Condemning Rebellion In Occupied France And Ireland

The mandated President of the French State, Marshal Henri Pétain, greeting the German Führer Adolf Hitler in Vichy France

Today’s Irish Times newspaper carries a deeply offensive article examining the period of 1939-45 in France and what the author of the piece characterizes as the “armed rebellion” of the French Resistance against the mandated administration of the country by Nazi Germany and it’s collaborationist partners during World War II. In particular the journalist questions the continued veneration of the militant movement by the modern French state and its celebration by political parties of all hues:

“The French Resistance was indeed the catalyst for the recreation of an independent French State, as Ronan Fanning wrote in the concluding article of The Irish Times series on 1939-45, but does that mean we should be proud of it?

The resistance itself was an act of armed rebellion by an extremist group outside the mainstream of nationalist politics, and with no electoral mandate. It came at a time when the state – Vichy France – was a neutral ally with Germany. That alliance had the overwhelming support of France’s democratically elected representatives to the French national assembly. The leaders of the rebellion had sought and received aid from the Allies.

The rebels no doubt showed bravery in openly, and in uniform, confronting the authority of the state and its armed forces. Even before the executions there were signs of some public sympathy, even admiration, for their courageous stand in the face of inevitable defeat. But they were still ideologues with no electoral support, prepared to kill and destroy in pursuit of their political aims at a time when unprecedented progress, albeit stalled by the ongoing war, had been made towards the goal of a fully self-governing France.

Should, 100 years on, a modern parliamentary democracy, committed to the rule of law and peaceful settlement of all disputes, celebrate as the seminal event in its history an armed insurrection by a small minority with no mandate?

Should a state with a long history of sporadic armed challenge to its authority be celebrating such an event? Should it do so when there are still organisations and individuals who believe their political aspirations are such that they entitle them to kill and destroy in pursuit of them?

Would it not be more appropriate to honour de Brinon, Alibert, Laval and Pétain, who worked peacefully through the democratic means open to them, and enlisted massive public support for nationalist goals, than to worship, as nationalist France has done for most of a century, at the shrine of violence cloaked in the veil of heroic sacrifice?

Most praise of the Resistance in the Irish Times series is based on its undeniable role in the rapid achievement of liberation for most of the country. Thus the desirable end justifies the illegal and undemocratic means?

The Resistance ensured liberation was secured by violent struggle, in which most of those killed were French. That violent legacy was evidenced even more tragically in the fratricidal post-occupation conflict, when once again the ideologues believed the virtue of their ideals counted for more than the will of the majority. The long shadow of the gunmen of 1939 has helped inspire political campaigns in practically every decade since 1945, and still does so today.

Much is written of the failure of post-liberation politicians to live up to the ideals of the men of 1939-45, but those politicians were themselves “men of 1939”. Some were veterans of the event, almost all, in both major parties, claimed its mantle. They still do.

The centenary is surely a time for reflection, not celebration.”

Note: the article was not really about France, the French Resistance or the 1939-45 period. More on this here. As for Ireland’s very own Marshal Pétain

The Roman Catholic hierarchy with John Redmond MP, the leader of the Irish Nationalist establishment, 1912
The Roman Catholic hierarchy with John Redmond MP, the leader of the Irish Nationalist establishment, 1912


    1. How’d your wee country fayre? All flowers and petals? How about loads of other countries… the majority who were under the colonial yoke? Go on, give us all an answer or maybe we should go back to talking about to how, when and where we should limit public protest? Learn well from your colonial masters you have…

      1. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are not independent, the English monarch is still the head of state in these countries.

    2. Jānis, if Canada, Australia and New Zealand were ruled by First Nation, Aboriginal and Maori governments you would have a point. However they are not. You are not comparing like for like. In Ireland the “natives” became independent not the colonisers.

    3. I have read that opinion many times.
      The only reason I can figure as to why the Brits left those places was either politics or logistics.
      I suspect the Royal Navy couldn’t defend Australia and New Zealand So that was why they retreated.
      As to Canada..Perhaps the rise of the USA or maybe the Brits were been drained for manpower/ money by the French in some other sphere??
      In order to believe that statement to be true..You’d have to put the British decision to withdraw in historical context.
      I suspect the British had selfish reasons..and it wasn’t a grand gesture. However I am in no way well educated enough to know for sure.
      Otherwise why not leave, Africa, India and Ireland at the same time???

      1. But the UK left their African colonies and India as well and no parts of those countries are part of the UK right now.

        1. I think you’ll find that leaving India and the African colonies happened post ww2. ndeed they didn’t leave Zimbawe till 1980(ish) And the reason why that is important is that the USA was opposed to European colonies and under the Marshall Plan Britain got $3.3 Billion in aid. The Dutch had their Marshall Aid cut off when they tried to reoccupy Indonesia.
          Ergo it wasn’t British generosity of spirit that made them leave ..It was post ww2 debts and decline.
          Also If Churchill had of won the election..he would have most likely stayed in India.
          I could see that as been Britain’s Vietnam If they had tried to stay.

          1. I’d rather live in the UK than India or Zimbabwe – their independence has made them truly great countries. (sarcasm)

            1. Yeah well they didn’t get billions of Marshall Aid So there’s that.
              Imagine how broken the uk would be without it. Probably still have rationing and “food banks” 🙂

              1. 3 billions (~30 in 2015 dollars) is not an enormous sum for the UK. It’s enough to subsidise NI for 1.5 years.

                But don’t let the facts stand in the way of your mindless hate.

              2. I suspect it is rather more than 30 Billion in today’s money.
                When you factor in the spending power.
                As for Hate.
                Only Haiti and Ireland have lower populations at present time than what they did in the 19th Century.
                See Latvia anywhere on that list?
                Yet you don’t “love” the Russians Do you?
                I would say the Russkies were nicer to you lot than the brits were to the Irish…All-in-all
                Read the comment about the moat in your own eye on this very thread.
                Also..My ancestors were wealthy landlords in times before Cromwell.
                They were given the opportunity of changing their religion to protestantism and keeping their lands or remaining Catholic and losing the lot.
                They chose the latter…So you could say..It’s in the blood.

              3. What’s in the blood?
                Beliefs in superstitious nonsense?
                Your ancestors weren’t very bright apparently because there isn’t much difference between those two bullshit denominations of Christianity.

                And science has proven that Christian beliefs have little in common with the real world anyway.

                Also one of the reasons why Latvian is much more widely spoken than Irish is that our language, not bronze age fairy tales is at the centre of our identity.

              4. “mindless hate”? I think you should unpack that one for us, Jānis. Examples of the mindlessness and then examples of the hate will suffice. Thanks.

    4. How about the USA…..was the American War of Independence of 1775-83 an exercise in pointless bloodshed too ?
      Do you think Latvia could have taken a lesson from the Finns in 1939 and fought for independence – or do you think it was better to simply allow the Soviet Union to walk in and take your country over ?

        1. So just because some of my countrymen fought against a barbaric and bloodthirsty regime that didn’t even care for the lives of their own and persecuted my family, I have to support a bunch of terrorists who fought against a civilised country and murdered hundreds of innocent civilians?

          By that logic I should support ISIS and Al Quaeda as well.

          1. You will just have to come to terms that many Irish view the British as a barbaric and bloodthirsty regime that didn’t care for the lives of their own and persecuted our families, during their occupation of Ireland. Many Russians would refer to their losses to Latvian “terrorists” as innocent civilians. It is a mere matter of viewpoint. The Brits do a jolly good job of putting up a civilised front, that I do agree with. They occasionally betray themselves with subtle symbolism such as celebrating their historical genocides, Hitler salutes (kind of like the Russians during a national celebration not too long ago – t’was a strange sight), and face paint advocating the murder of Catholics. In brief, very pleasant folks.

        2. Regarding the language laws – If you pass anything similar to Latvian language laws here then most people outside of the Gaeltacht, including yourself, would become outlaws – good luck with that.

          And if I actually acted here as I act in Latvia (communicated in Irish only) then I would become a social outcast and everyone would hate me and I would probably lose my job or don’t get it in the first place – and I don’t want that.

          1. Actually I encourage you to pass them.
            It would probably result in the largest protest movement Ireland has ever seen and I and all the other immigrants would stand right next to it and laugh our asses off 😀

  1. You have to just love the total and blind acceptance of “rule of law,” especially if it is the “law” of the Nazi, the Bolshevik, ISIL, and the like. How strange to apply “democratic means” to an autocratic regime. “Be smooth and fit in, said the millstone to the grain.”

    1. Yes, they have made a massive blunder.
      As Napoleon used to say..”never interupt your enemy whilst he is making a mistake”

  2. Wow, what a load of revisionism bullsh*t! There was no legislative election between 1936 and 1945 in France. The election of 1936 was won by a leftist front of communist, radical socialist and the workers international. The vichy government was installed by the occupant with right wing authoritarian nazi collaborators. Where in hell is there any form of democracy in that?

    ”Would it not be more appropriate to honour de Brinon, Alibert, Laval and Pétain, who worked peacefully through the democratic means open to them, and ENLISTED MASSIVE PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR NATIONALIST GOAL” I’m just speechless in front of such distortions of the truth being published in a ”serious” paper.

  3. Yes, by all means, France should erect monuments to Pierre Laval, who authorized the deportment of foreign Jews to Nazi death camps, and the other Vichy lapdogs. As long as tyranny and genocide was abetted peacefully, all was good.

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