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Terrorists in Retirement
Directed by Mosco Boucault
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Too controversial to be shown on French TV when first released – after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1983 – TERRORISTS IN RETIREMENT is the story of men and women from Armenia, Poland, and Romania, mostly Jews, who fought the German occupation of Paris during World War II.

Most infamously, there were 21 members of the Manouchian Group, who were part of the FTP-MOI (Francs-tireurs et partisans – main-d'œuvre immigrée), the immigrant section of the French Resistance. They were executed by firing squad on February 21, 1944, after being found guilty of “terrorism” by a German military court. One woman was beheaded on her birthday.

In the film we meet seven surviving comrades of the executed resistance members. They demonstrate how to make and throw bombs, re-enact attacks on German officers at the actual locations throughout Paris, and share the stories of women who served as key intelligence agents. Seated at his sewing machine, a tailor, Raymond Kojitsky shows how he lit a bomb with his cigarette and threw it into a parking garage. “It was like a stroll in the park.”

TERRORISTS IN RETIREMENT provoked unsettling debates about how the Manouchian Group was captured, were they abandoned by the larger resistance movement led by the Communist party, or betrayed? And more generally, why did the French establishment (and history books) never fully embrace the immigrant and Jewish fighters who were the backbone of armed resistance in Paris? The film provides a powerful corrective to myths of the French resistance.

“An eloquent film devoted to the Jewish members of the resistance. Captures their recollections vividly.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Based on the direct testimony of a handful of survivors, [TERRORISTS IN RETIREMENT] tells how [Jewish Resistance partisans] were left to their fate and perhaps even betrayed by their leaders, [striking] at the core of the durable myth that French Communists were the main protagonists of the underground war against the Germans.” —Newsweek

“The sight of these unsung heroes with their bitter memories bent over their sewing machines is inescapably poignant.” —The New York Times

“Startling revalations. Remarkable!" —Daily News

“Haunting! The most controversial documentary on the French Resistance since The Sorrow and the Pity. It could be the real Casablanca!" —Village Voice

Cannes Film Festival 1983

71 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 2024
Copyright: 1983

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Aging, World War II, Jewish Studies, Western Europe, France, History

Watch the trailer:

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