From the onset of German-Soviet conflict in 1941, Communist parties throughout Europe were notable for their active and dominant in local resistance against Nazi occupation.
After September 1943, partisan Resistance groups were active throughout northern and much of central Italy. Many were recruited, organized, and armed by the anti-Fascist parties or at least owed vague allegiance to one of them. Partisans were fighting three types of war: a civil war against Italian Fascists, a war of national liberation against German occupation, and a class war against the ruling elites. Communist Party groups fought all three types. Catholic or monarchist partisans, on the other hand, fought only one or two of these.
The Communist Party, although still very small in 1943 (about 5,000 members), led the largest group of partisans (at least 50,000 by summer 1944). Success in the Resistance transformed the Communists into a major force in postwar Italian politics. After the war, the three largest parties were the Christian Democrats, Socialists, and Communists.
Jewish partisans in Eastern Europe
Individual Jews or groups of Jews engaged in planned or spontaneous opposition to the Germans and their allies. Jewish partisans were especially active in the east, where they fought the Germans from bases established behind the front lines in forests and ghettos. Because antisemitism was widespread there, they found little support among the surrounding population. Even so, as many as 20,000 Jews fought the Germans in the forests of eastern Europe.
What many dont like to acknowledge is that these partisans supported and made up the communist governments of eastern Europe after 1945. And in fact, “partisan” activity had begun way before the war.
Example: St. Nedelya Church assault from April 16, 1925 from Bulgaria, committed by Bulgarian Communist party. Max Goldstein terror attack in 1920 in Romania – the first terror attack in Romanian history.
War and revolution were wanted in Europe since 1919 Bolshevik revolution, in order to create the chaos that is needed to justify the installment of a new regime – communism. World War Two created the perfect conditions for that.
1985 – Controversy Flares Over Role of Communist Party in French Resistance
In February, 1944, the Nazi occupation force, preparing to execute 23 members of the French Resistance, slapped copies of a poster on buildings throughout Paris that pictured and identified 10 of the condemned men.
Not one had a French name: Manouchian, Grzywacz, Elek, Wasjbrot, Witchitz, Fingerweig, Boczov, Fontanot, Alfonso, Rayman. All were immigrants. The Germans identified the leader, Missack Manouchian, as Armenian, and the others as five Polish Jews, two Hungarian Jews, one Italian and one Spaniard. All were Communists.
This “red poster,” venerated in a 1955 poem by the French writer Louis Aragon, has a hallowed place now in the annals of immigrants who fought against the Nazi occupation of France, for it is a glorification of their role and of their martyrdom. The poster was pasted up all over town for a far different reason, however.
The Nazis wanted to sully the name of the Resistance by making it seem Communist, foreign and Jewish. There was enough truth in that assertion to trouble the French then and to continue to trouble them now.
Now, more than 40 years later, a controversy has erupted over the arrest and execution of this band of anti-Nazi battlers, known, from their leader’s name, as the Manouchian group. The French Communist Party has been accused of allowing these Communist resisters to fall into the hands of the Nazis.
According to the accusation, denied vehemently by the party, the Communist leaders wanted their comrades out of the way to make sure that, as liberation approached, the Communist wing of the Resistance would be controlled by native French and not foreign immigrants. This may have seemed even more necessary toward the end of the war when the Communists were in competition with the native French followers of Gen. Charles de Gaulle for control of the Resistance movement.
This summer, a documentary about these resisters was scheduled, banned and then finally shown on national television. A two-hour debate followed the documentary on television, and for a time arguments about the role of the immigrants and Jews in the Resistance filled the national newspapers and magazines of France.
Fall From Grace
The troubling controversy reflected both the great difficulty that the French have in dealing with their behavior during the Nazi occupation and the extraordinary, recent fall from grace of the Communist Party, which now faces challenges to some of its most cherished myths of World War II.
The documentary’s director, Serge Mosco, may have erred in trying to touch both nerves. Even some of those who lobbied for the telecast of the film, such as the prominent Jewish lawyer Serge Klarsfeld, believe Mosco was wrong to bring up the Communist betrayal issue. Klarsfeld says that the controversy has drawn attention away from the real issue of the film–the nature of the French Resistance.
“It was mostly immigrants–and most of them were Jews–who killed Nazis,” Klarsfeld said in a recent interview. “In the first year of the war, France was like a sanitarium for the Germans. They could go there for a rest.” It was not until the Jews and immigrants began battling that the Resistance got under way.
“What is important for us,” Klarsfeld said, “is that everyone should know that Jews were among the most important members of the Resistance of France.”
Image Doesn’t Fit
All this conflicts with an image that most French like to have about the Resistance–the image of many native French abhorring the Nazi occupation, secretly supporting the cause of De Gaulle and his Free French Forces outside France, and early on joining the Resistance in France to battle the German oppressors. The image does not fit the historical record.
Until June, 1941, when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, there was no resistance at all inside France. The majority of the French supported the pro-Fascist Vichy government of Marshal Henri Petain. De Gaulle discouraged acts of terrorism by his followers for fear of reprisals against innocent civilians. The Communist Party was not going to attack Germans so long as the Soviet Union had a nonaggression treaty with Germany.
After the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, however, the Communists began the French Resistance. A large number of their recruits were young immigrants, many of them workers with Communist backgrounds.
Tthe party leadership, following the anti-Semitic tone of Stalin after the war, later tried to erase the role of the Jews and other immigrants from the history of the Resistance. The Resistance would be French, not foreign and Jewish.
Mosco’s documentary, called “Terrorists in Retreat,” was largely a memoir of survivors of the Manouchian unit who re-enacted some of their old terrorist acts and talked about the days of the Resistance. Some of their accents were so heavy that their spoken French was reinforced by French subtitles on the screen.
There were more direct accusations, as well. In a crucial analysis on the program, historian Philippe Ganier-Raymond said: “The underground Communist Party saw that the army that would rise from the shadows after the war would be an army made up of foreigners, of Jews. . . . It was inconceivable that the resisters come from Central Europe and not from old-line French families. In my opinion, the leaders of the Irregulars and Partisans decided, with great cynicism, to sacrifice and abandon them.”
Still, Ganier-Raymond went on, without further proof he could not conclude that the party “delivered” these immigrants to the Gestapo.
The Yugoslav Partisans
(National Liberation Army)
The Yugoslav Resistance was an anti-Nazi resistance movement led by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia during World War II. Its commander was Marshal Josip Broz Tito. By September 1941, it is estimated that there were about 70,000 resistance fighters in Yugoslavia. British supplies began to arrive in 1944 for the Yugoslav Communist Resistance.
During World War I, Josip Tito served in the Austro-Hungarian army. He was captured as a prisoner of war and transported to the Russian interior. He joined a Bolshevik group while in prison and after escaping, he joined the Bolshevik Red Guards several months before the October Revolution.
Back in Yugoslavia, he continued his revolutionary work. He was picked up and spent six years in prison. He was released in 1934 and joined the Comintern in Moscow. Visited Moscow several times and was appointed Secretary of Yugoslav Communist Party in 1937.
After Nazi invasion, set up his Partisans in Serbia in 1941, and led by far the most powerful resistance movement in Europe, supported by various British, Soviets and others. By end of the war, Tito’s forces had control of the whole country. He remained leader of the country until his death in 1980. Though not under direct Stalinist control, Yugoslavia became communist as well.
(National Liberation Front)
Faced with an illiterate, agrarian, and mostly Muslim society monitored by King Zog’s security police, Albania’s Communist movement attracted few adherents in the interwar period. In fact, the country had no fully-fledged Communist Party before World War II. The Albanian National Liberation Front was later transformed in May 1944 in the government of Albania and its leaders became government members. It was replaced in August 1945 by the Democratic Front.
After the Italian invasion there was no resistance to the Italian army. Meanwhile the communist activity in Albania increased and culminated with the creation on 8 November 1941 of the Albanian Communist Party. The communist party began to create their own groups of resistance. These detachments started to engage in various acts of sabotage to the Italian forces. They also started to make antifascist propaganda in order to gain the attention and the support of the masses.
The communist partisans regrouped, attacked the Germans and gained control of southern Albania in April 1944. In 29 November 1944 partisan forces liberated the last city and this is the official date of liberation of the country. A provisional government the communists was formed in 1944, until the elections of December 1945, in which the Democratic Front (made up of communists) won 93% of the vote.