National Front (French Resistance)
The National Front (French: Front national or Front national de l'indépendance de la France) was a World War II French Resistance movement created to unite all of the Resistance Organizations together to fight the Nazi occupation forces and Vichy France under Marshall Petain. Founded in 1941 in Paris by Jacques Duclos, Andre Pican and Pierre Villon, along with their wives all members of the French Communist Party (PCF) they felt that to be a vital force against the Nazis, the collaborationists and the informers that all of the Resistance movements, no matter their party or Religion(Jewish or Catholic) had to band together. Its name was inspired by the Popular Front, a left-wing coalition which governed France from 1936 to 1938. This helped them coordinate attacks all across France, to move weapons, food, false identity papers, information and food, protect and move people who were to be arrested or executed and supply multiple safe houses for the Resistance and for Jews. They also formed fighting units in early 1942 to assassinate German leaders and soldiers among the occupation forces, perform acts of sabotage on railroads and other forms of distribution of people and goods being taken from France to Germany and to help organize sabotage in factories forced to produce armaments and goods for the German military.
The political front of the FTP
The National Front (FN) was destined to be the "political representative" of the armed force called the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). It engaged mainly in propaganda, editing reviews, fabricating false identity documents, supporting clandestine organizations logistically, and sabotaging German and Vichy facilities and capabilities. It was a member of the Conseil national de la Résistance (CNR), which federated, under Jean Moulin's authority, various Resistance movements, beginning in the middle of 1943.
Led by Pierre Villon, it then extended itself to Catholics and other religious resistants. Pierre Villon stated: "The FN is the only movement where we have finally reconciled the parish priest (curé) and the teacher, the Parti Social Français and the Communist, and the Radical with the Socialist." Various specialized professional organizations were created under the authority of the Front National (the workers' Front National, the peasants' Front National, the lawyers' Front National, the doctors' Front National, the women's Front National, etc.). After the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, L'Humanité, in its issues of July 2 and July 7, wrote: "Unite yourself, refuse to serve under fascism!" At that time, the FTP armed wing had already been active since 1941, but the Resistance quickly expanded itself during 1942 and 1943. The French population's morale improved as the difficulties faced by the Wehrmacht increased, in particular during the protracted Battle of Stalingrad. The 4 September 1942 Law on the STO (Service du travail obligatoire), signed by Pierre Laval, the head of government in the Vichy régime, proposed to exchange one prisoner-of-war for three Frenchmen to go to work in Nazi Germany. This was an important cause of the Resistance's dramatic increase in numbers, inspiring many young male adults to stand up and volunteer for the Maquis.
At the time of the liberation of Paris, after the deportation and death of many of the members of the original clandestine leadership, the FN resistance movement counted such figures as Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Pierre Villon, Henri Wallon, Laurent Casanova, François Mauriac, and Louis Aragon among its members.
Legal ownership of the name, "Front National"
A juridical battle between the far-right Front National and Bruno Mégret's splinter party, the National Republican Movement (MNR), for the name, "Front national," in December 1998 and January 1999, prompted the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, to outrace both by deposing at the National Industrial Property Institute (INPI), the national institute in charge of trademarks, the term "Front National," in order to give its juridical ownership back to the original Resistance movement of that name. Thus, the World War II resisters, the Front National, is once again the only movement legally entitled to be named "Front National.".
- Front National de la Résistance, memory site (in French)
- Possible récupération d'une appellation usurpée par l'extrême droite, L'Humanité, January 8, 1999 (in French)
- La nouvelle bataille des Résistants du vrai "Front national", L'Humanité, January 16, 1999 (in French)