F.F.I.

French Forces of the Interior
A brief introduction to the French Resistance
(aka "It's not all 'Allo 'Allo")

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading List Kit Clothing
 

Bonjour, bienvenue. Maintenant nous sommes en France, a Normandie, proche de Caen.
Il est l'été de 1944.

Je m'apelle Madame Nicole Blanc, je vien de Caen, et je suis avec La Resistance, plus spécifiquement avec les Forces Francaises de l'Interieur.

Pourquoi? Je suis une Grandmere! Car ma famille - mon mari, mon oncle, ma soeur, et aussi mes amis, ont tous souffert à cause des Nazis. Je suis seul. Donc je rejoint La Resistance.

Mais aujourd'hui je n'est pas seul, je suis ici avec mes nouveaux amis, L?Anglais, et aussi avec les autre Resistants. Nous sommes relaxent, et mangent du pain, du fromage, des pommes, et nous buvent du vin et du Calvados. C'est super. Merveilleux.

 

Hello, and welcome. Currently we are in France, in Normandy near to Caen. It is the summer of 1944.

My impression is of a fictional middle aged lady, Madame Nicole Blanc, who comes from Caen, and I hope I do her justice. She is with the Resistance, specifically with the FFI.

Why? She is a grandmother! Because her family - her husband, her uncle, her sister, and her friends, suffered because of the Nazis. She is alone. Therefore she joined the Resistance.

But today she is not alone, she is here with her new British friends (the French always referred to the British as l'Anglais) and other Resistance fighters. They are relaxing, and eating bread, cheese and apples, and drinking wine and Calvados. It is very good. Marvellous.

 


Imagine the scenario - it is Spring 1940, you have a nice life in a beautiful country, and suddenly a hostile invader storms into your land and takes over. What do you do? How do you react?

Do you stay quiet and accept it, and hope they'll just go away, and trust that the government will 'do something'? Most people did.

Do you pander to the invader, hoping to get on their good side and hope that that maybe by some stroke of luck they don't kill you? Some people did that too.

Or do you fight back? Plenty of people did that, up to 500,000 French people, 2% of the population joined the Resistance. It is these people, the ones who fought back, these are the people we wish to honour with our display.

The people who became involved in the Resistance were many and varied, and most didn't have a military background. They were farmers, housewives, students, academics, artists, and butchers and bakers and candlestick makers - just regular ordinary people from all walks of life and all political leanings. Some fought back by producing pamphlets and leaflets to undermine the Nazis; some left a subtle V for Victory symbol in public places, in chalk or by using broken matchsticks; some cut telephone lines to disrupt the lines of communication; and some took up arms to fight. They used whatever weapons they could get their hands on, and they frequently used the STEN sub-machine gun, as it is a comparatively light weapon and can be easily concealed, and many STENs were parachute dropped by the RAF for the Resistance fighters, along with grenades and other supplies.

The Nazis systematically stripped occupied France of anything that could be used back in Germany - food, fuel, machinery, vehicles - if it was of use it was taken. This meant that the French people in occupied France suffered from malnutrition, and due to the lack of fuel many people took to travelling on bicycles or by using horses and carts. Additionally they were under constant threat of severe reprisals by the Nazis - imprisonment, torture, deportation to a concentration camp, or summary execution - for the slightest of things.

The Resistance members, and the rest of the French people in the occupied territories, endured some unspeakable horrors inflicted on them by the Nazi regime. But many members of the Resistance survived the war and became national French Heroes.

From October 1944 many of the FFI units were recruited into the regular French armed forces. It wasn't a smooth process but it was eventually successful, ensuring the French had an army of 1.3 million men by VE Day.

If Hitler and his troops had been able to walk into France without the Resistance giving him food for thought, then perhaps he would have believed he could do the same to good old Blighty. We owe the French Resistance a debt of gratitude.

Web links

link to the Resistance Memorial in Caen -
https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/60493/Resistance-Memorial-Caen.htm
wikipedia link -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_France

wikipedia link -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_for_Caen

wikipedia link -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Forces_of_the_Interior