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La Resistance

As an avid reader of biographies of members of La Resistance as well as other accounts of their activities during WW2, I would love to know if Rick Steve's could provide some information on ways to include visiting some of the places where the Resistance activities were centered.....I ask this realizing that these groups were (necessarily) far flung and scattered. Even so, to be able to follow some of the areas and spots where these magnificent heroes lived and "worked" would be really wonderful.
Perhaps there are historical markers that Rick would be aware of that he could share?
Thank you.

Posted by
32198 posts

country,

Rick rarely checks this website, but hopefully a member of his staff will be able to provide a few tips.

As you mention, the resistance activities took place in widely varying locations, so I doubt you're going to be able to find a single location to visit, except for this......

http://www.musee-resistance.com/spip.php?article247

Posted by
85 posts

I would highly recommend the Musee de l'Ordre de la Liberation, which is one of the museums in Les Invalides. It is a wonderful little museum I stumbled on by accident. It commemorates recipients of the Ordre de la Liberation in three sections: Free French Forces, the French Resistance, and the French who were imprisoned in concentration camps.

There are many artifacts like clandestine radios and such. I thought it was fascinating, and it is rarely mentioned in guide books. It is covered by the museum pass.

Posted by
2261 posts

country, it's a great question, hopefully someone here has some direction for you. It seems there must be a book out there dealing with locales that were key.

We did see the Resistance Museum in Lyon this past year, at the former Gestapo HQ there; it was incredibly moving and interesting. The English language audio guide was a bit cumbersome, but all in all a very worthwhile stop.

Posted by
6485 posts

Also the Jean Moulin Museum on the upper level of Gare Montparnasse in Paris. Excellent small museum though no labels in English.

And Paris Walks provides walking tours covering Resistance-related sites. Their walks, on whatever theme, are excellent.

Posted by
4684 posts

Many French cities have public exhibitions on the Occupation, Resistance and Holocaust. The usual title in French is Centre de la résistance et de la déportation, so search for this with your town or region. As said above, one of the best is in Lyon.

Posted by
16893 posts

If you're near Lyon, Rick's France book recommends the museum there. On the other side of the country, you might be interested in Oradour-sur-Glane. Rick's books may mention the topic in various chapters, but he doesn't have a comprehensive list, nor does the appendix point to others.

Posted by
150 posts

The southern French Alps have quite a few monuments and museums about the Resistance. For obvious reasons, it was a good place to train and prepare themselves away from the Germans due to the ruggedness of the terrain and sparse population, the Champsaur area in particular. My great-uncle was there, and a few years ago with some members of my family we went up to the hamlet in which he was based (off the top of my head I can't remember the name unfortunately, I have it written down somewhere). It was already abandoned when the Resistance was there, making it an ideal hideout. There are a few ruined houses and a little mountain stream, it's a nice place. In 1944 the Germans found out about it and sent some troops up (a two hour uphill walk, even to this day - there is no road leading up to it), but my great uncle and his companions got wind of it and went to another safe area taking their weapons and ammunition with them. They left a polite note nailed to the front door of one of the cottages telling the Germans that they had trudged up there for nothing and wishing them a pleasant trudge back, or words to that effect anyway.

Posted by
2261 posts

Great story, Ian! Thanks for posting.

Posted by
8 posts

To all of you who have so kindly responded to me, thanks so much!
Ian---would love to hear more about your uncle. Is he still alive?

Posted by
150 posts

Hi country.gardens,

sadly not, he died in 1945 aged 23, long before I was born. It is unfortunate because he was caught by the Gestapo because of a traitor* (who was executed at the end of the war). However in my family 70 years later we still remember my great-uncle - Jean-Bernard Rouxel - as a courageous man who stood by his principles. We know of his story through his companions who survived and one who wrote a book about the Resistance in the Alps, unfortunately I don't think an English translation exists but for those who understand French it's called "Maquisards et Gestapo" by Richard Duchamblo (a close friend of my great-uncle incidently, and of course a Resistant).

Anyway country.gardens I thank you for your interest in the French Resistance because it's a subject quite close to my heart for obvious family reasons.

*by traitor I don't mean just a collaborator, although they were traitors too - this was a person who actually pretended to be a Resistant but informed the Gestapo on the side. Apparently he was responsible for the arrests (and thereby deaths) of about a hundred Resistants according to what I have read.

Posted by
14497 posts

Hi,

If you're going to be in Southern France and tracking down sites pertaining to the Resistance, I suggest the museum/memorial in the Vercours area, pretty poignant.

Posted by
8 posts

Ian - Oh dear. That is just terrible; how utterly heartbreaking.

Your uncle was certainly a true hero.
Ian, would YOU consider doing an English translation of the book, "Maquisards et Gestapo" by Richard Duchamblo?
You clearly write and understand English perfectly; what a gem that would be. If you might be concerned about finding a publisher for a print edition, I bet Amazon.com would be pleased to have it in their Kindle library.
It would be a wonderful legacy to share your uncle's story.
Bless him. I am so sorry.
DFM

Posted by
150 posts

Thank you country.garden, I have sent you a PM.

Posted by
5502 posts

Have you seen the documentary "Last Best Hope: A True Story of Escape, Evasion and Remembrance"? I'd highly recommend it. It is a very moving story of some of the ordinary people who did extraordinary things as part of the "comet line". A WW2 Vet meets some of the people who took him in at great personal risk.

Posted by
8 posts

Yes, Laura, I have seen and actually owned the DVD, "Last Best Hope: A True Story of Escape, Evasion and Remembrance".
I believe I have already donated it to my grandchildren's school where I have also given most of my pretty extensive (if I do say so myself) library of Resistance biographies and books.
I am determined that some of that new generation learn as much as possible about WW2, the Resistance and the Holocaust.

Posted by
1976 posts

You've received lots of great replies; I'm not sure this will add anything but just wanted to throw it out there. There's an excellent book about the Nazi occupation of Paris called"When Paris Went Dark", and one of the chapters is about the French Resistance. You might take a look at the endnotes to see if the author mentions any Resistance meeting places or residences in Paris which are open to the public.

Posted by
8293 posts

Sometimes you happen upon evidence of the resistance. In a town in Normandy inland from the Landing Beaches, we climbed a hill to see the ruins of a fortress. There was a house almost hidden on the hillside with a plaque on its gate telling passers by that it had been a "safe house" during the war for downed allied pilots and had assisted hundreds of them to get back to England.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all, again, for these great responses.

Sarah - I have gone to Amazon and purchased the book, When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944.....both for my Kindle and in hardcover to donate.
I cannot thank all of you enough for your wonderful suggestions!

Posted by
2261 posts

There is also an audio book of When Paris Went Dark, it's in my queue at Audible. Great topic!

Posted by
891 posts

Not in France, but in Munich, there is a small museum at or close to the university dedicated to Sophie Scholl (The White Rose) and her student and professor friends that worked against the Germans. We had not heard their story before, but were very moved after going through this small museum. I believe The White Rose is in book form, also. Worth checking out.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you, Mimi.
I have actually read the story of Sophie Scholl in the book The White Rose. And I have a copy of the DVD of the movie.....with subtitles, of course.
I can't remember how I obtained the DVD but it is very well done.

Posted by
5 posts

In Brittany, which had a very strong Resistance involvement, there is a Musée de la Résistance in St. Marcel. Well worth the visit. Lots of bunkers all along the coast, too.

Posted by
2442 posts

I also vote for the museum in Lyon, which last summer had an exhibit about the Americans who participated in D-Day down in the basement, actually set up in the spaces where Klaus Barbie had conducted interrogations.
Marseilles has great material and locations, too.
Two book recommendations:
Transit by Anna Seghers, new edition2013 from New York Review of Books
Trieste by Dasa Drndic, available for Kindle but not sure the graphics show up correctly...