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Blue, white and red flag with black gamma symbol and
Milice flag with a gamma symbol, 1943–1945

Black-and-white photo of men in uniform with guns
Members of the Milice, armed with captured British Bren guns and No. 4 Lee–Enfield rifles

The Milice française (French Militia), generally called the Milice (French pronunciation: ​), was a paramilitary force created on January 30, 1943 by the Vichy regime (with German aid) to help fight against the French Resistance during World War II. The Milice's formal head was Prime Minister Pierre Laval, although its Chief of operations and de facto leader was Secretary General Joseph Darnand. It participated in summary executions and assassinations, helping to round up Jews and résistants in France for deportation. It was the successor to Joseph Darnand's Service d'ordre légionnaire (SOL) militia.

The Milice frequently used torture to extract information or confessions from those whom they interrogated. The French Resistance considered the Milice more dangerous than the Gestapo and SS because they were native Frenchmen who understood local dialects fluently, had extensive knowledge of the towns and countryside, and knew local people and informants.

Milice troops (known as miliciens) wore a blue uniform jacket and trousers, brown shirt and a wide blue beret. (During active paramilitary-style operations, a pre-war French Army helmet was used.) Its newspaper was Combats (not to be confused with the underground Resistance newspaper, Combat). It employed full-time and part-time personnel, and had a youth wing. The Milice's armed forces were officially known as the Franc-Garde. Contemporary photographs show the Milice armed with a variety of weapons captured from Allied forces.


  • Membership 1
  • Emblem 2
  • History 3
  • In popular culture 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7


Maroon poster, with white Greek letter gamma covering red hammer and sickle
Recruitment poster for the Milice: "Against Communism / French Militia / Secretary-General Joseph Darnand"

Captured men, with hands behind their heads
Resistance members captured by the Milice, July 1944. One of the miliciens is armed with a captured British Sten gun.

Early Milice volunteers included members of France's pre-war far-right parties (such as the

  • "Cullen, Stephen (2010) "Collaborationists in Arms: The Uniforms and Equipment of the Vichy Milice Francaise". The Armourer Militaria Magazine (100): 24–28. July–August 2010. 
  • Cullen, Stephen (2008). Cohort of the Damned: Armed Collaboration in Wartime France – the Milice Francaise, 1943–45. Warwick: Allotment Hut Booklets. 
  • Cullen, Stephen (March 2008). "Legion of the Damned: The Milice Francaise, 1943–45". Military Illustrated. 
  • Pryce-Jones, David (1981). Paris in the Third Reich: A History of the German Occupation. London: Collins. 
  • "Resistance in France". After the Battle (105). 1999. 

Further reading

  1. ^ Paul Jankowski, “In Defense of Fiction: Resistance, Collaboration, and Lacombe, Lucien”. The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 63, No. 3 (Sep., 1991), pp. 462
  2. ^ "Battle of Glieres", World at War



See also

In popular culture

An unknown number of miliciens managed to escape prison or execution, either by going underground or fleeing abroad. A few were later prosecuted. The most notable of these was Paul Touvier, the former commander of the Milice in Lyon. In 1994, he was convicted of ordering the retaliatory execution of seven Jews at Rillieux-la-Pape. He died in prison two years later.

In August 1944, as the tide of war was shifting and fearing he would be held accountable for the operations of the Milice, Marshal Liberation of France, members who failed to flee to Germany (where they were impressed into the Charlemagne Division of the Waffen-SS) or elsewhere, generally faced imprisonment for treason, execution following courts-martial or murder by vengeful résistants and civilians.

The legal standing of the Milice was never clarified by the Vichy government; it operated parallel to (but separate from) the Vichy French police force. The Milice operated outside civilian law, and its actions were not subject to judicial review or control.

Perhaps the largest and best-known operation undertaken by the Milice was the Battle of Glières, its attempt in March 1944 to suppress the Resistance in the département of Haute-Savoie (in southeastern France, near the Swiss border).[2] The Milice could not overcome the Resistance, and had to call in German troops to complete the operation. On Bastille Day, 14 July 1944, miliciens suppressed a revolt among the prisoners at Paris' Santé prison.

Membership card with photo, stamp and tricolor diagonal lettering
Counterfeit Milices card prepared for French Resistance member Serge Ravanel, under the alias of Charles Guillemot

The Milice initially operated in the former Zone libre of France under the control of the Vichy regime. In January 1944, the radicalized Milice moved into what had been the zone occupée of France (including Paris). They established their headquarters in the old Communist Party headquarters at 44 rue Le Peletier and at 61 rue Monceau. (The house was formerly owned by the Menier family, makers of France's best-known chocolates.) The Lycée Louis-Le-Grand was occupied as a barracks, and an officer candidate school was established in the Auteuil synagogue.

The most prominent person killed by the Resistance was Georges Mandel.

The Resistance targeted individual miliciens for assassination, often in public areas such as cafés and streets. On April 24, 1943, they shot and killed Paul de Gassovski, a milicien in Marseilles. By late November, Combats reported that 25 miliciens had been killed and 27 wounded in Resistance attacks.

Man in uniform, wearing a beret and holding a revolver
Milice member guarding Resistance PoWs wearing a German Army Wound Badge (indicating previous service with a German Army unit) and armed with a Spanish copy of the Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver, chambered in 8mm French Ordnance.


The chosen emblem for the Milice carried the Greek letter γ (gamma), the symbol of the Aries astrological sign in the Zodiac, ostensibly representing rejuvenation, and replenishment of energy. The color scheme chosen was silver in blue background within a red circle for ordinary miliciens, white in black background for the arm-carrying militants, and white in red background for the active combatants.


) that the Milice's membership reached 25,000–30,000 by 1944, although official figures are difficult to obtain. Julian T. Jackson It is estimated by several historians (including [1]

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