The rise of the Resistance

1st January 1944: Joseph Darnand, head of the Militia, is appointed Secretary of State for the maintenance of order.

8th January: execution in Mussidan of Jacques Binger, an informer for the SD (Sicherheitsdienst, security police), by the Resistance.

11 June: a detachment of the Sipo-SD (or Gestapo) from Périgueux, reinforced by a platoon of the North African Brigade (BNA) of the sinister Bonny-Lafont gang, shoots 52 people in Mussidan, including Raoul Grassin, the mayor of the commune.

The Resistance carried out its first sabotages in the summer of 1943. The targets were threshing machines (in order to prevent wheat deliveries to the Germans), railways, factories or, more generally, all the infrastructures necessary for the functioning of the German war machine.

Actions of a more symbolic nature also left their mark. Thus, in Mussidan, on the night of 6 to 7 October 1943, a French flag decorated with a Lorraine cross and a V of victory was placed in front of the war memorial with a card bearing the inscription: « To our liberators ».

The requisitioning of equipment and supplies from the Chantiers de Jeunesse (a paramilitary organisation of the Vichy regime), or from individuals reputed to be hostile to the Resistance, are other examples of the action taken by the maquisards. From November 1943 onwards, the resistance groups, better structured and organised, increased in strength, firstly to equip and feed their men, but also to react to letters of denunciation and other actions by agents favourable to the Vichy regime. The maquis lived under the permanent threat of being spotted and denounced, in particular by members of Jacques Doriot’s French People’s Party (PPF) and Joseph Darnand’s Milice.

Within a few months, the authorities were completely overwhelmed by the situation. The number of Resistance actions in the Dordogne (sabotage, requisitions, summary executions) rose from 72 in December 1943 to 369 in February 1944.

During the night of 6 to 7 December 1943, for example, Resistance fighters stole 1,200 litres of petrol and 1,000 litres of diesel from M. L.’s depot in Mussidan.

A month later, on 8 January 1944, Jacques Binger, son of the explorer Louis-Gustave Binger, was executed after having a young Resistance member arrested by the Milice. The population of Mussidan considered him to be an SD (Security Police) informer.

Later, on the night of 11 to 12 January 1944, four armed and masked men requisitioned 14 Canadians and a jacket from the Gilfriche brothers’ factory in Mussidan.

The Resistance also attacked the occupying troops. On 9 October, members of the 35th FTP-MOI brigade (Francs-tireurs et partisans – Main d’oeuvre Immigrée) Marcel Langer, who had come from Toulouse, dropped two bombs in Périgueux in front of the Kommandantur headquarters and two others in the corridor of the SD premises. The material damage was considerable.

The reaction of the occupying forces was not long in coming.

Maquisards of the Dordogne.