WW2: The French Resistance

History and Impact


The French Resistance was a group of French citizens who fought against the nazi’s to regain their freedom. This movement began after Nazi Germany conquered and occupied France. In addition to members of the communist and socialist parties that the gestapo were set out to hunt, the resistance became much, much more of a threat. Resistance soldiers fought against Nazi occupation for their freedom.
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The Occupation of France

Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain came into power in France in 1941 and started negotiations with the Germans immediately. An armistice was signed on June 22nd. This then immediately divided parts of France into occupied and unoccupied zones. This gave 60% of the country to the Nazis. Also there were many other terms of the agreement. The French Army was disbanded except 100,000 men to maintain domestic order. The already captured 1.5 million French soldiers remained imprisoned. All Jews living in France were surrendered. And finally, the government had to instruct French citizens to not fight Nazi troops and the government had to pay military maintenance costs.

Founding of the Resistance Movement

One of the first resistance groups in France were formed by members of the socialist party. They established the Comite d’Action Socialiste in Jan. 1941. Also the communist party established clandestine activities against the Germans. Later the Communist party created another group of resistant militants. Jean Moulin was sent to France by General Charles to unite the resistance effort. By the end of 1942, General Charles De Gaulle was the head of Comité Français de Libération Nationale.

Effectiveness in France

By 1944, there were 100,000 soldiers apart of the resistance. They gathered priceless information leading up to the D-Day invasion. "In May 1944 alone, they sent 3,000 written reports to the Allies and 700 wireless reports. Between April and May, the resistance destroyed 1,800 railway engines." - Historylearningsite.co.uk

Impact of Resistance...Did it work?

All the while the resistance was very helpful to the allied forces and the reclamation of France, the effectiveness of the resistance as a whole was not staggering. The French Resistance alone would not hold France against the Germans of course but with the help of the Allies, they overthrew the German occupation.