The Free France Foundation

Chapeau

For the 75th anniversary of liberation, the Free France Foundation brings its network and dynamism into play to organise a rich programme of events to honour and celebrate the Free French who distinguished themselves in 1944 and 1945.

The Pen-Hir Cross, memorial to the Bretons of Free France, Camaret-sur-Mer, Finistère. © Yann Caradec
Texte

The Free France Foundation (Fondation de la France Libre) was set up in 1994 by veterans of the Free French Forces (FFL) who, since 1945, had belonged to the Association of the Free French (AFL), with the goal of preserving the traditions, moral values and ideal of Free France. A registered charity since 1994, it took over from the AFL in 2000. The Foundation works to keep alive the memory of the 70 000 men and women – according to historian Jean-François Muracciole’s estimates – who enlisted as volunteers in the FFL between General de Gaulle’s call to arms of 18 June 1940 and the merging of the FFL with the Army of Africa on 1 August 1943, and to disseminate their involvement in the war up to the Allied victory against the Axis powers, in Europe and the Far East, on 8 May and 2 September 1945.

On a scientific level, the Foundation seeks to promote historical research and its dissemination to the general public and schoolchildren. To achieve this goal, it holds symposiums, round tables, conferences and exhibitions, supports publications and documentary films, offers researchers access to its documentation centre, which is regularly enlarged with private archive collections, publishes a quarterly magazine and maintains a website (www.france-libre.net). It organises one or two conferences per month at its head office, in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.

On an educational level, the Foundation is involved in the “Concours National de la Résistance et de la Déportation” schools competition. It is represented on the national jury by its history department, and has regional representatives on the academic juries and departmental committees, as well as funding the prizes awarded to the winners. Other ways in which it preserves the memory of the Free French include organising remembrance visits to battle sites, taking part in patriotic ceremonies, in particular 18 June, and putting up plaques, steles and memorials. To do this, it relies on a dense network of regional offices, which represent it at departmental and regional level in both metropolitan France and the overseas territories, as well as in a number of foreign countries. It also has thematic departments concerned specifically with the memory of the 1st Free French Division (1st DFL), the marines, airmen and cadets of Free France.

In 2019 and 2020, to mark the 75th anniversary of liberation, the Foundation and its regional offices will be taking part in a large number of events to commemorate the role of the French forces in the fighting of 1944-45, wherever there were Free French involved. In Normandy, from 10 to 19 August 2019, as every year the Foundation will be teaming up with the 2nd Armoured Division Veterans Association to offer a tour of the route taken by General Leclerc and his 2nd DB. In Provence, to mark the landings of 15 August 1944 and the fighting for liberation, a cycle of commemorations will be organised, with contributions from our departmental offices and our 1st DFL thematic department. From 13 to 16 November 2019, the 1st DFL department will also be organising a pilgrimage on the trail of the fighting seen by the division in the Vosges and Alsace. A symposium on the plurality and identity of the Free French is planned for the 27 and 28 November 2019, at the Musée de l’Armée, in partnership with the Marshal Leclerc de Hauteclocque Foundation and the Order of Liberation.


Auteur
Sylvain Cornil-Frerrot, head of historical research

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