Museum of National Resistance in Champigny-sur-Marne
The museum brings together the largest collections relating to the French resistance during the Second World War.
The Museum of National Resistance in Champigny-sur-Marne shows the history of the French Resistance from its inception up to the Liberation. It enables visitors to gain better understanding of the origins of the French Resistance, its rise to power, its gradual unification and its contribution to the Liberation of the French nation and to the definition of post-war France. The museum is housed in a special 19th century hotel on the banks of the Marne, in a park named after Vercors, the pseudonym of the founder of the secret Midnight Press. This is where the largest collections relating to the French resistance during the Second World War can be found: archives, photographs, water colours and objects. These collections are the result of more than 2000 donations and private and public gifts since 1965. They bear witness to French social history from 1929 to 1947 and represent a unique collection on domestic French Resistance, through the number and variety of items contained in them. They set the scene for thousands of French, immigrant, foreign, anonymous or well-known resistance fighters and concentration camp deportees.
The Conservation Centre, a new building built in 1997 in the Vercors park, holds one of the major collections of the Resistance organisations' secretly publications and archives, the photographic equipment of the " Le Matin " ("The Morning") newspaper, and also artistic works, such as photographs by Robert Doisneau, the original manuscript of Paul Eluard's "Liberty" and drawings and watercolours by Boris Taslitzky. The centre holds some 500,000 items of all kinds, donated by public organisations, associations, French and foreign individuals or acquired by the museum.
In the 1960's, the need was born to build a structure to teach about the Resistance and to carry on the memory of this exemplary time. In fact, in these times still very close to the end of the war, the remembrance policy initiated by the public powers was still a tradition in body and in mind. Former Resistance fighters therefore launched the idea of a Museum of National Resistance. They formed an association and, for 20 years, collected documents and objects from their comrades in struggle and their families. Even today, this collection is still being constantly expanded. In 1985, thanks to the support of a patronage committee hundreds of local authorities, former resistance fighters and concentration camp deportees, unions and associations were brought together, first of all in Champigny-sur-Marne then in Varennes-Vauzelles, in Nice, in Bourges, in Givors, in Châteaubriant etc. Each of these museographic sites was customised along a national theme: the Bourges demarcation line, the Resistance of railway workers in Varennes-Vauzelles and in Givors, specifics about areas under Italian occupation in Nice, the hostages of Châteaubriant etc. The Associations of Friends of each site have gone on to develop a programme and initiatives aimed at the general public, in particular school children, based on these topics. The value of the Museum of National Resistance's collections made the association apply an original legal status to its property, with a view very much towards the future, paying respect to donors and conscious of the interest in and durability of its national heritage. The collections are the property of an association (the law of 1901) - the Museum of National Resistance - now uniting all the associations and sites of the Museum of National Resistance. The collections, wherever they are kept and exhibited, form a single entity, the Museum of National Resistance. Since 1985, this collection has been controlled by the Museums of France Administration (Department of Culture). One of the terms of the contract is that the collections are non-transferable. The collection has also been entirely trusted to the national Archives
The permanent exhibition The permanent exhibition in Champigny-sur-Marne shows the history of the French Resistance from its inception (in the 1930's) up to the Liberation. It enables visitors to gain better understanding of the origins of the French Resistance, its rise to power, its gradual unification and its contribution to the Liberation of the French nation and to the definition of post-war France. It recreates in all their diversity, all of the individual experiences and joint courses of action that criss-crossed to form the Resistance. It is complemented by the numerous temporary exhibitions that come along during the course of the year to shed new light on some aspect or another of our knowledge of the Resistance. Room 1: the origin 1930-1940 This first room aims to show the roots of what was to become "the Resistance". Firstly, it also briefly describes the rise of fascism, which first took place in Nazi Germany: a regime that quashed all freedom, with contempt for mankind, whose sworn purpose was the conquering and domination of people and nations. Barring the route of this mortal danger, both from within and from the outside, became the key problem of French political life. In the important events that punctuate history - the Popular Front, war in Spain, the spreading of acts of aggression by Fascist States - one can begin to detect the divides and connections that foreshadowed the clashes and the partnerships of the period to come, where the Resistance and Collaboration movements would take shape. From this point of view, the battle over the Munich agreements is particularly revelatory. And the government released the reigns on Nazi expansion in Europe and, through a policy of reaction against the Popular Front in France, weakened the forces of resistance against the danger of Hitler. The beginning of the war bore the mark of previous hesitations and contradictions. The term "Phoney war" well deserves its name: an action-less war against the designated enemy, along with, domestically, a strict policy of social constrictions and political repression in the name of national defence. A period of uneasiness and confusion, making it impossible to mobilise the country against the danger of Hitler. Only a few warning signs gave any clarity, but these were fragmentary, isolated and ignored by those in charge. The first French campaign, which began on 10th May 1940, ended in a national collapse without precedent - a total military disaster in 5 weeks- the French government, under Marshall Pétain accepting France's defeat and the demands of the victor through the armistice convention (25 June 1940): the Republic was destroyed in favour of a dictatorial French state. However, not everyone threw in the towel. In these two dramatic months, a number of actions were to continue to express in various ways the refusal to accept this national collapse. Scattered all over the place and drowned out in the general debacle - but more numerous than they appeared - they proved the existence of the forces of resistance.
Room 2: The start and rise of the Resistance 1940-1942 From July 1940, the French people found themselves in another world. The double yoke of occupation and the Vichy government imposed itself on a fragmented nation and an overpowered, traumatised and disorientated people; an occupying force that, behind its smiling mask, was to quickly set up its means of pillage and oppression. A "French State" where the myth of Pétain as the "saviour of France" allowed the development of a vigorous reactionary policy in all areas and the establishment of the "Collaboration", while preaching resignation to the French people. Under such conditions, starting the Resistance movement was very difficult. The first acts of defiance were scattered and tentative. However, some strong points emerged, such as the desire to fight against discouragement and passivity, by breaking the occupying force's control over expression. From this came the deadly role of the forbidden word and, in the same way, efforts to build organisations capable of grouping together. Here, we could begin to detect two attracting poles: the "Free France" that, in London around General de Gaulle, wanted to ensure the presence of a French army in the military struggle and, at home, the creation of the first resistance movements. Then two actions of national importance showed the potential of resistance. In Paris, on the 11th November 1940, the first public demonstration in the occupied zone showed how unity could be established between resistant currents. In the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region at the end of May and beginning of June 1941, a strike setting the population of the mining community against the occupying force, the mining Companies and the French police, constituted the first mass action under occupation. With the involvement of the USSR and then the United States in the war, the conflict was becoming worldwide, which changed the conditions for combat, including in France. Confronted by a conflict that was very different from previous "lightning wars", it was imperative that Germany should consolidate. In order to stop dead any hopes that had been raised by opening up the eastern front, and an increase in acts of resistance, the occupying force struck immediately and hard. So began a time of overt terror - repeated executions, of which Châteaubriant became the symbol - and also a time of increased Collaboration, which was of immeasurable help to the occupying force in all areas. However, despite the terrible blows it received, the Resistance showed its vitality. At the same time as guerrilla warfare began to take shape, large clandestine organisations were starting to form and mobilisation of the people was becoming stronger. Meanwhile, in London, the French National Committee, chaired by General de Gaulle, was beginning to look like a provisional government set against the collaborating Vichy government - the "Fighting France".
Room 3: the Resistance goes on the offensive - 11 November 1942-6 June 1944 The turning point of 1942-1943 was also that of the war: with the allied landings in Northern Africa and the great Soviet victory of Stalingrad - from which the Wehrmacht would never recover - the relationship between the forces began to reverse; the offensive passed over to the allied camp. Carried forward by the certainty of victory, the Resistance went on the offensive across the whole of the country, which was now totally occupied. The increase in pillaging by the enemy, actively supported by Vichy, forced them into action. All the forces of the Resistance rose up against the compulsory rounding-up of workers: "Not a man for Germany". They increased the obstacles against requisitioning, called for demonstrations against enforced departures and built up, against the repressive Nazi regime, a deep-penetrating underground network of co-operation. Becoming more and more numerous, draft dodgers took to the hills, where organised armed groups did their best to prepare them for combat. And so the struggle against the rounding-up of workers led to the expansion and intensification of the Resistance. It was also a factor that brought together all the diverse forces engaged in the national struggle. The long road to unity was achieved in the spring of 1943. In France, the National Resistance Council (CNR) was born, in which all the main secret organisations were represented; it was to co-ordinate and encourage the whole national struggle in conjunction with the CFLN (French Committee for National Liberation) who had its headquarters in Algiers and was then operating as the nation's government at war. However, there was no shortage of obstacles along the way. First of all there was an escalation in terrorism: repression was becoming increasingly stronger and more bloody where Germans and Vichy supporters collaborated. Within the liberating forces there were even a certain number of disagreements on fundamental questions: American AMGOT projects, dangerous for national independence and reticence, in certain sections of the Resistance when faced with the generalisation of the armed struggle and the prospect of national insurrection. But, in March 1944, the CNR programme outlined without any ambiguity the positions of the Resistance, who were unanimous on the sovereignty of the GPRF (provisional government of the French republic), on condemnation of a "wait and see" attitude and the need for national Insurrection. Preparations were being made for this insurrection in the spring of 1944, in an atmosphere that was becoming increasingly tense and painful. A period of union and restructuring, where the organisations were established that would co-ordinate the acts of liberation and set up the authorities that would come from the Resistance. A period where various increasingly far-reaching and piercing actions would bring about real mobilisation of the population.
Room 4: the Liberation With the opening up of the second Front on the 6 June 1944, the process of insurrection began. Under the direction of the great coordination bodies (CNR - COMAC - CDL), the Resistance went on the offensive everywhere. The people became increasingly involved in the action and the FFI (French Internal Forces) took the fight to an even higher level. To try to break this dynamic, the enemy let loose; they increased their atrocities (Oradour) and completely crushed the "reserves" (great maquisards like the Vercors cell). But guerrilla warfare and the struggle were gaining momentum. The 14th July was to transform the degree of mobilisation already achieved by the patriotic forces. At the end of July, when the allies succeeded in breaking through the German front in Normandy, the insurrection became widespread, opening the way for the allied armies and even liberating whole regions on its own. France was transformed into a "cauldron" where, in tune with the developing relationship between the forces on the ground, local and regional insurrections followed on from each other or happened simultaneously, leading to the rapid liberation of Brittany, the Paris uprising with its essential consequences (the installation of the GPRF in the capital). Then the liberation operations fanned out across the country: to the North and North-east, the South-east (where the FFI joined up with De Lattre's army). The South-west and Centre were liberated without any allied participation. In less than two months, almost the whole country was liberated from the enemy and from Vichy. The allied armies and the reconstructed French army were at the gates of Germany. France was going to be involved in the final crushing defeat of Germany and in the liberation of those French people still living under oppression (prisoners of war and deportees). Room 6: landmarks for the future Here it is just a matter of presenting some elements that show the link between the Resistance and the reconstruction of the nation. This room can also hold items to supplement temporary exhibitions.
Museum of National Resistance of Champigny-sur-Marne Parc Vercors 88, Avenue Marx Dormoy 94 500 Champigny-sur-Marne Telephone: 01 48 81 00 80 Contacts Reception : 01 48 81 53 78 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Mme Danièle LISAMBARD Communication department Miss Julie BAFFET: 01.48.81.45.97 e-mail: email@example.com Conservation and Information Centre Open to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays 9 am until 5.30 pm By appointment on 01 48 81 33 36 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Opening Days and Times Tuesday to Friday from 9 am until 12.30 pm and 2 pm until 5.30 pm Saturday and Sunday from 2 pm until 6 pm Closedon Mondays all bank holidays except 8 May The month of September for annual holidays The museum is also closed at the weekends in August Charges Full price: 5 € Half price: 2.50 € 6 day season ticket: 8 € Annual pass: 16 € The pass allows free entry to the museum In addition, entry to the museum is free on the first weekend of every month, as are tours of the temporary exhibitions. Access By public transport: RER A, in the direction of Boissy-Saint-Léger to Champigny station and then bus no. 208, to the stop for the Resistance Museum By road: from the A4 motorway, take the Champigny centre exit on the National Road no. 4 Building is wheelchair accessible