After the visit to the house of Izieu in Ain, last year, the orders of the Legion of Honor, the National Order of Merit, the Association of Members of the Order of Academic Palms, of the National Order of Agricultural Merit and Souvenir Français organized a new memorial trip to Vercors, a center of the French Resistance, which took place under the aegis of Michel Tourette, President of the National Order of Merit 43 .
Before opening this major page in the history of the French Resistance in the Vercors, the group stopped in the Chartreuse massif, to visit the famous monastery of the Grande Chartreuse, and its museum, Correrie: its museography lively and sober offers an exciting discovery.
In 1084, Saint Bruno, with 6 companions, settled in this mountainous and isolated region, and the monastic order which he then founded, took its name from this steep massif: these monks lived there all their lives in poverty and prayer, in silence and solitude, apart from the world.
The strict architectural design of this first Charterhouse served as a model for all the establishments of other “Charterhouses” in Europe, in particular for the Charterhouse of Brives-Charensac.
Between remembrance, homage and gratitude…
On the way to Vercors, the group from Haute-Loire was accompanied by Lydia Chabert-Berthet, who guided them in the footsteps of the maquisards and the Resistance in Vercors.
Writer and former journalist, having collected the testimonies of her father-in-law, maquisard and other survivors of this tragic story, she paints the picture of the situation of the maquis in the Vercors. In this massif very difficult to access with its gorges and gullies, connected only by the “steps” in the absence of roads created later, 18 camps were established, including 8 main camps, soldiers demobilized after the armistice of 1940, very young resisters to the STO, often inexperienced, eager to do battle and liberate France, about 400 guerrillas informed and supplied by the local population, but poorly armed.
From Vassieux en Vercors, where the participants in this trip were staying, they visited the Necropolis of Vassieux, martyred village, raised by Charles de Gaulle to the rank of Companion of the Liberation, from August 1945 (like Nantes, Paris, etc. ..), the Resistance Museum in Vercors (in Vassieux), the Resistance Memorial in Vercors and the moving site of Valchevrière, near Vassieux.
Why Vassieux en Vercors?
Due to its geographical location, in the north of Provence, the Vercors maquis constituted a lock, an impregnable bastion, capable of stopping the advance of German troops towards Provence; this was an openly declared objective in the “Mountain Plan” drawn up by Pierre Dalloz and Jean Prévost, presented to General de Gaulle, by Jean Moulin, responsible for uniting the various French resistance units.
It did not happen. For lack of having received by parachute and in sufficient number the requested weapons, the Resistance fighters of the Maquis du Vercors, between June and July 1944 will suffer heavy losses against the German troops who, they, regularly received reinforcements. Vassieux will be one of the last places of this fierce resistance: on July 21, 1944, German gliders land with more than 1,000 soldiers, followed by a second wave on July 23. Caught in a pincer movement between the road and the mountain, the guerrillas defended themselves to the end, the inhabitants of Vassieux, aged 90 to 18 months, paid a heavy price, the village was set on fire, the houses devastated one after the other; then on July 23, near Vassieux, on the belvedere of Valchevrière, Lieutenant Chabal and a handful of soldiers tried for more than three hours to delay the German advance and died, arms in hand. The village of Valchevrière was also set on fire: today the ruins and the chapel bear witness to this sacrifice, below this belvedere where these maquisard leaders were assassinated.
After the fall of Vassieux, the order to disperse the Vercors maquis was given.