Volontaires de la Liberté

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The Volontaires de la Liberté was a French resistance group founded in May 1941. Consisting of school boys and led by Jacques Lusseyran, the group's activities consisted initially of propaganda; it published a bulletin that agitated against the Nazi occupation and the regime of Vichy France. After the Service du travail obligatoire, the Compulsory Work Service, was installed by the Nazis in February 1943 the group's size increased and it dispersed, in part due to ideological differences, many members joining the larger, militant Défense de la France to engage in armed combat. Others continued under the Volontaires name and aided other resistance organizations by sheltering downed Allied pilots.

Jacques Lusseyran was a French author and political activist.

Vichy France Client state (1940–1944) of Nazi Germany, administering the Free Zone in southern France and French colonial possessions

Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Evacuated from Paris to Vichy in the unoccupied "Free Zone" in the southern part of metropolitan France which included French Algeria, it remained responsible for the civil administration of France as well as the French colonial empire.

<i>Service du travail obligatoire</i>

The Service du travail obligatoire was the forced enlistment and deportation of hundreds of thousands of French workers to Nazi Germany to work as forced labour for the German war effort during World War II.



The group consisted of school boys (from the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the Lycée Henri-IV) and university students from Paris. [1] [2] Its main founder was the blind student Jacques Lusseyran, [3] and by the end of May 1941 the group had formed a central committee of eight students: Jean Besniée, Jean-Louis Bruch, Pierre Cochery, Jean-Claude Comert, Georges Guillemin, Jacques Lusseyran, Jacques Oudin and Jean Sennelier. [4] Initially the group focused on ideology more than on armed combat, and published its first bulletin in October 1941. [1] Between October 1941 and 1943, the bulletin was published 55 times, in circulations of between 50 and 1000 copies. [nb 1] The bulletin contained news and theoretical articles, with essays on Nazism, democracy, and Marxism; its goal was in the words of Lusseyran, "to understand events and explain them." [4]

Lycée Louis-le-Grand French school in the heart of the Quartier latin in Paris, France

The Lycée Louis-le-Grand is a prestigious secondary school located in Paris. Founded in 1563 by the Jesuits as the Collège de Clermont, it was renamed in King Louis XIV of France's honor after he extended his direct patronage to it in 1682. It offers both a sixth-form college curriculum, and a post-secondary-level curriculum, preparing students for entrance to the elite Grandes écoles for research, such as the École normale supérieure (Paris), for engineering, such as the École Polytechnique, or for business, such as HEC Paris. Students at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand are called magnoludoviciens.

Lycée Henri-IV

The Lycée Henri-IV is a public secondary school located in Paris. Along with Louis-le-Grand and Lycée Condorcet it is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious and demanding sixth-form colleges (lycées) in France.

Initially isolated, by 1942 the group had made contact with other resistance groups, and with the help of Maurice Lacroix, a teacher at Louis-le-Grand. It aided in the distribution of the Résistance, the clandestine paper edited by Marcel Renet, but the group experienced internal dissent after that paper published a pro-Franco article. Lusseyran was aiming for higher circulation, but others wished to stay true to the group's original anti-Pétain direction. A compromise was found in the publication of a second paper, Le Tigre, dedicated to Georges Clemenceau, which appeared seven times (between 500 and 2000 copies) until October 1942. [4]

Francisco Franco Spanish general and dictator

Francisco Franco Bahamonde was a Spanish general and politician who ruled over Spain as Head of State and dictator under the title Caudillo from 1939, after the Nationalist victory in the Spanish Civil War, until his death in 1975. This period in Spanish history is commonly known as Francoist Spain or the Francoist dictatorship.

Philippe Pétain French military and political leader

Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain, generally known as Philippe Pétain, Marshal Pétain or The Old Marshal, was a French general officer who attained the position of Marshal of France at the end of World War I, during which he became known as The Lion of Verdun, and in World War II served as the Chief of State of Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. Pétain, who was 84 years old in 1940, ranks as France's oldest head of state.

Georges Clemenceau 54th Prime Minister of France

Georges Eugène Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman who served as Prime Minister of France during World War I. A leading figure of the Independent Radicals, he played a central role in the politics of the Third Republic.

Organizational split

When the Service du travail obligatoire (STO), the Compulsory Work Service, was installed by the Nazis in February 1943 the group's size increased and dispersed, many members joining the larger, militant Défense de la France to engage in armed combat. [1]

<i>Défense de la France</i>

Défense de la France was an underground newspaper produced by a group of the French Resistance during World War II.

In the meantime Lusseyran had formed an alliance with Philippe Viannay, leader of the Défense de la France. This alliance came to a head in February 1943 when he decided the Volontaires should join the larger group while maintaining organizational independence; he soon found the desire for autonomy counterproductive and incorporated the entire group under the Défense. Especially Pierre Cochery was dissatisfied and the Volontaires split, with a smaller group led by Cochery focusing on clandestine operations like sabotaging the STO through falsifying census data and sheltering deserters. The Volontaires were now led by Cochery, Jean-Louis Bruch, André Darrouzet (arrested in August 1943), and Pierre Bigand (replacing Darrouzet), Jean-Claude Comert, and Yves Allain. They published a single issue of another bulletin, Le Quatrième République. The group worked with Libération-Nord starting in mid-1943, and afterward with Franc-Tireur, and aided the efforts of the Bourgogne group, for example through sheltering allied pilots. Members were arrested and deported, with casualties including Jean Besniée, Jean Sennelier, Pierre Bizos and Jacques Oudin (http://jacques-oudin-resistant.fr). [4] Other members included Léon Delarbre. [6]

Philippe Viannay was a French journalist.

Libération-Nord was one of the principal resistance movements in the northern occupied zone of France during the Second World War.

Franc-Tireur was a French Resistance movement founded at Lyon in November 1940 under the name "France Liberté". It was renamed "Franc-Tireur" in December 1941 on the proposal of Jean-Jacques Soudeille.

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  1. One source lists 99 issues, all hectographed. [5]

Reference notes

  1. 1 2 3 "Volontaires de la Liberté". Histoire mondiale du XXème siècle (in French). France Télévisions. 2014. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  2. Wakeman, Rosemary (2009). The Heroic City: Paris, 1945-1958. U of Chicago P. p. 243. ISBN   9780226870175.
  3. Smith, Huston (2012). The Huston Smith Reader: Edited, with an Introduction, by Jeffery Paine. U of California P. p. 94ff. ISBN   9780520952355.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Hochard, Cécile. "Journal des Volontaires de la Liberté: Le Tigre". Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation à Besançon . Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  5. Lipgens, Walter (1985). Documents on the History of European Integration: Continental plans for European union, 1939-1945 (including 250 documents in their original languages on 6 microfiches). Walter de Gruyter. p. 355. ISBN   9783110097245.
  6. Bernardeau, Jacques. "Les Dessins" (in French). Association Francaise Buchenwald Dora et Kommandos. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2014.