The Maquis du Vercors was a rural group of the French Forces of the Interior resistance (maquis) that fought the 1940–1944 German occupation of France in World War II. The Maquis du Vercors used the prominent scenic plateau known as the Massif du Vercors (Vercors Plateau) as a refuge. Many members of the maquis, known as maquisards, died fighting in 1944 in the Vercors Plateau.
From 16 to 24 April 1944 the Milice (a Vichy government paramilitary militia) attacked the village of Vassieux, burning several farms and shooting or deporting some of the inhabitants. Nevertheless, the local population continued to support the Resistance movement.
On 5 June 1944 the Free French government in London called upon the people of Vercors to take up arms and tie down the German army, prior to the Allied invasion of Normandy as part of a wider series of resistance uprisings. In his BBC speech, de Gaulle pronounced the famous line "le chamois des Alpes bondit" ("the chamois of the Alps leaps forth") which signalled the 4,000 maquisards to begin the uprising.
To overcome the centre of resistance around Vassieux-en-Vercors, Luftlandegeschwader 1 landed two companies of Russian and Ukrainian troops of Fallschirm-Battalion "Jungwirth" of the Brandenburg Lehrbattalion by DFS 230 and Gotha Go 242 gliders on 23 July.
According to the order of battle of 8 July 1944 from General Niehoff, Kommandant des Heeresgebietes Südfrankreich (military region of southern France), about operation Bettina against Maquis du Vercors, it appears that the Germans deployed nearly 10,000 soldiers and policemen under General Karl Pflaum:
Almost all the 157. Reserve-Division of the Wehrmacht: 4 reserve mountain light infantry battalions (Btl. I./98, II./98, 99 and 100 from the Reserve-Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 1); 2 reserve infantry battalions (Btl. 179 and 199 from the Reserve-Grenadier-Regiment 157 – Btl. 217 remained in the southern Alps at Embrun); 2 reserve artillery batteries (from Res.Geb.Art.Abt. 79 out of the Reserve-Artillerie-Regiment 7).
Other units: Kampfgruppe "Zabel" (1 infantry battalion from the 9. Panzer-Division and 1 Ost-Bataillon); 3 Ost-Bataillonen (Ostlegionen); about 200 Feldgendarmen; 1 security battalion (I./Sicherungs-Regiment 200); 1 police battalion (I./SS-Polizei-Regiment 19); about 400 paratroopers (special units from Fallschirm-Kampfgruppe Schäfer).
According to the daily reports of OB West on 23 and 24 July 1944, forwarded by the Militärbefehlshaber in Frankreich, the following troops landed at Vassieux-en-Vercors on 21 and 23 July 1944:
On 21 July 1944 about 200 men from Fallschirmjäger-Bewährungstruppe (probationary troops) forming the Fallschirm-Kampfgruppe "Schäfer", with several French volunteers (from the Sipo-SD of Lyons or from the 8th company of the 3rd regiment "Brandenburg"), were airborne in 22 DFS-230 gliders (each with 1 pilot and 9 soldiers) towed by bombers Dornier-17 out of I/Luftlandegeschwader 1, from Lyons-Bron to Vassieux-en-Vercors. According to Peter Lieb, two gliders crashed and eight of them landed a bit further on, so the first wave of assault consisted only of about a hundred soldiers.
Peter Lieb spécifies that the commander of the Sipo-SD of Lyon (KDS), SS-Obersturmbannführer (SS Lieutenant Colonel) Werner Knab, was also airborne on Vassieux on 21 July. Shot and wounded, he was evacuated in a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch on 24 July. He would have played an important part in the torture and the slaughter of the Maquisards of Vercors and the inhabitants of Vassieux.
On 23 July 1944, 3 Go-242 gliders (each with 2 pilots and 21 soldiers, or weaponry and supplies), towed by bombers Heinkel-111, and 20 DFS-230 gliders transported one Ost-Kompanie (Ostlegionen: Russian, Ukrainian and Caucasian volunteers) and a paratrooper platoon from Valence-Chabeuil to Vassieux. According to Peter Lieb, at least two DFS-230 and two Go-242 gliders landed a further on, only one Go-242 with weaponry and supplies landed on Vassieux, so the second wave of assault consisted only of about a hundred and fifty soldiers.
Thomas and Ketley wrote that the Fallschirm-Kampfgruppe "Schäfer" was detached from Kampfgeschwader 200 on 8 June 1944. It was made up of volunteers out of Fallschirmjäger-Bewährungstruppe (probationary troops), mustered at Tangerhütte and trained for three months at Dedelstorf in order to launch an attack from gliders. Günther Gellermann says that the Fallschirm-Kampfgruppe "Schäfer" was under Luftflotte 3 command and no longer under Kampfgeschwader 200 command.
This followed the declaration of freedom from the German occupation in some towns and villages on the plateau. On 3 July 1944 the Free Republic of Vercors was proclaimed, the first democratic territory in France since the beginning of the German occupation in 1940. The Free Republic had its own flag, i.e., the French Republic tricolour featuring the Cross of Lorraine and the "V" for Vercors and Victory (both used as a signature by General Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces), and its coat of arms, the French Alpine Chamois. It was a short-lived regime; it ceased to exist before the end of the month.
Maquisards appealed to Free French agencies based in London and Algiers to supply them with more arms and heavier weaponry to counter the German action, but none were forthcoming. "We shall not forget the bitterness of having been abandoned alone and without support in time of battle," wired the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) commander to London.
The Maquis de Vercors blamed the Allied leaders in London and Algiers for not supporting them, but no Allied leader authorized the insurgency at Vercors and help was explicitly denied. The cause for the lack of support is unclear from the surviving documents but the Normandy front and the imminent Operation Dragoon landing in Southern France had priority and may have shifted resources elsewhere.
The bloody suppression of the Vercors insurrection further inflamed the Maquis in the region, but also served as a warning that they were not well enough armed or organized to directly confront the Wehrmacht until the arrival of the Allies. The Maquis returned to the more traditional style of petite guerre ("little war"), engaging in harassment and ambush of Wehrmacht units rather than large-scale tactical operations.
The Maquis du Vercors is depicted and veterans act in Pierre Schoendoerffer's 2002 feature film Above the Clouds (Là-Haut), and in the third season of the British TV programme Wish Me Luck, which first aired in 1990. The battle and the maquisards of Vercors also prominently feature in Frank Yerby's 1974 novel The Voyage Unplanned.
French director Jean-Paul Le Chanoi made Au Coeur de l'Orage (In the Heart of the Thunderstorm), a documentary about the French Resistance during the Second World War, in 1948. The movie, composed of Allied clandestine film recordings and German newsreel, focuses on the battle of the Vercors Plateau during July 1944.
In 2011 the Belgian TV channels RTBF and VRT broadcast a documentary film by André Bossuroy, addressing the memory of the victims of Nazism and of Stalinism ICH BIN, with support from the Fondation Hippocrène and from the EACEA Agency of the European Commission (Programme Europe for citizens – An active European remembrance), RTBF, VRT. Four young Europeans meet with historians and witnesses of our past… They investigate the events of the Second World War in Germany (the student movement of the White Rose in Munich), in France (the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in Paris, the resistance in Vercors) and in Russia (Katyn Forest massacre).
Alain Le Ray (3 October 1910 – 4 June 2007) was a French general and Resistance leader.
Le Ray, a keen alpinist, was a lieutenant in the French mountain infantry when wounded and captured by the Germans in June 1940. After a first escape attempt from a prison camp in occupied Poland, he was transferred to Oflag IV-C. In April 1941, he became the first prisoner ever to escape from the Colditz Castle.Le Ray returned to France, where he held a position in Vichy Army and was posted at the Uriage Leader's School, under Pierre Dunoyer de Segonzac, a pro-Pétain but anti-German officer. Along with Dunoyer de Segonzac, Le Ray chose Resistance in January 1943. He assumed military command of the maquis du Vercors in February 1943. Le Ray left the Vercors in January 1944 and become the Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur local commanding officer. In this position, he freed Grenoble and fought the still German-occupied alpine forts in 1945.After the war, Le Ray held senior command in Indochina and Algeria and retired in 1970 as a Corps General.Alfredo Quaglino
Alfredo André Cesar Quaglino (1894–1972) was an Italian society photographer, journalist, and motor racer who spent most of his life on the French Riviera. He competed in the Biarritz-St Moritz rally in 1929. He photographed many figures from the worlds of art and entertainment and at the end of his life entered into a marriage of convenience with his lesbian friend Billy Bailey.Claude Helffer
Claude Helffer (18 June 1922 – 27 October 2004) was a French pianist noted particularly for his advocacy of 20th-century music.Franc-Garde
The Franc-Garde (English: Free Guard) was the armed wing of the French Milice (Militia) and was taken alone or alongside German forces in major battles against the Maquis from late 1943 to August 1944.François-Henri de Virieu
François-Henri de Virieu, marquis de Virieu (18 December 1931 – 27 October 1997) was a French journalist and television presenter.Freiwilligen-Stamm-Division
The Freiwilligen-Stamm-Division ("Volunteer Tribal Division") was a German infantry division of the Wehrmacht during World War II. It was created on 1 February 1944 in Southern France. The Division was a so-called Ostlegion, which means its personnel was made up from volunteers from the Soviet Union. Freiwilligen-Stamm-Division was made up with Turkic, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Tartar, Cossack, Armenian and other Soviet volunteers, spread over five regiments. The primary purpose of the division were anti-partisan operations against the French Resistance.In 1944, the French Maquis started numerous uprisings in France. To defeat the French forces, units of the Freiwilligen-Stamm-Division were used in various operations. This included German operations against the Maquis du Mont Mouchet, Maquis de l'Ain et du Haut-Jura and the Maquis du Vercors.Part of these anti-Maquis operations also included Operation Treffenfeld, in which units of the Freiwilligen-Stamm-Division participated. During Operation Treffenfeld, the 5th Cossack Regiment of the division conducted the Dortan Massacre at the French town of Dortan on 13/14 July 1944. Twenty-four civilians were killed in what the German command described as "reprisal measures". Days later on 21 July more civilians were executed, bringing the death toll to about 35 people. The village was then burned down and left to ruins.Groupe mobile de réserve
The Groupes mobiles de réserve (French: mobile reserve groups), often referred to as GMR, were paramilitary units created by the Vichy regime during the Second World War. Their development was the special task of René Bousquet, Vichy director-general of the French national police.Jean-Marie Domenach
Jean-Marie Domenach (French: [dɔmənak]; February 13, 1922 – July 5, 1997) was a French writer and intellectual. He was noted as a left-wing and Catholic thinker.
Domenach was born in Lyon, where he studied at the Lycée du Parc.
In 1957, he took over the editorship of Esprit, the literary and political journal of personalism founded in 1945 by Emmanuel Mounier and followed (from 1950 to 1957) by Albert Béguin. Domenach voluntarily retired from Esprit at age 54 and began writing and teaching at the university level. Opposed to torture during the Algerian War, he also held a meeting denouncing the 1961 Paris massacre. He died in Paris, aged 75.List of people involved with the French Resistance
People involved with the French Resistance include:
Apolônio de Carvalho (1912-2005), Brazilian revolutionary
José Aboulker (1920-2009)
Berty Albrecht (1893-1943)
Dimitri Amilakhvari (1906-1942), French-Georgian Prince
Louis Aragon (1897-1982), poet, novelist and editor, husband of Elsa Triolet
Raymond Aron (1905-1983)
Pierre Arrighi (1921-1944)
Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie (1900-1969)
Henri d'Astier de la Vigerie, Roman Catholic conservative politician
Lucie Aubrac (1912-2007)
Jacqueline Auriol (1917-2000)
Josephine Baker (1906-1975)
Louis Bancel (1926-1978), sculptor
Raoul Batany (1926-1944), assassin of Arthur Marissal
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), Irish writer, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature
Georges Bégué (1911-1993), SOE
Robert Benoist (1895-1944)
Georges Bidault (1899-1983)
Monique de Bissy (1923-2009)
Georges Blind (1904-1944)
André Bloch (1914-1942), SOE
Denise Bloch (1916-1945)
Marc Bloch (1886-1944), historian, founded the Annales School of historiography
France Bloch-Sérazin (1913-1943), chemist, bomb-maker for the Resistance
Tony Bloncourt (1921-1942)
Marc Boegner (1881-1970)
Cristina Luca Boico (1916-2002)
Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle (1922-1942), assassinated admiral François Darlan
Claude Bourdet (1909-1996), co-founder of Combat
Pierre Brossolette (1903-1944)
Jean Cavaillès (1903-1944)
Albert Camus (1913-1960), French novelist, winner of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature
Marcel Carné (1906-1996), French film director
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), French photographer
Rouben Melik (1921-2007), French-Armenian poet
Shapour Bakhtiar (1914-1991), later to become Prime minister of Iran during last days of Iranian Revolution
Roger Carcassonne (1911-1991)
Donald Caskie (1902-1983)
Jacques Chaban-Delmas (1915-2000)
René Char (1907-1988)
Peter Churchill (1909-1972), SOE
Eugène Claudius-Petit (1907-1989)
Marianne Cohn (1922-1944)
Roger Coquoin (1897-1943)
Daniel Cordier (born 1920), secretary of Jean Moulin and later historian
René-Yves Creston (1898-1964), Breton artist and ethnographer
Nancy Cunard (1896–1965), poet, writer and anarchist who worked in London as a translator
Jacques Decour (1910-1942), French writer
Charlotte Delbo (1913-1985)
Jacques Desoubrie (1922-1949)
Martha Desrumeaux (1897-1982)
François Ducaud-Bourget (1897-1984), Roman Catholic priest
Jacques Duclos (1896-1975)
Marguerite Duras (1914-1996), French writer
Jacques Ellul (1912-1994)
Paul Éluard (1895-1952), French poet
Henri Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves (1901-1941), French right wing naval officer
Joseph Epstein (1911-1944)
Valentin Feldman (1909-1942), French philosopher
Antoinette Feuerwerker (1912-2003), wife of David Feuerwerker, member of Combat
David Feuerwerker, (1912-1980), rabbi of Brive-la-Gaillarde, member of Combat
Marie-Madeleine Fourcade (1909-1989)
Henri Frager (1897-1944)
Henri Frenay (1905-1988), founder of Combat, minister in the first post-liberation government
Varian Fry (1907-1967), American journalist
Cristino García (1914-1946)
Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz (1920-2002), niece of General de Gaulle
Salomon Gluck (1914-1944), physician
Gheorghe Gaston Grossmann (1918-2010) (changed his name from Grossman to Marin after he returned to Romania after World War II)
Henri Marie Joseph Grouès (1912-2007), better known as Abbé Pierre, (Catholic priest and Maquis
William Grover-Williams (1903-1945), Anglo-French racing driver
Albert Guérisse (1911-1989)
Georges Guingouin (1913-2005), communist resistance
Virginia Hall (1906-1982), American spy, SOE
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), American writer and journalist
Michel Hollard (1898-1993)
Arthur Honegger (1892-1955)
Max Hymans (1900-1961)
René Iché (1897-1954), artist, sculptor
Vladimir Jankélévitch (1903-1985)
Éliane Jeannin-Garreau (1911-1999)
Louis Jourdan (1921-2015), French actor
Germain Jousse (1895-1988)
Bernard Karsenty (1920-2007)
Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont (1914-2006)
Marcel Langer (1903-1943)
Joseph Laniel (1889-1975)
Jacques Lecompte-Boinet (1905-1974)
Édouard Le Jeune (1921-2017), former Senator
André Leroi-Gourhan (1911-1986)
André Le Troquer (1884-1963)
Jacques Lusseyran (1924-1971)
André Malraux (1901-1976) ("Colonel Berger"), French writer and government minister
Missak Manouchian (1906-1944), poet, leader of the eponymous network as part of FTP-MOI
Robert Marjolin (1911-1986)
Lucien Julien Meline (1901-1943)
Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-1973), French film director
Pierre Mendès-France (1907-1982), French politician
Edmond Michelet (1899-1970), last to leave Dachau while aiding the sick, twice government minister after the war
Jacques Monod (1910-1976), Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1965)
Jean Moulin (1899-1943), head of the CNR
Prince Louis Napoléon (1914-1997), pretender to the French Imperial throne
Eileen Nearne (1921-2010), SOE, Agent Rose
Camille Nicolas (1895-1967), French Resistance Leader
Andrée Peel (1905-2010), Agent Rose
Édith Piaf (1915-1963), French singer
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973, Spanish artist)
Jean Pierre-Bloch (1905-1999)
Christian Pineau (1904-1995)
Eliane Plewman (1917-1944), SOE
Georges Politzer (1903-1942)
Francis Ponge (1899-1988)
Jean Prévost (1901-1944), writer, conceived and organized the Maquis du Vercors
Paul Rassinier (1906-1967), member of Libération-Nord
Serge Ravanel (1920-2009)
Gilbert Renault (1904-1984)
Jean-François Revel (1924-2006), French writer and philosopher
Marc Riboud (1923-2016), photographer, participated in the Maquis du Vercors
Madeleine Riffaud (born 1924), French poet and war correspondent
André Rogerie (1921-2014), French writer and Holocaust survivor
Alexander Sachal (born 1924), Russian artist
Armand Salacrou (1899-1989)
Raymond Samuel (1914-2012), alias Raymond Aubrac
Odette Sansom (1912-1995), SOE
Jorge Semprún (1923-2011), Spanish writer, member of FTP and then FTP-MOI, later Culture Minister of Spain
Ariadna Scriabina (1905-1944), daughter of composer Alexander Scriabin, co-founder of the Armée Juive
Claude Simon (1913-2005)
Susana Soca (1906-1959), Uruguayan poet and socialité
Raymond Sommer (1906-1950, French racing driver
Suzanne Spaak (1905-1944), sister-in-law of Paul-Henri Spaak
Evelyne Sullerot (1924-2017), historian and sociologist
Violette Szabo (1921-1945), SOE
François Tanguy-Prigent (1909-1970)
Paul Tarascon (1882-1977), World War I flying ace
Drue Leyton (1903-1997), also known as Dorothy Tartière
Germaine Tillion (1907-2008), French anthropologist
Charles Tillon (1897-1993), member of FTP
Elsa Triolet (1896-1970), writer, wife of Louis Aragon
Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), French-Romanian poet
Berthe Vicogne-Fraser (1894-1956)
Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier (1912-1996)
Jean-Pierre Vernant (1914-2007), French philologist and anthropologist
Pierre Villon (1901-1980), member of FTP, one of the three leaders of the Committee of Military action created by the Conseil National de la Résistance
Jean de Vomécourt (1899-1945)
Philippe de Vomécourt (1902–1964)
Pierre de Vomécourt (1906-1986)
Nancy Wake (1912-2011), SOE
Madeleine Truel (1904-1945)
Traian Vuia (1872-1950), Romanian inventor
Gabrielle Weidner (1914-1945)
Johan Hendrik Weidner (1912-1994)
Simone Weil (1909-1943)
Jean-Pierre Wimille (1908-1949, French racing driver
Chuck Yeager (born 1923), American test pilot, one of the Allied pilots shot down over France who made it back to England with the help of the ResistanceMaquis (World War II)
The Maquis (French pronunciation: [maˈki]) were rural guerrilla bands of French Resistance fighters, called maquisards, during the Nazi Occupation of France in World War II. Initially, they were composed of men and women who had escaped into the mountains to avoid conscription into Vichy France's Service du travail obligatoire ("Compulsory Work Service" or STO) to provide forced labor for Germany. To avert capture and deportation to Germany, they became increasingly organized into active resistance groups.Maquis des Glières
The Maquis des Glières was a Free French Resistance group, which fought against the 1940–1944 German occupation of France in World War II. The name is also given to the military conflict that opposed Resistance fighters to German, Vichy and Milice forces.Milice
The Milice française (French Militia), generally called the Milice (French pronunciation: [milis]), was a political paramilitary organization created on 30 January 1943 by the Vichy regime (with German aid) to help fight against the French Resistance during World War II. The Milice's formal head was Prime Minister Pierre Laval, although its Chief of operations and de facto leader was Secretary General Joseph Darnand. It participated in summary executions and assassinations, helping to round up Jews and résistants in France for deportation. It was the successor to Joseph Darnand's Service d'ordre légionnaire (SOL) militia. The Milice was the Vichy regime's most extreme manifestation of fascism. Ultimately, Darnand envisaged the Milice as a fascist single party political movement for the French state.
The Milice frequently used torture to extract information or confessions from those whom they interrogated. The French Resistance considered the Milice more dangerous than the Gestapo and SS because they were native Frenchmen who understood local dialects fluently, had extensive knowledge of the towns and countryside, and knew local people and informants.Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation à Grenoble
The Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de l’Isère is a museum located in Grenoble, France.
The original museum, which opened in 1966 in the rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, was dedicated to local resistance networks and named the Musée de la Résistance Dauphinoise. The museum underwent significant renovations in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has been in its current premises in the rue Hébert since its reopening in 1994. The building originally housed the architectural sculpture school of Grenoble and the apartments of its director, the sculptor Aimé Charles Irvoy. Since its renovation in 1994, the museum has received three minor renovations, including an updated exhibition about the Jewish experience in wartime Grenoble.
The museum describes the specifics of the French Resistance in the Isère department, particularly in the Vercors during the Second World War. In addition to temporary exhibitions and the organization of events, the museum houses a permanent exhibition that shows a chronological presentation of the war events.
It contains about 5,000 works related to the Second World War.Raymond Anne
Raymond Anne (17 December 1922 – 21 July 1944) was a member of the French Resistance during World War II (1939–45). For ceremonial purposes he was chosen to represent all the members of the French Resistance who died in action against the Germans.Vassieux-en-Vercors
Vassieux-en-Vercors is a commune in the department of Drôme in southeastern France.
The town is known for its assistance to the French Resistance during World War II, for which it was awarded Ordre de la Libération.Vercors Massif
The Vercors Massif is a range in France consisting of rugged plateaux and mountains straddling the départements of Isère and Drôme in the French Prealps. It lies west of the Dauphiné Alps, from which it is separated by the rivers Drac and Isère. The cliffs at the massif's eastern limit face the city of Grenoble.Vercors Regional Natural Park
The Vercors Regional Natural Park (French: Parc naturel régional du Vercors) is a protected area of forested mountains in the Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France.Villard-de-Lans
Villard-de-Lans is a commune in the Isère department of the Auvergne-Rhones-Alpes region in southeastern France. The town is also situated in the Vercors Massif. It was the administrative centre of the eponymous canton until the departmental elections of 2015. After the elections, Villard-de-Lans and the communes of its former canton were all incorporated into the new canton of Fontaine-Vercors. The town remains the seat of the Community of Communes in the Vercors Massif (CCMV).
The town is a centre for skiing in winter, as well as hiking and hot air ballooning during the other seasons. It is also the town with the largest amount of available lodging in the entire Vercors Regional Natural Park.