34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis

34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis

Jacob Miller - August 17, 2017

The French Resistance was the collection of French movements that fought against the Nazi occupation as well as the collaborationist Vichy regime during the Second World War. The French Resistance played a significant role in facilitating the Allies’ advance through France after the successful landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The French Resistance provided the allies with military intelligence on the Nazi defenses known as the Atlantic Wall as well as general information on Wehrmacht deployments. The Resistance planned, coordinated, and executed acts of sabotage on the electrical power grid, transport facilities, and telecommunications networks.

After the landing in Normandy, the paramilitary Resistance became more organized and hierarchical. They established themselves as the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). In June 1944, the FFI was estimated to have 100,000 men but by VE Day in May 1945, the FFI had grown to the fourth-largest army in the European theater with 1.2 million men.

After the Battle of France and the second French-German armistice which was signed on June 22, 1940, the brutal tactics employed by the Nazi and Vichy regime to ensure French submission created a discontented minority to form paramilitary groups dedicated to the resistance. One of the most critical conditions of the armistice was that French pay for the upkeep of a 300,000-man army for their own occupation at 20 million reichsmarks per day (400 million franks per day). The overvaluation of the Nazi currency in effect created an operating system of organized plunder. Prices soared, leading to widespread food shortages. French Prisoners of War and the compulsory labor for the Service du Travail Obligatoire, the deportation of about 650,000 laborers to Nazi Germany, caused a labor shortage in France. The Nazi regime also murdered 30,000 French civilians to intimidate the resistance fighters.

British historian Ian Ousby writes: “Even today, when people who are not French or did not live through the Occupation look at photos of German soldiers marching down the Champs Élysées or of Gothic-lettered German signposts outside the great landmarks of Paris, they can still feel a slight shock of disbelief. The scenes look not just unreal, but almost deliberately surreal, as if the unexpected conjunction of German and French, French and German, was the result of a Dada prank and not the sober record of history. This shock is merely a distant echo of what the French underwent in 1940: seeing a familiar landscape transformed by the addition of the unfamiliar, living among everyday sights suddenly made bizarre, no longer feeling at home in places they had known all their lives.”

Gaullism, a political stance named after French Resistance leader and founding President of the Fifth French Republic, General Charles de Gaulle, supported a patriotic resistance to the Nazi invasion. In the Appeal of June 18, 1940, de Gaulle asked every patriot to join the Free French Army to fight the Nazis. The most celebrated moment in the Free French 2 Armored Division was the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944.

On August 19, 1944, the FFI staged an uprising against the Nazis as the US Third Army, lead by General George Patton approached the French capital. On the night of August 24, part of General Philippe Leclerc’s 2 French Armored Division entered Paris. The next morning, the rest of the 2 Armored Division and the US 4 Infantry Division entered Paris. Dietrich von Choltitz, commander of the Nazi occupational forces and military governor of Paris was forced to surrender.

Immediately following the liberation, France was swept by a wave of executions, public humiliations, assaults and detentions of suspected collaborators known as the èpuration Sauvage (savage purge). Approximately 9,000 collaborators and members of the pro-Nazi Vichy Milices army were executed. Between 10,000-30,000 women accused of collaboration with or having relationships with Nazis or Vichy had their heads shaved and were paraded around town.

Based on figures from June 1944, it is estimated that the FFI killed at least 2,000 Nazis and Vichy. It is estimated that 8,000 resistance fighters were killed in action, 25,000 were executed. About 86,000 were deported and sent to work in labor camps and 27,000 were murdered in death camps.

34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Nazi flag flies over Paris with the Eifel Tower in the distance. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
WW2 French resistance poster. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
A French armored column passing through the small French town of St Mere Eglise 6 June. 1944. nicolaslbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Battle of Paris, Aug 1944: Father Camille Folliet, a French Roman Catholic priest, lends his support and advises the French Resistance behind a barricade during the Battle for Paris, which took place from 19 August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German garrison on 25 August 1944. Photo by Robert Doisneau.
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
“We knew that something would happen soon because the train from Paris didn’t reach Caen – the lines had been sabotaged. That evening I heard two messages – ‘the dice are on the table’, meaning we should sabotage railway lines; and ‘it’s hot in Suez’, meaning we should attack telephone lines.”- André Heinz, a member of the French Résistance. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
A young Parisian helps the Résistance erect a barricade, Paris, August 1944. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Général Leclerc relaxes with men of the 2e DB near Fleuré, 16 August 1944. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Parisians man a barricade during the uprising, August 1944. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
French Resistance fighters aboard a Citroen Traction Avant amid jubilant scenes during the liberation of Paris, August 1944. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
“In Paris, we had one great advantage – which was a tradition of popular uprising. There was the revolution of course in 1879, but after that 1830, 1848, above all the Commune in 1870. There was a body of doctrine. We knew how to do it. – Maurice Kriegel Valrimont, French Résistance. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
French resistance Molotov cocktails Paris, Aug 1944. Robert Doisneau
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Parisian Resistance fighters shooting from behind trees during the liberation of the city. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Parisian resistance fighters shooting at Nazi occupiers from a window. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
A woman of the French resistance movement who is a member of a patrol routing out Germans snipers still left in areas of Paris France on August 29, 1944. She is carrying a German Schmeisser submachine gun or MP40. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Simone Segouin who went under the name Nicole Minet was 18 years old at the time of the invasion of France. A French Resistance fighter and a member of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP) group, Nicole captured 25 German prisoners during the fall of Chartres, this was witnessed by both American troops and journalists. After the liberation of Paris where Nicole also fought, she was promoted to lieutenant and awarded the Croix de Guerre. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Paris 1944 French Resistance. Place Saint-Michel during the Liberation. Robert Doisneau.

34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
An exhausted French Resistance fighter rests against a barricade, Paris, 1944. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
French Resistance fighters duck for cover under the Triomphe Arc in Paris during the liberation of Paris. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
On August 25, Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered Paris to Général Leclerc. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
The surrender order, signed by von Choltitz. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Jeeps of the 2e DB approach the Invalides, in the heart of Paris. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
The 2e DB, the armored vehicle division, parades through Paris, August 26, 1944. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
St Mihiel, France, Sept 1944- A German soldier, caught by the French Resistance, is led through the streets surrounded by jeers and taunts from the crowd. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
The French Resistance parade a German soldier through Paris, 1945. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
ca. 1945, Paris, France: Allied Liberation of Paris. Paris, France: American soldiers, aided by FFI men, capture and liberate France’s capital. By the hundreds, Nazi soldiers surrender and are taken, prisoners. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Nazi Prisoners of War marched through the Streets of Paris in celebration of the liberation. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Parisians shelter from sniper fire in the Place de la Concorde, August 26, 1944. The celebration would continue as soon as the sniper threat was neutralized. nicolasbouliane
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
A Free French soldier races to aid a Resistance fighter firing at a German sniper, Paris, August 1944. The sniper had opened fire during a tour of the city by Gen. Charles de Gaulle. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
French Resistance fighters aboard a Citroen Traction Avant amid jubilant scenes during the liberation of Paris, August 1944. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Elated Parisians celebrating the end of Nazi occupation waving the American flag and a flag with the Cross of Lorraine, the flag of the Free French Forces. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
Free Parisians march through the Triomphe Arc. August 25, 1944. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
25 August 1944. Tens of thousands of Parisians come out to celebrate the end of the Occupation of Paris. Pinterest
34 Powerful Images of the Heroic French Resistance Against the Nazis
The liberation also unfurled a wave of violence in the city. Buses that carried German prisoners were stopped by angry mobs who would drag out the passengers and beat them, sometimes to death. Collaborators rarely fared better. French prostitutes who had slept with the occupiers were publicly shamed by shaving their head in the streets, and many of them were violently beaten. Many more were lynched in the upcoming weeks. nicolasbouliane

 

Sources For Further Reading:

History Today – A History of the French Resistance

D-Day Overload – French resistance in Normandy: Normandy landings – D-Day

History Net – The French Resistance: How Resistant?

War History Online – Bravery: The Amazing French Resistance and D-Day

Jacobin Magazine – How France’s Vichy Regime Became Hitler’s Willing Collaborators

Smithsonian Magazine – Was Vichy France a Puppet Government or a Willing Nazi Collaborator?

History Net – The Vichy Regime’s Bizarre Final Months in a German Castle

The New Yorker – How Charles de Gaulle Rescued France

History Channel – Paris Is Liberated After Four Years of Nazi Occupation

France 24 – 75 Years On, Paris Celebrates Its Liberation from Nazis

The Guardian – An Ugly Carnival

Time Magazine – This Picture Tells A Tragic Story Of What Happened To Women After D-Day

National Interest – “Is Paris Burning?” How the Allies Liberated the City of Light from Nazi Rule

History Net – The Nazi Who Saved Paris from Destruction During World War II

All That’s Interesting – Was Nazi General Dietrich Von Choltitz Actually the Savior Of Paris?

Frommers – Places Where You Can Still See Evidence of the Nazi Occupation of Paris

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