The French Resistance W.W.II

PADDYBOY

Historum Emeritas
Jan 2007
6,426
Scotland
#1
What percentage of the French population were engaged in resistance ?
What did this engagement consist of ?
How effective was it in the struggle against the Nazis ?
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
#2
In the spirit of rushing in where angels fear to tread -

I can't answer your questions definitively. But I once read about a study made on the question of the degree of resistance of the various occupied countries of Europe in terms of the number of German Army occupiers per thousand of population of each country (or some such ratio). I can't cite the source nor describe the methodology, but I remember the results were that Denmark was the most resistant (due in part, I suppose, to the small population), followed by Yugoslavia. The "least resistant" was the Netherlands, followed by France (due in part, I suppose, to the large population).

I don't presume to judge the Dutch or the French or anyone else. I assume I would have been keeping my head down too.
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
#3
I always thought that the "active" resisters were a minority, but you have to take into account the "passives", and that's far more difficult. It's a controversial topic for the French, as after 1944, EVERYBODY claimed to have been in the resistance [except for the collaborators of course! ;) ]

As regards the counrty who resisted longest and "most", I nominate Poland. If you read Norman Davis' book on the 1944 Warsaw uprising, he covers the activities of the Polish AK, and what went on in Poland from 1939-1947.
 

PADDYBOY

Historum Emeritas
Jan 2007
6,426
Scotland
#4
I copied this from Wicki :eek:

No. 303 Kosciuszko Polish fighter squadron was a Polish fighter squadron formed in Gt. Brritain as part of an agreement between the Polish gvt. in exile and the U.K. on the 2nd of August 1940 and became officially operational a few weeks later on the 31st of August. Koscuszko squadron is famous for claiming the highest number of enemy kills during the Battle of Britain of all fighter squadrons then in operation through September to October of 1940.
The squadron was disbanded in December of 1946. It was one of several Polish fighter squadrons fighting alongside the R.A.F. during W.W.II. The squadron was named after the Polish and American hero General Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

I salute 303 squadron Kosciuszko :)

Back to the French resistance movement then ;)
 
#5
I am from Poland and I know history of uprising quite well.
Here in Poland still live people who were risking their life to protect Jewish people like Wladyslaw Bartoszewski [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Righteous_Among_the_Nations"]Category:Righteous Among the Nations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
and uprising... whole capital city destroyed.... communist after war rebuilt it
2 months of bloody struggle without rules.... just to help Russians to take over the city... they didnt arrived....

Movie about uprising
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLxeeZ71UYM"]YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.[/ame]
 
#6
Actually it is a mistake to see the Polish underground as just a resistence movement - it was much larger structure called Secret State ( underground theaters, newspapers of larger circulation than the occupants had, underground courts of law and administration) - essentially a parallel country...

Armed resistence would be only a part of it and it is unfair to compare the underground in Poland and elsewhere because no other underground would have a chance this way.


When it comes to strictly military, 'classical' guerillas - the Yugoslavians would be the first followed by Soviet Union, but in the first case we have two major, conflicted groups and the later is an extension of the Red Army.

So again Poland might pop up because the armed resistence was pretty unified - communist guerillas were the only ones who fought not under the same , recognised government + they were often ordered to fight the Polish underground and resorted to spectacular, terrorist actions which were done to trigger repressions ( 6-10 Poles for a German etc.) and 'embarass' the real underground which wsn't interested in causing unwanted civilian losses.

That might be a reason to add the Poles again on the top, though looking at population sizes (not armed resistence size) perhaps again the Yugoslavian communist resistence or someone else would be the first.



French resistence was divided, the Free French were largery on British payroll Northern Africa was reclaimed, but had large support thanks to the relatively lenient German occupation, existence of Vichy France and proximity to Britain and its airfileds equiping them with weaponry.


Another factor was that the French included a large number of foreign combatants (not evacuated in 1940 for example) - especially Poles and to lesser degree Spanish ( republican refugees).


Thei work was invaluable for sure, but actual fighting was more in style of the Yugoslavians or the Soviets - intelligence was the primary target of the French underground.


Something between was in Poland + we have the entire thing called the Secret States, still in 1944 there are between 10 and 18 uprisings in Poland organised by the underground which resulted often in liberation of entire, large cities - Vlnius/Wilno, Lwów/L'viv and dozens of places inside the current Polish borders.
The Warsaw Uprising is most spectacular but neither started or ended the massive armed actions treated as uprisings.

And when it comes to later fighting - te last anti-communist guerillas capitulated, gave up fighting and 'disappeared' in after-war chaos or were killed up to 1960s.
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
#7
Actually it is a mistake to see the Polish underground as just a resistence movement - it was much larger structure called Secret State ( underground theaters, newspapers of larger circulation than the occupants had, underground courts of law and administration) - essentially a parallel country...

Armed resistence would be only a part of it and it is unfair to compare the underground in Poland and elsewhere because no other underground would have a chance this way.


When it comes to strictly military, 'classical' guerillas - the Yugoslavians would be the first followed by Soviet Union, but in the first case we have two major, conflicted groups and the later is an extension of the Red Army.

So again Poland might pop up because the armed resistence was pretty unified - communist guerillas were the only ones who fought not under the same , recognised government + they were often ordered to fight the Polish underground and resorted to spectacular, terrorist actions which were done to trigger repressions ( 6-10 Poles for a German etc.) and 'embarass' the real underground which wsn't interested in causing unwanted civilian losses.

That might be a reason to add the Poles again on the top, though looking at population sizes (not armed resistence size) perhaps again the Yugoslavian communist resistence or someone else would be the first.



French resistence was divided, the Free French were largery on British payroll Northern Africa was reclaimed, but had large support thanks to the relatively lenient German occupation, existence of Vichy France and proximity to Britain and its airfileds equiping them with weaponry.


Another factor was that the French included a large number of foreign combatants (not evacuated in 1940 for example) - especially Poles and to lesser degree Spanish ( republican refugees).


Thei work was invaluable for sure, but actual fighting was more in style of the Yugoslavians or the Soviets - intelligence was the primary target of the French underground.


Something between was in Poland + we have the entire thing called the Secret States, still in 1944 there are between 10 and 18 uprisings in Poland organised by the underground which resulted often in liberation of entire, large cities - Vlnius/Wilno, Lwów/L'viv and dozens of places inside the current Polish borders.
The Warsaw Uprising is most spectacular but neither started or ended the massive armed actions treated as uprisings.

And when it comes to later fighting - te last anti-communist guerillas capitulated, gave up fighting and 'disappeared' in after-war chaos or were killed up to 1960s.
Good post! Do you know anything about the Maquis?
 

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