Vive la Résistance! well, not really... French Resistance 1940 - WW2 - War Against Humanity 007

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Immediately after France is occupied by the Nazis in 1940, the French are divided about what to do; resist for collaborate? To put it mildly, it’s complicated. Written and Hosted by: Spartacus Olsson Produced and Directed by: Spartacus Olsson and Astrid Deinhard Executive Producers: Bodo Rittenauer, Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson Creative Producer: Joram…


Watching WWII play out slowly in real time and in agonizing detail makes me understand American isolationism much better. I can easily imagine if I were alive back then with no knowledge of how these wars in Europe and Asia were going to play out I wouldn’t want to touch this hot mess or the literal dumpster fire in China with a 10 foot pole.


Exactly. It provides a context that is missing from history books. That’s what I love about this series.

Although maybe love isn’t the right word, as Indy said in today’s episode. So I’ll rephrase it. That’s what I find so interesting about this series.

Sadly, the war is about to get so much worse. And [spoiler] we still have longer to go than the entire length of the Great War.


As far as I know french resistance in 1940 consisted of a few things, that might have been important for the rest of the war:

  • The french army hiding war weapons for “future use” and sending modern planes to the colonies (some to britain).
  • The Vichy government that was trying to make VIP prisoner escape (Vichy government was ambiguous on a large number of subjet), and trying to make plan to keep its army in the free area
    The same way, the creation of the “Chantiers de jeunesse” which was a para-military organisation led by former military to replace the military service
  • French gold sent to the US, even after the armistice by Bank of France employees
  • Norway heavy water supplies secured and sent to Britain by Joliot-Curie, along with polish nuclear scientists and the latest works on nuclear fission
  • French weapon factories hiding/destroying modern prototypes/blueprints
  • Gustave Bertrand continued working on Enigma deciphering with a team of Polish and Spanish scientists in the free area, still sharing his findings with the british
  • Some high ranking state servant refusing to obey the germans, as Jean Moulin (future head of resistance) refusing to sign papers indicating that black soldiers had commited crimes instead of german soldiers.

French Resistance was made possible later in the war because in 1940 some military already were thinking about it.

The myth is indeed that ordinary people would just take arms and resist. But one branch of the armed resistance was organized and managed by former french military officers/soldiers, and it was made possible because of the army actions in 1940.

One of the other was managed by communists (but only startig in 1941), but they had order from the USSR to kill germans which De Gaulle forbid for fear of retaliations.

Others would include for instance former spanish republicans forming armed resistance groups in France.

The french resistance in 1941-1943 urged against people joining in mass, just to get ready when called, training secretly in the Chantiers de jeunesse for instance. Only in 1944 and after D-Day people were called to join, though starting from 1943 there were people hiding from force labour (STO) in german territory.

Lots of people would help the resistance fighter as providing food, information, shelter or just not denouncing people they knew had joined. They would not become official resistance fighters but made it possible by not reporting to the germans.