RESISTANCE: European Resistance to Nazism 1940-45 by M. R. D. Foot

RESISTANCE: European Resistance to Nazism 1940-45

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This large, disappointing survey of both popular and agent-conducted WW II resistance to the Nazi occupation of Europe is narrowly British in its focus and manner. Foot, a history professor and former Resistance liaison in Brittany, views the London-based Special Operations Executive (SOE) and British Intelligence's MI-6 as the force behind the Resistance and its success, through coordination of espionage, sabotage, and subversion. Particular stress is placed on the marginal story of Allied combatants (paratroopers, Dunkirk non-evacuees, SOE underground personnel) who escaped from Europe through Resistance aid; a second emphasis falls on the technical apparatus of Bren guns, forged documents, radio transmitters, etc. Foot's subsequent country-by-country synopsis of Resistance activities depends on over-general sketches of national character (he calls it ""race"") plus small, opaque detail. He is sensitive to accusations that the British withheld aid from politically disliked Resistance forces while, unlike Henri Michel--whose Francocentric Shadow War (1972) he often argues against--playing down the grassroots, self-organizational aspects of the Resistance. The book's anecdotal technique--simply banal when it recalls the ""very senior French officer"" who reached the safe-house, forgot the password, and then registered at a hotel in his own name--is more successful in giving a concise sense of spy rings and anti-Hitler plotters. But this is the sort of study that will frustrate readers seeking an introductory access to the activities of the Resistance and its strategic significance, while those with a background in the subject will find Foot as tendentious as Kenneth Macksey in the less ambitious Partisans of Europe (1975). A sophisticated yet objective overview of this subject is still wanting.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1977
Publisher: McGraw-Hill