© The Boston Globe 2001. Used by permission.
The Secret History of World War II
PART VI: THE RESISTANCE
by Mark Fritz / Globe Staff / August 26, 2001
Page 4 of 11
Continued from page 3
The reports show Hitler obsessed with the attacks within his empire, even as the Allies were crushing his eastern and western fronts. Hitler himself ordered that all Italian officers who aid or join the resistance "be shot at once." A student protest in Sweden prompted him to demand an accounting of Swedish sabotage of German vessels. An underling couldn't find any such evidence; Hitler made him keep looking. By the following spring, Hitler was hearing that an official in Nazi-held Hungary was feeding information directly to Washington, and by summer, "entire units" of the Italian army were hooking up with the resistance.
With de Gaulle headed to Washington to plead for recognition of his resistance movement in July 1944, Kolbe reported that the Germans were preparing to plant a rumor that de Gaulle was actually an emissary of France's Nazi puppet government.
France's capitulation to Germany was one of the quickest white flags raised in the war. Yet few countries are as vainglorious about their resistance.
"There weren't that many resistors in the France of 1940, but by '44 or '45 everyone said they were in the resistance," says Ohio University historian Norman Goda, another expert on the presidential commission's declassification panel. "You get the same myth with Jewish resistance. You get that in Italy to a degree. They create what historians call a usable past."
De Gaulle perpetuated and institutionalized the mythic greatness of the French resistance, the idea that France had liberated itself. Even Hitler received a report about how the French were comporting themselves after D-Day, when the Allies landed at Normandy to liberate France.
Kolbe snagged a dispatch that said American soldiers were getting tired of the place, in part because of the "delusion of grandeur of the French, who acted as if they themselves had liberated France." The Americans were losing patience with the bon mot battles between resistors and collaborators. "The pleasure-mad French were said to be sitting around in cafes and tearing each other to shreds."
OSS man Wiley noted in his report that de Gaulle, upset that President Franklin D. Roosevelt waited until 1944 to recognize his particular resistance movement, specifically thanked the British for supplying the French underground with supplies at a time when "American materiel being dropped into France was more than double that of the British."
Dulles, who would go on to run the CIA longer than anybody else, built his reputation on the way he penetrated the Third Reich through layer after layer of underground channels, ultimately reaching Nazi leaders and persuading them to surrender northern Italy. Three days later, Hitler committed suicide.
Which is not to say that Dulles, aided by the resistance, won the war.
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