Designed by Jacques "jdrommel" David, this promotional campaign for Memoir '44 invites you to relive the darkest, most harrowing, yet glorious hours of the French Resistance as "maquisards" battle overwhelming SS forces on the Vercors Plateau.
West of the DauphinÃ© Alps, the Vercors Plateau forms a 3,000 feet high natural fortress with limited access to the outside world. Following the invasion of France's Zone Libre by the enemy, elements of the now disbanded Army of the Armistice found in Vercors the perfect base of operations from which to continue harassing the German occupier.
By 1943, the ranks of this rural guerilla known as the maquis du Vercors (literally "Vercors' thicket", for the type of high ground covered with scrub growth found on the Plateau) were swelling with young men. All eager to avoid conscription into Vichy France's Service du Travail Obligatoire (STO) - whose purpose was to provide forced labor for Germany - they began to organize themselves. Under a plan code-named "Montagnards" ("Mountain men"), the maquisards worked tirelessly to turn theVercors Plateau into an advanced base of operations for Allied airborne forces. The plan called for them to parachute on Vercors ahead of the invasion of Provence and then go on to seize the cities of Grenoble and Valence in an effort to cut-off any German retreat during the Liberation of France.
On June 5, 1944, the BBC issues a number of messages signaling the start of the uprising. Within days, the ranks of the maquisards swell from an initial 400 men to 4,000, and on July 3, 1944, they proclaim the Free Republic of Vercors, the first democratic territory in France since the start of the German occupation in 1940.
Initially slow to react, the Germans finally wake up to the threat under the command of General Pflaum; from July 14 on, they surround the Plateau with 10,000 men from the 157.Reserve-Division, supplemented with troops from the Eastern Legion. On July 21, German parachute and glider borne SS land on the Plateau and brutally suppress the uprising, terrorizing the population and murdering the maquisards. Much better trained, equipped and more numerous, they never leave the issue of the battle in doubt. Yet, thanks to the maquisards heroic - if desperate - effort, the spirit of Resistance forged in Vercors would go to live on long after its proponents had died.