French Resistance - organized opposition to the occupation of the country by Nazi Germany during World War II from 1940 to 1944. It had several organized centers. It included conducting anti-German military activities, spreading propaganda and anti-Hitler information, harboring persecuted communists and fascists, activities outside France, which included strengthening the alliance with the anti-Hitler coalition. It is worth noting that the political movement was heterogeneous, including people of various views - from communists to right-wing Catholics and anarchists. In this article, we will talk about the history of the movement, its numbers, and the brightest participants.
The French Resistance was categorically opposed to the Vichy regime. It was formed in the south of the countryafter the defeat at the beginning of World War II and the fall of Paris, which took place in 1940.
Almost immediately after that, the Atlantic coast of the country and Northern France were occupied by Nazi troops with the consent of the Vichy government. Officially, the regime adhered to a policy of neutrality, but in fact it was on the side of the Nazi coalition.
It got its name from the resort town of Vichy, where in July 1940 the National Assembly decided to transfer dictatorial powers to Marshal Henri Pétain. This marked the end of the Third Republic. Pétain's government remained in Vichy almost to the very end of his reign. After the complete occupation of the country in November 1942, his power became purely nominal. When Paris was liberated, it existed in exile in Germany until April 1945.
Key leaders were convicted on treason charges. Cultural and artistic figures who openly supported the regime were subjected to "public disgrace".
Shortly after the occupation of the country, the term "Vichy-Resistance" appeared in the press. They were designated prominent politicians of the pro-Hitler government, who actually sided with the French Resistance, secretly and secretly participated in its activities. Among them were theologian Marc Besnier (a Protestant by conviction), the future President Francois Mitterrand.
Support from allies
French resistance movementactively supported the intelligence services of Great Britain and the United States. Agents were trained by General de Gaulle, who actually led the French part of this movement.
The first agent arrived in the country on January 1, 1941. In total, during the occupation of France, about 800 intelligence officers of Great Britain and the United States, about 900 de Gaulle agents operated on its territory.
When at the end of 1943 the reserves of French-speaking agents were exhausted, the Allies began to form groups of saboteurs, consisting of three people. Among them were one Frenchman, an American and an Englishman. Unlike secret agents, they acted in military uniform, openly fought on the side of the partisans.
A vivid example of a member of the French Resistance is Jacqueline Nearn. After the northern part of the country was occupied by the Nazis, she left for the UK. By the end of 1941, she became an agent of the British secret services. After special training, at the beginning of 1943 she was abandoned back to France. Her activities were of great benefit to the allies who were part of the anti-Hitler coalition. Nearn was awarded the Order of the British Empire.
History of the movement in France
The French Resistance in World War II played a big role in the liberation of the country and the victory over the Nazis. Its first participants were the workers of the Paris region, as well as the departments of Pas de Calais and Nord.
Already on November 11, 1940, a large-scale demonstration dedicated to the end of the First World War was held. In May 1941, over 100,000 miners went on strike against the Nazis.Around the same time, the National Front was created. This is a mass patriotic association that managed to rally the French of different political views and social strata.
In 1943, the French Resistance became especially active. This resulted in the Paris Uprising. In fact, it was a battle for the liberation of the French capital, which lasted from August 19 to 25, 1944. The result was the overthrow of the Vichy government.
The Paris uprising began with armed clashes between resistance fighters and parts of the German army on August 19th. The next day, full-scale street fighting began. The advantage was on the side of the members of the Resistance, who pressed the Germans and adherents of the Vichy regime. In the liberated territories, security volunteer squads were created, which were massively joined by local residents.
By noon on August 20, the prison camp, which had been operating since 1940, and the city prison were liberated. However, the Germans managed to shoot most of the prisoners.
Despite their success, the Resistance fighters experienced a shortage of weapons and ammunition. The Vichy and the Germans expected to receive reinforcements from the front in order to crush the uprising with a powerful counterattack. By evening, a temporary truce was concluded, the Swedish consul Raoul Nordling acted as an intermediary. This allowed the Vichy and the Germans to strengthen the defensive lines in those parts of the city that remained under their control.
On the morning of August 22, the Nazis violated the truce by opening massive fire from tanks and artillery. A few hours later, Hitler gave the order to launch an offensive to put down the uprising. The goal was to inflict maximum damage on equipment and manpower of the enemy. However, there were not enough resources for a counterattack, so they decided to postpone the counteroffensive.
The decisive moment of the Paris Uprising was the entry into the city of the Free French Armored Division and the US Army Infantry Division. This happened on the evening of August 24th. With the help of tanks and artillery, they managed to suppress the resistance of the opponents. Hitler ordered the city to be blown up, but von Koltitz, who was in charge of the defense, did not comply with the order, saving his life.
On the night of August 25, the last Nazi stronghold was captured. Von Koltitz surrendered to the Allies. About 4,000 Vichy and almost 12,000 German soldiers laid down their arms with him.
It is not easy to estimate the exact strength of the Resistance, as it was not a strictly structured organization, which included various units, including partisans.
According to archival documents and memoirs of active participants, from 350 to 500 thousand people are considered its members. This is extremely approximate data, because significantly more people fought against the Nazi regime. Many of them, however, were unrelated.
Among the main currents, the following should be highlighted:
- members of the communist partyFrance;
- maki guerrilla movement (emphasis on the last letter);
- members of the Vichy movement who secretly supported the Resistance;
- Free French movement led by de Gaulle.
Among the participants in the Resistance were many German anti-fascists, Spaniards, former Soviet prisoners of war, Jews, Ukrainians, Armenians and Kazakhs.
Another active part of the Resistance was the patriotic organization "Fran Tirere", which fought for the independence of the state until 1943, after which it merged with several other organizations.
It was founded in Lyon in 1940. Operated in the south of France. Members of the organization conducted intelligence activities, issued propaganda leaflets and publications.
A large role in the Resistance was played by armed groups of partisans who called themselves maquis. They predominantly operated in rural areas.
Initially, they consisted of men who went to the mountains to avoid mobilization into the Vichy labor detachments, as well as forced exile to work in Germany.
The first Maqui organizations were small and scattered groups that tried to avoid capture and deportation. After a while, they began to act more harmoniously. In addition to their original goal, they began to advocate for the liberation of France, joined the Resistance.
Most of the maquis were associated with the French communistparty.
Today it is worth recognizing that an impressive part of Europe turned out to be loyal to the Nazi occupation. The governments of various countries collaborated with the Hitler regime. This is evidenced by the increase in labor productivity, which in Germany was observed until the very end of the war.
Few were openly against the Nazis. For example, in France, one of the leaders of the Resistance was General de Gaulle, who after the end of World War II led the country.
In Western Europe, the resistance movement, in fact, was a means of saving national prestige. At the same time, in Southeastern and Eastern Europe, where the Nazi regime acted with particular cruelty, it played one of the decisive roles in the liberation.
There were many famous names among the members of the Resistance in this country. For example, singer Anna Marly, French politician Jean Moulin, Jewish historian Mark Blok, writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
French writer, member of the Resistance Pierre Abraham was born in Paris in 1892. Even before the war, he became famous as a journalist, literary critic, and active public figure.
He was a member of the First World War, fighting in aviation. He became a professional journalist in 1927. He was actively interested in the ideas of the Communist Party. In the second half of the 1930s, he was responsible for the volumes on art and literature in the creation of the French Encyclopedia.
During World War IIFrench writer, communist, member of the resistance movement spoke out against the Nazi regime. He fought already in the rank of colonel of aviation.
In particular, the French writer, communist, member of the Resistance liberated Nice in 1944. After the war, when the communist Jean Medessen became mayor in this city, Abraham received the post of municipal councilor, which he held until 1959.
French communist, member of the Resistance in his work paid much attention to the work of writers of the past. His monographs on Proust and Balzac were published.
After the war, he edited the magazine "Europe". In 1951, the only novel by the French writer, a member of the Resistance movement, was published, which was called "Hold on tight".
Abraham died in 1974.