During the Second World War, millions of people were forced to live under foreign occupation. They faced hard choices between resistance, acquiescence or collaboration.
Germany’s early victories subjected much of Europe to Nazi occupation. The experience of occupation varied widely between and within national populations. Jews faced persecution across Europe, while abduction to forced labour was widespread.
Resistance could range from guerrilla warfare or sabotage, to distributing anti-Nazi literature. Resistance was extremely hazardous; reprisals were brutal and indiscriminate. Some chose to collaborate, co-operating with and even joining German armed forces. After liberation, a person’s social status could be profoundly affected by their choice to resist or collaborate during the war.
Resistance movements provided the Allies with saboteurs and vital intelligence. Britain’s Special Operations Executive and the American Office of Strategic Services smuggled agents and equipment into occupied areas. These operations, often supporting groups with particular political or national aspirations, created post-war political ambiguities.