Josephine Baker- Not just a sex icon but also a WWII hero.

Josephine Baker is mainly remembered for her erotic and provocative dances, vaudeville routines, and appearances in films. However her efforts to fight the tyranny of Fascism have received very little attention.

She was born as Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Carrie, was adopted in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1886 by Richard and Elvira McDonald, both of whom were former slaves of African and Native American descent. Her career began with blackface comedy at local clubs. her mother did not approve of this type of “entertainment” .But it was because of these performances Josephine had an opportunity to tour in Paris, which would become the place she called home until her final days.

Her performance in the revue Un vent de folie in 1927 caused a sensation in the city. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.

When the German army invaded France during World War II, Baker joined the fight against the Nazi regime.

Baker left Paris and went to the Château des Milandes, her home in the south of France. She had been approached by Jacques Abtey, the head of French counter-military intelligence. Abtey was recruiting people for espionage duties.

Josephine was an ideal candidate for this work, as her celebrity allowed her to move easily between countries and offered her enhanced protection. When Abtey approached Josephine to see if she would take the risk and join the resistance, she told him. “France made me what I am. I will be grateful forever. The people of Paris have given me everything… I am ready, captain, to give them my life. You can use me as you wish.” . Being able to travel to neutral nations such as Portugal, as well as some in South America. She could carry information for transmission to England, about airfields, harbors, and German troop concentrations in the West of France.

She housed people who were eager to help the Free French effort led by Charles de Gaulle and supplied them with visas. She aided French military officials by passing on secrets she heard while performing in front of the enemy. The Nazis found out of the resistance activity happening at Josephine’s chateau, and went to the estate. Josephine had been hiding several resistance fighters at the time of the visit. She successfully charmed the Nazis when they questioned her, but the visit had become a bit too close for comfort and she took the close encounter as a sign that it was time to leave France. Abtey contacted General Charles de Gaulle, who instructed both Abtey and Baker to travel to London via Lisbon.Between them, the pair carried over 50 classified documents and secret intelligence. Josephine carried hers by writing the information down in invisible ink on her sheet music.

After D-Day and the liberation of Paris, Josephine returned to her adopted Paris wearing a military uniform. She quickly took note of the terrible conditions many French people endured after the Nazi occupation. She sold pieces of jewelry and other valuables to raise money to buy food and coal for the poor citizens of Paris. Following Germany’s surrender in 1945, General de Gaulle awarded Josephine the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance. He also named her a Chevalier de Légion d’honneur, the highest order of merit for military and civil action.

A few years after the war she returned to the USA. Ironically she regularly received less respect at home then she did from the Nazis. Baker had to confront segregation and discrimination which she had not experienced since she was a child in St. Louis. She often refused to perform to segregated audiences, which usually forced club owners to integrate for her shows. For this she would often received threatening phone calls from the KKK.

In her later years, Baker converted to Roman Catholicism. She lost her castle due to unpaid debts. Grace Kelly aka Princess Grace offered her an apartment in Roquebrune, not too far away Monaco.[

Baker was back performing at the Olympia in Paris in 1968, in Belgrade and at Carnegie Hall in 1973, and at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium and at the Gala du Cirque in Paris in 1974. On 8 April 1975, Baker starred in a retrospective revue at the Bobino in Paris, Joséphine à Bobino 1975, celebrating her 50th anniversary in show business. The revue, paid for by notably by Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, opened to rave reviews. The demand for seating was such that foldable chairs had to be added to seat all attendees . The opening night audience included Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross, and Liza Minnelli.

On April 12, 1975 , Josephine Baker was found peacefully in her bed around her were newspapers with glowing reviews of her performance. She was in a coma after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. She was taken to Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, she died there the same day , aged 68.

She was a beautiful woman in every sense of the word.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/siren-resistance-artistry-and-espionage-josephine-baker

https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/josephine-baker

https://www.history.com/news/josephine-baker-world-war-ii-spy

Happy Birthday Marcel Marceau

I did do a blog on Marcel Marceau about 2 years ago but he would have been 97 today. Therefore I thought it to be appropriate to do another tribute to this silent Hero.

He survived the Nazi occupation, and saved many children in WWII. He was regarded for his peerless style pantomime, moving audiences without uttering a single word, and was known to the World as a “master of silence.”

Marcel Marceau was born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France, to a Jewish family. His father, Charles Mangel, was a kosher butcher originally from Będzin, Poland. His mother, Anne Werzberg, came from Yabluniv, present-day Ukraine.

At the beginning of the Second World War, he had to hide his Jewish origin and changed his name to Marceau, when his Jewish family was forced to flee their home. His father was deported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered in 1944. Both Marceau and his brother, Alain, were in the French resistance helping children to escape to safety in neutral Switzerland. Then Marceau served as interpreter for the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle, acting as liaison officer with the allied armies.

He gave his first major performance to 3,000 troops after the liberation of Paris in August 1944.

In 1947 Marceau created the character Bip the Clown, whom he first played at the Théâtre de Poche (Pocket Theatre) in Paris. In his appearance he wore a striped pullover and a battered, be-flowered silk opera hat. The outfit signified life’s fragility and Bip became his alter ego.

He died on September 22,2007 . A silent Hero who should never beforgotten.

Source

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0545131/bio

15 Month enemy of the state

Martine

I wish I could explain why this 15 month old girl was an enemy of the state, but I can’t

I wish I cold explain why this 15 month girl was an enemy of the French state ,but I can’t.

I wish I could explain why this 15 month old girl was an enemy of the French state controlled by a Nazi regime, but I can’t

I wish I could explain why this 15 month old girl was an enemy of the French state, controlled by a Nazi regime and accommodated by French politicians, but I can’t

I wish I could explain why this 15 month old girl was an enemy of the state, and although she was an enemy she survived, but I can’t because she didn’t.

I wish I could explain why this 15 month old girl was an enemy of the state and was taken from her birthplace Lyon and transported to Auschwitz, but I can’t

I wish I could explain why this 15 month old girl was an enemy of the state and was murdered in the gas chambers in Auschwitz, but I can’t.

What I can say is that her name is Martine Polack, born 29 October 1942,Lyon France.Murdered on February 3, 1944, Auschwitz,Poland.

 

 

 

 

Only 11

Helene

Helene Wegbrejt it is just a random name

She lived in Paris. She was French and Jewish.  Her birthday was September 16,1930. She would have been 89 today,but she didn’t even get to age 12. She was murdered in August 1942 in Auschwitz.

She was one of many on Transport 20 from Pithiviers to Auschwitz which left on August 17, 1942.

Helene Wegbrejt just a random name but not a random girl. She was a young lady who had a bright future ahead of her as an actress or teacher or just a mother and home maker but she was not allowed to become any of this.

Her murder may have seen random but it was not, It was a deliberate plan to erase a group of people who did not fit in the warped Nazi ideology.

Helene Wegbrejt was only 11 when she died.

Seeing this beautiful child all dressed up which such a pride in her expression and a lovely smile just breaks my heart, to think that she could have been considered a threat. It just sickens me to the core.

The dressmakers of Auschwitz

Fashion

Haute Couture fashion is not something you would associate with Auschwitz, yet there were about 23 women who worked as dressmakers, producing dresses and haute couture fashion.

These female  prisoners served as the staff of the “Upper Tailoring Studio,” a private dressmaking shop for the wives of SS officers stationed at the facility. They were chosen for their skills, or because they had connections with existing dressmakers.

The names of only a few women are known. One of those women was Alida Vasselin(nee Delasalle-pictured above). she was a French communist, a member of the French resistance and a a corsetière. She was arrested arrested in 1942 for hiding anti-Nazi leaflets in the corsets she sewed.

Another French  communist resistance member was Marie-Louise Colombain, who was also set to work as a dress maker.

Marie

Both women survived the war. Alida died on April 28, 1986,and Marie died on December 17, 1998.

The Auschwitz commandant’s wife, Hedwig Hoess, had first employed two local Polish seamstresses to sew in her villa overlooking the concentration camp. Hedwig referred to the  life in the villa as  “paradise”. where she could indulge in luxury items.

Hoess

These included fabrics and fashions selected from the vast amount of plundered goods which was  being  in warehouses in the camp,only a short distance from her  flower garden. The prisoners carried out the sorting of goods, would often come across belongings of their own murdered relatives. The wives of other SS officers and also some of the female guards grew envious of Hedwig’s wardrobe, Hedwig then decided to open the elite dressmaking workshop – the Upper Tailoring Studio – inside the camp itself.

One of the Auschwitz seamstresses, a Slovakian dressmaker named Lulu Gruenberg, had difficulties controlling her resentment at the indifference and arrogance of the women for whom she was making clothes to survive.

It is said that one time when Hedwig Hoess came for a fitting with one of her young sons and while his mother’s back was turned, Lulu looped a tape measure around the boy’s neck like a noose and whispered, ‘Soon you are going to hang; your father, your mother and all the others’,” according to Lucy Adlington, the fashion  historian who  uncovered the facts about the ‘Tailoring studio’

The seamstresses were forced to produce two outfits per client a week. They created new designs, and altered high-quality clothes brought into Auschwitz by Jewish deportees. Many SS clients ordered beautiful evening gowns in fashionable styles, to be worn on social occasions like dinner parties, music concerts and cinema visits. None of the women had any issues wearing the gowns  of murdered innocent women, or clothes created by enslaved prisoners.

For the 23 seamstresses it was at least a small chance to survive.Although they were not immune to beatings and harsh treatments outside the studio. How many women survived I don’t know.

Hedwig Hoess re-married in Germany and immigrated to the USA, where she died on 15 September 1989 (aged 81)

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

 

Sources

memoirevive.org/alida-delasalle

Find a grave

History Extra

Express.co.uk

 

 

 

Overlord 76

 

D DAY76 years ago you embarked on something that had never been done before. 156,000 of you were dropped on the beaches in Normandy.

156,000 just imagine that. It is the equivalent of a medium sized city, like Alexandria in  Virginia USA.

Not all 156,000 made it, thousands died even before they reached the beaches.

Utah Beach;Omaha Beach;Gold Beach;Juno Beach and Sword Beach are now just beaches filled with sunbathers on a sunny day. How many of those sunbathers realize the sacrifices made on that sand, Sacrifices to secure their freedom, sacrifices so that they can walk,cycle, or just lie down in the sand.

How many know?

At time I despair at how many of these hard fought liberties are eroded by so called political correct agendas.

They call you the greatest generation, simply because you are.

I am thankful for what you have done. I will never ever forget the battles you fought to secure my freedom. The battles often fought seemingly in vain because so many died, But eventually you were the victors. We should therefor never be victims.

I salute each single one of you may you still walk on this earth or gone in peace in that big place in the sky.

The operation was called Operation Overlord- Overlord has turned 76 today. 76 years, 912 months.

D-DAY MEN

 

The weird case of Violette Morris

viole

Of all stories relating to spies and collaborators during WWII this most be one of the most intriguing ones.

When I first read about Violette Morris and saw the date she died,26 April 1944, I assumed she was killed for being a member of the French resistance. Why I thought that I don’t know.

Born in France on 18 April 1893. She was a French athlete who won two gold and one silver medals at the Women’s World Games in 1922 and the Women’s Olympiad in 1924.

violette

She excelled in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin.However those weren’t the only sports she was involved in.

She partook in football,water polo ,road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling,boxing and car racing.

She loved car racing so much that she had her breasts removed to fit better in the car.

car

She married Cyprien Edouard Joseph Gouraud on 22 August 1914 in Paris. They divorced in May 1923. She had served in World War I as a military nurse during the Battle of the Somme and a courier during the Battle of Verdun.

Although she had been married, she was attracted to women.

Her motto was “Anything A Man Can Do, Violette Can Do, Too”

Her lifestyle was of no shame to her. She lived as a man and made no secret of the fact that her lovers were women. This was considered really scandalous behaviour in 1920’s France.

In 1928, she was refused license renewal by the Fédération française sportive féminine and as a result was not allowed to compete in the 1928 Olympic Games.

Despite her being openly gay she had a big fan in Adolf Hitler. This one of the anomalies in the Nazi policies,according to the Nazi doctrine women could not be gay.

In 1935 she was approached an recruited by by the Sicherheitsdienst. On the personal behest she was invited to attend the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

1936

She provided the Nazi regime in Germany  with partial plans of the Maginot Line, detailed plans of strategic points within the city of Paris, and schematics of the French army’s main tank, the Somua S35. Her information was vital to the German invasion of Paris in 1940.

tank.JPG

After the Nazi invasion, Morris remained close to the Germans and started working for the French Gestapo, the Carlingue. She had the nickname, ‘The Hyena of the Gestapo,’ because apparently she got a lot of sadistic pleasure by torturing people and extracting information.

On 26 April 1944, when she went for a  drive in her Citroën Traction Avant car with two friends and their two children for a spin on a country road.

citoen

Her engine sputtered and the car came to a halt. Earlier tha day, the engine had been tampered with by  the French Resistance Maquis Surcouf group. Members of the group  then emerged from a hiding spot and opened fired on the car. Although Morris was the target, all five people in the car were killed. Morris’ body, riddled with bullets.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

 

 

 

 

The brave words from a Mother to her Daughter.

olga

This story is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Heartbreaking because it is a story about a mother who knew she was going to die. Uplifting because her last words were so positive and courageous, despite the fate that awaited her.

Olga Bancic was born on May 10, 1912 to a large Jewish family living in the Bessarabia province when it was still part of the Russian Empire.

In 1936, she traveled to France, where she supported communist activists in transporting weapons to Spanish Republican forces fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Shortly before the outbreak of WWII she gave birth to her Daughter Dolores, the child’s father was Alexandru Jar. After the outbreak of the war Olga left Dolores in care with a French family. Olga joined a resistance group.

She was arrested on November 6, 1943 by the Gestapo, during the interrogation she was tortured.Despite the torture she refused  give information about her comrades.

On February 22,1944 Olga and 22 others were sentenced to death. All male defendants were executed later that day at Fort Mont-Valérien. Olga had been the only female defendant and due to a loophole in the French law which prevented women from being executed on French soil, Olga was deported to Stuttgart. She was executed in Stuttgart on May 10,1944 , her 32nd birthday. She was decapitated with an axe in the local prison’s courtyard.

One of her last deeds was throwing a letter out of a window during her transportation to her place of execution. The letter had a note attached to it saying.:

“Dear Madame: I ask you to please give this letter to my little girl Dolores Jacob after the war. This is the last wish of a mother who will only live twelve more hours.”

Miraculously the letter did reach Dolores, who had been given the name Dolores Jacob, the letter said the following:

“My dear little daughter, my darling little love

Your mother is writing the last letter, my dear little daughter; tomorrow at 6:00, on May 10, I will be no more.

Don’t cry, my love; your mother doesn’t cry any more either. I die with a peaceful conscience and with the firm conviction that tomorrow you will have a happier life and future than your mother’s. You will no longer have to suffer. Be proud of your mother, my little love. I always have your image before me.

I’m going to believe that you will see your father, and I have hope that he’ll meet a fate different from mine. Tell him that I always thought of him, as I always thought of you. I love you both with all my heart. Both of you are dear to me. My darling child, your father is, for you, also a mother. He loves you a lot. You won’t feel the loss of your mother. My darling child, I finish this letter with the hope that you will be happy all your life, with your father, with everyone.

I kiss you with all my heart, a lot a lot.

Farewell my love.

Your Mother”

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

 

The darker and also heroic side of Dior.

dior

I think mostly everyone has heard of the name Dior. The fashion house Dior is one of the most successful fashion houses in the world.

However there is a darker history behind the name and on the other hand also a tale of heroism is connected to the name. Especially the family’s history during WWII is a complicated one.

In 1937 Christian Dior was working for the designer Robert Piguet, but in September 1939 he was called up for military service because if the declaration of war.

Luckily enough  for him, his unit was not in the path of the German advance in May and June 1940 and he and his unit were demobilized quite soon after the French-German armistice on June 22nd, 1940. He stayed in the unoccupied of France for a while and did not return to Paris until 1941.

paris

In 1942 he joined the fashion house Lucien Lelong, where he worked closely together with legendary designer Pierre Balmain.

Dior designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. Looking at that now it is easy to be judgmental about his fraternizing with the enemy,but other designers like Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, and Nina Ricci did the same, people did what they felt they had to do to survive. They also wanted to ensure that the couture would remain in Paris

On the other hand there was Christian’s younger sister, Catherine Dior. In 1941 she joined “Massif Central’, a Resistance network which was set up in the summer of 1940. by Polish military intelligence officers in exile in France. and were  focused on gathering and transmitting intelligence about German troop movements and weapon production.Catherine had joined them as a courier. which was extremely dangerous.

In June 1944 she was caught and arrested by the Carlingue, the French members of the Gestapo sometimes referred to as Gestapistes. After Catherine was tortured by the Carlibgie she was put on one of the last trains out of Paris, which departed on August 15, just days before the liberation of the city, her destination was Ravensbruck concentration camp.

ravensbruck

Between the time of her arrest and the time of her deportation, Christian tried  to seek  release for his sister,  via the Nazi contacts he made at his job and also via the Swedish diplomat Raoul Nordling, who mediated in the release of prisoners in the past. Unfortunately the efforts bore no fruits.

But fate was in Catherine’s favor ,she had been put to work in a munitions factory in the camp and survived the war. She was liberated in April, 1945 and returned to Paris the following month.

After the was she received the Croix de Guerre, the Combatant Volunteer Cross of the Resistance, the Combatant’s Cross, the King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom (from Britain), and being named a chevalière of the Légion d’Honneur.

Catherine also publicly distanced herself from the daughter of her other brother Raymond. Françoise Dior after the niece married Colin Jordan, a British Neo-Nazi leader.

niece

In November, 1952, Catherine was called to testify against 14 former members of the Carlingue before a military tribunal in Paris.Catherine helped to preserve her brother Christian’s legacy after his death in 1957, she was involved with the opening of the Dior Museum in Granville. Catherine died in 2008.

dior 2

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

 

 

Sources

Fashionunfiltered.com

Jezebel.com

 

Stealing the last bit of comfort.

dolls

People can be conditioned to commit evil acts but some are just born evil.

In February 1944 two French Jewish sisters Denise and Micheline Lévy were about to be put on a transport to Auschwitz. They were lined up in the small French village of Gemeaux

sisteers levy

One of the last acts they experienced before being put on the train was not an act of kindness but an act of pure evil.

A French police officer snatched the 2 dolls the girls were carrying(picture at the top of the blog). There was no need for him to do this, he was not ordered to do so, He just did it because he could and in his own pathetic,sick little mind he thought it was the right thing to do. Depriving these 2 little angels from the last bit of comfort they had.

The Gendarme knew the 2 girls were going to be killed but yet he could not find that little bit of humanity to let the girls keep those dolls. He did not even keep the dolls to perhaps give to other girls, he just discarded the toys.

A shop keeper found the dolls on the street and picked them up and gave  to Mrs Gilles in the village. She gave the dolls to her twin daughters, who in return gave them to their nieces, However none of the girls ever played with them because they knew the history of the dolls.

One of the nieces who is now in her forties decided to give the dolls to the THE SHOAH MEMORIAL in Paris, where they are now.

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

 

Source

The Telegraph