20 Forgotten Atrocities Committed by the Allies During World War II

Members of the Maquis in La Tresorerie, France; date unknown. Wikimedia Commons.

19. A small group of French resistance fighters refused to accept the surrenders of German soldiers and instead routinely executed them in violation of international law

Following the liberation of France in August 1944 by Allied forces, large numbers of the German military occupation were unable to retreat due to Operation Dragoon – the Allied invasion of Southern France – and were instead forced to surrender. Many such German soldiers who did so surrendered to the French Forces of the Interior, a militarized light infantry version of the French Resistance who served as a force of approximately 200,000 irregulars following the Normandy landings; among these soldiers were the Maquis: rural guerrilla forces of the French Resistance.

Unlike their formal military counterparts, the Maquis did not abide by the rules of war or international law concerning the treatment of surrendering enemy soldiers and prisoners. Having suffered considerable personal losses at the hands of the Nazi security forces during the occupation for their resistance activities, the Maquis routinely refused to offer quarter to captured Gestapo or SS prisoners. One such known instance of war crimes committed by the Maquis occurred at Saint-Julien-de-Crempse, in the Dordogne region of France, on September 10, 1944, wherein 17 German POWs were executed in retaliation for earlier reprisal killings.