Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny & Resistance – Book Review

By Chris Knox

Gun Control in Nazi Occupied-France: Tyranny And Resistance
Gun Control in Nazi Occupied-France: Tyranny And Resistance

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- No discussion of gun control goes for very long before someone mentions Nazis. Yet surprisingly little historical research has delved into what the Nazis actually did, both in prewar Germany and in the countries that fell before the invading Nazi armies.

With his recently-released Gun Control in Nazi-occupied France and its 2014 predecessor, Gun Control in the Third Reich. Dr. Stephen Halbrook has started mining a long-ignored vein in the history of World War II.

Gun Control in Nazi Occupied-France: Tyranny And Resistance

That historians have so carefully avoided the topic for so long is remarkable in itself. Dr. Halbrook avoids accusations, but he succeeds in gently raising the question of why the topic has been ignored. It just might be that academic backers of “common sense” restrictions on guns find it uncomfortable to see policies they favor being modeled by the archetype of totalitarian government.

Whatever the reason, the topic has gone virtually unstudied for the past seven decades. Halbrook's work is a good start on remedying that lack of scholarship.

Working from a trove of historical source documents in French and German, and from questionnaires he sent to veterans of the French Resistance, Dr. Halbrook has produced a detailed and meticulously researched picture of how the invading Nazis viewed arms in the hands of ordinary Frenchmen, and the steps they undertook to eradicate what they considered a menace to the success of their occupation.

Despite academia choosing to avoid the topic, the Nazi policies made an impression on WWII GIs and on the folks back home. The idea of “gun control” was foreign to most American ground-pounders, but they saw and heard of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against ordinary people for the crime of keeping a gun handy – proving to those unsophisticated “grunts” just how badly those guns were needed. As the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled across the low countries into France, they followed the same procedure in each town they entered. Upon subduing a town, soldiers immediately put up posters in the local language ordering that all guns be turned in, usually including threats of execution. Where registration records were available, the Nazis referred to the records and paid visits to the addresses they found there.

It was these oft-repeated, but rarely verified stories that made an impression on the American GIs, and that led to gun registration being political poison through the postwar years. One such story, this one set not in France, but in Belgium, was related by a refugee-turned-soldier, to my late father, Neal Knox. For years Dad told the story of The Belgian Corporal, usually after dinner with friends when someone asked him how he got into the fight for the Second Amendment. Dad committed the story to print only once or twice, partly because he could not substantiate the tale, and because he did not want the story to become trite.

What is undeniable is the impact that the story had on Dad and on our family. What is now also undeniable is the outline of that story, where a registered gun that could not be found led to an entire family being machine-gunned in the town square, was repeated not only in Belgium, but in France, the Netherlands, and without any doubt, in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and elsewhere.

The French gun registration law was moved into place with the best of intentions, as all such laws are.

A global depression was in full swing in 1935, and crime was high – a handy excuse for disarming the populace. The real reason, however, was that revolution was in the air, and fights between armed extremists were all too common. The French government saw it prudent to register the guns in order to confiscate them if need be. The politician who pushed the French registration law was none other than Pierre Laval, who would later lead the Vichy puppet regime, and would eventually be shot as a collaborator. The German Wehrmacht would find those registration records quite handy as they moved in to administer their new puppet state.

French Citizens Surrender Guns to Nazis
French Citizens Surrender Guns to Nazis

Halbrook's book details the almost comical swings between orders to turn in guns or be shot followed by amnesties to turn in guns with no questions, followed again by death threats against those who failed to report those who had guns, followed by more amnesties. I say “almost comical” because the matter was serious business. Thousands lost their lives. Trees that served as stakes where condemned gun owners were tied up and shot fell over, cut down by the daily barrages of the firing squads. Yet the French people, especially those in rural areas, defied the orders hiding their own guns or passing them on to the Resistance.

The Nazis lack of success in making France a “gun-free zone” might provide a lesson for current politicians. A good portion of Frenchmen did not give up their guns in the face of firing squads. The low rates of compliance with registration laws in California, New York, and Connecticut really should not be all that surprising.

Stephen Halbrook's Gun Control in Nazi Occupied-France: Tyranny And Resistance is an important book, one that deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone who holds the Second Amendment dear. The history of the Nazis and their gun control should not be buried in obscure footnotes. It should be readily available and studied for the important lessons that can be learned and applied today. Halbrook's books are a great start.

  • 17 thoughts on “Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny & Resistance – Book Review

    1. If we do not pay attention to history we will be doomed to repeat it. If it is up to the far left we would be using Australia as a model and the only ones to have weapons would be the government and the crooks

    2. A large portion of the “younger” generation (under 50), don’t believe this could ever happen again. Are they correct? Has humanity changed? Does power no longer corrupt? Is the old expression “better red than dead” on the rise and acceptable?

    3. “The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. Not for nothing was the revolver called an “equalizer.” Egalité implies liberté. And always will. Let us hope our weapons are never needed – but do not forget what the common people of this nation knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.”
      Edward Paul Abbey (1927-1989), American author, Abbey’s Road, 1979

      1. same here Brother.
        and as a Marine i didn’t fight in Vietnam to allow those COMMUNIST DEMORAT CREATURES HERE TO DISARM WE THE PEOPLE.
        but i feel they are TO STUPID because if they gain power back? they will TRY.

      1. lya Ehrenburg – author of The Black Book. He was a prolific writer, celebrated author of various novels and other works of fiction. He was the top Soviet propagandist during the Second World War. He was a notorious liar and a pathological monster. He was a Jew.

        lya Ehrenburg ANTIFA – As a a leading member of the Soviet-sponsored Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Ilya Ehrenburg appeared at fund-raising rallies in the United States, raising support for the Communist cause while displaying fake bars of soap allegedly manufactured by the Germans from the corpses of dead Jews.

        But Ilya Ehrenburg was perhaps most notorious for his viciously anti-German hate propaganda in World War II. In it, he exhorted Soviet troops to kill all Germans they encountered without pity.*

    4. Enough about the ‘Nazi’s’. How about Stalin’s Communist USSR? He murdered (exterminated) more people than the Germans were alleged to have done. And what was Uncle Joe’s policy regarding firearms? Let’s not exclude the Red Chinese. Millions upon millions two. And others counties have committed genocide also. We don’t get to hear much about that.

    5. Unfortunately, due to a spate of “summer gun violence” our federal government is considering seizing handguns and assault rifles. You may be reassured that the guns that will be taken are those that are registered. Yet the one’s responsible for this violence are out of sight of the law. Our rights, in Canada, do not include a “Second Amendment” or its equivalent. Nor do we have the equivalent of the N.R.A.

      The irony of all this is that in order to gain a firearms possession or acquisition licence one has to undergo a rigorous investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and weeks of training by a certified gun club, as well as certified instructors. Consequently, “we, the people,” are often better trained than the police.

      As for our legislators seeing these discrepancies, we do not hold our breath.

    6. Let’s never forget:
      ” 1930, noun and adjective, from German Nazi, abbreviation of German pronunciation of Nationalsozialist (based on earlier German sozi, popular abbreviation of “socialist”), from Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei “National Socialist German Workers’ Party,” ‘.

      Nazis were SOCIALISTS! National socialists at that. This is what democRATS have gradually become over the years. look at the running democrat for governor in FL – out and out democrat socialist – his own words. We will see more and more of this in the upcoming elections. Bernie Sanders was the EXPERIMENT – the elite had him run openly as a socialist to see what the public response would be. Now they know enough people voted for him; a successful experiment. We will see socialists/marxists/maoists running in every election, not to mention Sharia Law muslim proponents.

      “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson

      1. Mark,
        German NSDAP never did call themselves the “NAZI” party but the Bolsheviks aka Political Zionists coming from Russia sure did. This has been proven again and again.
        Do some research on Oxford Scholar “Rex Curry PhD.”
        Also, National Socialist is a good thing and is 180 degrees from National Zionist Party (NAZI)

        NA-tionalist
        ZI-onist
        NAZI Party

      1. Disarming and restricting the rights/freedoms of citizens is NEVER done with good intentions…..there is ALWAYS a corrupt agenda behind these kind of political actions!

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