact officers of BCRA .  It follows several months of contacts between Remy representing de Gaulle and a Joseph , representing the Communist Resistance.  (See History of the French Communist Party).

These contacts result in sending to London Fernand Grenier , a former member of St. Denis, appointed to represent both the Communist Party ( Jacques Duclos ) than FTP ( Charles Tillon ).  Also they created a structure for the armed resistance, the FTP , the Communists have also formed a resistance movement, the National Front , exceed their supposed political movement.  They do so for tactical reasons a temporary competitor WALL created in January 1943 by Jean Moulin.  Finally, the National Front, as the Communist Party is represented in the inaugural meeting of the National Resistance Council (NRC) on 7 May 1943.  But it must officially wait until December 1943, and later almost more for the FTP are integrated into a centralized structure, namely, the French Forces of the Interior (FFI).

National Council of Resistance

In 1943 , encouraged by the rallying of some political leaders, de Gaulle in Algiers causes the resurgence of the old parties, often going against the wishes of resistance.  The National Resistance Council, which held its first meeting in Paris, rue du Four, on 27 May 1943, includes representatives of the resistance movements, but also of political parties and trade unions.

The meeting was chaired by Jean Moulin assisted by Pierre Meunier and Robert Chambeiron .  Read a message from Moulin De Gaulle.

Also attending the meeting

in respect of movements:

Those of Liberation : Roger Coquoin , Those of Resistance : Jacques Lecompte-Boinet , National Front : Pierre Villon , Liberation North , South Liberation : Charles Lawrence , CMO : Jacques-Henri Simon , Combat : Claude Bourdet , Sniper : Eugène Claudius-Petit , Liberation Pascal Copeau

under political trends:

Communist Party: Andre Mercier , Socialist Party: The Andrew Barter , Radical Socialists: Marc Rucart , Popular Democrats: Georges Bidault , Democratic Alliance: Joseph Laniel , Republican Federation: Jacques Debu-Bridel

under unions:

CGT: Louis Saillant , CFTC: Gaston Tessier

This meeting of May 27 is somehow the result of the work of Jean Moulin and Pierre Brossolette .  CNR survives the arrest of Jean Moulin, the 21 June 1943 to Caluire . Georges Bidault succeeded him as president of the CNR, but it no longer meets in plenary ever.  The permanent office includes in September 1943 , in addition to Georges Bidault , Pierre Villon, Pascal Copeau Louis Saillant and Maxime Blocq-Masquart (CMO).  Some movements are not invited to the meeting of May 27 – for example Defence of France and Giraud trends such as ORA.  At this meeting, participants involved, right and left Bidault Villon, to restore a balance between Giraud and de Gaulle.  Nevertheless, it is the constitution that de Gaulle CNR brings greater legitimacy that allows it to stand vis-à-vis the British and American allies as the only true representative of France resistant.

Creating FFI and FTP integration in FFI

Despite all these camera movements, resistant base movement often do not know how it is.  In the network where it is entered, usually by appointment, he has contacts with a limited number of people, and it performs the duties assigned to it.  He will learn at the end of the war he worked, for example, the SOE and does not depend on de Gaulle.

The unification of the armed movements of a rather formal character, in the sense that, when coordination is required between the networks, scrub and Allied troops, it is provided from London and not by any staff based on the underground French. territory  At the local level, unification can help groups from different backgrounds to work together and sometimes to submit to a common authority.  This worked relatively well during the liberation of Paris.

General Delestraint arrested in early May 1943 and deported to Dachau is replaced by Pontcarral-Dejussieu at the head of the SA.  It remains to integrate the one hand the organization of the resistance army (ORA), an offshoot of the old armistice army, representative of so-called vichysso Giraud-resistance and, Moreover, the FTP .  The ORA who wants strictly military has not been part of the constitution of the CNR.  It has privileged contacts with General Giraud .  From June 1943 , when Giraud must give way to de Gaulle, the NRS fits smoothly into the AS.  This integration is formalized in October 1943 by an ORA-AS agreement.  The ORA then recognizes the authority of CFLN Algiers chaired by de Gaulle.

Similarly, a theoretical merger took place on 29 December 1943 between the AS and FTP , giving rise to FFI under the authority of General Koenig on 23 March 1944 .

Along with the creation of the FFI, ​​CNR, increasingly dominated by the Communists and their allies had created a military commission to oversee the expected FFI action.  First designated COMIDAC, we then called the COMAC .  So who depended Koenig?  The COMAC or CFLN Algiers transformed June 2 Provisional Government?  Nobody knows too much.  The National Military Officer ( Chaban ) and military delegates zones (DMZ) depend them directly from Algiers National Military Committee.  In short, the organization is sufficiently complex to allow everyone to do what he pleases.  He at least has the merit to exist, and when everyone is willing, you can make things happen.

Various forms of resistance

The resistance movements act in two distinct ways: first, they want to contribute to the military defeat of the Germans, and secondly, they want to influence public opinion in France that switches to the camp they feel be good.

Networks and movements

In the year 1941 , we can distinguish among the various resistance groups infancy two types of organization networks and movements.

According to Claude Bourdet , “a network is an organization created for a specific military work, mainly intelligence, sabotage incidentally, frequently also the escape of prisoners of war and especially pilots fell to the enemy A movement … On the contrary, a primary objective is to educate and organize the population of the broadest possible way … ”

Clandestine press

The first action of many resistance movements is the publication and distribution of illegal release.  That is not the general rule, since some movements, especially in the northern region, as those of the Resistance (CDLR) and People’s Liberation (cdll) and to a lesser extent the civil and military organization (CMO) refuse civil action to take better care of the military.

Other movements, such as the defense of France was founded in August 1941 by students Philippe Viannay , Robert Salmon , Jacques Lusseyran refuse to mount intelligence or volunteer corps. Testimony Christian is to be placed in the same category.

Most clandestine newspapers consist only a few pages, often a single sheet, mimeographed on both sides, because the sale of all raw materials – paper, ink, stencils – was prohibited  .

In the northern zone, in June 1941 , Pantagruel , the organ Sniper shoots 10 000 copies and Liberation North who will replace reached quickly enough to draw 50,000.  In January 1944 , Defence of France, distributes 450,000 copies.

In the southern zone, after the merger of two newspapers Freedom François de Menthon and Truth Frenay seem 58 issues of the newspaper Combat of December 1941 to January 1944 , and during the same period 37 numbers Sniper , 5 numbers Liberation and 15 books of Christian Witness .  For prints, Dominique Veillon and Olivier Wieviorka give the figure of 5 000 to 10 000 copies to start, and then an average figure of 125 000 à 150 000.

317 There are numbers of illegal Humanity until the Liberation.

Intelligence and espionage against

Intelligence networks are far more numerous and more substantial.  It is, of course, to collect military information value: buildings on the Atlantic coast, numbers of Wehrmacht units based in France … There is often competition between the BCRA and the different UK services to contact the networks which are put in a position to provide valuable information.  Meanwhile reinforce services against espionage designed to counter enemy agents and poison the Nazis.

The first officers of Free France landed on the Brittany coast from July 1940 .  They are Lieutenant Mansion, Saint-Jacques, Corvisart , Remy , who do not hesitate to contact the anti-German Vichy military circles as Loustaunau-Lacau and Colonel Groussard they are close ideologically.

The movements have understood the importance of having networks of information to be recognized and receive subsidies from the BCRA or the British.  The intelligence service of FTP is called FANA.  It is headed by Georges Beyer, the brother of Charles Tillon .  It exists within the BCRA Branch of Special Services (DGHS) which insures against espionage missions.

The transmission of information is first radio transmitter.  Later, when air links by Lysander become more frequent, some of the information is conveyed by these letters.  According to Passy, ​​head of the BCRA in 1944, 1000 daily telegrams pass through radio, which must be added over 20,000 pages and 2,000 shots per week.  Called radio operators pianists.  Many are identified by the DF German cars also patrol the area south from summer 1943.  Thus, as noted Jean-François Muracciole in proportion, it was the networks that suffered the heaviest losses.

After the war, 266 networks directly linked to BCRA are recognized, including 150,000 officers counted.


Sabotage is a form of action that can aspire to all groups wishing to exceed the diffusion of underground press.  Many clandestine laboratories are set up to produce the explosives needed. Jules Dumont and chemist France Bloch-SERAZIN rise in August 1941 a small laboratory to provide explosives to the first communist fighters.  The laboratory also produces bulbs cyanide to allow resistant to evade torture if arrested.  France Bloch-SERAZIN stopped in February 1942 , tortured, deported to Hamburg and beheaded with an ax in February 1943 .  In the southern zone, the former royalist Jacques Renouvin engaged in the same activities on behalf of groups francs network Combat .

Eventually, stealing dynamite will be preferred to the craftsmanship.  The British also parachute tons to their SOE networks, one of the main tasks is sabotage.  Railways are the preferred target of saboteurs.  Moreover, we understand very quickly that the debunking is far more effective than explosives.

The derailment of the train are of questionable effectiveness throughout the period of occupation the Germans manage to fix the way fast enough.  After the invasion of Normandy and of Provence, joined the Allied bombing, they can disrupt the German retreat more effectively.  Sabotage routes are obviously less collateral damage that the bombing.

Sabotage of equipment leaving armaments factories is a discrete form of action, but probably at least as effective as the bombings.

Similarly, resistant “individual” or small group get results without violence. By faking documents and reports, officials deprive plants “collaborators” of some raw materials, energy or manpower needed.  Some industrial moderate their production and deliveries occupant.  At the station, railway delay as much as possible the transport of goods taken in France and the German military equipment, such as changing or exchanging labels to certain cars. example a car engine aircraft for hunters Fw 190 , expected to Brest , “disappeared” for six weeks before being found in Germany.

Urban guerrilla

Practices guerrillas are the prerogative of the communist groups.  It is to carry out attacks to hit the enemy in the heart of cities.  The first wave of bombings took place immediately after the entry into the war the USSR in June 194. The Communists then have a clear goal, participate in the war on the side of the USSR in the same way that the Free French participation in the war with the British.  The objective is to secure the maximum of German troops to the west.

Pierre Georges, better known under the name Fabien, kills a German officer stewardship, midshipman Moser in metro station Barbès , the 21 August 1941 .  This attack, and those perpetrated in the following weeks by young communists naturally a ridiculous efficiency in terms of the objective and cost the lives of many hostages, including the leaders of the resistance, as Estienne Orves.  Curiously, the clandestine Communist press is very discreet about these attacks, especially the last, that of Nantes in retaliation triggers the execution of 98 hostages.  The Communists temporarily waive such action too unpopular.

Groups that engage in Paris a series of direct attacks against soldiers or officers Germans from July to October 1943 , are far better organized. Joseph Epstein , alias Colonel Gilles is responsible for the FTP-MOI who are also assigned responsibility for FTP fighters throughout the Paris region where the formation of real commandos fifteen fighters enables a number of spectacular actions as an attack on a German detachment that leads to the place of ‘Star in goose step.  This would not have been possible with groups of three that were the rule in the clandestine organization since 1940.  These commandos ME are foreign.  The group Manouchian is the most famous.


We denote by underground resistance groups operating in inaccessible areas where abundant vegetation can mask the movement of groups.  The French mountains, Alps, Jura, Massif Central, Morvan … often encourage such settlements.

With few exceptions, such as George Guingouin or John Longhi , resistant only think little to create scrub before 1943 .  It is the influx of refractory trying to escape compulsory labor service (STO) introduced from 16 February 1943 that triggered the creation of the maquis, where more experienced young refractory resistant frame.  In addition, on the same date, the resistance has reached a sufficient degree of maturity to consider the control of some territories.  After that, under the leadership of Jean Moulin, the three movements of the southern area were merged under the name WALL, a national Maquis Service (NPS) was established in March 1943 under the supervision of Michel Brault .  In October 1943 , the NPS estimated 43,000 the number of guerrillas within its services (22,000 in the southern zone – 14,000 in 8000 and placed camp – and 21,000 in the northern zone – 14,000 camp in 7000 and placed) , plus an additional 65,000 sedentary (50,000 in the southern zone, 15,000 in the northern zone) and FTP maquis, 5000 in the southern zone and 7000 in the northern zone (these figures report Jerome (Michel Brault), probably somewhat exaggerated, should be taken with precautions).

Problems arise when all kinds of motivation varies from refractory to join a project of resistance, practical difficulties in supply, inadequate weapons, but over time, a considerable number of maquis are created at point that they symbolize, to some extent, the idea of ​​resistance.

Through the bush, resistance itself takes various forms, depending on the tactics adopted.  It shows expression differences that appear in the last year of the German occupation.  The “Gaullist” with organizations WALL or ORA, prefer to keep their bush in reserve for general work and focus their activity on the transmission of information to the Allies and FFL, whereas FTP maquis claim embark operations harassment of German forces and the militia.  Depending on the region, rivalries between different scrub AS or FTP could be intense or nonexistent.  On how to consider the establishment of maquis, cultural differences separating the former officers of the ORA consider foremost the bush as a strategic fortress, a bridgehead or a fulcrum and communist partisans who believe more population control.

The Militia created on 23 January 1943 following the dissolution of the army consecutive armistice to the invasion of the southern zone by the Germans, will become an important player in this period.  It is engaged in the fight against the bush, as strength in front of interventions low or medium intensity and a secondary force in the wide-scale attacks conducted by the German army.  This gives the period 1943 – 1944 the appearance of a civil war that only ended late in 1944 with the end of the treatment and the Government’s statement of De Gaulle.

On 11 November 1943, the Maquis de l’Ain and Haut-Jura , under Captain Henri Romans-Petit , took control of the city ‘s Oyonnax ( Ain ) and march to the war memorial.  Oyonnax front approaching, enthusiastic, they lay a wreath-shaped cross of Lorraine with “The winners of tomorrow than in 14-18.”  Resistant then leave town.

On three occasions, the maquis suffered heavy losses for accepting too direct confrontation with still superior German troops.  The maquis Glières in Haute-Savoie , is created by the AS in January 1944 and commissioned by former active duty officer of Alpine hunters Tom Morel .  Some 450 fighters join the Glières plateau : 300 AS, a hundred and fifty FTP Spanish Republican refugees.  Surrounded by the forces of order from the Vichy 13 February 1944 , they receive airdrops of weapons, but in March 1944 , they were attacked by about 3,000 German mountain hunters and 7-800 francs guards Militia French.  After a last hurray, they must disperse 130 guerrillas killed in combat, but especially during the fall or after capture.

By the end May 1944, 2500 people gathered at Mont Mouchet, in Auvergne.  After the first attack fails, June 2, the Germans attacked again on June 9.  Survivors gather to Upper Truyère.  These are 5000 men Wehrmacht attack on June 18, leaving at least 100 dead among the guerrillas without counting the victims of reprisals.  On June 20, the order of general dispersion is pronounced.

The losses will be even heavier in the Vercors maquis attacked on 21 July 1944 . 4,000 men are concentrated, with the support of the various movements of internal resistance, the BCRA and the British.  Only FTP have always opposed the project.  The Massif du Vercors is completely surrounded by cliffs, but gliders Wehrmacht use an aviation prepared to receive Allied reinforcements track.  In addition to the 840 dead, including 200 civilians, many guerrillas were deported.

Other forms of resistance

In addition to armed combatants, there were other forms of hostile enemy action.  It should be mentioned that many printers have made these false documents necessary to fallen pilots in occupied territory to try to pass through the controls on their exfiltration to England.  For example, mention Virol Pierre , who died in exile in Mauthausen after being betrayed and badly tortured and his daughter and son.

Beyond, through occupied France, all kinds of individual actions can be likened to the anti-German resistance.  They can not be considered in this article that reports of organized resistance.

Can be treated as resistant those who worked to rescue Jews in French territory.  They are generally known as Righteous Among the Nations .

Life and death resistant

Secret double life


All resistant is not necessarily illegal.  But almost all have a nickname by which he is known to be one of his comrades and his “contacts”.

Jean Moulin is Rex and then Max.  The Germans nicknamed Network Alliance Noah’s Ark because all its members are named after animals.  The leaders of the BCRA rather find their inspiration in the Paris metro stations (Passy Corvisart Saint-Jacques).  The choice of a nom de guerre may be no specific dimension, a product of chance or a decision from above, but also take on a special meaning.  Jean Moulin, brilliant amateur artist pays homage to the great Jewish poet Max Jacob . Berty Albrecht takes the combative name Victoria.  The nationalist Bénouville refers to the writer Barres or Marshal La Hire .  The medievalist historian Marc Bloch fond place names such Arpajon Chevreuse or Narbonne, in attachment to various French vineyards sign.  The head of espionage against Toulouse Marcel Taillandier calls himself Morhange or Ricardo.

The most important resistance or the most sought must change constantly pseudonyms to cover their tracks. Henri Rol-Tanguy has spent more than twenty before taking the Rol shortly before the release, a tribute to a fellow party killed in the International Brigades.  The Head of Combat Frenay is best known in the world as illegal Charvet, but it also carries a dozen other names including Xaintrailles or Nef – at the end, as he recounts in The Night end (R. Laffont, 1975) he finally signed his real name just before flying to London permanently, because he knows that the Germans pierced his true identity long.

Many resistant substitute their name after the war fighter to their name, and Raymond Aubrac or Serge Ravanel , partly because in the words of the latter in his memoirs (The Spirit of Resistance, Seuil, 1995), Resistance was for them an overhaul of identity.  Others accolent under their real names as Henri Rol-Tanguy , Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont or Jacques Chaban-Delmas . Lucie Aubrac gives her daughter Catherine, born on their arrival in London in early 1944, his nom de guerre to release- South .

Also a nickname for internal use, the resistance will often need a false identity secret.  This involves making false documents.  A man like Pierre-Kahn Farelle aka Pierre-des Faux Paper, executes remarkable for Liberation-South and for WALL .  In general, the false identity retains the same initials, to coincide with machine embroidered on staff.  Often resistant to aging if age suffer the STO , he claims to have originated in North Africa already released or a city whose marital status was bombed.  If arrested, the question is whether his false identity “is” at least to preserve his family reprisals and to prevent the Germans from backtracking.

Hiding, “Contact” and move

Resistant often avoids sleeping with him, or if finally went underground, it must be a “stash” whose address is known only to him and a minimum number of liaison officers . Jacques Duclos , Charles Tillon and Benoît Frachon , triangle Supreme Director of PCF underground, thus hiding all the Hurepoix without ever being caught.  Number of important resistance must change regularly stash.  A hideout or a mailbox “grilled” or “burnt” is known to police and should not be used under penalty of serious dangers.  Similarly resistant “grilled” must change city go underground or go to London or Algiers.  So that from mid-1943, Lyon gradually losing its role as capital of the Resistance: the CNR , the governing bodies of WALL movements and many migrate to Paris because too resistant Lyon are marked.  As for the bush, where many are also resistant shelter, they have the security rule “nomads” constantly: all large static maquis end encircled and destroyed.

Many in hiding resistant had to change their physical appearance itself. “Almost all were resistant to a point, dyed hair”, had to cut or get to wear long.  Many have Grimes, have let it grow beards and mustaches, or the contrary is shaved.  It was common also wearing dark glasses with thick frames.  As for women, they happened to change their approach, adopting alternately flat or high heels.

Underground forces, the resistance generally avoids personal use written notes, see inadvisable to hold an address or a calendar and book censorship as Jean Guéhenno his diary when he got one.  If men resist a couple or even whole families, many hide their activity to their loved ones, their parents, their intimate.  They sometimes suffer in silence disavowal of their: Frenay thus very strongly disapproved of by his mother when engaging in combat early 1941.

If resistance can act alone, they are usually part of a network or movement.  But many never know before the end of the war to which group they work, nor know its leaders.  The neologism “contact”, forged during the Occupation refers to the multiple steps by which each tries to recruit resistant to turn several others in his entourage or one of its meetings, as well as multiple interviews that he must have with other resistant.  The banks of the Saône in Lyon , capital of underground movements, and are places of “contacts” between quasi-permanent Mulholland.

A minority of individuals is the round-trip flight between the mainland and London by the full moon, the British Lysander, small transport aircraft capable of taking three or four people come to get resistant to the agreed place and take them to London and are sometimes parachuted back.  Maritime connections have existed also, General Giraud winner Algiers submarine in November 1942 .  In February 1944 , rejects the storm on the coast of the UK Toy of Waves, well-appointed, causing the arrest shortly thereafter Pierre Brossolette , who committed suicide at the headquarters of the Gestapo Avenue Foch in Paris, and Emile Bollaert , deported.

Resistant and violence

The majority of resistance has not expressed taste for violence and even armed struggle.

This has been shown especially Olivier Wieviorka in his thesis on the defense of France and then in his later work, or Jacques Sémelin specialist civil resistance.  According to these authors, France was unaccustomed to physical violence from the political repression of the Paris Commune in 1871 .  The Republican and Democratic acculturation does not make clear the use of armed struggle, which even the working class has more experience since the late nineteenth century.

The PCF uses the single attacks since 1941.  Young Communists who are given these missions have qualms about killing Germans.  For example, Tony Bloncourt, which renounces run a German when he could do so without risk: “At this moment, at this moment, I have not seen a German officer, I saw only rights.  “  At the same time, the order of the party serving OS , become liquid Valmy group traitors like Marcel Gitton.  During the Liberation of Paris in August 1944 , Henri Rol-Tanguy takes the slogan “Everyone’s Boche! “Before the fighting radicalization and repression increasingly brutal, many resistance from all sides also harden their discourse and practices. Viannay Philippe and published in early 1944 a sensational article in defense of France on “the duty to kill”.  Employees were killed early, militiamen occasionally been tortured to death by guerrillas, the FFI attended mowing women’s liberation, the study Fabrice Virgili on this issue.

However, most resistant not willing to use violence.  For Christians resistance, the use of the latter may cause cases of conscience: the young Protestant Jacques Monod, who share in the bush where he found his death, asks his people to pray for him because “the violence needs to be forgiven.” The philosopher Jean Cavaillès , who wants to militarize resistant Action Liberation North and focus on intelligence, sabotage and armed struggle more than political propaganda, hardly receives support in the direction of movement and resigned to found the Cohors-Asturias network  .

Many anecdotes to support – releasing resistant militia and German prisoners without causing them any harm, other disavowing such an article about illegal or considered too violent refusal to resort to reprisals against the families of employees, etc.. Olivier Wieviorka concludes that overall, despite notable exceptions, “Violence is not a value of the resistance.”  Obviously we can not say the same for his Nazi militia or opponents.

The Morhange network of Marcel Taillandier, direct action group against espionage and was responsible for cleaning the traitors, collaborators and Nazis destroyed the resistance networks southwest of France.  They eliminated dozens of people hostile to free France and resistance.  But a survey was conducted before each winding, often confessions were requested in the form of a trial, with witnesses.  Torture has never been used and liquidations were always regretted, although essential to win the war.

Perils of hiding

The movements are extremely fragile and live under constant threat of arrest and dismantling.  Just a spinning or arrest for the Germans and their French relay back a die and realize after extensive “hauls” decimating the Resistance.

Many people “fall” because of a “trap” that is to say, a place to go out where the Germans stop one at a resistance that arise.  Thus nearly 80 militants Defence of France , given, were arrested in July 1943 at the bookstore “The Vow of Louis XIII,” at 68 rue Bonaparte, in the sixth arrondissement of Paris, among them Geneviève de Gaulle Anthonioz .  Raids also took place, and the loud, the 23 November 1943 , against the University of Strasbourg folded Clermont-Ferrand : this mecca of resistance seen the arrest of 96 students, most of Alsace-Lorraine.

In this context, any individual carelessness can lead quickly the “fall” of dozens of people.  Any denunciation as well.  Thus the end of November 1943, the place Saint-Barthélemy Grenoble during which 11 members of the Dauphiné resistance are killed, and all die in exile.

The “returned” by the Germans, fear of torture but also often against money and privileges famous traitors and are responsible for numerous arrests and deportations, such Multon in Marseille, Georges Mathieu in Clermont-Ferrand and Mathilde Square called “the Cat” in Paris.  If the role of René Hardy in the fall of Jean Moulin in Caluire on 21 June 1943 , has never been completely elucidated, it is established that in defiance of all basic safety rules, concealed from his comrades arrested a few days earlier by Klaus Barbie , followed by its release, and it is also made ​​on order Bénouville a meeting at which he was not invited.  In Gironde, in September 1943, the regional head of the CMO André Grandclément accepts de facto alliance with the Gestapo in the name of anticommunism, saving accepting the agreement of other comrades arrested.  This very confusing case involves very serious divisions and cutbacks in local resistance.  It ends with the execution of the couple Grandclément by his former comrades in July 1944.

The setpoint is normally down the traitors released, it is often applied against the heart by the resistance, which can not always remember that men who have “cracked” have previously shared all their perils.  This reluctance has been entrusted to historians and authors of the Blood of the Stranger (1988) by the survivors of the ME who had to run Davidowicz responsible for the fall of the group Manouchian , and then released by the Germans with its mission to infiltrate comrades.

After their arrest, escapes from prison or internment camp were successful in a number of resistance.  The Freikorps also manage to release some or intercept during transfer.  And Jean-Pierre Levy is issued on the streets of Paris in 1944, and Raymond Aubrac dramatically snatched from his German captors with several comrades on the road to Fort Montluc (October 1943).  In 1944, the RAF bombed spectacularly same prison Amiens (Operation Jericho) and allows some to escape.

Some prominent resistant inside “grilled” in France are taken in Lysander in London and become ministers of state as-built against the de Gaulle and André Philip since August 1942 and Emmanuel Astier , or Frenay late 1943.  Many resistant spend in North Africa and join the Free France , crossing the Pyrenees, and generally after being interned by Franco in the camp of Miranda .  A significant number of some 35,000 escaped from France already has experience in the fight before leaving “join de Gaulle.”  Some of these homeless are then reparachutés in France with sabotage missions and André Jarrot .  Which reminds again that there is no absolute resistance between mainland France and free seal.

Refuting the myth of “heroism” that would have ignored any fear, many great resistant confess to having always known otherwise.  General Maurice Chevance-Bertin, a leader of Combat, evokes the title of his memoirs his twenty thousand hours of anguish.


Imprisonment, torture by the Gestapo , the execution by firing squad or decapitation or deportation often without return in the concentration camps the Nazis are often the term of the action (or life) resistant.

Especially Souge camp in Gironde, the shooting Balard and especially the Mont-Valerian in Paris see the countless executions resistant.  In Lyon many are resistant interned at Fort Montluc before execution or deportation.  Women tended transferred to Germany to be beheaded, such that Olga Bancic or Emilienne Mopty.  Before being expelled from France, the Germans emptied the prisons and massacred hundreds of political prisoners: and died in June 1944 , to Lyon, the great historian Marc Bloch .

From spring 1942, the Germans, however, favored the deportation to death camp on executions.  The savagery and horrifying Nazi death camps have deprived thousands of resistant of any chance of ever seeing their own.  On the night of 1 to 2 September 1944 , 102 militants Network Alliance even gassed the camp Struthof .  The General Brother died of exhaustion in the same camp in June 1944 .  Resistant Nacht und Nebel classified by the Nazis (to remove “in the night and fog”) is the category having the most enduring among the thousands of their comrades doomed to extermination.  Among them, the general Delestraint run shot in the neck at Dachau on 5 April 1945 .

Despite the risks involved, it is very rare that one leaves the Resistance.  The survivors are, however, always have the right to a second chance.  Thus, Robert Kahn (brother of Pierre-Kahn Farelle , aka “Pierre-des-forger”), born in Paris, in the metallurgical industry, was Chief MUR in the Loire Valley, known as Renaud.  Arrested by the Gestapo, the first time in Saint Etienne, he escaped with the help of Lucie Aubrac .  Arrested a second time on termination, in Lyon, he was imprisoned at Fort Montluc and murdered on the orders of Klaus Barbie in August 1944.

Some resistance, including communists, saw their whole family repressed and exterminated, as the Colonel Fabien .

Some commit suicide not to speak under torture and Fred Scamaroni , Berty Albrecht , Jacques Bingen , Pierre Brossolette , and perhaps Jean Moulin .  Others are tortured as Pierre Griffi and Jean Nicoli in Corsica but are executed without speaking.  Still others die sword in hand in the heavy fighting of the bush, as the writer Jean Prevost in Vercors , Bernard Amiot in the Gers.  Those who see the Liberation often continue to fight in Germany by engaging in the regular army for the final blow to the Third Reich, and sometimes lose their lives, as Colonel Fabien , was killed by a mine on the front Vosges late 1944.

The number of resistant victims of repression is difficult to ascertain, but it amply justifies the famous words of the Song of the Partisans:

“Tomorrow, black blood will dry in the sun on the road

Friend, if you get a friend out of the shadows in your place.

Sing companions on the night of freedom listens to us!  ”

Role of Resistance in the liberation of the territory

A main motivation of the two forms of resistance, indoor and outdoor, was that the French are present alongside the Allies in the final victory expected.  The question then comes of itself: What was the role of resistance in the liberation of the territory is difficult to give an answer to this question that needs some answers?

in September 1943 , the resistant Corsican trigger an insurrection which releases the island with the help of commandos came ‘of North Africa .  The Allied landing November 8, 1942 in North Africa had allowed the French Special Services based in Algiers to send secret mission Pearl Harbor on 14 December 1942 Mission commandos to coordinate networks of resistance to a quick landing.  Corsica is the first French department released on 4 October 1943.  From June 1944 , FFI and FTP, theoretically unified under the command of General Koenig strive to actively participate in the release of other French departments.

Following the Normandy invasion in June 1944, the Maquis and the various networks involved sabotage or hiring fighting to fix enemy forces or disrupting rail communications networks used by the Germans: green plan railways, purple plan for telephone lines and blue background for electrical installations.  Paul plan seeks him to destroy the German ammunition depots and fuel, to harass German reinforcements and prepare for the arrival of the Allied troops.

The outbreak of the Paris uprising that ended with the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 with the support of the 2nd Armored Division of General Leclerc is one of the most famous French Resistance glorious moments, but it is very difficult to distinguish what is clear from the popular event, psychological operation on the one hand and the military effectiveness of the other.  Less debatable is the release of most of the southwest and central France, and in the southeast, helping to increase the 1st French Army of General de Lattre de Tassigny landed in Provence in August 1944 .

It often refers to the comment of General Eisenhower in his “Report on the operations of expeditionary forces in Europe”

“Our headquarters estimated that by the time the value of the assistance provided by the FFI in the country was equivalent in men 15 infantry divisions and with their assistance, our rapid advance in France was greatly facilitated .  ”

An Infantry Division (ID) is roughly 10,000 men.  The conversion of the Resistance forces in DI has its limits.  How to convert the information to the allies?  And the poisoning of German Intelligence Service tried manipulating the Prosper SOE?  We will never certain answer to the question: “Is that the contribution of the resistance was decisive for the bridgehead established in Normandy is not discharged into the sea?  ”

Establishment of the Provisional Government

On 10 January 1944 , an order of General de Gaulle created in France General Commissioners of the Republic which are intended to act as prefects when the power will have shifted all or part of the side of the resistance. Gaston Cusin is well appointed Bordeaux and Raymond Aubrac in Marseille .  On June 3 , General de Gaulle became President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF).

As as Allied troops advancing, departmental and local release Committees (CDL and CLL) consisting of resistant are placed in liberated France, these committees replacing the Vichy administration.  At the same time, the courts and civil rooms are created with the participation of resistance.  This is to avoid, to the extent possible, summary executions and the settling of scores that often accompany the release of the different regions, and to establish a ” purification legal “employees.

CDL, CLL and patriotic militias are sometimes, especially in departments where the communist resistance in a strong position against the threat of face-to Commissioners of the Republic and the prefects appointed by the Provisional Government of the French Republic which quickly imposed everywhere.  On 9 September 1944, after the liberation of Paris, de Gaulle form a national unity government prepares for elections.  It was not until almost complete liberation of the country, in winter 1945, to hold municipal elections in April and May and parliamentary elections in October 1945.  The Germans surrendered on 8 May 1945, the republican legality is restored, and the Resistance page is turned.


In spring 1945 , when the French territory is completely free with the last reduction pockets held by the Germans, we can outline a summary of losses: 8000  to 20,000 FFI or FTP killed in action, 25,000  to 30,000 shot, more than 60,000 prisoners in the camps, including 27 000  will not return.

Whatever appreciation that can be worn on its military effectiveness, the action of the Resistance has served France on the political level.  Thus, the statement by the guerrillas of the Free Republic of Vercors from June to July 1944, despite its subsequent repression by the German forces, reported she shared commitment to these resistant to embark on the path of democracy.  And denied that the initial prejudices of Roosevelt and other Allied leaders under which liberated France would not be a reliable and democratic state, setting a useful precedent before the Yalta Conference .After the Liberation, resistant, engaging in new French army restored fighting alongside the Allies, have linked the France’s victory in 1945 over Nazi Germany.

By performing a broad unity among the French and not giving in to the temptations of civil war, the Resistance has held a leading role in the restoration of the Republic and in the renewal of French politics. Many resistance might have liked to overcome the traditional parties and the restoration in 1946 , an Assembly Plan (Republic) do not necessarily correspond to the ideal of profound change that had been motivating their involvement in Resistance. Attempts to create a large part of the resistance failed. So they labored to spread the administrative reconstruction, political, economic and social life of France.

The legacy of the French Resistance lasting impression politics. The CNR program will be achieved through women’s suffrage, the nationalization of key sectors of the economy and the creation of Social Security .

Memory of the Resistance

The myth of the legendary

In the immediate post-war period, while former Resistant invest places of power at the same time they structure all kinds of friendly veterans, a segment of the public, the right end of the period , sided with Pétain and the Vichy regime, against the “winners” of the moment are, in summary, the former resistance fighters, and uses the term “myth of the Resistance” after that of “savage treatment ” 57 . These are the last gasps of the near civil war that shook France in the last years of the occupation and during the Liberation.

Over the following two decades, the collective memory, expressed for example by the textbook tends to emphasize a strong France which allowed not to dwell on the political collaboration of the Vichy regime. According to historian Henry Rousso , “From 1954 to 1971 , the memory of Vichy is less confrontational … but the French seem to suppress the civil war, aided by the establishment of a dominant myth resistancialism ” 58 . For Eric Hobsbawm “General de Gaulle strove to rebuild France based on a myth: the background, the eternal France had never accepted defeat. Resistance was a bluff that had worked, he was to say ” 59 .

Treating both the Resistance and the Vichy regime in the historical method does not, in parallel, to develop a legend and maintain myths . The legendary born of very real but addresses the need to give meaning to experience deemed to reveal 57 . It is in that category must classify all kinds of commemorative ceremonies, construction of museums and monuments. Unlike the legendary fueling a multifaceted memory of resistance in different places, cultures and times, the myth of the story holds a few items that normalizes. The poet Pierre Emmanuel , itself resistant, claims in 1945 , “We must be more daring, make symbols myths … in the light of these great flashes of history that reveal the succession of centuries and the sequence of civilizations” 57 . Thus, André Malraux , when staged handover ceremony of the ashes of Jean Moulin in the Pantheon , its tragic incantations, are the development of a myth, that of France identified with “the poor face informs” a tortured face.

After the war, the PCF arises “out of 75,000 shot “, while all were not communists. The party recovered by example for the benefit of events like performances Chateaubriand 60 .

A big step in the acceptance by France of its own history is made ​​by the President of the Republic Jacques Chirac when he destroyed the myth of the whole of France united in resistance. He says in effect on 16  July  1995 on the occasion of the anniversary of the roundup of Veld’hiv :

“These dark hours forever sully our history and are an insult to our past and our traditions. Yes, the criminal madness of the occupier was seconded by the French, by the French state. There are fifty-three years, the 16  July  1942 , 450 policemen and gendarmes, French, under the authority of their leaders, met the requirements of the Nazis. That day in the capital and the Paris region, nearly ten thousand men, women and Jewish children were arrested at their home in the early morning, and gathered in the police. [...] France, home of the Enlightenment and Human Rights, land of welcome and asylum, France, on that day, committed the irreparable. Missing her word, she delivered her to their executioners. ”

Resistance seen by the movie

Introducing the “winner syndrome” typical also in other victors of the war, the hexagonal films of the immediate post-war offers a largely heroic representation of France resistant. As the Official Film Service to the Armed (SCA) the pro-communist Liberation Committee of French Cinema (CLCF) defend their respective positions, sometimes including the Cold War by exploiting the past, but always in the glorification of resistance 61 .

Traitors, played by Pierre Brasseur in Jericho (1946) and Serge Reggiani in Gates of the night (1946) have a hateful face and seem the exception. The STO is not mentioned, the French Militia is not as such in the early years 62 . Subsequently, filmmakers like Clouzot or Cayatte give a less rosy picture of some FFI and far-Lara does not hesitate to illustrate the black market and the petty aspects of resourcefulness in The Crossing of Paris (1956). At the same time, Robert Bresson , indifferent to the zeitgeist, this A Man escaped as a spiritual adventure 61 .

The theme of resistance returns to theaters after the return of De Gaulle in 1958. Commercial cinema converges to the Gaullist vision of history that is not afraid to come to terms with the communist memory. And in Paris he burns? (1966), “The role of resistance is it reassessed based on their subsequent political trajectory”  61 . It may be noted a recurrence of the image of Vichy, as in The Crossing of the Rhine (1960) in which the crowd cheered successively Petain and de Gaulle. Comic form of films like The Great Ramble (1966) extends the hero of France resistant means French and suggests that unanimity will be beaten in the face from May 68 and the departure of General.

Concomitantly to the work of Robert Paxton on Vichy , The Sorrow and the Pity (1971) points the finger on anti-Semitism in France and denounced the confiscation of the ideals of the Resistance by the official story. Cassenti with L’Affiche Rouge (1976), Gilson, with La Brigade (1975) and Mosco with the documentary Terrorists retired shine a spotlight on foreign resistant to ME , relatively unknown at the time. In 1974, Lacombe Lucien of Louis Malle causes scandal and controversy because of the lack of moral judgment on the behavior of an employee who is the main character of the film. The same director later recalled the resistance of Catholic priests who hid Jewish children in Au revoir les enfants (1987). In the context of the calmer 1980s include Blanche and Marie (1984) and Jacques Renard on the strength of women workers. Later, A Self-Made Hero (1996) suggests that many heroes could only be impostors. A year later, Claude Berri is based on a mythical figure in the resistance to make Lucie Aubrac in the manner of biopics Americans. Thus, the betrayal and the role of militias and other employees, as well as ambiguities and divisions of the resistance, they become progressively and widely represented in the French cinema since the 1970s.

Historiography of the Resistance

Writing the History of the Resistance is institutionalized at the Liberation, in October  1944 , with the creation of the interim government two organizations merged in 1951 into a Committee on History of the Second World War (CH2GM), which publishes the Journal of the History of the Second World War . The Steering Committee is chaired by CH2GM Lucien Febvre . Its secretary general, Michel Henry (historian) , professor of history and former resistance, is the linchpin. The task entrusted to these organizations is the creation of administrative records, the collection of evidence and the accumulation of materials intended to be the first of a future history matters. Henri Michel is developing a network of departmental correspondents.

Alongside this institutional work, years of postwar see the early publication of works of memories from major players in the Resistance, Emmanuel d’Astier , the Colonel Remy , Pierre Bénouville , Fernand Grenier for n ‘to name a few. Some key ideas guiding this abundant production: save more vulnerable memory as it relates to illegal facts, honor the dead, defend the values ​​of the resistor 63 .

Arguably the historical production of the period 1945-1960, it is the work of historians CH2GM or publishers such as Academic Press France she deliberately privileged speech and memories of players at risk sometimes appear as a pious narration 63 . Lucien Febvre then theorizes this trend by arguing that actors have resistance “not only the right but the duty, the absolute duty, the bounden duty to bring their truth to them.  ”

It must be remembered that at the time, the official archives are still closed, while resistant historians as little thinking to use the private archives of movements or individuals also often incomplete by necessity.

The late sixties saw a substantial support of historical research by the University, which is not without causing some tightness. In 1974, at a symposium organized by the CH2GM, resistant Pascal Copeau criticizes historians to write a cold and disembodied way. It was at this time that appear two books, one of Henri Noguères ( 1967 ) and that of Alain Guérin ( 1972 ), which will long remain classics, but still in the tradition of privilege given to oral testimony. Took a turn is defined in the seventies through a relatively large number of works of theses scan of resistance movements or specific regions of France: PhD Dominique Veillon on Sniper of Renée Bédarida on Testimony Christian , of Stéphane Courtois on the PCF , then Olivier Wieviorka of Defence of France , of Lawrence Douzou on Liberation South of Jacqueline Sainclivier of Upper Brittany and Pierre Laborie on the Lot.

This is also the time to defend the memory of Jean Moulin against various rumors and slanders, his former secretary Daniel Cordier , in possession of its records began a monumental biographical work in several volumes. The originality of Daniel Cordier, historian witness, is to deny the use of oral histories and personal memories were his own, because he considers too uncertain, particularly with regard to the chronology of events, and too distorted by time and retrospective quarrels. Not relying as little written records, Cordier attracts many criticisms of former comrades in arms restoring, sometimes crudely, dissensions projects and rivalries that have existed at the top of the Resistance, and the difficulties raised by the application of the London Guidelines and unification under the auspices of De Gaulle and Free France .

In 1980 , the CH2GM gives way to the Institute of Contemporary History , research unit of CNRS . Henri Michel, sidelined, giving way to a new generation of researchers who did not experience the war. We can say that the writing of the history of the Resistance is now standard. All kinds of approaches are undertaken, investigations or analytical review of various movements and networks, but also cross-sociological approaches to the role of women, for example, where the aliens or soldiers of the Empire, debates about the contours of the resistance, with an interest of more and more pronounced vis-à-vis other forms of armed resistance: humanitarian, spiritual or civil 63 . A kind of anthropology of the Resistance, led especially by Olivier Wieviorka or Laurent Douzou seeks to overcome the image of the resistance “heroic”, and attempts to reconstruct what was the most complex resistant to report fear, violence , action, commitment. The historicization of the Resistance also means a break with the vision of a united and fraternal unanimously row behind Resistance de Gaulle . We now reconstruct the plurality combat strategies and plans for post-war, without trying to hide the personal quarrels, political or strategic, which could divide even within the same movement. This does not prevent to consider the unique dynamic of unification that led to the foundation of the CNR , body unparalleled in occupied Europe.

More than a hundred contributors, mostly academics involved, under the direction of François Marcotte , the Historical Dictionary of the Resistance , published in 2006 , which represents a synthesis of all knowledge accumulated over sixty years and the multiplicity of research course.

Museum of the Resistance

List of museums on the history of resistance: Museum of Resistance and Deportation .

General Sources

This article includes facts about the creation of major movements and the process of unification of the Resistance on which coincide more or less all general books on the subject (see Bibliography below).

The sections dealing with sociology and the movement of the various networks are mostly inspired by certain sections of France in the Dark Years , including Dominique Veillon, networks Resistance (vol. 1), Jean-Pierre Azéma, Resisting Resistance (vol. 2) and H. Roderick Kedward, STO and scrub .

For the Communist Resistance, Stéphane Courtois, The PCF in the war , Ramsay, 1980 article Denis Peschanski in France The black Years , The avatars of French Communism from 1939 to 1941 and Emmanuel Chambost, the PCF leadership in underground, from 1941 to 1944 , L’Harmattan, 1997.

The books that were used to introduce other information are referenced in the notes below.

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