28.05.2021 Author: Vladimir Danilov

Who is Redefining the Memory of the Normandie-Niemen Squadron in Paris?


In the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for the past 80 years, it has been widely assumed that France, a nation that was occupied and fought in World War II on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition, was an ally of Russia. And it was supported by plenty of evidence: a large proportion of the French did indeed go into hiding at that time, forming the French resistance, some of whom took part in battles on the Eastern Front among the Soviets, in particular in the French fighter aviation regiment Normandie-Niemen.

It is a remarkable fact that four French pilots of the Normandie-Niemen squadron received the highest decoration of the USSR — the Hero of the Soviet Union —and among them, in particular, the representative of the French aristocracy Roland Paulze d’Ivoy de La Poype.

Although, even back then given Germany’s occupation of Northern France since 1940 and the establishment of the Vichy regime in the south, London and Washington were already planning to classify France as one of the territories subject to occupation after World War II, sharing the same boots as Germany.

Only the steadfast position of Moscow saved France from the occupation regime at that time, which, at the insistence of the Soviet leadership, was included in the anti-Hitler camp, followed by the allocation to France of a special French zone of occupation in Germany. To the credit of former French President Charles de Gaulle, he remembered this and treated French-Russian relations with special care.

Even today, Russia continues to treat France and the French with special respect, trying to avoid recalling the fact that before May 1945, a certain number of Frenchmen volunteered under the banners of dozens of units and formations of the armed forces and auxiliary organizations of the Third Reich. There were dozens of thousands of such French volunteers, and as a result, French people made up the largest number of Western European citizens who fought on the side of Germany in World War II.

Nevertheless, times change, and so do politicians and historians; they attempt to make adjustments to history that would benefit a certain part of today’s Western political elite, to replace yesterday’s military partners with today’s adversaries.

On May 9, as well as on other days, the French Air Force conducted nearly regular provocative reconnaissance flights in the Black Sea, and Russian Su-27 fighters of the air defense forces of the Southern Military District on duty had to take off in order to intercept them. On May 11 Russian Su-30 fighters were again forced to intercept two Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters and a French Air Force tanker approaching the Russian border over the Black Sea in order to prevent them from violating the Russian state border.

As noted even by Forbes, French high-tech surveillance fighters have become actively involved in checking the defense of Russia, carrying out secret reconnaissance operations against Russia. American experts noted that along with the usual air-to-air missiles, the French Mirages were equipped with thin capsules with sensitive electronic sensors on their undersides, designed to detect enemy radars and to work out a map of the Russian defense.

However, it is worth pointing out that such “test reconnaissance operations” usually are conducted on the eve of an armed conflict, which Washington has recently been actively pushing its weak-willed satellites to.

But it turns out that this US venture is now increasingly being joined by France, all in gratitude for Moscow’s efforts during World War II?

And in this regard, it is remarkable that on the eve of the May 9, the day celebrating the end of World War II, the former allies of Moscow in the anti-Hitler coalition made a march to the Russian borders. Just a few dozen kilometers from Russia’s western borders, they launched the largest NATO military exercise in the last quarter century, DEFENDER-Europe 21. And what do you know, France was at the forefront of this whole process! Joint exercises of Estonian, British and French units are taking place at the Estonian Defense Forces Central Range. In particular, the French troops were practicing ground movement with both light and heavy tanks.

The blatant anti-Russian orientation of these exercises is not even concealed today. Ukraine’s representative to the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbass, Oleksiy Arestovich, in particular, officially stated that the DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise will practice “war with Russia.”

In this regard, one cannot help but recall how on June 22, 1941, on the first day of the German attack on the USSR, the leader of the French fascist party PPF (Parti Populaire Français), Jacques Doriot, announced the creation of the “Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism” (LVF) for the war against the USSR and Ribbentrop approved this idea in his July 5 telegram No. 3555. In July 1941, the LVF Central Committee had already recruited more than 13,000 volunteers under the wing of this formation. There are no exact figures on how many Frenchmen fought against the USSR on the Eastern Front, except for data on French prisoners of war: there were 23,136 French citizens in Soviet captivity…

But fortunately, there are still some sensible politicians and soldiers in France! It was they, along with senior retired French officers, who a year ago expressed concern about the country’s participation in the NATO Defender 2020 exercise and suggested abandoning it in order to begin a strategic dialogue with Moscow. The organization of retired French officers (Cercle de Réflexions Interarmées, CRI) published its call in the under the heading: “We have to free ourselves from the American grip and become closer to Moscow.” “To organize NATO maneuvers in the 21st century under Moscow’s nose, more than 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, as if the Warsaw Pact still exists, is a clear political mistake bordering on irresponsible provocation,” the French officers wrote. They warn that participation in an exercise that practiced a tactical nuclear strike against Russia indicates “a serious loss of French strategic independence” because “it is in total contradiction with the French doctrine of deterrence, which rejects any nuclear attack.” The authors call on France to return to the legacy of De Gaulle, “who did not forget that in 1944 Roosevelt intended to place France under American administrative supervision.”

Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.