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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 2. March 20, 1946

The Occupation

The Occupation

Occupation, however, changed the picture almost immediately, and the above mentioned demonstrations took place. This, said Louis Aragon, from whom our initial quotation comes, was the signal for the resistance movement to start. Communist students, of course, had immediately to go underground. With everyone, "prendre le maquis" became a normal everyday phrase. But the maquis, as Mlle. Delmas carefully pointed out, was often Paris, and very successfully so, too. The first two months after disappearance meant almost complete inactivity, in order, fully to allay [unclear: am] suspicions as to a person's whereabouts. Then activity could begin.

Early in the occupation, in 1940. Professor Langevin, a Communist Party member of long standing, was arrested by the Nazis and kept under "protective surveillance" throughout the war. His activity under such circumstances was nil. But his name was a great rallying point for students, and Mlle. Delmas tells us that he was often mentioned in the clandestine newspapers of the occupation years.

University work largely lapsed, but some continued, and research, for example, was still carried on, although in secret, and its results never reached German ears.

A University National Front was organised by the Communists and largely directed towards the 12-18 year olds. Those older than 18 had already decided their course of action and were already at work. The basic necessity was to train the younger ones to extend the work of the resistance and to take the place of those who fell. The education of this section of French youth was carried out by teachers and school and college staffs generally, not however in the schoolroom, but by action in the resistance movement—a policy which proved its worth a hundredfold.

In 1943 the Forces Unies Jeunesse Politique was founded, and quickly won great respect in the resistance movement. This organisation later gained 15 seats in the Consultative Assembly as youth representatives.

On November 25, 1943, the Nazis gave proof of the important part students were playing in the resistance, and wrote another foul page in their records. Back in 1939 the University of Strasbourg had been moved south-west to Clermont-Ferrand, in the "unoccupied zone." Now the Nazis acted. They surrounded the University, shot any students or members of the staff who did not immediately obey their orders, and arrested 4-500 people. An eye-witness reported that during "proceedings" he saw a Gestapo agent rubbing his hands together and saying, "This time, I think, the goose of Strasbourg University is cooked." The Gestapo were greatly aided in this act by a traitor.

On being asked about the number of collaborators among students. Mlle. Delmas told "Salient" that there were very few among either students or staffs. Writers on the other hand probably showed a greater tendency to turn traitor. The shooting of Max Jacob by the Nazis and the sterling reputation of Aragon and many other writers however, shows [unclear: that] this was by no means always the case.

Mlle. Delmas

Mlle. Delmas

full time resistance

Then came the rising of the people of Paris and the liberation of France by the Allied armies. In a very short time, any teacher who had shown any collaboration at all was removed from his position—even at junior schools the children boycotted classes until suspected traitors were replaced.

Out of the long struggle against Nazidom the students of France gained a new insight into their responsibility as students to their country. Their principles crystallised in the formation, in February, 1945, of the Union Patriotique des organisations d'etudiants, a United Front of all Christian, Communist and Socialist Youth Movements, with the immediate tasks of assisting with all its forces the final overthrow of Nazism and the reconstruction and renaissance of France.