Free France is one of several nations in Steel Division: Normandy 44. Its armed forces were the FFI (Forces françaises libres, engl. Free French Forces).
In-game the FFI troops field a mixture of American and captured German equipment. Particularly noteworthy is their strong and unique infantry.
- 1 Historical background
- 2 Divisions in Steel Division: Normandy 44
- 3 Units
- 4 FFI
- 5 Division in Steel Division 2
- 6 Units
One of the oldest countries in Europe, the French experience in World War II was nothing short of traumatic. Plagued by political instability, economic trouble, and tormented by the brutal losses sustained in World War I at Germany's hands, the French Republic failed to respond to the rise of fascism abroad, aid its neighbor, Spain, in the war against Franco, or even curtail the rising popularity of anti-semitism and nationalism within its borders. As a result, Hitler's rise continued unimpeded. As troubled as it was, France was confident that the Maginot Line founded in the 1920s and its international alliances would keep it safe.
When appeasement failed and Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, France briefly held up its commitments to the Polish state and invaded Germany. The Saar offensive was halted shortly after it began and French troops were pulled back to the Maginot Line. The ensuing Phony War was rooted in wanting to avoid a repeat of World War I and a false belief in the impregnability of the Line, built up over nearly two decades. Eight months later, Germany demonstrated how false the belief was, attacking the Low Countries on May 10, 1940. Penetrating through the densely forested Ardennes, the German army encircled the British Expeditionary Force and the best French forces, achieving total victory through an incredibly risky gamble.
France signed an armistice on June 22, 1940, believing itself unable to defend against Germany, despite better tanks, more troops, and assistance from other Allied countries, including defeated Poland. The humiliation was complete: Half of the country was placed under military occupation, the Reich freely exploited its resources and men, its military was dismantled and weapons seized by the Nazis, with a collaborationist government under Henri Petain formed to support the Nazi expansion. Only the Free France (fr. France libre), organized under Charles DeGaulle in Great Britain and the French colonies, remained to fight for what France was.
The struggle for legitimacy continued for several years, with Petain's Vichy France (fr. Régime de Vichy) embracing fascism and supplying volunteer troops for the meat grinder in the east, as the Légion des volontaires français contre le bolchévisme. France was eventually occupied in full in 1942, while the Free French movement, split between regular armed forces and the partisan FFI, snowballed into a libeeration force. France was finally liberated by the Allies in late 1944, with French divisions armed with United States equipment liberating Paris.
Following purges of collaborationist, France entered a new period of its history: The dissolution of its colonial empire, social revolutions, and the foundation of the European Union in a bid to prevent a repeat of the horrors of World War II.
Divisions in Steel Division: Normandy 44
FFI are special campaign-only units that represent the partisans and irregulars supporting the landings in Normandy, using a variety of legacy equipment in combat.