The French Resistance--Escape Route to Spain

Figure 1.--This depiction of refugees crossing the Pyrnaees to safty was drawn by Steve Noom. He illustrates books on historical subjects. The book the illustration appeared in does not say if the Resistance fighters are helping Jews, but many of the families assisted were Jews.

The NAZIs effectively bottled up Europe after the fall of France (June 1940). There were few ways for Jews or others targeted by the NAZIs to escape. One of the rare escape routes was over the Pyranees to Spain. Here the Resistance provide guides through the mountains--Le Chemin de la Liberti. The generally acceopted figure is about 30,000 Jews made it safely to France. There is, however, some difference of opinion here. Most of these Jews were those who managed to get to France befote the outbreak of the War. Manyof the Jews managed to escape (1939-41). The Germans presured the Spnish to stop the norrder crossings. After the Americans entered thre stratehic bombing campaign against German in force (1943), the Resistance set up a pipe line to get downed airmen shot down over the Netherlands, Belgium, and France to Spain where they could be repatriated. The Allied air raids in Germany pssed ocer the Low Countries and northern France. Large numbers of RAF Bomber Command and American 8th Air Force were shot down there. And the only way of getting back to Englsnd was through neutral Spain and Portugal which meant crossing France and then over the Pyranees. The Allies requested the Resistance to aid the airmen and a network was set up to get them to Spain. Spain began the war oriented toward NAZI Germany, but refused to actually enter the War or turn Jews over to the NAZIs. As the War turned against Germany, Spain adopted a more fully neutral stance. The Resistance pipeline became a major target of the German efforts against the Resistance. Training air crews were an involved undertaking and the Germans wanted to stop downed airmen from returing to their bases and the the War.


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Created: 3:19 AM 7/12/2008
Last updated: 3:19 AM 7/12/2008