It happened on August 16 in Paris. On August 16, 1944, while the Liberation of Paris is underway, 35 young members of the Resistance, coming from Paris, Chelles, and Montfermeil, fall into a trap made by the Germans and are shot at the foot of the cascade of the Bois de Boulogne.
In the weeks prior to this tragic event, dozens of thousands of French are getting involved in open and general resistance, answering to calls from the National Council of the Resistance and the Parisian Liberation Committee. They are filled with hope with the news about the landing in Provence on August 15 and the arrival of the allies to the gates of Île-de-France.
The insurrection escalates with the general strike of railroaders on August 10 following a call from the clandestine CGT, closely followed by the metalworking industry, posts, telecommunications, and police officers on August 13 and Parisian police on August 15. A general and insurrectional strike takes place everywhere in France.
In such a hectic atmosphere, groups of members of the Resistance are looking for weapons and munitions that are lacking. Among them, groups of Jeunes Chrétiens Combattants [Young Fighting Christians] (JCC) are very active, especially the group from the Saint-Marcel parish in Paris 13th arrondissement.
These JCC members sweep friends members of other organizations of the Resistance in Paris and around with them. Furthermore, the Jeunes de l’Organisation Civile et Militaire [Young from the Civil and Military Organization], the Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur [French Forces of the Interior] and the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans agree to take part in receiving and sharing the weapons.
But two officers from the Abwehr – the Wehrmacht’s intelligence service – have infiltrated leaders of the network expected to quickly provide many weapons, pretending to be two English officers.
On August 16, 1944, the three groups of members of the Resistance gather in three places by the Porte Maillot. Captured during their commute by SD officers – the intelligence agency of the SS – as well as by members of the French Gestapo, 35 members of the Resistance are taken to the Cascade of the Bois de Boulogne in the very evening and shot. 7 members of the Resistance, members of the FFI, are also shot on August 16 in front of the Gestapo headquarters, rue Leroux in Paris 16th arrondissement.
On July 6, 1946, a memorial is erected where the bodies of the torture victims have been found. On the monument are engraved the 35 names of the martyrs. A commemorative plate reading “Passant, respecte ce chêne : il porte les traces de balles qui ont tué nos martyrs” [Passerby, please show this oak tree respect: it carries the bullets that killed our martyrs] is also hanging on the oak carrying the bullet impacts that killed the 35 members of the Resistance.
© Polymagou / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0