On May 10, 1940 during World War II, Germany invaded France. During that time, the country lost much of its usual daily activities to the point some people remarked that the country went dark. After the invasion, many French civilians Formed small groups to rebel against the German Army, one of the biggest of those groups being the Maquis. Throughout their operation the Maquis saved and changed thousands upon thousands of lives whether they were soldiers or citizens.
When France “went dark” which is how people described France at the time, the country seemed to lose all if its livelihood, the country became quiet with barely a sound and fights broke out against the Germans among many various streets. Many citizens reacted in countless ways. The German occupation had some huge egregious impacts on France. They literally refer to this time as when France, the country of Light went Dark, this was explicitly evident to the point where you could see it in the citizens throughout the country. An article by Jonathan Yardley quoted, “The cacophony of daily urban engagement — passersby, hawkers, street minstrels and performers, construction work, and especially traffic noise — was severely diminished.” For a country to grow devoid of all activity takes a lot, that being fear and fear alone. The Germ
an occupation was the main source of fear at the time, and fear is like a darkness, and reducing a country to pure ambient noise is like a shadow in itself. Expanding on how evidently lifeless the country became, the police made even worse for the country. An article even remarked the sirens must have been especially frightening. This was how the police force acted during the occupation, a part of them they tried hard to hide. The same article by Jonathan Yardley wrote, “There is no doubt, now that the archives are almost all freely open, that the French forces of order were active, not reluctant, collaborators with the Germans.” For police to turn on your country would be a nightmare. It would strip you of any remaining hope for your country. It would also cause a great fear, that their was no one in the force to protect you. And that is exactly what this quote portrait. The German occupation sparked the what was called the French resistance originally and it had grown immensely, but a decision made by the German army made it all the more immense. Scrapbookpages.com says, “In 1943, the Germans started conscripting Frenchmen as workers in German factories. Many refused to go and escaped into the forests where they joined the Maquis” The French resistance is what caused these fights among the streets. The cutting of telephone wires, intercepting German intelligence, they all rendered the Germans weaker. And that only increased with their decision. That is how the citizens reacted. They fled and fought. And that may have overall allowed for the defeat of the German Army. As you can see, France went to tough times. Many were harmed physically or mentally. Almost everyone was living in fear and many people were being forced to work for the Germans. All of this combines, some people decided to fight back.
As Germany recruited French citizens to work for them, many people resisted and decided to do everything they could to slow down Germany. One of the biggest of those groups was the Maquis who became expert guerrilla fighters in mountainous, densely vegetated areas, hence where their name came from. Maquis means dense scrub vegetation.When citizens resisted the Germans, the went to some great lengths to hurt them. They may have openly fought them, provided resistances with valuable information, and even sabotaged them. An article found at Srapbookpages.com remarked “Ordinary French citizens cut telephone lines so that communications were interrupted, resulting in German soldiers being killed because they had not received warning of bombing raids by the British Royal Air Force.” This was an example of one way the French would resist Germany. There were many more. Some fought undercover, some fought openly in large groups. All of this hurt Germany in the end. There were many reasons why people would join the Maquis. To escape the Germans for a while longer. To get revenge. There are many other reasons why. The same article found at Scrapbookpages.com wrote, “According to the terms of the Armistice signed on June 22, 1940, the 1.5 million captured French soldiers, who were prisoners of war, were to held in captivity until the end of the war…Many of them escaped and joined the Maquis, one of the most notorious resistance groups, which distinguished itself by committing atrocities against German soldiers.” This was an example of one possible motive to join resistance groups. To escape things like prison and to possibly get revenge. And so they began to fight. The groups all had their differences. How they operated. What their goals were. What drove them to resist. Even the Maquis were quite different. Yet another quote from Scrapbookpages.com mentions, “The Maquis was independent from the other resistance groups; they operated as guerrilla fighters in rural areas and especially in mountainous regions. The name Maquis comes from a word that means bushes that grow along country roads” Guerrilla fighters were people who used ambushes and secrecy instead of open combat. And the tactic was very successful. It allowed the Maquis to win many of their missions. This was how the Maquis and many other French resistances were started. All of them had huge impacts and all affected someone in one way or another.
During the Maquis’ operation, many lives were affected, many citizens and airmen were saved while many people died because they were part of the Maquis or because Germans suspected to be part of the resistance. The Maquis had both positive and negative effects when it came to others. Many people were saved. Many people died. And this happened on both sides. Scrapbookpages.com remarked, “The reprisals against the Maquis by German troops became more and more vicious. Innocent French civilians suffered, as for example in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane which was destroyed by Waffen-SS soldiers on June 10, 1944.” This city was mostly innocent. Yet hundreds died in battle or by man slaughter. And this just goes to show that innocence had nothing to do with your life’s safety in World War II. This following quote shows an act of sabotage done to the Germans, a German supply train headed through a tunnel. In Scrapbookpages.com, they use a quote that says, “The following is a quote from Rosencher’s book, which describes a typical Maquis resistance action which resulted in the death by suffocation of 500 German Wehrmacht soldiers (feldgraus):” Just because you were a German soldier did not mean you wouldn’t die. Many Germans died as well just adding to the many affected lives. This following quote shows how the Maquis themselves were affected. Whether they died or not during that war was up to the Germans. This article also wrote, “The French resistance was in direct violation of the Armistice signed by the French, which stipulated the following: The French Government will forbid French citizens to fight against Germany in the service of States with which the German Reich is still at war. French citizens who violate this provision are to be treated by German troops as insurgents.” This is where a Germans suspicions would be true. Many Maquis died whether on the battlefield, in an occupation camp or even in their own home.
Now you have a context behind what sparked the French resistance. How people reacted to the German invasion and how the French resistance impacted the lives of thousands. They saved airmen, citizens and soldiers. The courage it must have taken to resist the Germans and Hitler, and the courage to risk your life for that cause is more than many of us have. And that is why the Maquis became such an important part of World War II.