GROUPS & ORGANIZATIONS
The Maquis were a resistance force within the rural regions of Occupied and Vichy France. Predominantly in Vichy, they began as a passive resistance group seeking to avoid compulsory work ordered by the Service du Travail Obligatoire (STO). The STO was created in an agreement between Vichy and Germany allowing for forced labor of French citizens for the German war effort. This order targeted young men who were fit for work in areas not deemed essential for France. The original beginnings of the Maquis were typically bands of men who used the heavily forested and mountainous regions of Vichy to their advantage. By mid-to-late-1943 Maquis groups began to implement more militarized activities. With invasions being planned for both the Northern and Southern coasts of France, the Allies began working with local Maquis groups to better prepare for the invasions. Through the use of Allied operatives during Operation Jedburgh (the operation to parachute Allied officers into France), specialized training and armament brought the Maquis into a full fighting force. Now integrated into the French Forces of the Interior, or FFI, units throughout Vichy worked in coordination with Allied armies during Operation Dragoon, the invasion and liberation of southern France.
Franc-Tireurs et Partisans
Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (communists) were nearly on par when it came to the size of the Maquis. Their roots began around 1939 when Édouard Daladier’s government sought to extinguish communist ideology and uprisings from his government as well as in France. Major leaders of the French Communist Party were arrested, while others went into hiding beginning their history of resistance. During the invasion of France, communists choose the role of neutrality under the guidance of the Comintern in Moscow, who had a non-aggression pact with Germany. Following the occupation, fractures began to occur between those who were against German collaboration and those who chose a line of neutrality. This stance changed when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, setting the stage of active resistance against the Germans in Vichy and Occupied France. In some respects, the FTP mirrored the journey of the Maquis. Between 1941 and 1943, most FTP groups were lowly armed and trained, leading to several debacles and repercussions against civilians by the Germans. Once consolidated in 1943, and slowly building a stronger fighting force, the FTP continued their active resistance with greater success. Leaders of the Maquis looked to the FTP for how to properly act as a combat force. Distrust grew between the FTP and Maquis between 1943 and 1944 when it was becoming clear that visions of a post-war France differed
Federation de Societies Juives de France
Founded in 1913, the Federation (FJSF) brought together a number of different Jewish organizations in France under one banner whose main goal was to provide and support Jews in need. Following German occupation and Vichy, the FJSF continued its work as a secret society working to help free Jews from camps, protect them by providing assistance, creating false documents, and helping them escape the country. After the war, the FJSF continued its work supporting Jews in need by providing loans, grants, and assistance to retrieve lost possessions including homes and businesses. Elias worked with the FJSF in Montpellier both during Vichy and following the war.
American Jewish Congress
Founded in 1918, the American Jewish Congress was created in response to Zionists and immigrant Jewish population in the United States. The AJC became a force in the 1920s under the leadership of Rabbi Stephen Wise, who became an advocate warning the United States about rising anti-Semitism in Europe and Hitler. During the war, the AJC’s mission was to rescue European Jews and provide for those who did escape. After the war when the Loewy’s made it to the United States, Elias became a fundraiser for the AJC in New York.
Phoenix Jewish Free Loan Association
Built upon the ideas Elias implemented in Vichy, the Jewish Free Loan was built on the idea of providing anyone small loans with no interest or hard repayment date. The idea was to help those in need that they may be able to have a chance at success. If success happened, the loan could be repaid. If not, the hope was the person who received the loan was to help his community in other ways. Elias was a founding member of the Jewish Free Loan serving as its Vice President in its early years. Today the Free Loan continues to provide for Phoenix and the Valley.