French resistance

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by bald.paul.101, Feb 1, 2012.

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  1. Just reading a book about Klaus Barbie and found the whole French resistance politics, infighting, betrayal etc rather interesting.
    Anybody have any recommendations for books on the resistance movement as a whole ?
  2. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    For a very readable insight into France under the dastardly Boche I can recommend

    << OCCUPATION >> by Ian Ousby Occupation: The Ordeal of France 1940-1944 (9780312181482): Ian Ousby: Books

    Having spent quite a bit of time over there one way or another I have often wondered how the locals had behaved back in 40-45 in whatever bit I happened to be in..... mostly in Western France/Vendee but recently Montpellier where I happened to be for Remembrance Sunday last year.

    What << Occupation >> brought to the fore for me was :
    >the physical division of France between German Occupied zone and Vichy ....
    >the mechanics of passing across that line....
    > the importance of the Rat Lines set up for downed aircrew.....
    > the myth perpetrated by De Gaulle on entering Paris in 1944 - 'France has liberated herself'

    Amazon review - ( American)
    if I remember right, Ousby also references a book by Robert Gildea called ' Marianne in Chains' - Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation: Robert Gildea: Books

    - which is available in Kindle if you have one.

    The usual suspects ( and they will be along shortly) who love to sneer at the ' Cheese eating surrender monkeys ' etc should take a bit of time to read either of these.....and reflect on this -

    In addition to those tortured, shot or disappeared into Kz's like Belsen by the occupiers under their 'Nacht Und Nebel ' policy , a million French men between 18 and 40 were compulsoriy shipped to the Reich to work as 'GastArbeiten' between 1941 and 1944......

    In Belsen, there is a memorial wall with inscriptions in 15 languages , commemorating those of all nationalities who died there...the one in French reads:

    ' Sacred to the memory of the 30,000 French citizens who died in this place. Their only crime was to love their country'

    Anyone who chose to be a resistant risked not only their own lives, but those of their entire family and those of their neighbours as well.......

    For a fictional treatment of how it might've gone down over here if SeeLowe had taken place - check out 'SS GB' by Len Deighton.....sobering perspective....

  3. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Many French resistance fighters found themselves here:

    Testimonials about resistance, deportation and memory | STRUTHOF

    Its about half an hour south of Strasbourg, with wire, towers and some huts still in good condition. Inside one of the huts is a big display about the resistance.

    In Lorraine (west side of the Vosges mountains) there was a lot of resistance activity resulting in many town being razed, whereas Alsace (east side of the Vosges mountains) seems to have fared ok.

    "The men from St Die" is a book written in French and German (I think it was a uni project), that describes in personal accounts the whole towns men (St Die des Vosges) being sent to built the south part of Frankfurt airport (the bit that became the US airbase).

    Die Männer von Saint-Die; Les hommes de Saint-Die: Annette Schavan, KZ-Gedenkstätte Mannheim-Sandhofen;Association des déportés de Mannheim-Saint-Dié. Bearb.: Klasse 12/13 d. integrierten Gesamtschule Mannheim-Herzogenried;Association des
  4. Interesting stuff gents.

    Like Mr D, I'm interested in finding out what really went on, underneath the post victory "glorification". I'm not saying resistance fighters werent brave, but you cant get round the fact that French auxiliaries, government officials/gendarmes etc were instrumental in doing the germans dirty work for them. Or that different resistance groups sometimes betrayed others, so they could step into the gap left behind.
    equally though there must have been large numbers of people treading a fine line down the middle just trying to survive.
  5. Dont forget the shamefull way the French Communist party helped the Nazis by organizing strikes, desertion of troops, work slowdowns of vitally needed armaments since Moscow and Berlin were **** buddies in 39-41.

    Only after Barbarossa did the French reds suddenly become resistants concerned about France.
  6. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    The legacy of Petain, Vichy and all that is very much still around.....ten years ago I did a course run by an external company which was entitled 'Negotiating with the French'
    .....quite handy overview of the mindset and usual working methods of your opposite number, Jean-Marie...

    One of the things they taught then ( dunno if still the case) was that use of the word 'Collaboration' was lilkely to cause a sudden screeching halt to proceedings, confusion, Angst und Weltschmerz - and therefore best avoided....

    The Ousby book goes into detail - but if I recall correct, the proportion of French citizens who volunteered to serve in some form of Reich auxillary ( whether Waffen SS Courland Divn, the Milice or whatever ) over those who were recognised as resistants was approximately 3 - 1 ......

    Overall, in my view, pretty much 'guilty as charged' - but perhaps understandable - and would the picture here have been that much different?

    We'd like to think so.......Richard Ingrams didn't.
  7. Young Brave and Beautiful / Tania Szabö is an interesting read it is about an SOE agent so not strictly resistance but she is quite involved with them over her life.
  8. phil245

    phil245 LE Book Reviewer

    D-Day the battle for Normandy. by Antony Beevor. ISBN. 978-0-141-04813-0.
    if you can get past the American bias, I.E all Americans are great and all British are rubbish, this is quite a good book. It does say how De Gaulle hijacked the liberation of Paris, so that he could say that Paris was liberated by the French. The book also says that the French people targeted so called collaborators, their crimes could women who slept or even talked to German soldiers, an old woman who cleaned at the offices of a senior German officer or even accusing someone just because they didn't like them.
  9. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    An ugly carnival: how thousands of French women were treated after D-day | Life and style | The Guardian

    Just after the liberation of the town, a French woman who had had a baby with a German soldier was punished by having her head shaved. Chartres, Eure-et-Loir, France, 18 August 1944. Image by Robert Capa © International Center of Photography, courtesy of Magnum Photos.

    Check the faces around her.....the one that really pisses me off is the cop far not to ask what the hell had HE been doing in the past four years ?

    In Paris, as Ousby's book makes plain, it was a rigid Kommandantur policy to ensure that the face under the uniform cap that came knocking on your door - with an order for you to report to a railway siding in Fresnes,Eastbound,one-way - was French rather than German.......
  10. Oxymoron.
  11. [h=1]Resistance[/h] By Agnès Humbert

    Agnès Humbert helped to establish one of the first resistance cells
  12. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    < bored now>
  13. It is an oxymoron, just like Scottish Amicable. (Acknowledgements Brian Moore.)
    BTW I did once read SS GB by Len Deighton and found it a cracking read. Scary how close we came, how would we have dealt with occupation I wonder?
  14. If you want a dramatic portrait of resistance against
    the Nazis , view 'Flame and Citron'

    a Danish feature based on a true story.


    BBC iPlayer - Flame and Citron