Active resistance (coups de poker, coups d’éclat)
in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18

This chapter considers actions that are more evidently identifiable as resistance, and which comprise a more active form of opposition to the Germans. The actions examined comprise: helping escaped Allied prisoners of war; engaging in espionage, escape and correspondence networks on behalf of the Allies; creating clandestine publications; and explicitly refusing to work for the Germans. The chapter draws on both British and French archives to highlight the role of the respective secret services in some of these activities, in some ways a precursor to the resistance of the Second World War. More generally, the chapter attempts to assess the extent of such resistance, its role within occupied culture, and its success. It concludes that active resistance, so praised during and after the war and so present in works on the occupation, was extremely dangerous and never involved more than a small minority of the occupied population; yet it remains a fascinating subject that provides its own insights into the complexities of occupied life and French reactions to it.

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The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18

Living with the enemy in First World War France

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