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The French Resistance

Discussion in 'The Secret War: Resistance and Espionage During WW' started by Cabel1960, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    France fell in 1940 after a series of attacks against its homeland by Nazi Germany. Lacking options, the French Government requested an armistice with Germany; Hitler accepted, but in a symbolic gesture, arranged for it to be signed at the same location where Germany had signed the armistice accepting both blame and defeat for the First World War. Though there was a show of keeping a portion of France free from occupation (a state known as Vichy France), in fact it was a puppet state controlled by Hitler. Though some assumed the fighting in France was over, given the loss, in fact it continued through the French Resistance.

    The French Resistance.jpg

    The Make Up

    The Resistance cast a wide net when attracting participants. They were not the whole of the population of France, only a small percentage, yet they encompassed many different groups and ideologies. Many were nationalists. Supporters of the strongly nationalist General De Gaulle both fought alongside the British army and formed covert networks within the puppet state. Communists, many pro-Soviet, were yet another faction, fighting because they feared the dominance of fascism. On the opposite end of the fence, some fascist groups who initially collaborated with the Vichy government changed sides and worked with the Resistance as well. Jews and women, who had seen their rights disintegrate under the new regime, were also determined participants. Sometimes, the members weren’t even French at all: some Cajun American soldiers were snuck into the country to help. The people came from all walks of life: rich, poor, middle class, they were united under the common enemy.

    Actions

    One action the French Resistance took was to establish a secret press. The output of this ranged from actual, regular papers to brief, single-page documents; and, though the central theme of the press was educating the French on how to defy the German occupiers, the content varied from outright plans on how to create an armed resistance against the Nazis and collaborators to simple stories about small acts of defiance.

    The French Resistance 1944.jpg

    Certain daring participants of the movement committed acts of sabotage. They would bomb or otherwise incapacitate key infrastructure to prevent German progress. They would target railroads (to prevent the Nazis from receiving their supplies on the western front) and industrial buildings used to create to create weapons.

    Intelligence gathering was also one of the Resistance’s biggest roles in World War II. They provided the British with key information about the Nazi placement. Much of this information was sent via radio transmission, though those sending the transmission paid a heavy cost as most were located by the Germans and executed.

    The Resistance also engaged in flat out guerilla warfare, conducted particularly by the Communist branch of the group during Operation Barbarossa, as they sought to help the Soviets by forcing the deployment of more soldiers into France.
     
  2. brianw

    brianw Member

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    You mentioned the sending of intelligence reports from France back to the allies in Britain, but these messages were sometimes a "two-way interchange".
    The BBC often posted on the radio somewhat strange "greetings" messages which sounded like total nonsense, but to those brave resistance members they were recognised as instructions and other requests.
    In the days leading up to "Operation Overlord" its approach was announced to the resistance using this method so that pre-invasion sabotage could be co-ordinated.
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    These guys were something special, a well trained unit of the Resistance were as good as a unit of Commando's when it came to sabotage or the like... :thumb:
     
  4. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    They were special Jim, knowing what waited them should they be caught. :botman:
     

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