Charles de Gaulle, a tank corps officer in the French Army, refused to take part in the surrender(of France); he fled to England where, on the eve of the French capitulation, he broadcast a message to the French people over the BBC on June 18, 1940. This historic speech rallied the French people and helped to start the resistance movement. Part of his speech is quoted below:
Is the last word said? Has all hope gone? Is the defeat definitive? No. Believe me, I tell you that nothing is lost for France. This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is a world war. I invite all French officers and soldiers who are in Britain or who may find themselves there, with their arms or without, to get in touch with me. Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not die and will not die.
Although Charles de Gaulle was not well known in France, and few people had heard his broadcast, this was the beginning of the French resistance which slowly gained momentum.
In 2005, a new museum at the Natzweiler Memorial Site was dedicated to the heroes of the French resistance whose efforts to defeat the Nazis and liberate Europe were significant. By the time that the Allies were ready to invade Europe in June 1944, there were as many as 9 major resistance networks which were fighting as guerrillas against the German occupation of France. There were an estimated 56,000 French resistance fighters who were captured and sent to concentration camps; half of them never returned.