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An armed member of the French Resistance poses alongside some children in Châteaudun.Wikimedia Commons
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An encampment of the Maquis, bands of rural Resistance fighters. They played an important role in hampering the German mobilization to counter the D-Day landings.Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images
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Male and female Maquis march through French farmland in the summer of 1944.AFP/Getty Images
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A poster promoting the "National Liberation Movement" plastered around Paris by Resistance fighters. Wikimedia Commons
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Members of the French Resistance from Huelgoat, in northwestern France. Wikimedia Commons
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A group of French Resistance fighters in Corsica, circa 1942. FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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A train derailment caused by the French Resistance, circa 1942.LAPI/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
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French Resistance fighters sabotaging the Marseille-Paris railway in Romanèche on August 30, 1944. Roger Viollet/Getty Images
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Maquis in the summer of 1944.AFP/Getty Images
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Maquis wait in ambush on the island of Corsica.Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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While many French Resistance fighters did their work with a gun, others did equally important work with a pen. Journalists played a central part in keeping France informed during Nazi occupation and in restoring the free French press after the liberation.
Pictured: Agence France-Presse journalists who had helped take the press back from Vichy control pose after the liberation of Paris in August 1944.STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
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Maquis fighters, 1944.AFP/Getty Images
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The 18-year-old French Resistance fighter known as Nicole Minet, who captured 25 Nazis on her own during the fall of the town of Chartres.Wikimedia Commons
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Despite the success of some Resistance operations, German forces captured many French fighters, including these men, circa 1944.Wikimedia Commons
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Resistance prisoners in July 1944.Wikimedia Commons
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Resistance fighters write slogans in chalk on the front of Sherman tanks carrying members of the 2nd Irish Guards in late August, 1944. Wikimedia Commons
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A U.S. soldier provides back up to a French Resistance fighter during a street fight.
Some sources state that the Allies staged this photo for publicity purposes. Wikimedia Commons
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French Resistance fighters confer with American soldiers not long after D-Day.Wikimedia Commons
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Maquis in Wimille, September 1944.Wikimedia Commons
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A group of French Resistance fighters walks down a street brandishing their weapons in the Eure-et-Loir region of France. RDA/Tallandier/Getty Images
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Resistance fighters at a barricade on the Pont Neuf, in Paris, preparing to take on the last remnants of the German Army in the city.
As Allied forces neared Paris, the city's citizens mobilized to help bring the Nazi occupation to a close. On August 18, the Resistance began building barricades around Paris and instigating skirmishes with German troops.
By the time the Germans surrendered after French troops entered the city on on August 25, an estimated 1,500 civilians and members of the Resistance had been killed.Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images
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A member of the French Resistance teams up with a civilian and a French soldier behind barbed wire to fire on the enemy. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
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Members of the French Resistance hide behind trees during the liberation, surveying the roofs and windows to track down the last German soldiers and snipers. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
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French street fighters, probably members of the Resistance, stay close to the side of a building during fighting for the liberation of Paris. Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images
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FFI soldiers escort captured German soldiers through the streets of Paris on August 24, 1944.-/AFP/Getty Images
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Women suspected of having sex or otherwise collaborating with the Germans had their heads shaved and were publicly humiliated by the French Resistance following the liberation of Paris. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
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A barber shaves the head of a woman accused of being a Nazi collaborator while armed French Resistance members surround her in Bourg-Blanc. Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
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Accused female Nazi collaborators marched through the streets of Paris on June 21, 1944.Wikimedia Commons
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After the liberation of Paris, the celebrations begin: The "Champaubert," one of the first French tanks to arrive in the city, appears at the Hotel de Ville during the liberation. A liberation army member shakes hands with his counterpart in the French Resistance. Serge DE SAZO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
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A memorial to slain members of the French Resistance in Vassieux-en-Vercors, France. Wikimedia Commons
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Members of the Resistance standing on Paris's crumbling barricades cheer on American troops arriving in the city to relieve them at last. Bettmann/Getty Images
31 Rousing Photos Of The French Resistance In Action
In the spring of 1940, Germany conquered France in just six weeks. From there, the Nazis continued their toxic march across Europe -- and left Allied forces in need of a plan to liberate France and much of the rest of the continent from Hitler's clutches.
Enter the French Resistance, an all-volunteer group of French guerrilla fighters and saboteurs who refused to accept Nazi occupation.
They had operated in France since June 1940, when exiled French general Charles de Gaulle addressed his people from London, urging them to unite in resistance of the Vichy government -- the puppet government set up by the Nazis to lead France.
The French Resistance only had about about 220,000 officially recognized members during its five-year existence -- less than a single percent of the French population -- although historians now claim that a total of 400,000 people may have been involved in some capacity.
Some took direct orders from Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executive, which mobilized resistance movements in Nazi-occupied countries to undermine the German army's operations. Other French Resistance groups targeted the railways to prevent the German army from regrouping and receiving supplies, while others gathered military intelligence and passed it on the British army, helping them plan and execute their own operations against the Germans.
In order to plan successful operations in Europe, the Allies enlisted the help of their own interior "allies," sending secret messages to the French Resistance and encouraging them to carry out as many acts of sabotage as possible.
And that the Resistance did. They disabled railroads, power lines, and communications, making it difficult for the Germans to coordinate and gather reinforcements during the invasion and in the ensuing weeks.
Two months later, with D-Day largely a success, French Resistance forces in Paris geared up for American troops to liberate the city. They then staged a final uprising against their occupier, capturing German soldiers in sporadic bouts of fighting and building barricades to defend against German soldiers as they waited for American forces to arrive.
On August 24, soldiers led by French general Philippe Leclerc, alongside American troops, took Paris back. Celebrations ensued as the rest of the German army was arrested and France could once again call itself free.
However, the French Resistance wasn't all heroics: Following Paris' liberation, many resistance fighters punished women they suspected of collaborating with Germans (especially those accused of sleeping with German soldiers) by shaving their heads in public and parading them around the city for public shaming. Liberation apparently included demonization, offering a reminder that the moral difference between winners and losers is not as clear as we may like to believe.