History and memory

The remains of FFI Sergeant Raymond Anne, known as Filochard (1922-1944) from Camp C9 in the Vercors, killed at Vassieux-en-Vercors on 21 July 1944, are deposited in vault no. 3 of the crypt of Mont-Valérien. Raymond Anne was chosen to represent the fighting Resistance. The monument was erected in memory of the dead of the 1939-1945 war. Mont-Valérien was chosen because of the large number of resistance fighters who were shot in the fort by the Germans. It is located in the commune of Suresnes, bordering Nanterre and Rueil-Malmaison. It overlooks the Seine valley and Paris.

Behind the bronze doors, a crypt opens up, in which sixteen remains of war veterans (1939-1945) are buried. An empty vault is reserved for the last Companion of the Liberation. In the centre stands a twelve-metre high Cross of Lorraine, symbol of the Resistance, in front of which burns a flame representing the universality and durability of the values of the Resistance. Every year, the call of 18 June 1940 is commemorated there.

After the Liberation, General de Gaulle decided to build a monument on Mont Valérien dedicated to the dead of the 1939-1945 war. On 11 November 1945, fifteen bodies, symbolising the phases of the conflict, were buried in a temporary crypt set up in a casemate (a sixteenth body was added in 1952). In 1954, an urn containing ashes taken from various concentration camps was placed there.

On 20 September 2003, the monument “To the Resistance fighters and hostages shot at Mont-Valérien by Nazi troops, 1941-1944, and to all those who have not been identified” was inaugurated.

Authors: Guy Giraud and Julien Guillon
Source: http://www.mont-valerien.fr/

Associations of former resistance fighters

In order to present this original and detailed analysis of the history of the National Association of Pioneers and Volunteer Combatants of the Vercors (ANPCVV), carried out by the historian Jean-William Dereymez, it seemed interesting to recall the main characteristics of the associations of former Resistance fighters, within the whole of those of the world of fighting associations.

From this point of view, the analysis entitled “Les associations d’anciens résistants sous le regard des historiens” (Associations of former members of the Resistance in the eyes of historians) proposed by the historian Gilles Vergnon and published in Les Cahiers du CEHD n° 28, in 2006, has lost none of its relevance. We would like to thank the author for authorising us to present this synthesis.

The author notes the “relative historiographical void” on the subject due, it seems, to the small number of Resistance fighters and the immersion of their memory in the vast group of fighters in the interior and in Free France, and of captives, deportees or prisoners. For example, in Isère in 2014, out of 75 veterans’ associations, there were barely 20 former resistance fighters. For the Drôme, the figures are 68 and 5 respectively. (Sources ONAC Isère and Drôme).

He then proposes a typology of these associations in four categories: local associations, national associations with local roots (such as the Vercors, which is a specific territory, but a national issue of memory), national associations, the latest, the most active (ANACR, ANCVR, CNCVR…), and finally, associations of former members of the Resistance movements, which are generally less visible.

Within this general framework, three periods can be distinguished :

Periods Dominant features Main themes
Before 1975 – 1980Young resistance fighters sometimes disappointed, engaged in the reconstruction of the country, sometimes divided by the cold warHeroic speech (sacrifices, willpower…)
Places of memory
During the years 1975 – 2000Small golden age” of associations – Increase in membershipReception of young retirees, lifting of the foreclosure of CVR cards, memorial and historical watch, places of remembrance
From Digital decline, transmission,
community involvement
How to perpetuate?
How do we deal with the rise of the “victim discourse” in the face of the “hero discourse”?
  • According to the author, the role recognised to associations is at least threefold
    • solidarity (assistance to members and their families, defence of moral and material interests)
    • sociability: internal (friendly events, celebrations, etc.) and external (representation, links with public or associative decision-makers)
    • the culture of memory (ceremonies, monuments, books, etc.).

Over the years, the former member of the Resistance can become an educator (visits to the sites, interventions in schools). Sponsorships are implemented (cities, street names, links with military units, schools, etc., participation in the content of 1st and 2nd generation museums).

However, according to the author, two current features deserve attention and research (cf. 3rd line of the previous table):

1/ The associations of former resistance fighters have difficulties in imposing their own memory as a “major component of the Nation’s collective memory”. This is co-constructed today, by the witnesses of course, but also by the State, the school, the audiovisual sector, social demand “and… historians”. Thus, a certain “distance may have developed” between the different actors of memory (for example, writes the author, between communities that are more “victim-oriented” and associations that are more “heroic”).

One may wonder whether the time is not right for a synthesis of memory?

2/ The associations have a “concern for durability” to transmit their message. The Foundation of the Resistance, the associations of descendants and friends, the support of communities and other actors of the memory, are all possible ways, sometimes complementary, to ensure this durability.

This will of durability for the Resistance, which the author does not detect, for example in the associations resulting from the Great War, is in itself a strong sign.

Author: Philippe Huet
Source :
Gilles Vergnon, “Les associations d’anciens résistants sous le regard des historiens”,
in Les Cahiers du CEHD n° 28, 2006.


How to apply the previous reading grid to the memory of the Resistance in Vercors?

The associations concerned are numerous, often sectoral, and more or less durable. In particular, we can mention the associations of the alumni of the Villard-de-Lans high school, the Friends of Jean Prévost, the now disbanded “Lasalle” Vercors Maquisards, the alumni of the 11th Cuir, the 6th BCA…). This vitality is a sign. Just as the 50 to 80 memorial events on the Plateau during the 70th anniversary are a sign.

It is however recognized that the National Association of Pioneers and Volunteer Combatants of the Vercors (ANPCVV), created in November 1944 under the name of Amicale des Pionniers by Eugène Chavant, civilian leader of the maquis, has played a central and original role in the reconstruction and the memory. It has kept its visibility as shown by its action during the 70th anniversary of the Liberation battles in 2014. This is explained by the dedicated study of J-W. Dereymez.

Author: Philippe Huet

From Mont Valérien to the necropolises

Two national necropolises were built on the Vercors: one at Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte, the other at Vassieux-en-Vercors. A third, more modest, is located at Pas de l’Aiguille.

The construction of these places of remembrance is the great work of the Association Nationale des Pionniers et Combattants Volontaires du Vercors (ANPCVV).

The graves or cenotaphs recall the memory of civilians and combatants killed or assassinated by the occupying forces. The circumstances of these tragedies are to be found in the fighting or massacres perpetrated in the first half of 1944, notably at Malleval (29 January), Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte (13 and 15 June), Valchevrière and Vassieux-en-Vercors (from 21 to 24 July), la Chapelle-en-Vercors (25 July), the Luire cave (27 and 28 July).

The visitor will not fail to notice the ecumenical character of the site: Christian crosses and steles marked with the Muslim crescent or the Star of David are situated side by side. A mural sculpture in the memorial room of the Vassieux-en-Vercors necropolis recalls this ecumenical nature of the combatants.

Other memorials have been erected in the Vercors: at the Pas de l’Aiguille, at the Esparron monastery, at the Espenel memorial, which is in the Vercors of the Drôme.

Numerous monuments, plaques and steles, individual or collective, are scattered throughout the Vercors-Resistance and its approaches.

Author : Guy Giraud

Symbols and insignia

An insignia is a distinctive external mark of belonging to a group, a rank or a function. In the singular, insignia usually refers to the main element, most often a metal or textile object.

The symbol is a concept, a representation thought up by a particular individual or a group in general. The association made by thought is triggered from the human senses perceiving something, such as a badge. Symbols are a more general concept. Steles, monuments – including graves -, memorial objects evoke, “symbolise” a belonging, an idea, an event (for example, a statue, a memorial, a flag, etc.).

Military or paramilitary units, their components, and the individuals who belong to them have often wished to distinguish themselves from other groups of the same nature by a distinctive sign. This may be an insignia, a crest, a pennant or a flag, always of high symbolic value.

Other groups want to pay tribute to former combatants by recalling their epic by a name of promotion or combat vehicle, armoured or aeroplane for example.

Symbols and badges abound for the Vercors maquis. The insignia are primarily intended to identify or characterise the wearer’s membership. In the Vercors, the “Vercors” arm bands, or the chamois, created in 1945, were readily worn by soldiers and former maquisards, particularly within the First Army and the 27th Alpine Division.

Authors: Julien Guillon and Guy Giraud