Our route through the Resistance
Before giving you a detailed reading of our page on the Resistance in the Vézère Valley during the Second World War, we would like to suggest the following an itinerary dedicated to the resistanceA journey of discovery, initiation and memory.
We invite you to visit 3 special places, marked by the German army, but also synonymous with resistance and determination. This journey of remembrance can be made by carbut also by bike through 17km of pretty country roads.
Why is the village of Rouffignac so typical of the Périgord?
"We rebuild houses, not people".
31st March 1944During a week of German repression in Périgord, the village of Rouffignac was destroyed by fire set by the Nazis.
The various Resistance movements were well established in Périgord, but the incessant attacks by the maquisards had set the Germans on fire. The division commanded by General Brehmer stayed in the Dordogne for a week, spreading terror and desolation everywhere. The German soldiers methodically searched the entire countryside for Maquis and Jews, and when they didn't find any, they attacked the population.
The martyrdom of Rouffignac
At 8.30 a.m., the Germans surrounded the village, blocking the roads and laying automatic weapons everywhere. Two officers asked where the maquis was stationed, but as they received no reply, the order was given to all the inhabitants of the village to assemble in the square. It was impossible to escape as a cordon of soldiers surrounded the square. An officer spoke with the mayor:
"Which would you prefer? That I shoot the men or that I burn your whole village?
The Mayor replied:
"We rebuild houses, not people".
All afternoon it was a sad, anguished move. Then the soldiers looted the village, flamethrowers went into action and the houses burned like sheaves of straw.
The end of the nightmare?
The people of Rouffignac lived through hours of terror; the loss of life and property was extremely heavy, but on 2 April, the Germans appeared again, still looking for the "terrorists", and once again set fire to 20 houses in the lower and upper villages (including the Château de la Falquette): Rouffignac no longer existed, only the church and 3 houses were spared.
Photos, pages of moving text and an educational model will guide you through this dark period in the history of France. Rouffignac at the Espace Mémoire. This "museum" tells in detail what the men and women of this village in the Périgord Noir experienced in 1944.
Best known for being the home village of Jacquou le CroquantFanlac was also a major centre of the Resistance and a theatre of Nazi horror. Fanlac was home to the Ecole des Cadres de l'Interrégion FTPF (or "FTPF Interregion Cadres School").School of Resistance"). Take a stroll through the village and you'll come across a stele that is still in bloom in memory of the Aubarbier couple, murdered by the German army for their dedication to the Resistance.
A commemorative monument retraces the history of the Sablou internment camp and its "Sablousards", French people deemed undesirable by the German enemy. It is located between the village of Fanlac and the Château du Sablou.
The Second World War hit the Dordogne hard, and the Resistance set up very early on in the countryside.
Few homes in France were equipped with radios to hear General de Gaulle's call to the Resistance. To counter German propaganda, it was first necessary to wage a battle of opinion and, from the 1940s onwards, distribute leaflets and underground newspapers to the French. To galvanise the energy of the people of Périgord, networks were formed around old rifles and a radio. These people ran the risk of being totally committed or of providing occasional support. Farmers and railway workers acted as smugglers near the demarcation line for those who had to leave France.
To get an idea of the life of a Perigordian scrublandin the years 1943-44, it is necessary to follow "the Durestal maquisa remembrance trail that intersects with a hiking loop starting at Journiac : "the Péchorel loop".
In this maquis, stayed (among others) André Malrauxfor two days at the end of May 1944. He was impressed by the number of Resistance fighters present, to the point of describing it as "a sort of town in the woods". There were huts, dormitories, kitchens and even graves dug for traitors who had been shot.
The importance of the Resistance in Périgord is still very present in the memory of its inhabitants.
¾ of the Dordogne was in the free zone. Only the west of the département was occupied by the Germans. Nevertheless, traces of this past can be seen in the Green, White, Purple and Black Périgord.
At the time of the landing, the fighters from Périgord slowed the advance of the armoured division by 43 actions carried out against the Vichy government, which considered these resistance fighters to be terrorists. In the Thiviers area, the threshing strike (refusal to feed the occupiers) and sabotage of railway infrastructure and machinery hampered the occupiers' activities. For fear of reprisals, large-scale actions were forbidden.
Why are so many communes in the Dordogne twinned with Alsace?
Before 1939, there were very few Jews in Périgord, but Vichy's anti-Semitic policies prompted some Alsatians to take refuge in the Dordogne. They were spread across 186 communes, including Sarlat, Nontron, Terrasson, Les Eyzies, Bergerac, Ribérac and Thiviers, but the majority of the Jewish community was in Périgueux. The passage of the Brehmer division in the Dordogne attempted to suppress the Resistance and terrorise the population while searching for, executing and deporting Jews. This was the "Final Solution". In remembrance, 13 towns and villages in the Dordogne, including Plazac, Le Bugue or Rouffignachave created a twinning with towns in Alsacein this department of eastern France. Families continue to forge links generation after generation...
We had to "subdue the little maquis".
Some communes suffered reprisals: Mouleydier near Bergerac was burnt down by the Germans in 1944 after a fierce battle, 25 hostages were executed in Sainte-Marie de Chignac and 40 in Brantôme. In Mussidan, thirty-five hostages were arrested by the Germans for acts of resistance. They were deported to German labour camps...
Traces of the Second World War in the Dordogne
The Château du Sablou in Fanlac It was used as an internment camp for communist militants from January to December 1940. 50 years later, a stele in memory of those interned was erected in the Fanlac valley, near the Thonac stream.
Périgueux is perhaps one of the towns in France where the memory of the Second World War is most keenly felt. The National Association of Veterans and Friends of the Resistance (Anacr) organises guided tours on the history of the town at that time, called "chemins de la Mémoire".
The Resistance memorial at Saint-Etienne de Puycorbier in the Double forest is associated with André Voulgre museum. This place of remembrance retraces the struggles of the Resistance fighters in the Isle valley during the Second World War through an educational trail, films and an exhibition of materials left over from that period.
Numerous books have been written about this period in French history that had such an impact on the Périgord Noir. Through the pages of the book The Dordogne in the Second World WarIn this book, not one but several historians recount the daily life of the country's farmers in the face of the Vichy army. The author, Pierre Louty, gives a detailed and accurate account of the involvement of young people, particularly in the Resistance.