The German occupation of France in June 1940 was a massive defeat for the French population. It meant not only a loss of political freedom, but savage attacks on the people's living standards, the very first decree of General von Stutnitz, the German military commander, froze wages and made strikes illegal. But there was no organisation to take up the struggle. All the political parties except the Communists had in their majority supported Marshal Petain, Vichy's Prime Minister and the Communists took the line of denouncing both sides in the war as 'capitalist brigands'. So it is not surprising that the first acts of resistance came from isolated individuals. On 20th June, an agricultural labourer called Etienne Achavanne cut the telephone wires at a German occupied airport. He was shot, the first of many martyrs to come. Others distributed crudely duplicated leaflets, for example a cyclist would throw a bunch of leaflets into the air as he sped down the street or chalked up slogans under the cover of darkness. In November a group of students marched up the elegant Champs-Elysces carrying two fishing rods (in French deux gaules, which sounds remarkably like de Gaulle), provoking shouts of 'Vive de Gaulle' from the gathered crowd. A hostage is brought in to face the firing squad, a fate reserved for many Resistance fighters. Throughout the occupation there was much scope for such individual gestures of resistance. In 1941 a man walked through the streets of Paris with no trousers on, in protest at the difficulty of obtaining clothing coupons. One old lady with a weak heart used to sit on a seat in the Paris Metro and trip up German soldiers with her umbrella a small but worthy contribution to lowering the occupiers' morale. In June 1942 the authorities ordered all Jews to wear yellow stars in public. Many of their non-Jewish compatriots spontaneously manifested their solidarity by also wearing yellow stars, sometimes adorned with such labels as 'Zulu' or 'Swing', in a brave attempt to ridicule the order. Undetected by the eyes of the feared Gestapo, underground passages link Resistance posts. By the autumn of 1940 a number of small resistance groups had been formed, some by Catholics, others by trade unionists or members of the Socialist Party. Well into 1941 the Resistance continued to consist of small autonomous groupings, often with little money and few if any weapons. Soon, however, two main currents emerged. Charles de Gaulle, a right-wing friend of Petain who could not tolerate the capitulation for patriotic reasons, had fled to London and on 18th June 1940 made a broadcast which concluded with the stirring words: ‘Whatever happens, the flame of resistance must not go out, and it will not go out.’ In face few in France heard the broadcast and the BBC regarded it as so insignificant they did not bother to make a recording of it. But de Gaulle soon became a focus for those opposed to the German occupation. One of the underground printing presses run by Henri Frenay, a major contributor to the Resistance network Combat. Because of the Germans viciously anti-working class policies, a number of Communists had been involved in Resistance activities before June 1941, but it was the German invasion of Russia that brought the Communists into the movement as a major political force. The Communists had their own military organisation, the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, (Irregulars and Partisans). Naturally there was considerable distrust and jockeying for power between the right-wing Gaullists and the predominantly left-wing groupings of the home-based Resistance. It was only in May 1943, as a result of the tireless efforts of the civil servant Jean Moulin, that the CNR (National Resistance Council) was set up as an umbrella organisation including Gaullists, Communists and others. Turning out to be the lifeline of underground operations, radio transmitters are used to receive and send coded messages. However, for security and political reasons, the Resistance remained a broad federation of groupings. These included both networks (groups with a specific military role, such as intelligence or sabotage) and movements (groups that aimed to make propaganda in the population at large). And within the various groups a triangular cell structure was often used, so that activists knew the minimum possible even those they worked closely with were known only as numbers or code-names. As the novelist Andre Malraux told a German interrogator: 'You could have my men tortured if you captured any of them without getting anything out of them, because they know nothing: our entire organisation is based on the assumption that no human being can know what he will do under torture.' In the more remote areas of France, small guerrilla groups known as the maquis spread terror among German troops; many had joined up to avoid the dread of German labour camps. Fighting for their cause. Resistance members engaged in many spectacular risks and hazardous acts of aggression, assassination, jailbreak, sabotage and so on. Sabotage was directed against railways, electric power stations and German military depots. The British agent Harry Rée, who worked with the French Resistance, once sank a German submarine in a French canal lock The FTP made grenade attacks against cinemas, restaurants and buses reserved for German soldiers. Weapons were parachuted in from Britain; favourites included the Lee-Enfield rifle, which could kill a man at two kilometres, the Bren light machine gun (firing 500 rounds a minute), particularly useful for ambushes, the ubiquitous Sten gun and the single-shot Wel Rod with built-in silencer, designed for discreet killings in town streets. But resisters did not spend all their time on military exploits, far from it. Much of their activity was the tedious routine of collecting information and maintaining an organisation. Equally vital was the production of propaganda, above all newspapers. Over a thousand different titles were issued during the occupation. The early ones were often turned out on a hand-duplicator, no mean feat, when the sale of duplicating paper ink and stencils was illegal, some groups even made their own ink. But later operations reached an amazing scale, in January 1944 the clandestine paper Défense de la France printed 450,000 copies of a single Issue. A gang of saboteurs inspects the fruits of their labour, German supply lines came under attack.