The Myth of the Free French

Jonathan Abel
Jonathan Abel of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College sets the record straight on one of the more inspiring – but somewhat mythicized – chapters of World War II: Resistance forces and other Frenchmen uniting behind Charles de Gaulle and the cause of ending German occupation.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Reception: 
6 pm
Program: 
6:30 pm
The traditional portrait of France during World War II is one of a people united behind Charles de Gaulle and the cause of freeing the country from German occupation. To wit: the French Resistance, whose surreptitious work to derail trains, disrupt communications, and otherwise hinder the enemy came to capture the public’s imagination.

Jonathan Abel, an assistant professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, discusses what he describes as the postwar mythicizing of France’s struggle, an effort by de Gaulle to restore the honor of a nation that officially had chosen collaboration with the Nazis. Free France was, in truth, rife with internal struggle, divided into innumerable factions within the Resistance. Free French forces, and other groups were fighting as much for their own ends as for liberation.