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Introduction to the Resistance

The north of France came under occuption in June 1940, whilst the south remained a "zone libre"(unoccupied zone) until November 1942. Many at first in Toulouse supported Petain's decision. In fact the local majority supported his choice. As the occupation continued, it was a certainty that social unrest would surface and bring with it, a certain degree of resistance. It was difficult to resist in such an oppressive atmosphere which was occupied by the Germans. The resistance developed slowly after 1940. Resistance groups began to form in the occupied zone but some of these were soon eliminated by the Gestapo (German secret police) in 1941. Resistance was also difficult in the unoccupied zone as they had to fight against the milice. Nevertheless, it was in the unoccupied zone that most most resistance groups emerged.

 The resistance plays an important role in the history of France. It is an event in France's history of which many are very proud and patriotic.Resistance in France meant the refusal of an armistice and the continuation of the war. After Charles de Gaulle's appeal on the 18th of June 1940 many at first were hesitant to join the movement as being resistant meant risking your life. Most local people accepted France's defeat. From the 19th of June 1940 "La Depeche", a Toulousain newspaper, thanked Petain and he was met with standing ovations at Place Capitole in Toulouse. Slowly the situation throughout France changed with the opening of concentration camps as the population was exposed to the ruthlessness and brutality of the imposed regime. In the Haute-Garronne, the region in which Toulouse is situated, two big "hospital-camps" opened in Febuary 1941 in which 307 people died. 

In the Haute-Garonne resistance slowly grew resulting in the formation of many different resistance groups. These groups, once unified, worked together to fight the occupying forces and to liberate France. Toulouse played the most central role in the Resistance in the Haute-Garonne region being one of the bigger cities. In Toulouse many actions took place to fight for the liberation of France.

written by Michael and Sarah Grant