Seventy years after D-Day, 97-year-old Jean-Louis Cremieux-Brilhac remembers the days leading up to the operation perfectly. He was, after all, the man responsible for creating the D-Day orders for the French people, BBC reports.
These orders, a scant four pages in length, were to be read over the French version of the BBC telling the general population how to react once the Allies had stormed Normandy. The message was intended for all men and women in France not currently attached to a resistance group.
“The policy we decided on was of a gradual, phased insurrection, developing in accordance with the advance of Allied forces,” Cremieux-Brilhac told the BBC. “In the end this is exactly what happened.”
Although the orders warned against a sudden nation wide insurrection, for fear of harsh Nazi reprisals, the document stated that all French should consider themselves soldiers fighting for the freedom of their homeland.
“Every Frenchman who is not, or not yet, a fighter must consider himself an auxiliary to the fighters,” Cremieux-Brilhac’s document stated. However, citizens were warned against suddenly joining the Resistance movements in mass so as not to overwhelm them.
French citizens living in Normandy were given special instructions on the day of the invasion. They were specifically told to delay German soldiers by causing traffic jams, as well as serving as guides for Allied soldiers and parachutists.
Looking back on writing the document 70 years ago, Cremieux-Brilhac describes the entire experience as “remarkable.”
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