By definition, total war affects not only the military aspect of a nation but also the economic, political and social aspect of that nation. Therefore, although we hear mostly of military achievements, we often forget the role of civilians in bringing about or hindering victory. In any war, civilians have a major part to play either as refugees, militia, victims of the war, or members of a resistance. World war two being a total war, this was emphasized by the fall, not only of the military, but of the economy, political system, and social class system of occupied territories. Consequently, total war brought on the uprising of several peoples of occupied nations. Although the contribution of these uprisings to the victory of the Allies often goes unnoticed, one must wonder whether the Allies would have been able to celebrate a victory, had these ordinary civilians not interfered in German affairs.

Resistance movements in the world war years ranged from humanitarian aid, to sabotage. After the blitz and the first deportation of Jews, occupied nations began to organize movements against the Nazis. Some of the most well known resistance groups of World War two include the Yugoslav Partisans led by the infamous Tito, the Polish Kome Army which was the largest resistance force established and also responsible for the Warsaw uprising of 1943. However, a resistance group that stands out for its contribution to Allied victory in France is the French “Maquis” (also called the French Forces of the Interior or FFI).

It was the circumstances the French found themselves into that made them rebel. French soil was still scarred with the effects of the First World War. Where they had though to punish Germany with the Treaty of Versailles, they were now reliving what had nearly destroyed them twenty years earlier. Still exhausted, many of the French were unwilling to fight back. One that was, was Charles de Gaulle. After the “push to Paris” where Hitler occupied France’s capital, Charles de Gaulle fled to London where he led over 100 000 resistance troops in France- in alliance with the British SOE (British Special Operations Executive). In his speech to raise the spirits of his fellow Frenchmen and to recruit as many as possible, de Gaulle said “ Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and shall not die.” This only goes to show the determination of some of the French to defend their people further. Another reason for the rebellion of the French was that Pact they made with Britain prior to the war. It was agreed that neither would sign a separate peace with Germany. Therefore, in the Armistice signed on June 22 1940, it was seen as a betrayal to the Allies.

The formation of resistance groups also created or strengthened alliances such as the one between Britain and France. The SOE supported French rebellion groups as well as Norwegian and Polish Partisans.