Military History

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The truth about the French Resistance is that it was sponsored by the Vichy state … at the highest level, which means Field-Marshal Philippe Pétain. I can name dozens of Resistance movement that got subsidies from Vichy or even directly from Pétain (the ORA, Combat, the Alsacian resistance, etc.) but the greatest act of Resistance from Vichy came when Pétain sent General Weygand to North Africa to reorganise the “Armée d’Afrique”, giving it more equipment, recruiting soldiers and making underground mobilization plans. Because of Weygand’s action, the African Army was operational right away after Operation Torch. If General De Gaulle could lead it through Italy, have it land in the Provence and lead it all the way to Berchtesgaden, he owes it to Weygand. Actually, Weygand was in the government at the Ministry of Defence, started a department for the dissimulation of military equipment, resumed intelligence services that ended up executing 1,300 German Spies (read Simon Kitson - The Hunt for Nazi Spies - Fighting Espionage in Vichy France). Weygand was disturbing, the Abwehr had plans to assassinate him and Hitler wanted him out of the Vichy government. Pétain pretended to accept, he was removed and that’s why they sent him to Africa.

Vichy had always played double-dealing. It took me a while to understand because I’ve always been a Gaullist (and I still think he did some great thing for France) but the vilification of Pétain by De Gaulle was full of lies. There were Fascist elements in Vichy but not Pétain and not Weygand. Pétain was right to call for an Armistice. An armistice is just a suspension of ams. It’s no surrender, no capitulation unlike what De Gaulle said. At that time France was done. There were so many refugees on the road, the situation was so chaotic, they had to stop the carnage. The idea that the French army was better than the German one is staggering. France only had a fleet but the air force was zero. They did not even have a dive bomber. They had poor radio equipment. They had nothing but a fleet. I mean read Anthony Sutton’s “Wall Street & the Rise of Hitler” in order to understand how US car manufacturers (Ford, General Motors, etc.), IT companies (Bell) and most of all oil companies (Rockefeller’s Standard Oil) made the Wehrmacht an almost unbeatable army. Without the technology that the Standard Oil sent to IG Farben to create oil from coal, there would have been no Blitzkrieg.

The idea that the French Right-Wing was glad to see the Fascist coming is insulting. As a matter of fact, the greatest French collaborationists came from the Left (Marcel Déat, Jacques Doriot, etc.) In 1940, the majority among Resistants came from Right-Wing monarchists, ultra-Catholic circles, including the former Right-Wing terrorist group La Cagoule. This is true about the underground resistance in France but it’s also true about those who joined General De Gaulle in London, including De Gaulle himself or Philippe Leclerc. They were Monarchists. The leftists were a minority and of course the Communists only came after Operation Barbarossa. Talking about Leclerc, he took Kufra, conquered the Fezzan in Lybia and helped Montgomery into Tunisia (Battle of Ksar Ghilane). The Free French Troops of General Koenig withstood Rommel’s Afrikakorps in Bir Hakeim for over a fortnight which paved the way for Montgomery’s victory in El Alamein. The Brits would never have won the Western Desert Campaign without the help of De Gaulle’s Free French Troops. French were fighting with 3,000 men against 30,000 Germans and made 3,300 victims and destroyed 200 tanks. An amazing achievement!

Finally, we cannot talk about the French Resistance if we ignore Churchill’s massive war crime in Mers-El-Kebir (July 1940) which understandably discouraged resistants from joining De Gaulle and of course if we ignore Lord Gort’s cowardice in Sedan when Weygand saw a break in German lines, he could have sandwiched the Wehrmacht along with the troops in Belgium but needed British help for that but the birds fleed.
Sep 21, 2013
Dan Carlin released a new podcast “Supernova in the East, The Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945”. For me his podcast series about WW1 is incredible. Carlin does extensive research and reports respectfully on the horrors of war. His series on the Khans is fantastic as well.