ABSTRACT

While the public rapidly became disenchanted with Vichy, this dissatisfaction did not automatically translate into resistance. Paxton provocatively suggested that maybe only 400,000 people, in other words one in ten of the population, actively took a part in defying the Germans (Paxton, 1972). New investigations, however, especially those conducted into gender and resistance by Paula Schwarz and Hanna Diamond, have suggested that the numbers might be much higher (Schwarz, 1989; Diamond, 1999). Women were often discounted in the apres-guerre because they had generally not fulfilled a military role. Whatever the case, the obstacles to joining the Resistance were formidable. In his interviews with resisters, Kedward discovered that the cult of Petain was a major hurdle (Kedward, 1984). Many people believed that, in signing the Armistice, the marshal had taken the only sensible position; to defy that decision was to defy realism. The divisions of France also created difficulties. Thanks to the vast German presence, it was hard for resisters to operate in the forbidden, military and Occupied zones. This is why, in the early stages of the war, resistance tended to be more conspicuous in Vichy France. Resisters also had to develop networks - no easy task. This explains the prominence of the Communists. Given their traditionally secretive behaviour, they already possessed a nationwide network of cells and underground links which they reactivated following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. A further problem was the need to articulate an alternative ideology to that peddled by Vichy. As Kedward, again, has shown, this search for a philosophy of disobedience accounts for why many resisters scrutinised French history for instruction and why resistance often emerged in areas such as the Cevennes with long traditions of protest (Kedward, 1978). It is telling that the titles of Resistance newspapers frequently recalled past struggles against repression: Valmy, Fere Duchene, L’Insurge.