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“Olivier Wieviorka presents a clear-eyed view of the achievements and limitations of resistance efforts, moving beyond romanticized tales of valor and dismissive tales of military ineffectiveness. Above all, the book shows the vital role played first of the British and, later, American secret services—all too often forgotten in Europe since the war—in coordinating and directing the efforts of disparate movements across western Europe.” — Clifford Rosenberg, City College of New York
In just three months in 1940, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France fell to the Nazis. The German occupation of Western Europe had begun—but a brave few rose up in defiance. National resistance has long been celebrated in remembrances of World War II, depicted as making significant contributions to the defeat of Nazi Germany. However, the so-called army of shadows drew heavily on the support of London and Washington, a fact often forgotten in postwar Europe. The Resistance in Western Europe is a sweeping analytical history of the underground anti-Nazi forces during World War II. Examining clandestine organizations in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Italy, Olivier Wieviorka sheds new light on the factors that shaped the resistance and its place in the grand scheme of Anglo-American military strategy. While national actors played a leading role in fomenting resistance, British and American intelligence services and propaganda as well as financial, material, and logistical support were crucial to its activities and growth. Wieviorka illuminates the policies of governments in exile and resistance actors regarding cooperation with the British and Americans, pointing to the persistence of national self-interest and long-standing historical tensions. Drawing on a wide range of archival sources and bringing together the political, diplomatic, and military dimensions of the conflict, this book is the first account of the resistance on a continental scale and from a trans-European perspective.
Olivier Wieviorka is a professor at École normale supérieure de Cachan and a well-regarded specialist on the Resistance and World War II. His previous books include Histoire du Debarquement (History of D-Day, Seuil, 2007), and Histoire de la Resistance (The French Resistance, Perrin, 2013), whose English translation (by Janet Todd) Belknap Press published in 2016.
"Wieviorka treats the Resistance in Western Europe as a multinational coalition. Anglo-Americans supplied arms and funding to Resistance groups on the continent, and Resistance movements in turn aided in the Allied war effort. It was part tug-of-war, résistants striving to maintain autonomy, and part pas-de-deux, the two sides working together in a common effort that helped shape what Wieviorka calls an incipient “European consciousness.” This is a history on a grand scale commensurate with the epic character of the complex struggle it recounts."
— Philip Nord, Princeton University