The French Resistance is the collective name used for the French resistance movements which fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and the collaborationist Vichy Regime during World War II. Resistance groups comprised small groups of armed men and women (referred to as the maquis when based in rural areas), publishers of underground newspapers, and escape networks that helped Allied soldiers. The Resistance came from all layers and groups of French society, from conservative Roman Catholics (including priests), Jews, to liberals, anarchists and communists.
The French Resistance played a valuable role in facilitating the Allies' rapid advance through France following the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and Provence on August 15, by providing military intelligence on the Atlantic Wall and Wehrmacht deployments and coordinating acts of sabotage on power, transport and telecommunications networks. It was also politically and morally important for France both during the occupation and for decades after, as it provided the country with an inspiring example that stood in marked contrast to the collaboration of the Vichy Regime.
After the landings in Normandy and Provence, resistance combatants were organised more formally into units known as the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). Estimated to have a strength of 100,000 in June 1944, the FFI grew rapidly, doubling by the following month and reaching 400,000 in October of that year. Although the amalgamation of the FFI was in some cases fraught with political difficulty, it was ultimately successful and allowed France to re-establish a reasonably large army of 1.2 million men by VE Day in May 1945.