Fighters in the shadows : a new history of the French Resistance / Robert Gildea.
Publication year: 2015
Publisher: London : Faber & Faber, 2015.
ISBN: 9780571280346 (hbk.) :
The story of the French Resistance is central to French identity, but it is a story built on myths. 'La Resistance française' was not simply a national effort to free the country from German occupation, but a wider struggle, filled with conflicts and division. It included Spanish republicans, Italian and even German anti-Nazis. The defence against the Holocaust brought in Jewish resisters and Christian rescuers. It involved a civil war for the French Empire in Africa and the Near East. The movement itself was split between those on the far right and the far left, fighting for very different visions of the world. Robert Gildea returns to the testimonies of the resisters themselves, asking who they were, what they believed in and what compelled them to take the terrible risks they did.
xiv, 593 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (black and white), maps (black and white) ; 24 cm
A fascinating read. Gildea brings out the conflicts and contradictions within the Resistance. Firstly there is the Communist inspired resistance –v- the right wing resistance. Then there is the role of the foreign element – Jews from E Europe and Germany who fled to France in the 30s and Spanish Republicans who fled Franco during the Spanish Civil War. All fight for different motives: the Communists and the Spanish for political anti-Fascist reasons, the right wing to redeem the shame of France for the events of 1940, the Jews for survival. In addition to all this there is the relationship with the Free French forces of de Gaulle and the French African Army. Gildea sees evidence that de Gaulle’s principal concern was to bolster his own position with the UK and US governments (Roosevelt detested de Gaulle) and establish his desired legitimacy as the leader of the French nation. To this end de Gaulle manipulated the Resistance. Gildea’s last chapter analyses the myths woven aroun
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