Event Title

Moral Considerations of Resistance Movements in Nazi Occupied France

Presenter Information

Bryden Nugent, Colby CollegeFollow

Location

Diamond 153

Start Date

30-4-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

30-4-2015 11:55 AM

Project Type

Presentation

Description

The majority of resistance movements in Nazi-occupied France focused on non-violent actions, such as information gathering, sabotage and smuggling of Allied airmen. However, some resistance groups engaged in violent forms of resistance, such as guerilla warfare and assassinations. In response to these acts of violence, Germans adhered to a strict policy of killing 10 or more French civilians for every German killed. Furthermore, resistance groups were often poorly-trained and poorly-armed, standing little chance of victory against the occupiers in guerilla combat. Leaders of these violent resistance movements argued that their actions inspired a spirit of resistance in the population and placed the German soldiers in a hostile climate of fear and insecurity. However, did these resistance leaders have the right to effectively sign the death warrants of dozens of Jews, Communists, and other French citizens as a consequence of their actions? This paper examines how various contemporaries and scholars judge the moral choices of French resistance movements. Opinions of violent resistance evolved and changed significantly throughout the course of the war. Towards the beginning of the occupation, acts of violence against the Nazi occupiers and unanimously seen as reckless acts of terrorism. As resistance became more organized and the Allied invasion of France neared, violent resistance became more widespread and tolerable. Communist resistance groups, such as the FTP, were far more likely to engage in violent resistance. Within both the violent and non-violent resistance groups, there were frequent debates regarding the utility and moral implications of their actions.

Faculty Sponsor

Raffael Scheck

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. History Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Social Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1905

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Apr 30th, 10:30 AM Apr 30th, 11:55 AM

Moral Considerations of Resistance Movements in Nazi Occupied France

Diamond 153

The majority of resistance movements in Nazi-occupied France focused on non-violent actions, such as information gathering, sabotage and smuggling of Allied airmen. However, some resistance groups engaged in violent forms of resistance, such as guerilla warfare and assassinations. In response to these acts of violence, Germans adhered to a strict policy of killing 10 or more French civilians for every German killed. Furthermore, resistance groups were often poorly-trained and poorly-armed, standing little chance of victory against the occupiers in guerilla combat. Leaders of these violent resistance movements argued that their actions inspired a spirit of resistance in the population and placed the German soldiers in a hostile climate of fear and insecurity. However, did these resistance leaders have the right to effectively sign the death warrants of dozens of Jews, Communists, and other French citizens as a consequence of their actions? This paper examines how various contemporaries and scholars judge the moral choices of French resistance movements. Opinions of violent resistance evolved and changed significantly throughout the course of the war. Towards the beginning of the occupation, acts of violence against the Nazi occupiers and unanimously seen as reckless acts of terrorism. As resistance became more organized and the Allied invasion of France neared, violent resistance became more widespread and tolerable. Communist resistance groups, such as the FTP, were far more likely to engage in violent resistance. Within both the violent and non-violent resistance groups, there were frequent debates regarding the utility and moral implications of their actions.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/336