The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis, by Matthew Cobb

Tulle_2207In June 1944 in the French industrial town of Tulle the Germans declared they were going to execute 120 people in a reprisal for a defeat by the resistance. They began hanging them from the balconies and lamp posts of their own town. Having murdered 99 innocent men aged between 17 and 42 they stopped, possibly because they simply ran out of rope.

This sort of chilling anecdote regularly illuminates this fine narrative history of the French Resistance. The book strives to outline the breadth and depth of the French resistance, in the process remembering key figures such as Moulin in their full human complexity and capturing the excitement, horror, heroism and tragedy of this aspect of the struggle against the Nazis.Jean Moulin

A central theme of the books is how the heroism of the Resistants was taken advantage of by De Gaulle, who derived the political benefits of the struggle while barely acknowleging the sacrifice of the resistants. Nevertheless, while always clear in his sympathies to the Resistants of both Left and Right, the author does not shirk from addressing some of the atrocities and excesses of those same people.

The climax of the book is, perhaps inevitably, the liberation of Paris, in many ways an aberration in the Second World War. Elsewhere, including parts of France, there was an almost total failure of the Allies to support the national insurrections against the Nazis, with terrible consequences from Prague to Warsaw.

Overall an excellent introduction to this period of history in all its bloodshed and confusion.

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One thought on “The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis, by Matthew Cobb

  1. Pingback: Is Paris Burning? by Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre | aidanjmcquade

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