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WW II : Resistance

Massive demands by the Germans for a French 'volunteer' workforce, German requisitions of food and consumer goods which caused a considerable shortage of these items in France, but even more the injustice displayed by German officials and soldiers in the confiscation of French property and the treatment of both French citizens and of French residents who fled here from elsewhere, where they had been prosecuted, resulted in the silent majority of the French distancing themselves from the collaborating Vichy administration.
A RESISTANCE movement began to emerge, small, often uncoordinated groups spread all over the country. They differed regarding their ideological background, the communist FRANCS-TIREURS and the republican groups federated in the organization MOUVEMENTS UNIS DE LA RESISTANCE.
The assassination of men in German uniform would only trigger immediate German retaliation, usually the summary execution of the entire adult male population of a nearby village (ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE, June 10th 1944). The resistance groups therefore restricted their actions to targetting French collaborators, to acts of sabotage, to the collection of information, to providing save places for refugees or British agents etc.
The engagement in the resistance was very risky, as the Germans attempted to infiltrate the various organizations with informants; those identified as active resistance members were brutally tortured and executed; the numbers or resistance fighters murdered or executed is given at about 40,000, not included another 60,000 deported to concentration camps.

The resistance was instrumental in operations delaying the arrival of German reinforcements at the beach front at Normandy on D-Day. The resistance organized the takeover of many French towns and cities in the days when the Allied forces advanced and the Germans prepared to evacuate. The most famous of such city liberations took place in Paris itself; on August 25th the German commander of Paris surrendered to Free French General LECLERC.

Oradour sur Glane, website by Mark Williams
DOCUMENTS Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : Oradour sur Glane, June 10th 1944; Oradour sur Glane; Oradour sur Glane; Oradour sur Glane
Les Archives de Guerre, from INA
Keitel Order, 26 June 1944, Treatment of Commandos, posted by S. D. Stein
REFERENCE Roger Price, A Concise History of France, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, pp.249-268

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 9th 2004

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