The Myth and Meaning of Resistance

What Drove France’s Army of Shadows?

Etienne Laurent/REUTERS

Seventy-five years ago, Charles de Gaulle, leader of France’s provisional government, returned to Paris. For four years, he had lived in exile in London. Now he made his way through an exuberant crowd at the Hôtel de Ville, the site at which France’s earlier revolutions and republics were consecrated, greeting the leaders of the nation’s resistance movements. De Gaulle had not planned or rehearsed the speech he gave on this occasion, but it was perhaps his greatest. “Do not let us hide this deep and sacred emotion,” he said. “There are moments that go beyond each of …