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WW2 "Resistance" Vs "Terrorists"?


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#1 BratwurstDimSum

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 09:45 AM

Today's headline : "15 Die in Iraq Copter attack"
followed by "there are currently 30 attacks on coalition forces EVERY DAY in Iraq". :eek:

I can't help but draw parallels to the underground in WW2, although I want to avoid if I can, the well travelled debate about "Are today's terrorists the same as freedom fighters in WW2?" graemlins/no.gif

I was thinking about the French resistance post 1942, If someone can provide some information as to the activities of the resistance (doesn't have to be French), info like:

* What effect did they have on the Occupation if any?
* Did the Germans react to it like the current US administration does today?
* What did the Germans do to limit its effect and did it work?
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#2 AndyW

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 11:08 AM

Ah, what an ugly can of worms: I would ask the question if "Today's terrorists are the same as freedom fighters in WW2?" like "Are terrorists freedom fighters, or vice versa, or both?"

Let's take the French WW II "resistance", as a very good example, though you can't compare it to todays Iraq (France declared war on Germany, France surrendered, Germany wasn't a democracy).

The German reprisal shootings of French hostages after the start of the attacks on German forces in France beginning summer 1941 worked to a certain degree, but started an avalance of dislike, revenge terror and anti-terror.

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#3 Heartland

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 02:20 PM

Well, to the guy on the ground the matter of the occuping force being a democracy or totalitarian regime probably differs very little, except perhaps the restraint shown on many occasions by the occupying force. The question is if this restraint will be perceived as such, and if they can compare to the very real grievances suffered by the population.

Anyways, the German response (in the east at least) most often involved more armed patrols and sweeps of the countryside, not to mention retaliatory raids against whole villages (rightly or wrongly) associated with attacks. Pretty much each sweep resulted in a few actual partisans dead and numerous civilians killed. This in turn raised the symphaty for the patisans and added more hate among the population for the occupier.

I don't see many similarities between the actual actions performed by the occupiers in this case, but the general spiral of increased violence seems to follow the usual line of such events. While the US obviously doesn't go about cleansing villages and such, there is a definite increase in the number of civilian casualties as fighting goes on, increased resentment, more violence, and so on...
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#4 Vermillion

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 02:29 PM

Originally posted by AndyW:
[QB] Ah, what an ugly can of worms: I would ask the question if "Today's terrorists are the same as freedom fighters in WW2?" like "Are terrorists freedom fighters, or vice versa, or both?"

Let's take the French WW II "resistance", as a very good example, though you can't compare it to todays Iraq (France declared war on Germany, France surrendered, Germany wasn't a democracy).

Love this topic, origins of the French Resistance was a critical element of my Doctoral thesis.

To deal with the larger issue first, there is no difference between 'Resistance' and 'terrorism' of the kind we are currently seeing in Iraq. In the latter case, it is nationalists, likely backed by limited foreign support, striking back against their occupiers, and what they see as their oppressors.

I am sure the Nazis, and for that matter, the Vichy authorities saw the early French resistants as terrorists as well, it is two sides of the same coin, and the distinction is only determined by their view in the popular media. Recent History is full of this. Mujahadin in 1980's Afghanistan were 'resistants' while Viet Cong Irregulars in the 1960s were 'terrorists'.

In the early 1990s, Chechens trying to break free from a colonial power were 'resistants', while the IRA were 'terrorists'. Palestinian soldiers are both resistants and terrorists, depending on who you talk to. There is no distinction except point of view in this matter.

To respond to AndyW, I cannot see what the nature of the original government has to do with anything at all. I think the resistances in France and Iraq bear striking similarity, and can be easily compared. We of course do not see them as moral equals, but that is once again our essentially emotional point of view and should not be used to accredit or discredit historical parables.

#5 BratwurstDimSum

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 02:30 PM

Good points there Heartland, I would (in my usual uninformed way :confused: ) liken the Eastern front situation you just described with the Palistine v Israeli conflict. I was wondering though whether the Germans did the same thing in France.

From all the propaganda I've seen on the French resisitance, you'd think they did what the russians did to the berliners in '45!! :(
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#6 Vermillion

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 02:38 PM

Originally posted by Heartland:
Anyways, the German response (in the east at least) most often involved more armed patrols and sweeps of the countryside, not to mention retaliatory raids against whole villages (rightly or wrongly) associated with attacks. Pretty much each sweep resulted in a few actual partisans dead and numerous civilians killed.

Until about late 1943, there were significant differences between treatment of occupied lands in the est and in the East, and that included retaliation to partican attacks.

In France there were not (again, before late '43)the large scale shootings that happened in South east Europe and in the east. There were limited retaliation, shooting of hostages in response to the killing of German troops, but an often ignored historical reality was that limited retaliations against the civilian population were ALLOWED by the Hague conventions, as long as those hostages executed were male adults.

There were three main actual armed uprisings against German forces, all were brutally crushed and the resistors were killed or forced into labour, but there were no subsequent retaliations against civilians in those cases, unlike what was happening elsewhere in the German occupied world.

For the first two years of the German occupation of France, the Germans were under strict orders not to antagonise the population, to pay for goods instead of taking them and to act in an appropriate manner at all times. (Unless, of course, you were a jew or a communist) Of course it was never as rosy as those orders make it seem, but they were certainly a far cry from similar situation in the East.

After late 1943, troops who had sevred in the east started to get rotated through France and the West, and the excesses of the eastern Front started to spill over.

#7 BratwurstDimSum

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 02:44 PM

*edit* ignore comments below, I think our posts are ships crossing each other in the night! redface.gif

although I want to avoid if I can, the well travelled debate about "Are today's terrorists the same as freedom fighters in WW2?"

Doctor in da 'ouse! Vermillion, thanks for lending an informed opinion :D , although as I mentioned, can we stick this to a objective discussion, (no offence) with some facts about what happened on each side rather than an exercise in syntax? smile.gif

[ 03. November 2003, 08:46 AM: Message edited by: BratwurstDimSum ]
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#8 Friedrich

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 05:01 PM

Vermillion is right in - I think - almost all he posted (I don't intend to agree with you too often! tongue.gif ) about the different levels of partisan warfare in both sides of Europe and the nationalism in resistance or terrorism (I don't want to discuss that).

What I'd have to add would be that France was under a stronger administration of the German Army, more than police or party organisations. At least, compared to the east. And the French maquis were supported and hidden by the people voluntarily and the Germans used to retaliate against the very resistance groups, not the people who helped them. An exception would be Oradour-sur-Glanse and Das Reich division... graemlins/no.gif :mad:

But in the east, there were special task forces specially made of burglars and ruthless animals to fight the partisans and annihilate the Untermenschen when doing it. But there were more, since many people in occupied Russia didn't help voluntarily the partisans and as in the Ukraine, the partisan groups fought each other. So the people suffered attrocities from Soviet partisans, Ukranian partisans and German forces. You cannot compare the maquis and other partisan movements. The maquis may have been less ruthless but the other were more effective by consuming a huge ammount of German troops.
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#9 BratwurstDimSum

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 06:11 PM

Fascinating stuff guys, a graemlins/rk.gif to both of you,

Oak leaves if you can give me some actual examples of units and exactly what they did.

I am very interested in the *effect* on Germany (if any) these guys had.

ie. Did the high command have to channel troops and tanks away from other theaters to deal with this "menace"?

Were the cleanup squads all Waffen-SS like it is touted in propaganda?

Thanks.
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#10 De Vlaamse Leeuw

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 07:51 PM

For me the Iraqi's who are fighting the occupiers - that's what they are - are freedom fighters.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

#11 The_Historian

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 08:32 PM

Hiya,
I'd like to know where all these resisters were when Saddam was still in power-or is that too sensible a question?

Regards,
gordon
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#12 Friedrich

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 09:21 PM

An example would be the 13th SS mountain division, 'Handschaar', mostly made of Croat muslims. These troops were used against marshal Tito's partisans, who were mostly Serbs. Himmler, of course, was the one who thought of this, and the results of the division's actions was predictable. They only killed, aped and looted all Serbian villages suspected of helping Tito's men. The ammount of attrocities made by this division is huge. And yet, when they were withdrawn from Yugoslavia to fight the Red Army - instead of defenceless women and children -, most of its men simply fled and deserted. graemlins/no.gif graemlins/no.gif
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

"A mon fils: depuis que tes yeux sont fermes les miens n’ont cessé de pleurir." - Mère française, Verdun

#13 No.9

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 09:36 PM

I'd like to know where all these resisters were when Saddam was still in power-or is that too sensible a question?


Err.........they were all over here claiming asylum? (most still are) ;)

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#14 BratwurstDimSum

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 10:02 PM

graemlins/no.gif FOR THE THIRD TIME I'D LIKE TO REPEAT MY FIRST REQUEST:

I want to avoid if I can, the well travelled debate about "Are today's terrorists the same as freedom fighters in WW2?" graemlins/no.gif

Discussion on this is conjecture and personal opinion and NOT the reason why I asked the question in the first place. :rolleyes:

Your points are valid but they are not helping my question of what effect the partisans had on the occupation, please stick to facts like Friedrich has.

[ 03. November 2003, 04:05 PM: Message edited by: BratwurstDimSum ]
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#15 The_Historian

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 11:12 PM

Brat,
There was a book on the French Resistance published in the UK in the 70s that would probably answer your question. Can't remember the author or title though.
No. 9-no comment!
Regards,
Gordon
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#16 AndyW

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 11:33 PM

[quote]Originally posted by BratwurstDimSum:
graemlins/no.gif FOR THE THIRD TIME I'D LIKE TO REPEAT MY FIRST REQUEST:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> I want to avoid if I can, the well travelled debate about "Are today's terrorists the same as freedom fighters in WW2?" graemlins/no.gif [/quote]Discussion on this is conjecture and personal opinion and NOT the reason why I asked the question in the first place. :rolleyes:

</font>[/QUOTE]Maybe you shouldn't start threads comparing today's situation in Iraq with WW II if you just don't want to have posters jumping exactely on the "parallel" you draw... ;)

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#17 No.9

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 04:56 AM

‘Resistance : European Resistance to Nazism 1940-45’
M.R.D. Foot – Eyre Methuen, London (1976), 346 pages
ISBN 0 413 34710 9
Reprinted 1979 with some amendments – hence get ’79 edition.

They say: ”A work of major significance, the author has analysed the whole field of wartime resistance to the Nazis in Europe, assessing what resisters could and couldn't do; assessing in outline, whether they achieved their aims.”

Not too hard to get, around £8.00 hardback.

IMHO; Foot is ex SOE/France, serious reading on this subject, can get heavy and can presume a degree on knowledge on behalf of the reader. Wrote the official HMSO History of the SOE in France. Original 1966 edition withdrawn because of content re Peter Churchill. Re-issued with modifications. 1966 edition around, may cost @ £45. Plenty of re-issue versions, @ £6.

Note: This is an overview about ‘Resistance’ with an SOE and French bias. This is not about Partisan overt guerrilla formations and actions.

Foot may write of all Europe but his depth of knowledge is really France. The subject is extremely difficult because of the agencies, departments and secrecy involved, not to mention the citizens of the respective countries. Everyone was out for their own ends and everyone used everyone else to achieve them. Motivation for the various nationals might be patriotism, revenge, anti nazism, communism, profiteering, adventure or crime – or whatever permutation of these you care to come up with. Easier to approach from the Allied military aspect than the involved citizens aspect. (A) You’ll probably need to read the language for many compilations or memoirs, and (B) you’ll probably read stuff you wish you hadn’t.

I personally rate Foot considerably over Stafford who has also written extensively on the subject.

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#18 BratwurstDimSum

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 09:27 AM

Originally posted by AndyW:
Maybe you shouldn't start threads comparing today's situation in Iraq with WW II if you just don't want to have posters jumping exactely on the "parallel" you draw... :)

I know...mate...I know. To get facts on dicey subjects you do have to go though a measure of pain sometimes :) But I had assume posters can and will read at least the first post where I set out some guidelines :rolleyes: ;)

Thanks for the info no 9, I'll amazon that one straight away.
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#19 Martin Bull

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Posted 04 November 2003 - 07:19 PM

The Occupation is the subject of a fascinating book currently in print, 'Marianne In Chains : In Search Of The German Occupation 1940-1945' by Robert Geldea ( Macmillan, 2002 ).

Geldea is currently Reader in Modern History at Oxford University, so is not a 'hack' writer. He quotes US historian Robert Paxton ( in 1972 ) calculating that at most 2% of the adult population of France was actively involved with Resistance activities during WWII. The popular picture of the whole of France living in terror of the jackboot is not, it seems, realistic.

Geldea discovered that many archives had been 'altered' under the post-war De Gaulle governments to , er, emphasize the role of the Resistance.

Prior to Barbarossa, the Germans ruled France by a process of 'negotiated collaboration'; things changed post-Barbarossa partly due to increased Communist activity but mainly because the Germans began to make harsh demands on French industry/manpower to cope with the needs of the Eastern Front.

It's a very interesting and well-written book ; I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.
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#20 nuvolari

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 03:51 PM

Love this topic, origins of the French Resistance was a critical element of my Doctoral thesis.

To deal with the larger issue first, there is no difference between 'Resistance' and 'terrorism' of the kind we are currently seeing in Iraq. In the latter case, it is nationalists, likely backed by limited foreign support, striking back against their occupiers, and what they see as their oppressors.

I am sure the Nazis, and for that matter, the Vichy authorities saw the early French resistants as terrorists as well, it is two sides of the same coin, and the distinction is only determined by their view in the popular media. Recent History is full of this. Mujahadin in 1980's Afghanistan were 'resistants' while Viet Cong Irregulars in the 1960s were 'terrorists'.

In the early 1990s, Chechens trying to break free from a colonial power were 'resistants', while the IRA were 'terrorists'. Palestinian soldiers are both resistants and terrorists, depending on who you talk to. There is no distinction except point of view in this matter.

To respond to AndyW, I cannot see what the nature of the original government has to do with anything at all. I think the resistances in France and Iraq bear striking similarity, and can be easily compared. We of course do not see them as moral equals, but that is once again our essentially emotional point of view and should not be used to accredit or discredit historical parables.


Given that the attrition rate amongst French "resistors" sprang as much from the various political/religious groups of resistors fighting amongst themselves ( largely by informing the Germans of other opposing groups, thereby getting the Germans to do their killing for them ! ) as it did by the first hand anti-resistance actions of the Germans themselves, there can be little doubt that almost just as many French people thought of the "resistors" as being "terrorists", and vice versa.

#21 tikilal

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 05:39 PM

I am trying to help with your question not to go down your forbidden path. I took the liberty to collect the definitions of the words involved. Perhaps the names are being used interchangeably when they are not. A rose by any other name smells the same.

Terrorist
1. A person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism
2. Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of terrorism or terrorists.
3. One that engages in acts or an act of terrorism.
4. A person who tries to frighten people or governments into doing what he/she wants by using or threatening violence.

Terrorism
1. The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
2. A terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
3. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
4. The calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.

Freedom Fighter
1. A fighter for freedom, esp. a person who battles against established forces of tyranny and dictatorship.
2. One engaged in armed rebellion or resistance against an oppressive government.
3. A person who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions)

Resistance
1. The act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding.
2. Often Resistance An underground organization engaged in a struggle for national liberation in a country under military or totalitarian occupation.
3. group action in opposition to those in power

#22 Sloniksp

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 05:53 PM

Im not sure that France would be a fair comparison as France did declare war on Germany.......

Maybe Belarus as I have mentioned in the past might be a better comparison? A country invaded in which a large part of the population went into hiding and at the same time even launching attacks on the Germans while killing themselves ( charging tanks with grenades in their hands after running out of ammo ) Civilians would also fall victims to the partisans who calaborated with the Germans as was the case in Ukraine.

The Germans called them terrorists. ;)
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#23 Mussolini

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 05:54 PM

I think the main difference is this:

The French Resistance targeted German Military Forces/Installations, disrupted Communication, committed Espionage, etc.

The Iraqi Terrorists are occasionally targeting US Military Forces/Installations, mostly attacking Civilians with Suicide Bombers, committing mass-murder of Civilians.

I think that alone makes it pretty clear cut. It would be one thing if the Terrorists were only targeting the military - like the French Resistance - but as we know they are not. Shiites are attacking Sunnis and vice versa. They still plant the occasional road bomb to kill Americans, but they are more focused on causing 'TERROR' in Iraq by making the Civilians live in fear.

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#24 Skipper

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 06:02 PM

It all depends which side you are on . The Germans called the Resistance "Terroristen" whereas the allies saw them as allies freedom fighters. The question is what would you do if you country was to be occupied and how would the occupiers call you? This could be applied to many conflicts.

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#25 Mussolini

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 06:06 PM

Well of course the Germans called them Terrorists!

But to differentiate between French Freedom Fighters and Iraqi Terrorists, look what i said in my previous post. Or answer these questions:

Did the French Freedom Fighters/Underground 'Terrorize' the French populace?

Did the FFF target Civilians in their attacks?

Did the FFF commit mass-murder of civilians?

The answer to all is NO: they were truly fighting against their oppressors.

In Iraq, the case is different. For previously stated reasons.

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