Darnand, Joseph “Jo”, born on 19-03-1897 in Coligny, was a French leader of the far right and commander of the Vichy French Milice . He fought in World War I and received seven citations for bravery. At the beginning of World War II, Darnand volunteered to join the French army and served in the Maginot Line and was again decorated for bravery. He was captured in June 1940 but fled to Nice. He became a leading figure in the Vichy French organization Légion Francaise des combattants , French Legion of Veterans and recruited troopers for the fight against Bolshevism. The next year, he founded the collaborationist militia, Service d’ordre légionnaire, that supported Henry Philippe Petain and Vichy France. He offered his help against the French Resistance. On 01-01-1943 he transformed the organization into the Milice. Although Pierre Laval was its official president, Darnand was its de facto leader.
Darnand’s political convictions were of the far right but he was known as a Germanophobe, on three occasions he attempted to join the Resistance or flee to free French territory. He definitively turned to Nazi Germany and the next month was made an officer of the SS. Darnand’s turn to the SS was also influenced by the fact that Miliciens were being targeted for assassination by the Resistance but Vichy and Wehrmacht authorities refused to arm the Milice.
Joining the SS, Darnand together with the Belgium SS Hauptsturmfüher Leon Degrelle,
who founded Rexism, Rexism was a fascist political movement in Belgium and later Degrelle joined the Waffen SS, took a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler (did you know) (see Alois Hitler), receiving a rank of in the Waffen SS. Leon Degrelle still a Nazi died in exile in Malaga Spain, age 85, on 31-03-1994. The Milice played an important role in investigating the French Resistance. Here he is shown at an April 16, 1944, rally in Paris designed to encourage collaboration among the city’s population.” After the Normandy Invasion and Allied advance, Darnand fled to Germany in September 1944 and joined Pétain’s puppe government in Sigmaringen. In April 1945, he had to flee from Sigmaringen to Meran in Northern Italy.
More than 40 German divisions were destroyed during the Battle of Normandy. No exact figures are available, but historians estimate that the battle cost the German forces a total of around 450.000 men, of whom 240.000 were killed or wounded. The Allies had achieved this blow at a cost of 209.672 casualties among the ground forces, including 36.976 killed and 19.221 missing. In addition, 16.714 Allied airmen were killed or went missing in direct connection with Operation Overlord.
Death and burial ground of Darnand, Joseph “Jo”.
Darnand was captured after the war by the Allies in Italy and taken back to France, where he was sentenced to death on 03-10-1945 and executed by firing squad on 10-10-1945, at the Fort de Châtillon.
The French country had 41.700.000 residents during WW2, 200.000 soldiers died and 350.000 of the population. Joseph Darnand is buried in Paris on the Cimetiére Parisien des Batignolles.