Where I live part of each year in the Southwest of France, I have two neighbors one on each side of me, Monsieur D. and Monsieur B. Since both of them are old enough to remember WWII, I have asked them (separately) to tell me what they thought of the French maquis, as the resistance fighters were called. I was shocked at how exactly opposite their memories and opinions were. My natural inclination is to accept the version of history that I prefer to be true, but I'm also old enough to know that I do this and to push back against it. Mr. D. tells me that the maquis were the only heroes of the war years and that he would have joined them had he been older than he was. Mr. B. on the other hand refers to all the members of the resistance as the "maquis noir" or black resistance (meaning that they were basically social outcasts, trouble,makers, often thieves). Which version is correct?
As I say, my natural inclination is to see Mr. B. as wrong, but I'm not so sure. Here's what he says (paraphrased). Those so-called resistance fighters were the reason why the Germans did so many awful things to the French people. If it were not for them, the Germans would have been content to leave us alone. When they attacked transports or killed German soldiers, they brought about the reprisals that the Germans were forced to make. The Germans did not want to terrify the French populace; they wanted to pacify and exploit it. Most of these guys were unemployed troublemakers looking to join a gang that would let them roam free and grab anything they could get. That's the view of Mr. B. a retired carpenter whom I like and respect in many ways.
Mr. D. is a retired elementary school teacher and his political views are mostly to the left. He sees the maquis as heroes. He agrees that the reprisals often followed raids by the maquis, but he asks the not entirely rhetorical question "What were we supposed to do, just lie down in the road like dogs and let them kick us?" He argues that the resistance played a vital role in both occupying German troops who would have been available for combat elsewhere and in slowing the movement of German troops to the north after D Day.
There is some truth obviously in what both of them say. They are not close friends with each other as you can imagine. Here's my take on it. There is one fatal flaw in Mr. B's case. He is burying the fact that the Germans would not "leave the French alone." When German soldiers came to the front door (after 1943)they gave men one choice only, to be shipped to Germany for work in war-related industries. That's it. Many thousands of young men went out the back door when the soldiers came and they joined the maquis. The Germans in France also promulgated a vast series of laws that made it, for example, illegal to NOT inform the Germans of the presence of maquis in the area or for doctors to treat wounded maquis. They forced people to take sides. I think that Mr. D. is much closed to an accurate historical memory.