French Resistance file photo [302]

The French Resistance

22 Jun 1940 - 28 Aug 1944


ww2dbaseWhen France surrendered to Germany on 22 Jun 1940, those who resented Germany occupation and the Vichy government formed cells that collectively were named the French Resistance. Some groups were violent in nature, aiming to hurt or kill the German occupiers; these were called maquis. Other groups used non-violent means, publishing underground newspapers and broadcasted anti-German and anti-Vichy radio programs. Many of these groups were born after the 18 Jun 1940 address by Charles de Gaulle who encouraged the French people to continue the fight against the German forces even if the nation surrendered. To take advantage of these groups, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) began infiltrating into France beginning in May 1941 to aid the resistance groups. Because de Gaulle often disagreed with his British allies, he formed his own agency to independently aid French resistance efforts without coordinating with British efforts. In the beginning, the resistance groups were scattered and lacked cooperation. On 22 Jun 1941, all communist groups in France merged into a larger group, showing the rest of the resistance groups the effectiveness of more coordinated resistance actions. On 11 Nov 1942, German forces marched to Vichy-held southern France, and the resistance sentiment spread into that region as well, especially after the Vichy government adopted some German-influenced anti-Semitic policies.

ww2dbaseThe initial German response was that of annoyance, and it soon turned into great frustration. "During the summer of 1941 the civilian population's resistance to our occupation forces intensified perceptibly in every theater of war, with sabotage incidents and attacks on Germany security troops and installations", German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel recalled the reports that came to his desk during the war. "[A]cts of sabotage became horrifying frequent in France and even in Belgium." The counter the resistance movement, German forces employed a policy to rule by iron fist, including later retribution operations against innocent civilians. The SS also tortured many suspected resistance group members, with them ending up either dead or in a concentration camp. Rarely, entire villages would be razed as deterrence to future acts of sabotage; such was the fate of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane. Adolf Hitler insisted that such draconian measures were necessary to deter the would-be "terrorists", otherwise the situation in France would become out of control. Despite the risks, many fighters continued to wield British-supplied weapons to fight.

ww2dbaseIn 1943, when the prospect of a cross-Channel invasion on France became closer to reality, the United States also began aiding the French Resistance. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) began sending its own agents into France in cooperation with the SOE to rally French support against German occupation.

ww2dbaseOn 27 May 1943, after months of work, Jean Moulin persuaded several resistance groups to merge into the Conseil National de la Resistance (CNR), with Moulin becoming the first chairman of the alliance. On 21 Jun, however, Moulin was captured by the German Gestapo and was tortured to death. Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle became joint presidents of the CNR after the death of Moulin, but by Oct that year, the politically-minded de Gaulle maneuvered Giraud out of the position of power and became the sole leader of CNR. Although de Gaulle was difficult to work with for the Allied commanders, with him in London, it was possible for the Allied command to pass orders for the resistance fighters to attack key communications and transportation targets to aid the planned Operation Overlord. 93 small teams of three agents (one American, one British, and one French) were then sent into France to closely coordinate actions immediately before the invasion. The resistance fighters continued to aid Allied invasion efforts after the forces had made footing on continental Europe, in northern France aiding the troops marching toward Paris, and in southern France during Operation Dragoon. Groups in Paris, supported by the Paris policemen, began their fiercest resistance on 19 Aug 1944, attacking German forces with rifles and grenades while rounding up collaborators for execution. The fighting climaxed on 22 Aug. 1,500 resistance fighters and civilians lost their lives before Paris was liberated on 25 Aug. Three days later, de Gaulle called for the disbanding of all resistance groups and encouraged them to join the new French Army under his direct control.

ww2dbaseSources: In the Service of the Reich, Wikipedia.

Last Major Update: May 2006

The French Resistance Interactive Map


French resistance fighters in the Huelgoat, France, circa 1940sA French resistant fighter shortly after being arrested by the occupation administration in France, date unknownCaptured resistance fighters, France, date unknownAllied Operation Jedburgh personnel receiving instructions from a briefing officer, London, England, United Kingdom, circa 1944; note M1 Carbine on table
See all 27 photographs of The French Resistance

The French Resistance Timeline

21 Aug 1941 A German naval cadet became the first victim of French Resistance, shot in a Metro station in Paris, France. Over 150 Parisians were shot in reprisal.
24 Aug 1941 Vichy France passed anti-terrorist laws, punishable with death sentences, to deal with the resistance movement.
15 Sep 1941 German soldiers were attacked by resistance fighters in Paris, France.
1 Jan 1942 Jean Moulin, the former mayor of Chartes, parachuted into France in an effort to coordinate and unify resistance groups.
15 Apr 1942 German headquarters at Arras, France was attacked by members of the French Resistance.
31 Jan 1943 The Milice was created in Vichy France under Joseph Darnand to counter the Resistance. This organization became another force of the German occupation, reaching a strength of over 20,000 by the Allied invasion in 1944.
27 May 1943 The first unified meeting of French resistance groups took place, chaired by Jean Moulin; it recognized de Gaulle as the leader of the movement. Moulin would be betrayed to the Gestapo a month later, dying en route to a concentration camp.
29 May 1943 Berthe Albrecht was captured by German agents in Mâcon, France.
31 May 1943 Berthe Albrecht was executed by hanging at the Fresnes Prison in Fresnes, France.
3 Jun 1943 French Resistance saboteurs destroyed 300 tons of tires in the Michelin factory at Clermont-Ferrant.
19 Dec 1943 French RĂ©sistants engaged in heavy fighting with Germans in Bernex, France.
19 Jan 1944 Resistance fighters blew up the Usines Ratier airscrew works, in southwetern France, wrecking it so thoroughly that it never resumed production in wartime. The charges with 30-minute fuses, laid while German guards patrolled the yards outside, detonated with such force that one 30-ton press was sent 25ft into the air.
5 Mar 1944 Chuck Yeager was shot down over France on his eighth mission, and was saved by members of the French resistance.
30 Mar 1944 Chuck Yeager and another injured Allied airman fled from France into Spain.
1 May 1944 British Squadron Leader Maurice Southgate, whose task it was to coordinate the various Marquis groups between the Loire River and the Pyrenees mountains, was arrested by the Gestapo in Paris, France.
10 May 1944 The French Resistance claimed a membership of over 100,000 and requested more military aid from the Allies.
28 Jun 1944 French resistance fighters killed Minister of Information and local Milice leader Phillipe Henriot. Milice leader in Lyon, Paul Touvier, was ordered to conduct reprisal killings.
30 Jun 1944 Milice leader in French city of Lyon, Paul Touvier, selected 7 Jewish prisoners to be executed by firing squad as reprisal for the killing of Minister of Information and local Milice leader Phillipe Henriot two days earlier by the French resistance.
19 Jul 1944 From Britain, US 8th Air Force dispatched 5 B-17 bombers to drop propaganda leaflets in France and Belgium while 5 B-24 bombers paradropped supplies to French resistance fighters.
20 Jul 1944 6 US B-17 bombers were launched after sundown to drop propaganda leaflets over France while 12 B-24 bombers dropped supplies to resistance fighters.
16 Aug 1944 French resistance fighters captured three German posts along the Swiss border.
20 Aug 1944 French resistance fighters liberated Toulouse, France.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Paulette says:
19 Mar 2010 10:28:15 AM

My sister was in the resistance in Marseilles . I do not know how to get any information about her , or who she was working with. Is there anyway to find any more information?
2. Anonymous says:
19 Apr 2010 12:40:52 PM

contact the french authorities as there is still an assosciation of veterans that fought in the resistance by region.hope this helps.
3. Bob the builder says:
27 Oct 2010 05:57:30 PM

good info
4. dora says says:
9 Nov 2010 09:11:15 AM

hello this doesnt really help at all
5. Anonymous says:
31 Jan 2011 06:42:30 AM

this is some rubbish info.
6. Anonymous says:
24 Feb 2011 09:18:00 AM

i thought this was helpful
7. Eternal says:
22 Mar 2011 09:24:10 AM

I just need to do it for history class
8. sam-i-am says:
24 May 2011 10:46:23 AM

This is Helpful!!!
9. David James says:
4 Sep 2011 05:46:19 AM

Any information is help full. Thank you.
10. Anonymous says:
8 Jul 2012 02:03:16 PM

the "maquis" weren't called this way because they were violent but because of the place resistants hid to escape nazis :
11. Anonymous says:
6 Nov 2012 11:41:49 AM

thx for the info
12. Anonymous says:
16 Nov 2012 10:18:03 AM

13. Ron says:
6 Feb 2013 01:58:15 PM

Can you help?
Can anyone advise on some official prices of foodstuffs during the German occupation. For some research I am doing I need to know the cost of a small loaf of bread. [not that there was any large loaves] I know there were three price levels, but only one was official. I would appreciate any help as people who were in the know are becoming fewer each year.
14. Paris says:
22 Apr 2013 05:27:18 PM

The timeline was very helpful! Thank you!!! :)
15. Anonymous says:
8 Jul 2013 12:24:49 PM

Question, about escape lines.
Due to the need of raw scrap metal, in the occupied Zone,
Did allied invaders get transported from disused mine workers, with consignments of scrap mine salvage.
As a means to cross check points, as a third man in the lorry, would be easy to bluff the guards.
3 go out, 3 come back.
Regular as clockwork. If theres a metal shortage for the russian front by 1943.
Disused mine workings also have many labourers who come and go, so hard to keep security tabs on allied invaders posing as casual workers.
16. lorraine says:
26 Nov 2013 04:32:31 AM

17. Wally says:
22 Apr 2014 01:34:45 PM

I would like to get information on my uncle, Laurent Giaume who was nicknamed "Nano." He was a leader of the Maquis in Nice, France and there is a street named for him and his heroism. He passed away last year.
18. Dr Fred Fisher says:
26 Jun 2014 06:37:31 AM

My gardener Donald Cadge was shot down and hidden by the maquis for 5 months in 1944----in the forest at LYONS.
A young man in the maquis --Robert Bolle--arranged for a dinner at his fathers house, His father owned a comb factory in the city.
He would like very much to contact any descendents to thank them.
19. Samuel says:
1 Nov 2014 02:39:55 PM

Who knows the answer to this question? Phillips 66 made a sabotage oil that was air dropped behind enemy lines by the allies. The French Resistance would pour this oil into the motor, NOT the gas tank, and 30 minutes later the motor would quick working. What did the French Resistance call this "sabotage oil"?
20. Anonymous says:
16 Nov 2014 04:13:50 PM

My grandfather worked on the railroad and was in the underground French Resistance and was executed during WW2..I have some pictures of showing them having meetings underground. I would like to know who do I contact to get more info
21. Anonymous says:
16 Nov 2014 06:27:08 PM

Lorraine their is a plaque of 17 people that were with the French Resistance in the Orleans train station my mom told me cause my grandfather is also listed on that plaque..
22. Swiper The Fox says:
8 Dec 2014 10:31:48 AM

This Was Very Help Full Thanks :]!!!!
23. Dave W says:
31 Dec 2014 10:23:33 AM

At Barfleur on the tip of the Cherbourg *** ular at the end of the quay there is a plaque to the 'Resistant', I don't have a photo of it but I'm sure plenty of people will have.
24. Anonymous says:
12 Jan 2015 09:38:38 AM

some one make me a thesis statement for a 8 page essay for the french resistance
25. Anonymous says:
15 Jan 2015 08:53:26 AM

This sucks
26. Anonymous says:
8 Feb 2015 03:11:15 PM

Would like to find out about the massacre of french resistance fighters in the forests of Fontainebleau. My grandfather saw the trucks driving through the forest with the resistance fighters that had been taken out of the city jail to be shot.
27. Anonymous says:
9 Apr 2015 11:05:11 AM

i dont get any of this but it was helpful
28. Matt M says:
20 Apr 2015 02:04:41 AM

I've done some archival research on the military effectiveness of the French Resistance. If anyone is interested in digging deeper, there are some good sources listed in the end matter of this paper:
29. Anonymous says:
29 Apr 2015 09:16:59 AM

My mother told often me that my German dad was in the French resistance during the war , he married my mum in 1943 and ended the war in the pioneer corp in the British army and died in 1947 at the age of 27 he has a military stone at his grave, can anybody help me to find any information about him as the m o d can not give me any info until 70 years after his death in 3 years
30. My name says:
3 May 2015 08:02:21 AM

i need some better pics, im doing a project
31. Anonymous says:
3 Jul 2015 12:50:24 PM

Interesting how it misses out all the innocents they murdered without trial after the war, history really is written by the victors.
32. Victor says:
3 Jul 2015 01:58:33 PM

Totally agreed, to quote Napoleon "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon."
33. Anonymous says:
1 Sep 2015 03:14:54 PM

Is there more info on another website about this? My grandpa was in the French resistance
34. PCol says:
11 Dec 2015 08:17:26 AM

Any serious questions could be answered by France Libre, they coordinated and verified lists of resistance groups after ww2, may be able to answer questions, WWW francelibre....
35. Anonymous says:
17 Dec 2015 05:08:24 PM

Any chance of finding a date when this article was published?
36. pczach says:
2 Feb 2016 11:47:25 AM

I have a small 22 cal covert gun, identified as "stinger". It appears to be of US manufacture and WW II vintage. It's an aluminum cylinder you can hide in the palm of your hand. The gun, six rounds, an extra barrel, and English/French instructions were hidden in a tube of grease. If anyone can provide some info or history on this weapon, I'd appreciate it.
37. Stupidness500 says:
7 Feb 2016 04:43:54 AM

This really helped, dudes!
38. Anonymous says:
19 Feb 2016 07:19:08 AM

the frenhc resestanse killed thousands without rtial
39. Eric Lautzenhiser says:
27 Feb 2016 03:01:25 PM

My grandparents were both active in the French Resistance. How much info is available on members that survived (both survived) and were later hailed as heroes?
40. Anonymous says:
13 Mar 2016 04:08:49 AM

Paulette are you looking for Jeanine?
41. Anonymous says:
28 Mar 2016 05:02:39 AM

thnks soooooooooo much
42. Michael Cotting says:
9 May 2016 03:18:10 PM

My father is now deceased, but was in the Resistance. I have many pictures, dairy, certificates, etc. and wish there was somewhere would they could be appreciated.

His name was Noel Cotting. I am Michael Cotting.
43. Anonymous says:
5 Jun 2016 01:06:11 PM

44. karen says:
2 Jul 2016 10:49:03 AM

My uncle was saved by the Resistance in February of 1944 when his bomber was shot down. I'm trying to gather as much info as possible and publish a book about his experience. Is there any way I would be able to find out who might have helped him?
45. James Pope says:
16 Oct 2016 09:36:02 AM

My father-in-law (whom passed away Oct 13 2016) join the French Resistance to escape forced work for the Germans either in ammunitions plants or building the Atlantic wall. Most of his classmates were then tortured and killed by the Gestapo or disappeared in the concentration camps. He was proud of his service.
46. Anonymous says:
14 Dec 2016 09:05:05 AM

this was very helpful
47. Anonymous says:
5 Feb 2017 05:31:15 PM

I am doing a history project on the french resistance. I found this article fascinating and helping.
48. Anonymous says:
18 Feb 2017 02:47:52 PM

49. Anonymous says:
24 Feb 2017 09:58:38 AM

My grandmother and her family originated from Europe and were slavics. I think they came to America when my grandma was a little girl. If the French didn't contribute to resisting, I probably wouldn't be here.
50. Anonymous says:
1 Mar 2017 09:43:23 AM

I am doing an English paper on The French Resistance
51. Joe Thomas Grundman says:
8 Apr 2017 07:36:14 AM

I am looking for two resistance members, Mr and Ms Maillard of Dolleren, They helped my uncle, a US pilot shot down. I can't find Mr Maillard's grave in Dolleren. Can anyone help?
52. Marge Lehan says:
18 Apr 2017 03:12:41 PM

Looking for info about Eva Kohlt. She escaped from a camp - don't know which one - went into the Resistance around 1943. She became a Lt. Any help...
53. Alan Tyler says:
30 Apr 2017 03:53:23 PM

My Mother told me when I was young, that she had some Uncles in France, who fought with the resistance during WW2, her Fathers last name is Wiedling, so am looking for any resistance members with that last name, and I am not remembering my Grandmothers maiden name, but it may have been on her side, any help would be appreciated...
54. Alan Tyler says:
30 Apr 2017 03:58:18 PM

To add to my previous message, My Grand fathers name was Eugene Wiedling, and lived in Alsace Lorraine region, and my Grandmothers maiden name was Josephine Vergon, am looking for any Resistance members with either last name, or possible family ties thank you...
55. Jay D says:
23 Jun 2017 07:49:02 AM

Leon Rudolf. Believed escaped from Drancy and fought with the french resistance. Parents Leon and Berta Rudolf died in the camps
56. Anonymous says:
27 Sep 2017 10:18:23 PM

French résistance has played only a very limited role on the conflict and did not played any single influence on the outcome of the conflict only delaying the inevitable result of the conflict. Retain was a true patriot while de Gaulle war desertor and a coward. The Vichy government was the only lawful one and run by only socialists and communists.
57. Anonymous says:
19 Jan 2018 02:53:06 PM

56 should shut up and stop saying disgusting lies
58. Anonymous says:
22 Jan 2018 03:53:49 PM

31 and 38 I have a question: what about the millions killed by the nazis? Really. Your comments make you sound like you supported them.
59. Anonymous says:
22 Jan 2018 03:55:25 PM

I agree with 57 and 58
60. Anonymous says:
25 Jan 2018 07:47:38 PM

Question what did the French call the oil used in German tanks and trucks that when heated the engines blew
61. Hayde L Gonzales says:
2 Feb 2018 09:00:56 PM

The french resistance set back the nazi war movement by blowing up train rails thus stopping transportation of equipment and also running recon missions and assassinated some high ranking officials. Viva la resistance.
62. Anonymous says:
4 Apr 2018 09:04:55 AM

63. Robert Dodson says:
10 Apr 2018 08:59:16 PM

My father was awarded the Crois de Guerre for this work with the resistance in 1944. His work with a unit in the northern region, based in Alencon, included setting fire to a German run factory that employed many people in the Alencon area. I am seeking more information about this. Please let me know if you can help. Thank you.
64. Anonymous says:
17 Sep 2018 10:53:15 AM

I'm doing this for a report so thanks.
65. George says:
14 Oct 2018 11:47:57 PM

My relative Giselle Jenkins was shot by the Germans in the back whilst escaping near Nice. I want to know if she was in the resistance or not as it would seem likely
66. Bruce Ehrlicher says:
23 Dec 2018 06:15:25 PM

looking for information on Brigadier Kenneth Noel OBE
67. Anonymous says:
15 Jan 2019 08:46:15 AM

When was this article published?
68. Replying to the person above me says:
3 Feb 2019 07:52:31 PM

It says that the last major update was May 2006. Hope that helped.
69. Replying to the reply says:
4 Apr 2019 04:40:24 AM

70. Anonymous says:
3 Jul 2019 04:41:38 PM

Seek info. on Maurice Meilland, who was a student of my mother, an SOE instructor in WWII.
71. Anonymous says:
29 Aug 2019 11:12:39 PM

Robert Evode Delamarre
72. yeet says:
24 Oct 2019 08:53:09 PM

this site is useless
73. Laurent Robène says:
20 Jan 2020 12:53:22 AM

75 years later: Pechbonnieu, resistant village revealed
1940: Pechbonnieu is a village of 400 souls about twenty kilometres north of Toulouse. It is in a family in this village that, until the end of the war without discontinuation, Jews (children and adults), refractories to the STO (Service du Travail Obligatoire), resistance fighters, English paratroopers and even deserters from the Nazi army will find refuge for one night or several months. In this house, leaflets were written and printed, transfers to Spain were prepared, people who were sick or injured were treated, courier operations were carried out, real-fake documents were obtained, Edgar Morin and Clara Malraux organized the MRPGD (Movement of Resistance of Prisoners of War and Deportees) in the Toulouse region. This family, the Robène, composed of the father, Lucien, the mother, Blanche, and their two daughters, Lucette and Marguerite, will disperse at the end of the war: the parents divorce and each one leaves on his side, Blanche with her daughters. Neither Blanche nor Lucien ever reported their activity as resistance fighters, and the villagers remained silent on this issue, so that these episodes could have fallen into oblivion. In the 1980s, Edgar Morin and Clara Malraux mentioned several times their visits to Pechbonnieu in the Robène house. It was on the basis of these testimonies that the descendants of the spouses Robène set out to collect testimonies and to dive into various archives to have Blanche and Lucien recognized as “Just among the Nations”. This was done by Yad Vashem in May 2018, and the numerous documentary material assembled during this research fed the writing of the book, prefaced by Edgar Morin, «La chambre de derrière, Laurent Robène, November 2018, L'Harmattan». In this book, the author describes in detail the activities of a village community under the Vichy regime first, then under occupation from November 1942, and it is in this setting of daily life that acts of resistance are carried out hitherto unknown. The reader will discover in watermark throughout the pages the two theses that advance and support the author. First of all, although the Robène couple itself is not affiliated with any group, network or resistance movement (in a way, they acted as freelancers), several of these groups, networks or movements knew the Pechbonnieu refuge and used it. The author established that at least four different organizations frequented the Robène house and it is not forbidden to think that there were others, without leaving any traces. On the other hand, despite the secrecy necessary to carry out such activities within a village, it turns out that the whole village was aware of what was going on in this house and that no one has ever said anything, no denunciation. On the contrary, the author noted several manifestations of an active and conscious complicity. A history of which this village, Pechbonnieu, may be proud.
74. Blank Name!!!!! says:
12 Mar 2020 11:14:00 AM

This site I trash but helpful
75. Steve says:
21 Apr 2020 11:30:55 AM

How do I find out about someone french who was in resistance would there be a record?
76. John Taylor says:
21 Aug 2021 03:54:23 PM

Felix LaChavre operated a hotel on Rue Malar that hid allied pilots and others. Is there more information on this? His wife, Alice, was an artist. She was a cousin of my family in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
77. Nicole Schiellein Perrin says:
26 Sep 2021 12:51:15 PM

My father, Robert Schiellein, who was from Alsace, fought in Bordeaux in the Resistance. I remember him the word FFI. My parents had been sent to Dordogne, near Sarlat at the beginning of the war where I was born. My father never liked to talk about these years. But now, my daughter and grand-children are asking questions about him and what he did during this period. Is there a site that would have any informations ? I reside in the USA since more than 40 years. Thank you very much for your help. Cordialement. Nicole
78. Adam Bierman says:
6 Jan 2022 10:58:12 AM

Video link
Pulling the Trigger :Killing the German Female spy, during WW2 continued
This is an interview I did with Michele Mockers Who is now 99 years old
79. Eric Sefton says:
18 Jan 2024 08:35:34 AM

My grandmother Janine Lewendoski and my great grandfather Roman Lewendoski

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More on The French Resistance
» Albrecht, Berthe
» Bloch, Denise
» Segouin, Simone
» Virot, AndrĂ©e

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» A Train in Winter
» Cost of Courage
» Perilous Moon: Occupied France, 1944-The End Game
» Resistance: A Frenchwoman's Journal of the War
» Special Ops 1939-1945
» Spirit of Resistance

The French Resistance Photo Gallery
French resistance fighters in the Huelgoat, France, circa 1940s
See all 27 photographs of The French Resistance

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