Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Moulin, Jean (1899–1943)

French Resistance leader. Born in Béziers (Hérault), France, on 20 June 1899, Jean Moulin was educated as a lawyer. A promising young politician, Moulin was France's youngest prefect in 1940, in charge of the Department of Eure-et-Loire, which includes the city of Chartres. After the armistice, he refused a German order to sign a document falsely accusing Senegalese troops of atrocities. Imprisoned and tortured, Moulin tried to commit suicide.

Ordered by the Germans to remove several leftist mayors in his department, Moulin instead fled France and arrived in London in October 1941, where he became connected with several key resistance groups, most notably those with leftist inclinations. The leader of the Free French, General Charles de Gaulle, soon recognized Moulin's value. At de Gaulle's urging, Moulin parachuted with two assistants into southern France in January 1942, with instructions to unite the fractured resistance groups.

In early 1943, Moulin established the Mouvements Unis de la Résistance (MUR, meaning "wall" in French), an umbrella organization for resistance groups in the south. Moulin returned briefly to Britain to arrange with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) for air drops of arms, radios, and propaganda material. Back in France in May, Moulin presided over the first meeting of the Conseil National de la Résistance (CNR) in Paris on 27 May; of the meeting brought together resistance groups from all regions and ideological perspectives, including the anti-Gaullist communists.

Shortly after the founding of the CNR, Moulin was betrayed by an informer and was arrested by the Gestapo in a suburb of Lyon on 21 June. Aware that he had vast knowledge of all resistance cells in France, the Gestapo chief in Lyon, Klaus Barbie, personally oversaw extensive torturing. Moulin refused to talk despite five days of torture. He died on a train on 8 July 1943, probably at Metz, while being transported to Germany. The charismatic Moulin is regarded as the greatest hero and martyr of the French Resistance, who prevented the various groups from engaging in internecine warfare (although after his death, the anti–de Gaulle and pro–de Gaulle factions drifted apart). Today, the Gestapo headquarters in Lyon where he was tortured is a museum of the French Resistance. In 1964, his remains were reinterred in the Pantheon in Paris.

Michael S. Neiberg


Further Reading
Burrin, Philippe. France under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise. New York: Free Press, 1996.; Clinton, Alan. Jean Moulin, 1899–1943: The French Resistance and the Republic. London: Palgrave, 2002.; Foot, M. R. D. SOE in France. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1966.; Marnham, Patrick. Resistance and Betrayal: The Death and Life of the Greatest Hero of the French Resistance. New York: Random House, 2002.
 

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