A Recounting of the Stages of French Communist Resistance during World War II and its Relationship to the French Resistance Overall

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McManus, Eoin
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This paper will recount the stages of communist resistance in France during World War Two and its relationship to the French Resistance overall, as well as analyse the effect that communist resistance in France had on the war. It will outline the position of the French Communist Party (PCF) in three different and distinctive periods: pre-1939, 1939 to the German invasion of the USSR in 1941, and from Operation Barbarossa to the liberation of France. This paper uses primary and secondary sources to create as balanced and objective an essay as possible. It will show that, for most of its existence, the PCF had been operating in a clandestine state and was thus the best prepared of any group for the outbreak of hostilities. The Communists were not necessarily late in joining the war, with resistance as we know it only beginning when the Communists began to resist. The relationship between the communist resisters and the other resistance groups is discussed, with particular reference to de Gaulle and shows the large degree of autonomy that the Communists maintained. What can be said with certainty of communist resistance in France is that it prevented greater casualties among the Allies through its acts of sabotage and its engagement of the enemy. This dissertation challenges the myth of the French Resistance and asserts that the Communists had the greatest influence of any group in the Resistance. Author keywords: Communism; France; World War Two