This muscled, sour and aggressive word refers to Corsica, the island of Beauty, to its wild dense shrub vegetation where in the old days armed outlaws escaped and took shelter.
Nowadays the word maquis represents a major part of our history, a period of revival. Maquis has become synonymous with armed resistance.
For us volunteer fighters of the Resistance, the concept of maquis represents two aspects that are quite different.
The first one is a situation, an attitude. Joining the maquis meant becoming outlaw to the Vichy government. At the moment of joining the underground resistance one almost always gave up one’s true identity, one became "the maquis".
This was the case for all those who were pursued by the authorities, and who were hiding in farms or in shelter areas, in forests or in mountains to escape repression. One of the most typical examples were the fugitive rebels from forced labour duty (S.T.O.).
Whereas, the second meaning of maquis in its plural form, represents a variety of sites as well as men. Groups of fighters. Maquis of the Ain, or Vercors, or Glières etc. means the armed resistance bastions as well as the resistant fighters who occupied them.
A majority of maquis men in the first sense of the meaning are going to jump into the second meaning voluntarily and with enthusiasm when they are given the opportunity to do so but a number of them won’t, refusing therefore to participate in the general uprising.