The French Underground

Discussion in 'History' started by Leatherneck, Apr 28, 2008.

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  1. I wish to re-tract my previous statement(s) about the French underground. And wish to convey a formal apology at this time to the French. I realize I was wrong and am requesting your forgiveness.

    If possible I'd like to shift the tempo of the subject in a positive direction. There are two sides to every coin, and on the other side of this one, I have family who owe their life and success in Europe during World War 2 to the French underground.
  2. The Anglo French mutual love/hate relationship is restricted to the politicians and civvies.

    Amongst the military we are all BROTHERS IN ARMS and long may it stay that way.

    Mon Ami
  3. And there's me thinking we were going to get a sensible discussion on the Paris Metro!

  4. Strange how some of our U.S. brethren try to stir it amongst EU countries, when in fact there is little to stir.
    Very many extradordinairily brave and selfless people worked hard to hinder the illegal invasion of their country and to assist the allies - end of!
  5. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    MOD Mode:

    Hmm, I'm a little concerned about the rationale behind this thread; if it is an attempt at a humourous 'bite' then it is in the wrong place. As BP and S2 have implied, the Anglo-French 'entente cordiale' is alive and strong, with some French naval officers having served on RN warships in recent years.

    By making the assumption that all French military organisations are worthless smacks of blantant antagonistic xenophobia; comparing the WWII underground saboteurs to modern-day military is not relevant. Your experience of the French forces in Beirut is regrettable, but the Resistance were mainly civilans, operating in a dangerous, Nazi-occupied environment. The pressure they were under no doubt caused some to lose sight of the cause and become collaborators. But in the whole, without their support, I believe that the War in Europe would have continued far beyond 1945. 8O

    Leatherneck, if I were to use the same rationale as you, then I might be tempted to assume that all US military personnel were raping, murdering grunts, who join a conflict 2 years after it started, and think that the Union Jack [sic] is a target... but I'm not going to do that. And neither will anyone else here in this thread. :wink:

    It will remain open for now, to discuss the "historical" nature of the French WWII Resistance, but refrain from turning this into a racist rant.
  6. After the liberation of France, it is known that many Resistance/Undeground members were lynched by the ordinary citizens of France (shades of the Revolution) as NAZI collaborators. It is also known that the said victims did work closely with the "authorities" in order to function usefully in the Resistance. Possibly a few, and for whatever reason, were true double agents but, nontheless, the Resistance was a credit to France. Leaving aside the sabotage and Int activities, many Allied aircrew owe their lives to that organisation.
  7. One must not forget that in France there were two undergounds, the Gaulists and the Communists, both equally committed to the expulsion of the Germans, but also committed to excising each other. As in other countries after liberation a fair number of the executed 'collaborators' were in fact killed for belonging to the wrong flavour of resistance movement in a struggle for power. In Greece the problem boiled over into a full blooded civil war
  8. Has anyone heard about the photo exhibition currently causing a stir in Paris? I will look for the linky today at work, but basicly the phots show people going about their business - being lovers in the spring, going to the races in hats, shopping etc. Apparantly it is causing much soul searching in France because it portrays the French as having a 'normal' life during occupation. The French, I think, are funny about the war, having in a sense collaborated - the Vichy who did send their countrymen to die in concentration camps.

    But never forget the Resistance were very brave, they risked being betrayed, tortured and killed - a la Violette Szabo.

    Consider also the ladies who were involved in horizontal collaboration (that is actually what it is called in French!) and at the end of the war were shamed and shunned by their communities - remember that scene in Band of Brothers where they shave the heads of the women who went with the Nazis?

    However, as a final note, consider that there was a British Freicorps who were members of the SS. They were recruited from British who were active Nazis before the war and people in POW camps. Admittedly at its height it was only 27 strong but it existed.

    The trouble with the war is that we look back on it with the heavy weight of 60 years of propaganda over us. We perceive the Brits to have fought on alone until the Americans finally decided to come over and help us fight, the Italians as cowards and poor fighters, the Germans as jackbooted murderers and the French as cheese eating surrender monkeys. I can give you instances when each of these perceptions do not hold up to scrutiny but I won't because I have to go to work!
  9. Precisely, and this cheese eating surrender monkey nonsense really grips my satchel.

    Hmm... I wonder how many countries have taken a slaughter on the scale of Verdun?

    OK, it is meant in jest sometimes, but it really doesn't wash. How long would we have lasted in 1940 if it were not for the Channel and later Hitler's decision to invade the USSR?

    I also wonder if we would think differently if we had had more home matches, and it was our countryside full of cemeteries and unexploded ordinance. Just on a days walk on the Somme you can find enough gear to send this whole county into a total panic for weeks.

    And look at the facts;

    The Great War, KILLED;
    France. 1.3-to-1.4 Million.
    Britain and Empire. 1.0 Million
    USA. 140,000 approx (and slightly less than half of those were killed in action)
    Bulgaria!!! 500,000

    World War II
    France mobilised approx one man in eight
    Britain mobilised about one in forty
    This resulted inevitably in many French units being composed of reservists who were essentially middle-aged civilians. The result is history.

    There were many good French units. As the British Expeditionary Force retreated down a corridor towards Dunkirk, the French held-off the German army to the south and west, thus making possible the evacuation.

    Also, the final perimeter at Dunkirk was held by 30,000 French troops, none of whom were evacuated. Of the French troops who were evacuated, many refused to be landed in Britain, but were returned to southern France, where the French were still fighting.
  10. Not France ,but Norway.
    Some years ago I stayed with a family,whose husband was aged 15 - 20,during WW2.I asked him what it was like during the German Occupation and how they got on,expecting to hear tales of derring-do etc.
    He said as exactly as I can recollect, " Actually I had quite a good war, we all went about our business ,generally getting on with things.A few people in percentage terms were in the resistance,or went to England to fight.A few were collaborators. Yes there were shortages,but in general I enjoyed my growing up".He then lived near Bergen.
    Not that their land was being fought over continuously,by any means.
    However it just shows that rumour/perceived history and the like do not always tell the full story.
  11. We have a similar tale here in Canada, it seems to crop up everytime we, that's the Canadian Forces, are involved in troop rotation for an extended mission.

    The tales of Quebec resisting the war efforts during the Second World War, begin to surface and the stereotype of surrending French people is reinforced.

    However, that's not what really happened and the CBC captured that often forgotten piece of history in a documentary way back in 1989, here's what it said:

    When the First World War erupts in 1914, Canada has little military power to lend to the conflict. There are just 3,000 regular soldiers, plus a poorly regarded militia of local volunteers. When the Canadian Expeditionary Force raises thousands of new recruits and sends them to England for training, there are few French-Canadians among them. To the embarrassment of some of Quebec's petite-bourgeoisie, most francophones believe the war in Europe is not their fight.

    Frustrated that French Canada is not represented in the first contingent, 50 influential francophones lobby for the creation of a distinct French-Canadian battalion. On Oct. 20, 1914, the raising of the 22nd (French-Canadian) Battalion is authorized. Known among anglophones as the "Van Doos" after their French battalion number (vingt-deuxième) they would be the first and only Canadian military unit formed on the basis of language and culture.

    Now, our Van Doos have never demonstrated any of the behaviour attributed to French people and have fought and died gallantly in every conflict Canada has been engaged in and most recently in Afghanistan where they sustained substantial losses to personnel.

    This is not the face of a cheese eating surrender monkey...
  12. We should of course not forget the collaboration of Sweden during WW2. It was via Sweden that many German troops invaded Norway, a source of friction even to this day, though less so than in the past. We all remember how Sweden offered sanctuary to Danish Jews, smuggled out of Denmark by the Danish Resistance, which mostly funded the operation out of ordinary Danes donating their savings. What is less well remembered is that the Swedish King refused to take them until the Allies made it clear that were Sweden to fail to do so, she would be treated as a collaborating nation after the war. The other notable difference is that most Danish Jews survived the concentration camps because the Danish Red Cross, unlike its Swiss counterpart, insisted in visiting them and giving them regular food parcels. The Danish Lutheran Evangelical Church also took the kind of action that its sister churches in Europe failed to do, and at the outset took a firm stance against the persecution of Jewish Danes and ordinary church going Danes were expected to help their Jewish compatriots. Would an occupied Britain have behaved in the same way, given that our own Royal Family were known to be anti-Semitic in the 1920-30s?

    I have always admired the Danes for this particular action, despite their government surrendering so quickly in 1940 and there being widespread economic collaboration until 1943.
  13. Speaking of friction (or lack of), let's not forget Sweden's efforts to keep our factories supplied with ball bearings. Having said that, they supplied the Germans as well. Nevertheless, They did provide a useful springboard for the SOE

    I don't think we can be too hard on the Danes for throwing the towel in early. With all that flat land, no preparations and faced with Blitzkrieg, they would have had a lot of heroes in very large cemetries under German occupation.
  15. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    I don't think that figure for % of Brits mobilised in WW2 is right. Try total nos of males in Forces (?5m over the six years?) against total eligible (?50-18) adult male population. Churchill's WW2 history is very clear on how worried he was that the Army was running out of men and he had nowhere else to get them from.
  16. Its easy to criticise the behaviour of those in occupied countries when your own has not been invaded. Had Britain, or Australia or the US for that matter, been occupied there would have been a certain number of traitors and collaborators as in any other occupied country.

    As it was, there were a couple of Australians in the Britsh Free Corps, the SS unit mentioned earlier, and the behaviour of a few POWs raised some questions after the war.
  17. The French Forces up untill June 1940 did actively support the Uk in waging war against Germany.

    When France was invaded by the German Forces and the occupation of
    Holland and Belgium happened the french forces continued fighting untill the 22nd June when an armistice and the Vichy French state was formed .

    The French armed services were ordered to return to home bases and be non combattant in the ongoing war with the Uk .

    French vessels in UK ports were given ultimatums and the choice of fighting with the Uk against Germany -----the ultimatum was that we were going to seize French vessels anyway --crews could be repatriated to france if they so wished .
    On 3rd July the UK Med fleet shelled the French Fleet at their bases in North Africa.

    Free French were formed by De Gaulle in the Uk and they fought very valiantly during the ww2 period.

    In 1941 and 1942 Uk forces fought Vichy French Forces in Syria and N. Africa during the Allied Landings in November.

    8th November 1942 Vichy France was invaded by German forces the French Navy scuttled their ships in French ports and other vessels joined the Free French.

    Very political times for the French ---however the facts remain that French Forces did engage Allied troops in active war 1941 & 1942.

    Just like to say that top honours were given to Dutch, Norwegian ,Free French and Polish people who joined the UK to fight against the Germans .

    :nemo: :nemo:
  18. As someone who lived through the war, and experienced the whole of the German onslaught on London, I have no doubt in my mind, that, had the intended invasion of 1940 succeeded, there would have been no shortage of volunteers from the indigenous population to man concentration camps in Britain. Their granchildren are with us now!

  19. What would you have done if the Germans occupied Britain? Was ist das?

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