heroic city that, since the crime of capitulation, has shown
strong resistance to any kind of collaboration with the enemy.
Occupied by German troops and subjected to terribly oppressive
measures, Nantes gave the French people a magnificent example
of courage and loyalty through numerous individual and group
efforts. By shedding its blood for the cause, Nantes has shown
the whole world what the French are willing to do for the
(Nantes, named Companion of the
Liberation by decree on November 11th, 1941)
June 19th, 1940, German troops entered the city of Nantes. They
immediately occupied strategic points (the harbor, the stations),
and to enforce public order, the military authorities forced the
City to make a list of 20 hostages on the spot. Repressive measures
were thus used from the first day of the occupation. In Nantes and
surrounding areas, 45,000 French prisoners of war were placed in
several different camps before sending them off to Germany in January
Nantes and elsewhere, a spontaneous Resistance movement sprung up
in the early days of the occupation, which consisted in individuals
or small isolated groups. In July of 1940, the first communication
networks were set up – directed by J.B. Lageay – which
would transmit important information to London about the position
of German units. In addition, one of the first clandestine newspapers
– "En Captivité" – was printed in Nantes
in November of 1940. Around the same time, the Bocq-Adam group blew
up 35 trucks full of new tires at the Hippodrome du Petit-Port.
The first radio conversation with London also took place in Nantes,
in early 1941.
from the occupying authorities were constant, and a curfew from
9 p.m. to 5 a.m. was imposed. The city was repeatedly fined several
million francs, while at the same time locals were assigned to watch
over power and communications installations. At the Choiseul detention
camp, political prisoners quickly replaced the prisoners of war
that were sent to Germany.
October 20th, 1941, the city's Feldkommandant, Lieutenant-Colonel
Hotz, was assassinated by resistance fighters Gilbert Brustlein
and Spartaco Guisco, who immediately afterwards fled to Paris. Two
days later, in retaliation, 43 hostages were shot at Châteaubriant
and Nantes, and five resistance workers from Nantes were executed
at Mont Valérien. In the following months the Resistance made many
attacks, more hostages – picked out from among the prisoners
from Nantes and prisoners at the Choiseul camp - were executed.
November 11th, 1941, General De
the Cross of the Liberation to the city of Nantes.
population's determination continued to grow. As many as 500 hostages
from Nantes were on the German hostage lists until the day the city
In June of 1944,
one of the last German military operations was the destruction of
the Saffré maquis (an inaccessible area covered with scrub and bushes),
where 350 ill-equipped young Resistance fighters held their ground
against 2,500 Germans before dispersing to other areas. 27 of these
young fighters were arrested and later shot on June 29th at Château
de la Bouvardière.
Allied bombing of the city was very dramatic
: October and December of 1941, April and May of 1942, May and September
of 1943, and at the time of the landing of June 6th, 1944. The toll
was great: 15,000 people with victims of the disasters, several
thousand homes were destroyed and approximately 1,500 people were
Place Royale in
Liberation of Nantes took place in two stages. The Germans abandoned
the city on August 12th upon the arrival of an American vanguard,
but they returned on August 14th to occupy the southern part of
the Loire. They left the city permanently on August 31st, 1944.
January of 1945, General De Gaulle handed the Cross of the Liberation
earned by the city to its mayor, Clovis Constant.
the Companion of the Liberation Communities
Last updated: April 25th 2005
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