Christians and the Resistance
How many Frenchmen belonged to the Resistance? The figures are disputed, but Paxton, perhaps more reliable than French sources, puts the total at 400,000, or about 2 per cent [sic] of the adult population. 1 Even this number, however, must be qualified. From 1940 to November 1942 the total was comparatively small. The events of 1942 --in particular, the persecution of the Jews and the landings in North Africa--caused the numbers to swell. In 1943 the conscription of young men for work in Germany and the growing conviction that Germany would be defeated signalled a considerable increase in those taking to the Maquis. In 1944 came the flood tide of recruitment, and de Gaulle's final call to insurrection was answered by many men and women anxious to help free their own locality.
This progressive increase in numbers among the population as a whole was typical also of practising Christians. Politically, Catholic Resisters were drawn from the traditional Right and from the officer class, as well as from the Christian Democrats: the Centrist PDP and the more leftwing Jeune République, despite its pre-war pacifist leanings. They were to be found more among the lower rather than the higher clergy, and among the members of the ACJF, especially the JEC and JOC, as well as of the CFTC. Also prominent were readers and contributors of such periodicals as Temps Présent, the successor to the Jesuit Etudes, which appeared from December 1940 to August 1941 as Temps Nouveau; Esprit (also closed down in August 1941); its more popular version Le Voltigeur français; the Dominican La Vie Spirituelle or Sept, its predecessor, the prewar L'Aube ( Francisque Gay, Bidault, Michelet, Schumann) and La Chronique sociale ( Joseph Vialatoux, Joseph Folliet). In the regular orders Resisters tended to be Jesuits or Dominicans, such as de Lubac, Lebreton, and Montcheuil, whereas female religious belonged to many different congregations. The Resistance also included Christian intellectuals and theologians sensitised to the evils of nazism. Inevitably, because of the weakness of catholicism among industrial workers, at first Christian Resisters sprang from the bourgeoisie and the middle classes.