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A frosty welcome for the conquerors

Discussion in 'The Secret War: Resistance and Espionage During WW' started by Jim, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    Between April and June of 1940, German armies overran six nations of Western Europe: Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium and France. The citizens of these countries were left stunned, frightened and leaderless. They expected nothing but humiliation and exploitation at German hands, and it seemed foolhardy to resist. Nevertheless, resistance began almost at once in all of the occupied countries.

    It was not organized, militant action; that would take months to develop. Rather, it was passive resistance, mostly spur-of-the-moment: Individuals showed their patriotism in any small way they could. "Travellers on the metro would deliberately direct Germans to stations miles out of their way:' Frenchwoman Lucie Aubrac wrote of Paris; "bus conductors would skip stops where Germans wanted to get off." In much the same vein, citizens in Amsterdam left cafes when a German soldier entered, and they quit patronizing shops that posted signs saying "German spoken here." At first only a few people defied the Germans openly, and their reactions tended to be more hot-tempered than calculated. A Danish innkeeper, for example, was so enraged when his flag was replaced by a swastika that he pulled down the entire flagpole. The Germans erected a new flagpole, whereupon the innkeeper set up the old one again and hoisted an enormous new Danish flag (Below). Then he triumphantly told the German sentry, "Now you can guard this one too!" Resistance of this sort prompted Madame Aubrac to observe that the French behaved "a little like children in the presence of a boorish teacher." But the spontaneous gestures of resentful patriots had a double-barrelled effect. They denied the full fruits of victory to the German troops and, in time, helped to weaken their discipline and resolve. And no matter how petty, these acts of resistance fortified the conquered peoples in the dark early days of their long ordeal. Said one fiery French resistant, "It is this ludicrous little thing, this refusal to submit that saved our human dignity."

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