A history of the German occupation of France during World War II, the French resistance, and ultimately the nation’s liberation.
In the south of France, the most memorable event of World War II was the sea and airborne invasion of August 15, 1944. Perhaps because it went relatively smoothly, this “Second D-Day” was soon relegated to the back pages of history. Operation Dragoon and the liberation are, however, only a small part of the story. The arrival of the Allies was preceded by years of suffering and sacrifice under Hitléro-Vichyssois oppression.
Provençale people still struggle to come to terms with the painful past of split-allegiances and empty stomachs that epitomize les années noirs (the dark years). Deportations, requisitions, forced labor, and hunger provoked resistance by a courageous minority. Many actively colluded with the enemy, but most just waited for better days. By sea and air, Allied agents and special forces were infiltrated to fan the flames, but wherever the Resistance arose prematurely, the reprisals from the Nazis and their auxiliaries were ferocious.
In every corner of Provence, one can find words chipped into stone: Passant, souviens-toi (passer-by, remember). It is hard to imagine such cruelty could have existed here less than one generation ago. These memories here tell a story of duplicity, defiance, and ultimately, deliverance. Whether the stuff of legends, or the experiences of everyday humans, humanity is used to explain the Franco-American experience of wartime Provence, as seen through an Anglo-Saxon prism.
“A complete and well-researched study of the French Resistance groups, Allied agents and Special Forces operating against the Germans in the South of France. ” —Firetrench