French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

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SamuelOfGreenBay
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French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

Post by SamuelOfGreenBay » 29 Nov 2021 05:31

Hello
I have been attempting to find how many casualties were inflicted by the French, Belgian and Dutch resistance during the occupation
I have heard of 2,000 for the French but that seems far too low
For four years (1,461 days) of occupation that’s less than 1.5 a day
In a nation with 400,000 resistance members that seems far too low
I heard of 600 German troops dying after the Belgian resistance derailed a train but other than that nothing
Any answers are appreciated

wwilson
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Re: French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

Post by wwilson » 29 Nov 2021 09:04

A "sorry" upfront as I know you're looking for casualty figures, but thought these items worth mentioning.

Four years of occupation (five for much of the Netherlands), but much resistance activity was not so much direct combat with German troops as it was a struggle for 'hearts and minds'.

IIRC, the total of 400,000 resistance members in France is for the period after the Allies landed and in which many people joined the resistance in securing local areas, acting as guides and intel sources for Allied troops, and so forth.

Of course, there were many instances of direct combat between resistance elements and the German forces. But as far as 'solid data' goes, sorting inflicted casualties poses questions like--

* Do casualties inflicted while operating with regular Allied forces count toward the total?

* Do casualties inflicted upon elements of the occupied state deemed collaborationist count toward the total?

One would have to decide "how to count" and then probably do a painstaking review of archival data.

Cheers

Knouterer
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Re: French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

Post by Knouterer » 06 Dec 2021 14:03

During the first few years of occupation, the fledgling resistance movements in Western Europe as a rule did not directly attack German soldiers or officials, firstly because they were numerically weak, poorly organized and very poorly armed, and secondly because the Germans would take bloody reprisals. Hitler at one point ordered that a hundred hostages should be shot for every German killed, and fifty for every German wounded.
Even when assassinations started, the targets were more often collaborators than Germans. Which made sense of course, because the Germans could not effectively control occupied countries without a lot of assistance from civil servants, police etc.
The Communists, who had the most experience with clandestine organisations, remained neutral until Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. In occupied France, not a single German soldier had been killed by the resistance until 21 August 1941, when a young Kriegsmarine officer was shot in a metro station in Paris.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Knouterer
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Re: French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

Post by Knouterer » 08 Dec 2021 22:27

Apart from the above considerations concerning reprisals etc., many people in occupied countries, even if they were strongly patriotic and anti-German, were not convinced that killing Germans was the right thing to do.
The laws of war as they stood in 1940 (Geneva and Hague Conventions &c.) certainly strongly suggested that it was not. These international laws had the laudable aim of preventing the atrocities of guerilla war and the inevitable reprisals against innocent civilians as had happened in for example the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.
The basic principle was that in wartime there were only two categories of people, combatants and the peaceful population, and no one could claim to belong to both categories at the same time. Civilians could take up arms against an invader, but were only recognized as lawful combatants if they met several conditions (as formulated in a US Army manual of that time):
a. Armies, militia, and volunteer corps.-The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following conditions :
1. To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
2. To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
3. To carry arms openly; and
4. To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and usages of war. In countries where militia or volunteer corps constitute the army, or form part of it, they are included under the denomination “army" (H.R., art. 1).

b. Levée en masse.-The inhabitants of a territory which has not been occupied, who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time to organize themselves in accordance with article 1, shall be regarded as belligerents if they carry arms openly and if they respect the laws and customs of war (H. R., art. 2).


But:

12. Uprisings in occupied territory.- If the people of a country, or any portion thereof, already occupied by an army, rise against it, they are violators of the laws of war, and are not entitled to their protection.

So the laws of war at the time offered no protection to partisans and resistance fighters. Once a territory was effectively occupied by an invader, the “peaceful population” was supposed to abstain from any hostile act and follow the occupant’s orders:

“301. Reciprocal obligations of inhabitants.- In return for such considerate treatment, it is the duty of the inhabitants to carry on their ordinary peaceful pursuits; to behave in an absolutely peaceful manner; to take no part whatever in the hostilities carried on; to refrain from all injurious acts toward the troops or in respect to their operations; and to render strict obedience to the officials of the occupant.

347. Hostilities committed by individuals not of armed forces.- Persons who take up arms and commit hostilities without having complied with the conditions prescribed by the laws of war for recognition as belligerents are, when captured by the injured party, liable to punishment as war criminals.

348. War rebels. - War rebels are persons within territory under hostile military occupation who rise in arms against the occupying forces or against the authorities established by the same. If captured they may be punished with death, whether they rise singly or in small or large bands, whether or not they have been called upon to do so by their own expelled government, and, in event of conspiracy to rebel, whether or not such conspiracy shall have matured by overt act of hostility.


350. War treason. - Examples of acts which, when committed by inhabitants of territory under hostile military occupation, are punishable by the occupying belligerent as treasonable under laws of war, are as follows: espionage; supplying information to the enemy; damage to railways, war material, telegraphs or other means of communication; aiding prisoners of war to escape; conspiracy against the occupying forces or members thereof; intentional misleading of troops while acting as guides; voluntary assistance to the enemy by giving money or acting as guides; inducing soldiers of the occupying faces to act as spies for the enemy, to desert, or to surrender; bribing soldiers in the interest of the enemy; damage or alteration to military notices and signposts in the interest of the enemy; fouling sources of water supply and concealing animals, vehicles, supplies, and fuel in the interest of the enemy; knowingly aiding the advance or retirement of the enemy; and circulating propaganda in the interests of the enemy.

351. Unauthorized belligerents. - Men and bodies of men, who, without being lawful belligerents as defined in paragraph 9, nevertheless commit hostile acts of any kind, are not entitled to the privileges of combatants. If captured, they have no right to be treated as prisoners of war. They may not, however, after being captured, be summarily put to death or otherwise punished, but may be brought to trial before a military commission or other tribunal, which may sentence them to death or such other punishment as it may consider proper.
"
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Knouterer
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Re: French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

Post by Knouterer » 09 Dec 2021 10:57

Collective punishments, such as burning down whole villages and taking and even executing hostages, were expressly permitted (this obviously does not excuse various atrocities perpetrated by the Germans and other belligerents):

"358. Reprisals.-

a. Definition. - Reprisals are acts of retaliation resorted to by one belligerent against the enemy individuals or property for illegal acts of warfare committed by the other belligerent, for the purpose of enforcing future compliance with the recognized rules of civilized warfare.

b. When and how employed. - Reprisals are never adopted merely for revenge, but only as an unavoidable last resort to induce the enemy to desist from illegitimate practices. They should never be employed by individual soldiers except by direct orders of a commander, and the latter should give such orders only after careful inquiry into the alleged offense. The highest accessible military authority should be consulted unless immediate action is demanded as a matter of military necessity, but in the latter event a subordinate commander may order appropriate reprisals upon his own initiative. Hasty or ill-considered action may subsequently be found to have been wholly unjustified, subject the responsible officer himself to punishment as for a violation of the laws of war, and seriously damage his cause. On the other hand, commanding officers must assume responsibility for retaliative measures when an unscrupulous enemy leaves no other recourse against the repetition of barbarous outrages.

c. Who may commit acts justifying reprisals.-Illegal acts of warfare justifying reprisals may be committed by a government, by its military commanders, or by a community or individuals thereof, whom it is impossible to apprehend, try, and punish.

d. Subjects of reprisals.-The offending forces or populations generally may lawfully be subjected to appropriate reprisals. Hostages taken and held for the declared purpose of insuring against unlawful acts by the enemy forces or people may be punished or put to death if the unlawful acts are nevertheless committed. Reprisals against prisoners of war are expressly forbidden by the Geneva convention of 1929. (See par.73).

e. Form of reprisal.-The acts resorted to by way of reprisal need not conform to those complained of by the injured party, but should not be excessive or exceed the degree of violence committed by the enemy. Villages or houses, etc., may be burned for acts of hostility committed from them, where the guilty individuals cannot be identified, tried, and punished. Collective punishments may be inflicted either in the form of fines or otherwise.

f. Procedure.-The rule requiring careful inquiry into the real occurrence will always be followed unless the safety of the troops requires immediate drastic action and the persons who actually committed the offense cannot be ascertained.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Sid Guttridge
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Re: French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 Dec 2021 06:29

Hi Samuelofgreenbay,

By far the most active resisters outside the USSR were the Yugoslavs. During the guerrilla phase from 22 June 1941 to 30 August 1944 the Germans lost 10,532 dead, 7,527 missing and 29,237 wounded there.

The Yugoslav resistance movement was enormously more militarily active during this period than all the resistance movements in Western Europe combined. I would therefore expect the military casualties inflicted on the Germans by the French, Belgians and Dutch to have been very much lower. The figure of 2,000 German dead is plausible in France, the great majority of which were quite possibly inflicted during the hasty German withdrawal in August 1944. However, it is also plausible that total German military combat casualties in dead and wounded were this low before D-Day.

The Belgian derailment claim of 600 dead looks highly unlikely. It does not appear on the list of ten worst rail disasters in world history, in which it would rank about fourth. This list does include three derailments of troop trains in WWI.

Cheers,

Sid.

Mori
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Re: French Belgian and Dutch resistance casualties

Post by Mori » 10 Dec 2021 09:20

SamuelOfGreenBay wrote:
29 Nov 2021 05:31
Hello
I have been attempting to find how many casualties were inflicted by the French, Belgian and Dutch resistance during the occupation
I have heard of 2,000 for the French but that seems far too low
For four years (1,461 days) of occupation that’s less than 1.5 a day
In a nation with 400,000 resistance members that seems far too low
Here are the latest numbers. Everything has been updated by historical research over the last 20 years. The figures published in the immediate post ware were more like propaganda. Following numbers are for France.

Number of resistance members, including those who were so for just one day: ca. 500,000. [files on http://wwiidigitalarchives.org/gr-19-p- ... resistance include the begin/end dates, you will be struck by how many are just active for a few days in August 1944].

Casualties among resistance members: ca. 34,000, of which:
> 12,000 KIA in combat in summer 1944. This is pretty big and it justifies the above remark about "1-day resistants": that was still a dangerous move. Also, probability of surviving the war for those who joined in 1941/42 was extremely low
> 2,900 executed as member of the resistance
> 834 executed as hostages
> 18,000 died in concentration camps

Impact of the French resistance during the occupation:
> 400 German killed before D-Day. (No number available for August 1944). Also, 693 collaborators were executed.
> 28,000 pilots and others PoW evacuated + 25,000 Jews protected
> ca. 12,000 sabotage actions, of which 50% failed...
> provided ca. 80% of the intelligence for preparation of D-Day

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