French interior resistance

French interior resistance indicate the whole of the movements and networks clandestine which continued the fight against on the French territory since of June 22, 1940 until in 1944. This fight consisted of actions of information, sabotage or operations military against the troops of occupation (primarily German). Forms of which could exist in North Africa or remainder of the French Empire is treated in a separate article Resistances in the French Empire (1940-45)


Various ways of considering Resistance

Free France and interior Resistance

June 18, 1940, it General de Gaulle the French called who had an unspecified military competence to come to join it. Those which answered its call are normally classified like members of "Free France" or resistant of outside.

The resistance of the interior concerns the men and the women who remained on the hexagon, either in occupied zone, said Northern zone, or in Southern zone "nonoccupied". They were organized to perpetrate actions against the forces of Germany Nazi, therefore contrary with the legality of the occupant or of .

The administrative point of view

Before the historians did not have time to define what it was advisable to include under the term of "Resistance", it was necessary administratively to determine which had right to be claimed some, i.e. of touching the pension to which it gave right. It was a particularly important point for the widowers, widows and orphans of the 60 000 political deportees who had not returned from the camps and the 30 000 shot between 1940 and 1944. Dice end of the war 250 000 charts of Voluntary combatants of Resistance are distributed to the candidates introduced by the 45 approved movements of French Resistance and the 270 networks of Fighting France - which depended directly on London. According to this administrative definition, the members of the networks of the SOE are not entered since they depended on a foreign power, England. Certain movements were more laxists than others to give their approval to doubtful candidates.

The military point of view

The historian can want to estimate the various manifestations of Resistance under a strictly military angle. One often refers to the appreciation of Eisenhower which evaluates with the equivalent of fifteen divisions the contribution of Resistance to the allied forces. An author as Philippe Masson gives an estimate much lower, but remains in the same problems: How many divisions? In such a vision, the demonstrations not directly military of Resistance, for example, the production of a clandestine press, are to be taken into account only if they are likely to drain forces towards an effective help with the allied forces.

The political point of view

With the reverse from the military point of view, the historian can have a strictly political point of view where the demonstrations of Resistance are considered insofar as they change gives it political, in particular by giving a legitimacy to Free France initially, and the new capacities which emergent with the Release. According to this point of view, the military actions of Resistance have value only if they have a political effectiveness.

National resistance and resistance antinazie

Components policy and soldier of Resistance can be sometimes separate. There are in fact two aspects in the activity of Resistance in France, during the Second World war:

  • a national reaction against the foreign occupation and of fight military for national independence, which is certainly principal component, largely evoked in this article,
  • one political struggle and morals counter the Nazism, the dictatorship counters, counters racism and the deportation, which it is also necessary to take into account if one wants to be able to explain the presence of Germans in French Resistance and even of a maquis of German antifascists between 1942 and 1944, in . In this political and moral component, it is also necessary to locate it which publishes Fraternity and I Show or networks of Christians at the origin of . One can also locate in this only political dimension resistance trotskist.

External factors: a chronology

The following chronological summary makes it possible to put in perspective French resistance in its historical context; it voluntarily excludes the events concerning the history from interior Resistance. For more details, one will refer to the related articles.


  • September 30: signature of


  • August 23: signature of Pact germano-Soviet.
  • September 3: following the invasion of Poland, Great Britain and France declare the war in Germany.


  • May-June: military defeat of France vis-a-vis to the Germans.
  • June 17: Pétain, new Prime Minister to replace Paul Reynaud asks for the conditions of an armistice.
  • June 18: call of General de Gaulle: the soldiers and the specialists in the armament are invited to come to join it in London
  • June 22: signature with Rethondes of the Franco-German convention of armistice. Among the conditions of armistice, one will retain:
    • the French troops are disarmed, except 100 000 men for the maintenance of law and order.
    • France is occupied by the German troops, except for a Southern zone.
    • the maintenance costs of the troops of occupation on the French ground are the responsibility of the French government: this tribute will be assembled to 300 million franks per day in May 1941 and 500 million in November 1942.
    • a million and half of prisoners of war are off-set in Germany.
    • the French government must deliver to the Germans all the German nationals who will be designated to him.
  • June 28: Of Gaulle is recognized by the English like chief of the free French
  • July 19: creation in London of (Special Executive Operation) intended to achieve operations of sabotage in Europe occupied by the Germans.
  • October 24: Pétain and Hitler define in Montoire the principles of a political collaboration


  • June 22: Wehrmacht tackles the Soviet Union
  • December 8: entry in war of the United States, the following day of.


  • January 21: beginning of the counter-offensive of in Libya.
  • May 18: the Germans require skilled worker sending in Reich.
  • July 14: Free France becomes Fighting France
  • September 4: introduction of (Service of obligatory work, in Germany)
  • November 3: on the road of Egypt, Rommel is stopped with
  • November 8: American unloading in North Africa.
  • November 11: Wehrmacht penetrates in the "Free Zone". November 27, the army of armistice is disarmed.


  • January 30: creation of which replaces the army of armistice formally, but which will be in situation to repress Resistance.
  • February 2: capitulation of the German army with Stalingrad.
  • February 16: three classes of men are mobilized for .
  • June 3: Of Gaulle creates in Algiers it (CFLN) to replace Fighting France.
  • September 5: end of the release of Corsica, one month after the rising of the Corsican resistance, dominated by the National Face (communist) and the support of the battalions of shock of the army of Africa, depend on the Giraud General.
  • November 3: inaugural meeting of the Consultative Assembly of Algiers.


  • January 1: in France, is named secretary-general with the maintenance of law and order. It will have authority on the Militia.
  • January 5: entry of the Soviet troops in Poland.
  • June 2: the CFLN changes into GPRF (Provisional Government of the French Republic).
  • June 4: taken of Rome by the allies, after the end of German resistance to Assembles-Cassino.
  • June 6: of Combined in Normandy
  • August 15: Franco-American unloading on the coasts of Provence.
  • August 24: arrival of the 2E DB In Paris.

Origins and mobilities of Resistance


The resistant ones were men and women of all very young often young ages but even. Fewer than the men, the women were often confined there in subordinates roles.

They resulted from all the social layers. All the left-wing policy sensitivities like line, all the philosophical and religious sensitivities were represented within Resistance. One can however try to constitute a certain typology of the movements of resistance and to highlight for each one of these mobilities a political and ideological genealogy.

Foreigners fought at the sides of resistant French: Italian antifascists, German and republican anti-nazis Spanish refugees in France; Polish and Armenian immigrants; Jews stateless people.

The army and administration

The agreements of armistice had limited the manpower of the army of the Vichy government to 100 000, confined exclusively in the nonoccupied zone. Among these soldiers, whom they form part of this army of armistice or that they were demobilized, many was those which wished to prepare revenge against the Germans, without wanting to join General de Gaulle in London. Like the large majority of the French, they were faithful to the new Head of the State, the Pétain marshal.

The captain , which had been versed at the 2nd office of the army of armistice engaged dice the end of the year 1940 in the constitution in free zone of the movement Fights organized according to the rules of the clandestinity and which was to become one of the most important movements of resistance.

In Northern zone, colonel Touny founded itCivil and military organization (OCM). The captain Paul Paillole, chief of the services of against-espionage before the defeat, continuous to exert these functions in the army of armistice, but it works in collaboration with the English and continuous to pursue the agents of Abwehr and of RSHA. A second is occupied of soldiers will begin in Resistance after the invasion of the free zone in November 1942:

  • under the authority of the Frère General, who had formed part of the court which had condemned to died Of Gaulle, of very many officers and warrant officers gather at the end of 1942 in (ORA);
  • in the civil and military Organization (OCM) of colonel Touny.

Networks of the BCRA

In October 1941, within Free France of Gaulle, creates for itself the central Office of information and military action BCRA, directed by colonel Passy and specialized in the missions of information or sabotage. The networks of the BCRA, created in are thus at the border between external Resistance and interior Resistance, since they depend directly on London. Brotherhood Our-injury, one of most famous of these networks was created by in November 40 when the secret service of Free France was not called yet the BCRA. , naval officer which had constituted in occupied zone a network of 26 people was stopped May 41 and was shot on August 29, 1941.

Special the executive operation

After the re-embarkation of the English troops in Dunkirk and the defeat of the French Army in June 1940 had understood that its regular troops would not regain a footing on the continent before a long time.

Only infiltrated agents could urge on the enemy troops through Europe hitlérienne. July 19, it Special executive operation, "office of the special operations" was officially created.

Within the SOE, the responsibility for the French section or section F was entrusted to Maurice Buckmaster. The networks of the SOE in France are also called "Buckmaster networks". Parachutings in France started in May 1941, but it is only as from September 1942 that they will become extensive. The parachuted agents recruited many agents in France which depended directly on the English throughout the war.

Communist Resistance

The Communist Party had been dissolves in September 1939, after the conclusion of pact germano-Soviet.

Since, the apparatus of the party survives in the clandestinity which it leaves to half only in the first months of the occupation.

Until April 1941, the Communists returned back to back the English and German belligerents, but as from June 41, the invasion of the USSR by the Germans threw the French Communists in the fight against the occupant. The experiment of clandestinity will then give to the Communists a length in advance on the other movements.

The average soldiers of the Communists were still very weak, in August 1941 when made the first attack symbolic system against a German officer, but they developed a movement of armed resistance quickly, them (FTPF), directed by . Opened with the not-Communists, the FTPF always remained under communist control. It was the same for , political movement of resistance, organized by professions. The largest French maquis, that of the Limousin of obedience communist and was directed by George Guingouin who had initiated his first groups of his own initiative.

Thereafter, making pass the inherent rules of bulk-heading to clandestinity before the discipline of party, this last always preserved a great independence with respect to the structures of its party.

Communists were also present in noncommunist movements of resistance. They was often militants who did not occupy, pre-war period, a central place in the apparatus of the party and which, private of contact with the clandestine party, had had the advisability of rejoining another movement. The party had then encouraged them to remain in these organizations. Jean-Pierre Vernant, academic who finished the war like person in charge of 9 departments of South-west had repudiated the pact germano-Soviet and had joined the movement Release.

Extreme-right-hand side

Generally, people inclined to engage for a cause, i.e. the militants, were particularly well represented in Resistance. Pre-war period, one indicated under the term of extreme-right-hand side the Leagues, like French action, of inspiration monarchist, where Cross-of-fire, especially made of ex-serviceman, or the Hood, paramilitary and activist.

These mediums of extreme-right-hand side very favorably accomodated the Mode of Vichy, but their patriotism also pushed some of its members to be begun in the fight against the occupant at the same time as of others engaged in movements collaborationnists. George Loustaunau-Lacau, and Marie-madeleine Fourcade founders with network Alliance were old cagoulards, just like it colonel Groussard, founder of Gilbert network. Pierre Guillain de Bénouville, future leader of Fights with with dimensions of Frenay was old of French Action.


Contrary to the extreme-doite on the political chess-board, the antifascists, many at the academics had an important role in the foundation of the movement Release : , principal directing movement was a journalist. Jean Cavaillès philosopher and mathematician of the university of Strasbourg met of Astier and in Clermont-Ferrand where the university had been folded up.

The intellectuals antifascists will be numerous also, around Jean Cassou and Boris Vildé in what one called the group of the Museum of the man, of which the first bulletin Resistance was diffused as of December 1940.


In France of 1940, the majority of the population is still catholic. One thus finds Christians almost all the categories quoted like current of Resistance. Of dimensioned, the catholic episcopate, clergy and mediums represented one of the best supports for the Pétain marshal and of another dimensioned, there were mobilities of Resistance to strong catholic anchoring, such as for example Freedom, founded by which will be one of the components of the movement Fights.


Many foreign politics refugees hardly had the choice: the administrative internment promised the abroads or Resistance. When they are communist, they form what is called of the units of the ftp M.O.I (Franks Gunners In favour of the Immigrant Hand of?uvre). Group ftp ME of Joseph Epstein and which practised the urban guerrilla warfare in the Paris area and was returned celebrates by the red poster who was placarded on the walls in January 1944 included/understood a great number of Jews of Central Europe. In the maquis of South-west, one finds a great number of Spanish, communist or anarchistic republicans.

Trade unionists

The Vichy government had founded a single system of trade union based on corporatism. The relational networks made up of former trade unionists could be used to drain a certain number of militants towards the movements as resistance. reactivated its networks of customs officers whom it had already put in?uvre to make smuggling in favour of the republicans, of the time of the war of Spain. It will succeed in diverting gold of the bank of France to the profit of Free France. It finds with Northern release.

The trade unionists are often well placed to create in the many factories which work for the German armament of the networks of information or sabotage.

Other mobilities

Certain social or political groups, because they were very minority in the country had a negligible influence in the evolution of French Resistance. One will thus refer in specialized articles:

Unification of Resistance

It should not be forgotten that certain aspects of Resistance escape completely from the history from its unification.

Indeed, the contact between the envoys of Gaulle and communist resistance were done only at the end of 1942. Moreover, the networks controlled by the English or the Americans are not concerned with the unification of resistance.

The following example illustrates that many things happened in margin from the official unification from Resistance: one of the greatest feats of arms of Resistance, the Release of Corsica, in September 1943 is especially the fact of ftp Communists which were not integrated yet into the secret Army and of Giraudistes which were not recipient in the political unification of Resistance.

The arrival of Jean Mill in London

The history of the unification of Resistance is indissociable among that of . In 1941, it started to exist an interior Resistance, which incarnated in southern zone by movements created around, or , independently of the agents of Free France. To affirm its legitimacy, the latter needed to be made recognize by interior Resistance, and interior Resistance needed the assistance of free France. It is because it understood that this meeting remained to make that Jean Moulin played a key part in the bringing together between Resistances interior and external.

Prefect of the Eure-and-Dormouse in 1939, Jean Moulin had formed part of the cabinet of the Minister for the air Jean-Pierre Cot. It had of this fact a good network of relations in the antifascists mediums. Dice November 1940, it has the idea to seek to count with his former colleague a certain number of resistant potentials, but it is only during the summer 1941 that it has the most decisive contacts, in particular with directing movement which is not called yet "Combat", but "National Release". It also has contacts with "Freedom", of and Release of . In the report/ratio which it will write for Gaulle, it speaks about these three movements by gathering them under acronym LLL. It is the fusion of "Freedom" and "National Release" which will give rise to the movement "Fights". Jean Moulin arrives to Lisbon on September 12, 1941, contacts the SOE then joined London where It meets of Gaulle on October 25. It manages to be made pass for the representative of the three Movements LLL for whom it asks for a financial assistance and logistic. Mill will also make state of contacts with colonel Groussard, old cagoulard, which will give to its mission a character even more eclectic. The contacts which it had had with the various movements were real, but the mandates of which it was prevailed it were less.

The mission of Jean Mill

The power was on well between the two men. Jean Mill, man of the left, recognized a democrat as a Charles Of Gaulle, man of tradition. And the General entrusted the mission to him of rejoining and of linking the movements of resistance, and of creating a unified secret Army, thus establishing a distinction between military forces and political organizations.

Mill is parachuted in the night of 1st at January 2, 1942 with funds (a million and half of franks) for the movements, and of the equipment of transmission. It acts with tact and firmness near the various chiefs of movement to obtain their allegiance in Free France. During the year 1942, Moulin, whose pseudonym is Rex before becoming Max concentrates on the southern zone where a new movement appeared, Frank-tireur whose chief is Jean-Pierre Lévy. The bringing together between the 2 strong personalities which are Frenay and of Astier are not easy, and Mill and Lévy will have to often play of the roles of regulator to alleviate the conflicts.

D' Astier, resolutely antifascist leans for a political action which would take support on the popular layers while Frenay, especially anti-German preaches the primacy of the soldier on the policy. At the end of 1941, the relative leniency of which the police force of Vichy had made proof with regard to the noncommunist clandestine movements ends and of the militants of the various organizations will be made stop. D' Astier had much evil to support that Frenay will be explained some with the Minister of Interior Department Pierre Pucheu.

Common administrative services are set up: in April 1942, it Office of information and propaganda, kind of clandestine news service, and July 42, it General committee of studies charged with studying the reforms political and economic to put in?uvre at the Release. A voyage to London can be organized, which allows a direct contact between Gaulle, Moulin, Frenay and D' Astier. From now on, the two principal movements of resistance recognize the authority clearly of Free France, become Fighting France. They agreed to constitute one Secret army. The responsibility will be entrusted by it to .

The creation of the Plain Movements of Resistance (WALL) and the secret Army (ACE)

It will have taken one year for Moulin to manage to form a solid core around of which will be able to crystallize the other components of Resistance, and in particular those of the Northern zone: January 26, 1943, the three great movements "Fights", "Frank-tireur" and "Southern Release" amalgamate to form them Plain movements of resistance (WALL). Jean Moulin takes of it the presidency, Henri Frenay is a police chief with the "military businesses", Emmanuel d' Astier of Vigerie to the "political businesses" and Jean-Pierre Lévy with the "information and the administration".

Relations between the secret Army, supposed to integrate the various groups armed and frank bodies with the movements, and the WALL, make problem: The persons in charge ds WALL do not want separation between the military activity and the political activity. They do not want either that the ACE depends directly on London. Frenay and Delestraint were often in conflict, and the arrest of Delestraint on June 9, 1943 left the whole problem.

The independence of the clandestine press will not pose a problem: Each movement preserves its independent press. During the second 1943 half of, the territories of the French Empire and the external and interior armed forces had become dependent on the French Committee of national release created in June and this one took, April 4, 1944, the provisional name of Government of the French Republic. Consequently, Resistance formed an organic whole and received a new force of its insertion even in the new political structure. The GPRF includes/understands a Consultative Assembly within which one finds representatives of all the movements of resistance; also, in spring 1944, the union is achieved it gradually between the secret Army, the Organization of resistance of the army (ORA) and the Franks-tireurs and partisans (ftp).

Unification in Northern zone and the junction of the Communists and Gaulle

The unification of Resistance in Northern zone was carried out with almost a year of shift compared to the process started in Southern zone. Mill had sent well his/her old companion of the cabinet Cot, the commander Henri Manhès in Northern zone, but approximately, the process of unification in Northern zone will be done rather parallel to the mission of Mill. It is with a mandate of various movements and trade-union organizations that , which had founded Release-north, London in March 1942 gains and negotiates its rallying in Gaulle.

At at the beginning of 1943, From Gaulle will charge and it of a mission centered on the unification of the armed resistance, but which will be partially divergent with the mission entrusted to Jean Moulin. Movements of the Northern zone: OCM (civil Organization and soldier), CDLR (Those of Resistance), CDLL (Those of the Release). The Coordinating committee created on March 26, 1943 gathers all the movements of the old Northern zone and organizes their services "Action" under the authority of Fighting France.

Communist resistance entered in communication with Gaulle only in the second quarter 1942. Curiously, it was not Jean Moulin who however had in his relations a certain number of close relations of the PCF which was the actor of this bringing together. It is a éminence grise of the Communist Party, which could contact officers of BCRA. It followed several months of contacts enters which represented Of Gaulle and some Joseph representing communist Resistance. (cf ).

These contacts led to the sending of Fernand Attic, former deputy of Saint-Denis, so that it represents as well the direction of the Communist Party () that that of ftp (). The Communists had created at the same time a structure for armed resistance, them , and a movement of resistance, the National Face, which was supposed to exceed their political mobility. They made of it for tactical reasons a temporary competitor of the WALL created in January 1943 per Jean Moulin. Finally, it , like the Communist Party was represented with the meeting inaugural of (the National Council of Resistance), May 7, 1943. But it was necessary to wait until December 1943 officially, and practically much later so that the ftp are integrated into a centralized structure, namely, the FFI.


In 1943, encouraged by the rallying of certain political leaders, of Gaulle in Algiers the reappearance of the old parties causes, that often against the v?ux of the resistant ones. The national Council of the resistance, which holds its first meeting in Paris, street of the Furnace, May 27, 1943, includes/understands representatives of the movements of resistance, but also of the political parties and trade unions.

The meeting was chaired by Jean Moulin assisted of Pierre Miller and Robert Chambeiron. Mill lute a message of Gaulle.

Also took part in this meeting

  • with the title of the movements:

Those of the Release : Roger Coquoin, Those of Resistance : Jacques Lecompte-Boinet, National Face : , Northern release : Charles Laurent, OCM : Jacques-Henri Simon, Fights : Claude Bourdet, Frank-tireur : Small Claudius, Southern release : Pascal Chip

  • with the title of the political tendencies:

Communist Party: Andre Mercier, socialist Party: , Radical Socialists: Marc Rucart, popular Democrats: , democratic Alliance: , republican Federation: Jacques Debû-Bridel

  • with the title of the trade-union organizations:

CGT: Projecting Louis, CFTC: Gaston Tessier

This meeting on May 27 were to some extent the result of the work of Jean Moulin and Pierre Brossolette. CNR survived the arrest of Jean Moulin, June 21 43 with Caluire. George Bidault succeeded to him, like chair CNR, but this one meets never again at a plenary sitting. The permanent office included/understood, in September 1943, in addition to George Bidault, Pierre Villon, Pascal Copeau, Louis Covering and Maxime Blocq-Masquart (OCM). Certain movements were not invited to the meeting on May 27 - for example Défense of France and the Giraudistes tendencies like the ORA. At this meeting, there were interventions of certain participants, on the right Bidault and on the left Villon, to restore a balance between Giraud and Of Gaulle. Nevertheless, it is to Gaulle that the constitution of CNR brought an addition of legitimacy which enabled him to be essential with respect to the English and American allies like the only authentic representative of resistant France.

Creation of the FFI and integration of the ftp in the FFI

This stage of exposed on the unification of Resistance, it is good to insist on a truth first. The resistant basic one is often unaware of with which movement it belongs. In the network where it entered, generally not co-optation, it has contacts only with one number limited people, and it achieves the tasks which are affected for him. It will learn only at the end from the war that it worked, for example, for the SOE and that it did not depend on Gaulle.

The unification of the armed movements was of a rather formal nature. In the sense that, when coordination became necessary between the networks, the maquis and the allied troops, it was ensured from London and not by an unspecified clandestine staff based on the French territory. With the local level, the unification could help the groups of various origins to work together and sometimes to subject itself to a common authority. That functioned relatively well at the time of the release of Paris.

The Delestraint General, stopped at the beginning of May , and off-set with , was replaced by Pontcarral-Dejussieu with the head of the ACE. Remained to integrate on the one hand the ORA (Organization of Armed Resistance), emanation of the old army of armistice, representative of the fact that it is agreed to call resistance vichysso-giraudist and, on the other hand, the ftp. The ORA which wanted to be strictly military had not been recipient of the constitution of CNR. It had contacts privileged with the Giraud General. From June 1943 when Giraud had to be erased in front of Gaulle, the ORA was integrated carefully in the ACE. This integration was formalized in October 1943 by an agreement ORA-AS. The ORA then recognized the authority of the CFLN of Algiers chaired by Gaulle.

In the same way, a theoretical fusion took place on December 29, 1943 between the ACE and the ftp, giving rise to the FFI whose chief will be it Koenig General March 23, 1944.

Parallel to the creation of the FFI, the CNR, dominated more and more by the Communists and their allies, had created a "Military Commission of judicious Action" to supervise the FFI. Initially indicated COMIDAC, one called it then the COMAC. Then on which depended Koenig? COMAC or CFLN of Algiers, transformed on June 2 into provisional Government? Nobody knew it too much. The national military delegate, (), as well as the military delegates of zones (DMZ) depended, them, directly of the military Committee National of Algiers. In short, the flow chart was sufficiently complex to make it possible each one to do what it it liked. But it had nevertheless the merit to exist, also when everyone was of goodwill, one could advance the things.

Various forms of Resistance

The movements of Resistance act on 2 distinct levels: On the one hand, they want to contribute to the military defeat of the Germans, and on the other hand, they want to influence the public opinion so that France rocks in the camp which they estimate to be the good.

Networks and movements

Dice the year 1941, one can note that among the various stammering groups of resistance, one can distinguish two types of organization: networks and movements.

According to Claude Bourdet, "a network, it is an organization created for a precise military work, primarily the information, incidentally sabotage, frequently also, the escape from pilot and prisoners of war especially fallen to the enemy... A movement, on the contrary, has for prime objective to sensitize and organize the population in the broadest possible way... "

See List networks and movements of French interior Resistance

Networks of escape

The need for creating networks of escape appeared dice the first months of the occupation: many were the English aviators who found themselves released in enemy territory. One will not be astonished that it is the Intelligence Service which caused the creation of the network Alliance, directed by Marie-madeleine Fourcade. Also let us quote the very effective network which functioned in the surroundings of Béthune under the direction of Sylvette Leleu. But well quickly, it proved that the escape and the transit towards Spain or Switzerland just as easily concerned the French eager to join London that the Resistant ones roasted in front of putting itself at the green, or the members of the army who wanted to join Algiers after November 1942. On the Swiss border, the Gilbert network, created by colonel Groussard, was also controlled by the English.

The clandestine press

See also the detailed article

The first action of much of movements of resistance was the publication and the diffusion of clandestine press. It was not the general rule, since certain movements, especially in the Northern zone, like CDLR and CDLL and to a lesser extent itOCM refused the civil proceeding for better occupying itself of the soldier.

Other movements, like Defense of France founded in August 1941 by the students and Robert Salmon, refused to assemble services of information or bodies frank. Christian testimony is to be arranged in the same category.

The majority of the clandestine newspapers consisted only of some layers, often even a single sheet, ronéotée recto-back, because the sale of all the raw materials - paper, ink, stencils - is prohibited.

In Northern zone, June 1941, Pantagruel, the body of Frank-tireur draw with 10 000 specimens, and Release - North who will replace it reached rather quickly a pulling with 50 000. In January 1944, Defense of France, diffuses 450 000 specimens.

In Southern zone, after the fusion of the two newspapers Freedom of and Truth of , appears 58 numbers of the newspaper Fights from December 1941 to January 1944, and for the same period 37 numbers of , 54 numbers of and 15 books of Christian Testimony. For pullings, Domenica Veillon and Olivier Wieviorka give the figure of 5 000 to 10 000 specimens with starting, and then an average figure of 125 000 to 150 000.

The information

The networks of information by far most and were packed. It was a question, of course of collecting rensiegnements of military value: Constructions on the Atlantic frontage, manpower of the units of Wehrmacht based in France... There was often a competition between BCRA and various English services to contact the networks which had been put in position to provide interesting information.

The first agents of Free France unload on the Breton coast dice July 40. They are it lieutenant Mansion, , , Rémy, which will not hesitate to contact the German anti military mediums of Vichy like Loustaunau-Lacau and it colonel Groussard to which they are close ideologically.

The various movements had included/understood the interest well to have networks of information to be made recognize and touch subsidies on behalf of the BCRA or the English. The service of information of the ftp was called FADED and was directed by George Beyer, the brother-in-law of .

The major part of the information are done by radio operator transmitter. Later, when the air links by Lysanders are frequent, a part of the information is also conveyed by these mails. According to Passy, the resposable of the BCRA, in 44, 1000 daily telegrams forwarded by radio operator for which it is necessary to add more than 20000 pages and 2000 plans per week. One calls the radio operator operators the pianists. Many is located by the German goniometric cars which also patrolled in southern zone as of the summer 1943.

After the war, 266 networks directly related to the BCRA were recognized, including/understanding 150 000 counted agents.


Sabotage is a form of action which could ambitionner all the désirex groups exceed the diffusion of clandestine press. It was necessary nevertheless to have explosives. Many clandestine laboratories are reflected with the?uvre. Jules Dumont and the chemist Bloch-Serazin France assemble in August a 41 small laboratory to provide explosives to the first communist combatants. The laboratory also produces cyanide bulbs to make it possible to these combatants to withdraw itself from torture in the event of arrest. France Bloch will be stopped in February 42, will be tortured, off-set in Hamburg where it will be decapitated with the axe in February 43. In southern zone, the former Renouvin royalist delivers himself to same the activities on behalf of the frank groups of Combat.

With the long one, the flight of dynamite will be preferred with artisanal manufacture. English will also parachute of them tons bound for their networks SOE whose sabotage is one of the first missions. The railroads are the preferred target of the saboteurs. Well quickly, one includes/understands besides who the déboullonnage is differently more effective than the explosives.

The derailments of train were of a debatable effectiveness for all the period of the occupation where the Germans managed to repair the ways rather quickly. After the unloading of Normandy and that of Provence, joints to the combined bombardments, they could more effectively disorganize the retirement of German. Sabotages of the ways made obviously less collateral dégats that the bombardments.

Sabotages of the outgoing material of the suines of armament was a form of more discrete action, but probably at least effective that the attacks with the explosive.

The urban guerrilla warfare

The practices of guerrilla were, wholesale, the prerogative of the communist groups. It was a question of perpetrating attacks to strike the enemy with coeuir cities. A first wave of attacks immediately took place after the entry in war of the USSR, in June 41. The Communists had a clear objective then, to take part in the war in with dimensions of the USSR in the same way that the Free French took part in the war in with dimensions of the English. It was necessary to try to immobilize the maximum of German troops in the West.

Pierre George, more known under the name of Fabien, killed a German officer, the Moser candidate at the subway station Barbès, August 21, 1941. This attack, and those which were perpetrated in the following weeks by young Communists were naturally ridiculous in comparison with the had aim. Curiously, the clandestine communist press was done very discrete on these attacks, especially the last, that of Nantes which started in reprisals the execution of 98 hostages. The Communists gave up temporarily this type of too unpopular action.

The groups which devoted to Paris a series of direct attacks against German soldiers or officers from July to October 1943, were organized differently better. Joseph Epstein, alias colonel Gilles was a person in charge for the ftp ME. One also entrusted the responsibility for combatants to him ftp of the whole of the Paris area where the training of true commandos of fifteen combatants made it possible to carry out a certain number of spectacular actions, as the attack of a German detachment which went up towards the place of Star to the step of goose. That would not have been possible with the groups of three which were the rule in the clandestine organization since 1940, there was thus in Paris. These commandos consisted of foreigners of EGO. The group of is most famous.


One indicates by maquis of the groups of resistant operating in the not very accessible areas, where an abundant vegetation can mask movements of groups. The French mountainous solid masses, the Alps, the Jura, central Solid mass, Morvan... were often favourable with such establishments.

With some exceptions, like that of George Guingouin, the resistant ones hardly thought of creating maquis before 1943. It was the refractory surge which tried to escape from (Service of Obligatory Work) founded as from January 43 which caused the creation of the maquis where resistant the more senior framed young refractories. In addition, on this same date, Resistance had reached a sufficient degree of maturity to make it possible to consider certain controls territories. After, under the impulse of Jean Mill, the 3 movements of the southern zone amalgamated under the appeletion of WALL, a "National Service of the Maquis" was created, in Mars 2003, under the responsibility for .

Problems of all kinds emerged: very variable motivation on behalf of refractories to adhere to a project of resistance, material difficulties for the provisioning, insufficient armament, but in the course of time, a number rather considerable of maquis were created, so much so that they symbolized, to a certain extent, the idea even of resistance.

With through the maquis, resistance takes itself of the various forms, according to adopted tactics'. They were thus one of the places where certain divergences were opposed which appeared in the last year of the occupation. The maquis "gaullists", impelled by the WALL and the ORA preferred to preserve their maquis reserves some for a generalized action and to concentrate their effects on the transmission of information in Alliés and the FFL, whereas maquis ftp claimed to launch out in operations of harassing of the German forces and the Militia. According to areas', the competitions between various maquis of the ACE or the ftp could be intense or non-existent. On the way of considering the creation of maquis, cultural differences strip the former officers of the ORA which considers before all the maquis a strategic fortress, a head of bridge or a point of support and the communist partisans who think more of the control of the populations.

The Militia created in January 1943 following the dissolution of the consecutive army of armistice to the invasion of the southern zone by the Germans, will become an actor of this period and will be committed in frontal operations of fight against the maquis, thus giving to this period of 43-44 a pace of civil war, which ended only in the end of 44 with the end of purification and the assertion of the government of Gaulle.

In October 43, the SNM estimates at 14000 the number of the men of the maquis concerned with its serices, for which it is necessary to add maquis ftp, perhaps 5000 in Southern sone and 6000 in northern zone.

With three recoveries, maquis will undergo heavy losses to have to accept a confrontation too direct with the always higher German troops. Glières, year Haute-Savoie was a maquis created by the ACE January 1944 and ordered by the former officer of active Tom Morel. More than 500 combatants, HAVE or ftp, rejognirent the maquis. They accepted parachutings of weapons, but in March 1944, the maquis is encircled, attacked and submerged by a few thousands of Germans and 1000 militiamans. At least 100 men of the maquis will lose the life there.

Dice the end May 44, 2500 men had gathered with Mount-Mouchet, in Auvergne. After a first attack which will fail, June 2, the Germans attack again, June 9. The survivors will gather towards the Highone. They are 5000 men whom Wehrmacht will attack on June 18, making at least 100 died among the men of the maquis without counting the victims of the actions of reprisals. June 20, the order of general dispersion is marked.

The losses will be even heavier with tackled on July 21, 1944. 4000 men had concentrated there, with the support of the various movements of interior resistance, the BCRA and the English. Only the ftp had been always opposed to the project. is completely surrounded of cliffs, but the sailplanes of Wehrmacht used a runway prepared to receive allied reinforcements. In more of 840 dead including the 200 civil ones, many men of the maquis will be off-set.

Other forms of resistance

It could exist in occupied France all kinds of individual acts being able to be assimilated to resistance anti-anti-allemande. In this article is considered only organized Resistance. It will also be necessary to consult specialized articles, for example that entitled to have an idea of all the actions concerning the rescue of the Jews on the French territory.

The role of Resistance in the release of the territory

A principal motivation of the two forms of resistances, external and interior, was that the French are present at with dimensions allies at the time of the hoped final victory. One cannot thus escape from the question: Which was the role of Resistance in the release of the territory? Let us quote some brief replies in bulk: In September 1943, resistant Corsican started an insurrection released the island with the assistance of commandos from North Africa. Starting from June 1944, FFI and ftp, theoretically unified unified under the command of the K?nig General endeavoured to take an active part in the release of the other French departments.

Following the unloading in Normandy, June 1944. The maquis and the various networks of sabotage will intervene, either by starting the combat in order to fix the enemy forces, or by disorganizing the railway communication networks used by the Germans: green plan for the railways, purple plan for the telephone lines and blue plan for the electric installations. Paul plan, aimed, him, to destroy the German deposits of ammunition and fuels, to badger the German reinforcements and to prepare the arrival of the allied troops.

The release of the Parisian insurrection which was completed by the release of Paris on August 25, 1944 with the support of the 2E Armoured division of the Leclerc General is one of the most famous moments glorious of French Resistance, but it is very difficult to make the share from what arises from the popular demonstration, of the psychological operation on the one hand and of the military effectiveness on the other hand. Less debatable the greatest part of the south-west and the center of France is the release, and, in south-east, the assistance brought to the progression of the 1st French Army of the General of Lattre de Tassigny unloaded in Provence in August 1944.

One often refers to the comment of Eisenhower General in his "Report/ratio on the operations in Europe of the forces expeditionary":

"Our HQ estimated that per moment, the value of the assistance brought by the FFI to the countryside represented the equivalent as men of 15 divisions of infantry and thanks to their assistance, the speed of our advance in France was largely facilitated by it."

A division represents about 10000 men. The conversion of the forces of Resistance into DI has its limits. How to convert the information provided to the allies? And intoxication of the Germans whom the Intelligence Service tried by handling it Prosper network SOE? One will never have precise answer to the question: "was the contribution of Resistance decisive so that the head of bridge established in Normandy is not rejected with the sea?"

Establishment of the provisional government

January 10 44, an ordinance of General de Gaulle created in France of the general police chiefs of the Republics which had vocation to play the part of prefects dice at the time the capacity would have rocked, whole or part of dimensioned Resistance. was thus named in Bordeaux and Raymond Aubrac in Marseilles. June 3, General de Gaulle became president of Provisional government of the French Republic (GPRF).

As the allied troops progressed, of the departmental and local Committees of release (CDL and CLL) consisted the resistant ones were set up in released France, these committees substituent with the administration of Vichy. In same time, its courses of justice and rooms civic were created with the participation of resistant. It was a question of avoiding, as far as possible, the executions summary and the payments of account which often accompanied the release by the various areas, and of setting up a "legal purification" of the collaborators.

CDL, CLL and militia patriotic constituted sometimes, in particular in the departments where communist resistance was in position of force, a threat of countervailing power vis-a-vis to the police chiefs of the Republic and the prefects named by provisional government of the French Republic who quickly asserted themselves everywhere. September 9, 1944, after the Release of Paris, Gaulle formed a government of national Union which prepared elections. It was necessary to await the total release of the territory, in winter 45, to organize ds local, April and May and legislative elections in October 45. German had capitulated on May 8, 1945, republican legality was restored, the page of Resistance was turned.


In spring 1945, when the French territory is completely released with the reduction of the last pockets held by the Germans, one can outline an assessment of the losses. It is heavy: 20 000 FFI or ftp killed with the combat, 30 000 shot, more than 60 000 deportees in the camps, which little less than half will not return.

Some is the appreciation which one can carry on his military effectiveness, the action of Resistance served France well on the political level. After the Release, the resistant ones, by engaging in the new reconstituted French Army combatant at the sides of the Allies, made it possible to associate France the victory of 1945 over the Nazi Germany.

By carrying out a broad union among French and while not yielding to temptations of civil war, Resistance occupied a role of foreground in the re-establishment of the Republic and the revival of the French policy. Many resistant would undoubtedly have liked to be freed from the traditional parties and the re-establishment, in 1946, of a mode of Parliament, did not correspond forcémment to the ideal of major change which had been able justified their engagement in Resistance. The attempts to create a great party of Resistance failed. It is thus dispersed which they?uvrèrent for the administrative rebuilding, political, economic and social of France.

The heritage of Resistance will mark the French political life durably. The program of CNR will be carried out by the vote of the women, the nationalization of the key sectors of the economy and the creation of the Social security.


Works general practitioners on French Resistance

  • Henri Nogères, History of Resistance in France of 1940 to 1945 (5 flight.), Laffont, 1967
  • Alain Guerin, Illustrated Chronic Resistance 1930-1950 (5 Flight.), Delivers Diderot Club, 1972
  • Roger Faligot and Remi Kaufer, The Resistant ones, Beech, 1989

Works over period 39-45 in France

More specific works or articles on Resistance

  • Jean-Pierre Azéma, Strengths to Resistance, in France of the black years T2, the Threshold, 1993
  • and Raymond Vacheron, Murder with the maquis, Grasset, 1997
  • Eberhard Jäckel, France in Europe of Hitler, Beech, 1968.

Works on the unification of Resistance

Other works

Catalogue of films

See too

More on French interior resistance

Contemporary with Resistance

  • Movements of Resistance in other European countries:


External bond


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