In This Review

The Resistance in Western Europe, 1940–1945
The Resistance in Western Europe, 1940–1945
By Olivier Wieviorka. Translated by Jane Marie Todd
Columbia University Press, 2019, 512 pp

The French historian Wieviorka masterfully analyzes the resistance to the German occupations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway during World War II. The results were mixed. For the Allied powers, resistance groups offered invaluable intelligence, as well as escape routes for downed pilots. On the other hand, their sabotage had little economic impact, and anti-Nazi propaganda campaigns helped shape public opinion but did not spark broader insurrections. The Americans and the British faced a tricky task in assisting resistance groups in ways that maximized their value to the war effort but didn’t incite reprisals against vulnerable civilians. Although it presents a broad tableau, the book recognizes the particular circumstances and factors that formed the resistance in each country, including the agendas of governments in exile, bureaucratic squabbles within various groups, and the personal qualities of the brave individuals who accepted the immense risks that came with fighting the Nazis.