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From Vacillation to Resolve

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From Vacillation to Resolve: The French Communist Party in the Resistance, 1939-1944

Category: History / Military / World War II
Format: Trade Paper, 96 pages
Pub Date: Spring 2018
Price: $17.95
ISBN: 978-1-58838-381-5
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From Vacillation to Resolve tells the little-known story of the French Communist Party’s role in the Resistance movement against the Nazis during World War II. Author Julian McPhillips Jr. researched this story and published it as his senior thesis at Princeton University in 1968. It is being published in book form for the first time on the fiftieth anniversary of his graduation.

McPhillips divides the behavior of the French Communist resisters into three stages: The first brief phase in the late summer of 1939 was an anti-fascist reflex which was repressed in the early occupation.

During the second stage, from October 1939 to mid-1941, the party’s members fought vigorously against the French war governments of Daladier and Reynaud. Following the fall of France, under the Russo-German Pact, French Communists achieved a brief “semi-legality” in the period leading up to the German attack on Russia. Even in this period, however, some French Communists left the party to resist the Germans on their own initiative.

The final stage was from June 22, 1941, to the liberation of France in August 1944. The French Communists were united in their resolve and effected sabotage, distributed clandestine media materials, and fought bravely in organized guerrilla (maquis) actions. Despite playing key roles in the fighting, however, the Communists jockeyed with the Gaullists not only on Resistance tactics but also on post-war plans.

Overall, following the German attack against the USSR, the war for French Communists changed from an imperialistic conflict to the defense of liberty.