A triumph of marketing

“By 1945, everyone was in the French Resistance…”

An interesting article about it.

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9 Responses to A triumph of marketing

  1. David Carlson says:

    Needs beret and tri-coleur brassard.

    L’Armée du crime/ The Army of Crime is a great French film about urban resistance. I’m not entirely sure, but I think the events portrayed were the early part of the resistance led by the PCF communist Francs Tireurs et Partisans mentioned in the irreverent but amusing article. The humiliation of June 1940 was borne by very, very many Indochinese and North Africans of course. The Vichy/Japanese famine in Vietnam was horrific, and the massacre of Sétif in Algeria augured the French phase of the Vietnam War and the Algerian FLN vs. France miasma of depravity and violence what with fanaticism, summary execution by throat slashing, torture and massacre.

  2. Paul Koning says:

    Interesting. As a former Dutchman, I tend to chuckle at French delusions of grandeur, and this article certainly helps to puncture some of those.
    On the Brits “running away” — well, perhaps so, but then again, it was the French army’s responsibility to defend France, not the British. What did the French do? Oh yes, surrender. And on the fleet: the fleet was serving the enemy (the Germans) so of course the Brits sank it, or rather tried to.
    France was only half occupied, as opposed to most other countries which were entirely occupied. Half of it was pseudo-independent, under the rule of a French traitor who for some strange reason was not executed afterwards. (That should give you some ideas about how seriously the French, overall, took their resistance thing.)
    It would be interesting to compare the French story of the Resistance, both the real and the fictional parts, with that in other countries. There was an active resistance in Holland, I know that much, but it certainly doesn’t have the French marketing. I really have no idea how, in proportion to population, it compared with its French analog. The same question could be asked of other countries, like Poland.
    Poland is interesting: the place where the battle of the Warsaw ghetto was fought, of course. And the place where the German “Enigma” cipher was broken — work that was exported to England and mechanized there at Bletchley, but in spite of British marketing they are not the ones who did the original hard work of breaking that system.

    • David Carlson says:

      Marshal Philippe Pétain was the hero of Verdun: “Ils ne-paserons pas!”
      He returned to France in 1945 and was tried, condemned in spite of three judges recommending acquittal, sentenced to death for treason, but Charles de Gaule commuted it to life imprisonment. He was sent to a rock in the Atlantic Ocean, L’Ile d’Yeu, where he was basically a ward of a nursing home until his 1951 death aged 95. He’s still buried there, because his remains must not sully the French Republic, although right-wingers stole his corpse in 1973 with the intent of interring him at Les Invalides and/or at Douamont in Verdun, where a tomb had previously been prepared.

      As for Pierre Leval, the Prime Minister, he was tried although he was not present at most of the proceedings, convicted, sentenced to death, but tried to pull a “Hermann Göring” and cheat the hangman by taking poison. He was dragged half-dead out of his cell, had his feet slashed to revive circulation or some such rationale, and had his stomach pumped repeatedly. Eventually he was carried on a stretcher, tied to a post while still in very ill-health, managed to get out “Vive la France!” and was shot by the firing squad detail.

      The head of the collaborator Milice paramilitary, French fascist Joseph Darnand had been awarded something like 7 medals or citations for bravery in WWI. He bridled at his trial and proclaimed that he could be tried and condemned, but he refused to be “insulted” because “everything he did” was for France. He was convicted, tied to the post, and uttered “Vive la France!” before he too was shot.

      I’m no expert, certainly, but my understanding is that of Western European nations, the Norwegians executed the most collaborators-per-capita after the war. Certainly Vidkun Quisling. Germany maintained a huge garrison of something like 400k troops in Norway throughout the war. Very, very many children sired by German fathers were born to Norwegian women.

      How did the Dutch deal with their collaborators? Certainly the “hunger winter” was very ghastly and fully 20k Dutch citizens starved to death. I was once at KZ Neuengamme south of Hamburg and saw where very many Dutch civilians had been murdered. Most North Americans are familiar with the German Jewess Anne Frank killed at Bergen Belsen, and Corrie TenBoom of the “hiding place” fame. Postwar, the Netherlands in a similar-to-the-French quixotic move tried to restore colonial rule over the East Indies/Indonesia, no? Of course, the U.S. footed the bill for France’s efforts to reimpose colonial rule in Vietnam because policy makers wanted to keep France in NATO in spite of de Gaule’s, erm, uh, “prickliness.” France was a major power, even if they’d gone under with unseemly swiftness in 1940…

      Fast forward twenty years or so, and the Dutch sold AR10 rifles to the Portuguese airforce paratroops for use in suppressing anti-colonial movements in her African colonies, but later blocked further sales to a fellow NATO member due to opposition to the policy. Portugal turned toward West Germany instead, and cooly informed the U.S.A. that if anyone strenuously objected to using NATO equipment intended for the defense of Europe in Africa instead, they’d close the all-important strategic Atlantic bases in the Azores Islands.

    • roberto says:


      The Brits were allied of the French and yes they only lasted 2 weeks of combat in the continent and reembarked to Britain, leaving the French alone to fight. Yes because there was nearly 3 weeks of fights after that between what lasted of the French army and the germans, thats was also the period with more casualities on both sides. On early june the Italians, under Mussolini attacked on the alps front, with no success as fhe French army of the Alps hold on. Then come the armistice, when 3/4 of France was occuped, the army in shambles and the country was officially without any allies. So no, they do not imediately ”surrendered”. The french lost 100000 soldiers , the germans 30000. The Netherlands surrendered after just 6 days of fight and nobody calls them cowards…

      False. The fleet was in Mers-el-Kebir…in french Algeria, miles away of any german. They certainly wasn’t serving the germans, that’s complete bollocks. The brits attacked because the french refused to comply an ultimatum to send those ships to brits ports. The operation was not a success and even then the french doesn’t send their ships to help the germans.
      In 1942, november, the so called ”free zone” in southern France was invaded, a entire SS Korps was send to take Toulon, the base of the French Fleet for the Mediterranean Sea. The french scuttled the entire fleet before the german can put theirs hands on it…you clearly have no idea of what your are talking about.

      The part about Pétain was already well put by another person.

      As for the french resistance it was very similar to those of other western countries, minus the facts that France was a huge country and that some partisans (maquisards) used the less habited parts to form combat groups against the germans in 1944. The only western european country to do that was Italy.

      We are in the age of internet, you should at least look at wikipedia before posting such things about historical events.

      • SPQR says:

        The Brits were allied of the French and yes they only lasted 2 weeks of combat in the continent and reembarked to Britain, leaving the French alone to fight.

        You need to read more history than Wikipedia to avoid writing such falsehoods. After the Dunkirk, the British continued to support and even reinforce British troops in France. Efforts to create a second BEF ended with the French surrender. There were several divisions and nearly 150,000 British troops still in France when the French government fell and Petain announced his intention to seek armistance with Germany. Only four days earlier, the British 51st Highlanders fighting alongside French units surrendered at the command of the French Army to German forces.

  3. Lyle says:

    Interesting article. Thanks for posting it.

  4. roberto says:

    I don’t only use wikipedia…but maybe you should.

    In june the french only have 40 divs, the brits sended, piece by piece 4 divs or most of the elements as the armored div. was absolutly of no utility against a german equivalent, for exemple. And the poor 1st Canadian div. which only spent some days in France, never on the frontline, another example.

    A huge part of those 150000 men were part of the British Army support and logistic units, not combat troops, and they were considered important for the future war effort, so they have to be saved.

    Those divs stayed around ports to made a gesture, but mostly to protect those ports because the real purpose was the second evacuation of the remnants, operation Ariel (Operation Dynamo was in Dunkirk) and maybe to form a last stronghold in some sea easy access place like Brittany. The Highland div, for exemple was captured in a town of the Normandy coast.
    Now tell me how many british units fought alongside the french in the main line of front, nicknamed the ”Weygand Line” ? I tell you: zero.

    The ”second BEF” was a gesture to make the french fight more and give Britain more time, Churchill never commited any fighter squadron to France after Dunkirk, because he knew that the only serious danger to Britain to be routed came from the Luftwaffe, so again it was not at all another BEF commited to fight the germans in the continent, but to give time to french for more efforts and more important, to give time to Britain. And History proved he was right to wait in britain, an island, because the channel and the RAF would defeat any german attack. No Belgium here to go to avoid a Maginot Line.

    End of the rant.

  5. NurseDaddy says:

    I think that a much more accurate description would be thus:
    “By 1946, everyone was in the French Resistance…”

    The point being that after the game is over even the fans who sat on the sidelines will loudly proclaim -their- victory.

    Once the Wermacht departed it seems like every Military Aged Male (and others) claimed to have been secretly helping the Resistance.

    It’s really not unlike German troops who today when queried will admit they were in the war on the Axis side but “..I was on the Eastern Front.”

    Success/victory has a thousand fathers, but failure/defeat has none.

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