Two men-One name-Two fates

What’s in a name? Usually not much really but sometimes it can be everything. It can even be the difference of life and death.

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In this case the name Jean Stephan, both men were members of the French resistance but their lives had completely different outcomes.

Jean Stéphan was  a French resistant born October 28, 1912 in Rennes and shot on April 13, 1942 at Mont Valérien

During  the German  occupation, he became involved in the Resistance. He joined the Secret Organization (OS) French Francs-tireurs and partisans and took part in the local organization of the National Front, he was put in charge of a sector including Neuilly-Plaisance, Noisy-le-Grand and Gagny. They carried out various acts of sabotage (fire of enemy equipment at Gonesse and Vincennes in 1941, etc.).

On March 21, 1942, he was arrested, as he left the Ville-Évrard hospital where he worked as a nurse, and discovered leaflets of Resistance.

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He was then handed over to the Gestapo and shot a few days later at Mont Valérien.
Mont-Valerien 2011 © Jacques ROBERT
Jean Francois Marie Stephan, born 27 December 1916.
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Another member of the French resistance ,who had been with the Parisien Police, he was stripped from his rank in the Police because of his involvement with the resistance. However he eluded capture by the Germans and Vichy authorities.
The poster above is his “wanted” posted.He was  a member of the resistance in le Maquis du Vercors

He had a very high  place in the resistance because of the position he’d held with the Police. His resistance code name was “Daniel” he is mentioned in the book “Le Soufflet de Forge”
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He survived the war and  he was re-instated to  the french police and nearly got a far as commissioner.he was stationed at 36 Quai des orfèvres in Paris .
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He lived to tell the tale,until the age of 80
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The tragic life and death of Harry Baur

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Harry Baur (12 April 1880 as Henri-Marie Baur in Montrouge, Hauts-de-Seine – 8 April 1943 in Paris) was a French actor.. Thanks to his impressive performance and his melodic voice he became one of the most important French actors of his time.

His father died in 1890 when his business was left ruined  after a break-in. His mother placed him in  a Catholic boarding school, but he ran away to Marseille.

He initially intended to become a sailor but opted for a career as actor.

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Initially a stage actor, he was described by film academic Ginette Vincendeau as “a corpulent man with a resonant voice, his stagey performance style ranged from the hammy … to the soberly moving”. Baur appeared in about 80 films between 1909 and 1942. He gave an acclaimed performance as the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in the biopic Beethoven’s Great Love (Un grand amour de Beethoven, 1936), directed by Abel Gance.

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And as Jean Valjean in Raymond Bernard’s version of Les Misérables (1934). He also acted in Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset’s silent film, Beethoven (1909), and in La voyante (1923), Sarah Bernhardt’s last film.

But Harry Baur had to bear two bad blows during the time of success, when his wife,actress Rose Grane, and his 20 year old son died in 1930.

He married actress Rika Radifé in 1936.

With the Nazi occupation of France in 1940, Baur made public pro-French statements and as punishment was forced into making films in Germany. In 1942 in Berlin he was to star in his last film “Symphone eines Lebens”

While filmimg  Baur’s Jewish wife was arrested on false charges of espionage, and when he tried to secure her release he was arrested himself and tortured by the Gestapo. He was subsequently sent to the concentration camp at Drancy, on the outskirts of Paris. In April of 1943 Baur was released but died mysteriously in Paris a few days later. His death further inflamed anti-German sentiment and his funeral was the occasion of a huge public demonstration.

 

 

The escape of Hugo de Groot aka Hugo Grotius.

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Hugo de Groot (AKA Hugo Grotius) born in Delft on 10 April 1583 (the year before William of Orange was murdered). He was the intellectual prodigy of his age, and one of the ornaments of the University of Leyden. Early in life he became associated with Olden Barneveld, and when the struggle between Arminius and Goniarus broke out, he sided with the former, and exerted all his influence on the side of toleration.

Having, only in a less degree than Barneveld, excited against himself the prejudice and hatred of Maurice of Nassau, he was seized, and, at the age of 36, condemned to perpetual imprisonment in the Castle of Lovenstein, near Gorcum.1024px-Slot_loevestein_1619
His escape is one of the most amusing stories in Dutch history. He was not denied books, and at fixed seasons these were changed by sending a large chest to and from. As the months passed, and the strictest search never discovered anything in the chest but books and linen, the guards grew careless. The ingenuity of his wife, who had been allowed to share his imprisonment, turned this slackness to account. She persuaded him on one occasion to occupy the place of the books.

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When the two soldiers whose duty it was to carry out the chest came, they said it was so heavy that “there must be an Arminian in it.” With admirable tact, Madame Grotius replied, “There are indeed Arminian books in it.” Ultimately, after various narrow escapes, he crossed the frontier and reached Antwerp, when he went on to Paris, where his wife joined him. He was never allowed to return to the Netherlands.

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He gave himself up to a great literary work which had been long in his mind, the De jure belli et pads, a treatise which at once gave him enduring fame, but which, like Paradise Lost and The Pilgrims Progress, did very little towards enriching the author. His other noted book was a work on the evidences of Christianity, published in 1627, and entitled De veritate religionis Christiana. He died an exile in 1645. And now the town of his birth honours his memory by giving him not only a tomb in the New Church, but also by placing his statue upon the most conspicuous site within her boundaries, in the very centre of that market-place where so much of tragic and historic interest has passed.

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In the Town Hall hangs a portrait of Grotius by Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt, the first in time of the great Dutch portrait painters. Delft is also associated with other famous painters, such as Van der Meer, whose picture of his native town is one of the treasures of the Hague Gallery ; Pieter de Hooch, one of the best painters of interiors; Paulus Potter, the great animal painter; and others.

Marcel Marceau-Silent WWII Hero

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He was born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France to a Jewish family. His parents were Ann Werzberg and Charles Mangel, a kosher butcher. When Marcel was four years old, the family moved to Lille, but they later returned to Strasbourg. When France entered World War II, Marcel, 16, fled with his family to Limoges. In 1944 Marcel’s father was captured and deported to the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed. Marcel’s mother survived.

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In 1939 the Jews of Strasbourg, France, where Marceau’s family lived, were given two hours to pack their belongings for transport to the southwest of France. Marcel, who was fifteen at that time, fled with his older brother Alain to Limoges.Desiring to become a painter, Marcel enrolled in art school, and within two years, with his brother, he had also joined the French Resistance.

 

Recognizing his artistic talents, the Resistance soon had Marcel making forged identity papers for Jews to help them avoid the camps.Marcel changed the ages on the identity cards of scores of French youths, both Jews and Gentiles.

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He wanted to make them appear to be too young to be sent away to labor camps or, in the case of the non-Jewish children, to be sent to work in German factories for the German army. Marceau also adopted different poses, including that of a Boy Scout leader, when he put his life at risk to smuggle Jewish children and the children of underground members across the border into Switzerland.

In 1944, while a member of the Resistance in Paris, Marceau was hidden by a cousin. He was convinced that if Marceau survived the war, he would make an important contribution to the theater. Marceau’s father, a butcher, died in Auschwitz. “If I cry for my father,” said Marceau, “I have to cry for the millions of people who died. “I have to bring hope to people,” Marceau remembered thinking after the war. He had planned to become an artist, but instead decided that he wanted to “make theater without speaking.” He began to study under the great master of mime Etienne Decroux. In 1947 Marceau created Bip, the clown in the striped jersey and battered opera hat, who has become his alter ego.

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Marcel Marceau became the eleventh recipient of the Wallenberg Medal on April 30, 2001.

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The Wallenberg Medal of the University of Michigan is awarded to outstanding humanitarians whose actions on behalf of the defenseless and oppressed reflect the heroic commitment and sacrifice of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who rescued tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest during the closing months of World War II.

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Marcel Marceau died at the racetrack in Cahors, France, on 22 September 2007 at the age of 84. At his burial ceremony, the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (which Marceau long used as an accompaniment for an elegant mime routine) was played, as was the sarabande of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5. Marcel Marceau was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.In 1999 New York City declared 18 March “Marcel Marceau Day”

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Guy Môquet’s farewell letter

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of the execution of Guy Môquet, a 17 year young French Communist militant.and resistance fighter.During the German occupation of France during World War II, he was taken hostage by the Nazis and executed by firing squad in retaliation for attacks on Germans by the French Resistance. Môquet went down in history as one of the symbols of the French Resistance.

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Guy Prosper Eustache Môquet was born on 26 April 1924 in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.He studied at the Lycée Carnot and joined the Communist Youth Movement. After the occupation of Paris by the Germans and the installation of the Vichy government, he was denounced on 13 October 1940 and arrested at the Gare de l’Est metro station by three police officers of the French Anti-Communist Special Brigade. He had with him a poem about three of his arrested comrades, handwritten by him.

“The traitors of our country
These agents of capitalism
We will drive them away
In order to establish socialism

To get you out of jail
To kill capitalism”

 

These are the last words he sent to his family.

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My darling Mummy, my adored brother, my much loved Daddy, I am going to die! What I ask of you, especially you Mummy, is to be brave. I am, and I want to be, as brave as all those who have gone before me. Of course, I would have preferred to live. But what I wish with all my heart is that my death serves a purpose. I didn’t have time to embrace Jean. I embraced my two brothers Roger and Rino (1). As for my real brother, I cannot embrace him, alas! I hope all my clothes will be sent back to you. They might be of use to Serge, I trust he will be proud to wear them one day. To you, my Daddy to whom I have given many worries, as well as to my Mummy, I say goodbye for the last time. Know that I did my best to follow the path that you laid out for me. A last adieu to all my friends, to my brother whom I love very much. May he study hard to become a man later on. Seventeen and a half years, my life has been short, I have no regrets, if only that of leaving you all. I am going to die with Tintin, Michels. Mummy, what I ask you, what I want you to promise me, is to be brave and to overcome your sorrow. I cannot put any more. I am leaving you all, Mummy, Serge, Daddy, I embrace you with all my child’s heart. Be brave! Your Guy who loves you.”

The reason why this story touches me is because I have a 17 year old son and I can even start to imagine the pain Guy’s father must have felt. it would have destroyed me. Often we forget about those who stay behind and the pain they felt. This was a remarkable young boy and I am not sure how many boys of that age would make the sacrifice he made.

 

The Execution of Marie Antoinette

This day 223 years ago the last Queen of France was executed.

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Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1755, Marie Antoinette married the future French king Louis XVI when she was just 15 years old.

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The young couple soon came to symbolize all of the excesses of the reviled French monarchy, and Marie Antoinette herself became the target of a great deal of vicious gossip. After the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the royal family was forced to live under the supervision of revolutionary authorities. In 1793, the king was executed; then, Marie Antoinette was arrested and tried for trumped-up crimes against the French republic. She was convicted and sent to the guillotine on October 16, 1793.

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Marie Antoinette was tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal on 14 October 1793.

Some historians believe the outcome of the trial had been decided in advance by the Committee of Public Safety around the time the Carnation Plot was uncovered. She and her lawyers were given less than one day to prepare her defense. Among the accusations, many previously published in the libelles, were: orchestrating orgies in Versailles, sending millions of livres of treasury money to Austria, planning the massacre of the “gardes françaises” (National Guards) in 1792,declaring her son to be the new king of France, and—by her son Louis Charles himself (pushed by radical elements who controlled him)—of incest. This last accusation drew an emotional response from Marie Antoinette, who refused to respond to this charge and, instead, called on all mothers present in the room: their reaction brought her comfort since these women were not sympathetic to her.

Early on 16 October, Marie Antoinette was declared guilty of the three main charges against her: depletion of the national treasury, conspiracy against the internal and external security of the State, intelligence with the enemy, this one alone being enough to condemn her to death.At worst, she and her lawyers had expected life imprisonment. In the hours left to her, she composed a letter to her sister-in-law, Madame Élisabeth, affirming her clear conscience, her Catholic faith, and her love and concern for her children.

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The letter did not reach Élisabeth.Preparing for her execution, she had to change clothes in front of her guards. She put on a plain white dress, white being the color worn by widowed queens of France. Her hair was shorn, her hands bound painfully behind her back and she was leashed with a rope. Unlike her husband, who had been taken to his execution in a carriage, she had to sit in an open cart. In the hour-long trip from the Conciergerie via the rue Saint-Honoré thoroughfare to the guillotine erected Place de la Révolution, (present-day Place de la Concorde), she maintained her composure, despite the insults of the jeering crowd calling herAutrichienne (Autri referring to her Austrian ethnicity, while chienne in French is a female dog: bitch). Some in the crowd remained silent.For her final confession, a constitutional priest was assigned to her. He sat by her in the cart, and she ignored him all the way to the scaffold.

Marie Antoinette was guillotined at 12:15 p.m. on 16 October 1793. Her last words were “Pardon me, sir, I meant not to do it”, to Henri Sanson the executioner, whose foot she had accidentally stepped on after climbing to the scaffold.

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Her body was thrown into an unmarked grave in the Madeleine cemetery located close by, rue d’Anjou. Because of saturation, the cemetery was closed the following year, on 25 March 1794.

Both Marie Antoinette’s and Louis XVI’s bodies were exhumed on 18 January 1815, during the Bourbon Restoration, when the comte de Provence had ascended the newly reestablished throne as Louis XVIII, King of France and Navarre. Christian burial of the royal remains took place three days later, on 21 January, in the necropolis of French kings at the Basilica of St Denis.

Long after her death, Marie Antoinette remains a major historical figure linked with conservatism, the Catholic Church, wealth, and fashion. She has been the subject of a quantity of books, films and other forms of media. Politically engaged authors have deemed her the quintessential representative of class conflict, western aristocracy and absolutism. Some of her contemporaries, such as Jefferson, attributed to her the start of the French Revolution. For others, Marie Antoinette was a victim of her family ambition and the general situation in France. However, even her critics have recognized her qualities as a mother and her courage in dying.

 

 

Marcel Petiot-“Doctor Satan”

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Nazi-occupied Paris was a terrible place to be in the waning days of World War Two, with Jews, Resistance fighters and ordinary citizens all hoping to escape. Disappearances became so common they often weren’t followed up.

And one man used the lawlessness for his own terrible purposes, killing perhaps as many as 60 people.

Marcel Petiot, (born Jan. 17, 1897, Auxerre, France—died May 26, 1946, Paris) French serial killer who preyed on Jewish refugees attempting to flee France during the Nazi occupation.

Petiot was unusually intelligent as a child but exhibited severe behavioral problems in school and was expelled several times before completing his education. At age 17 he was arrested for mail theft but was released after a judge determined that he was mentally unfit to stand trial. In 1917, while serving in the French army during World War I, he was tried for stealing army blankets but found not guilty by reason of insanity. Despite his mental state, he was returned to the front, where he suffered a mental breakdown. He was eventually discharged for abnormal behaviour, for which some of his examiners said he should be institutionalized.

By 1916, the young Frenchman had volunteered for the French Army in the First World War.

In the Second Battle of the Aisne, he was wounded and gassed, and exhibited more symptoms of mental breakdown.

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He was sent to various rest homes, where he was arrested for stealing army blankets, morphine, and other army supplies, as well as wallets, photographs, and letters; he was jailed in Orléans. In a psychiatric hospital in Fleury-les-Aubrais, he was again diagnosed with various mental illnesses but was returned to the front in June 1918. He was transferred three weeks later after he allegedly injured his own foot with a grenade, but was attached to a new regiment in September. A new diagnosis was enough to get him discharged with a disability pension.

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Despite his history of instability, Petiot then enrolled in school and eventually obtained a medical degree in 1921. He established a practice in the town of Villeneuve, where he became a popular figure.

In 1926, Petiot struck up an affair with Louise Delaveau, the daughter of one of his patients. Delaveau vanished not long after the affair began. While Petiot was never officially implicated in the disappearance, Delaveau may have been his first victim; neighbors said they saw Petiot loading a trunk into his car around the time the girl disappeared. Also in 1926 he was elected mayor but was suspended for four months in 1930 after being convicted of fraud. Later one of his patients was murdered, and another patient (who had accused Petiot of the crime) also died mysteriously. Again removed as mayor in 1931, he soon won election as a local councillor, though he lost his council seat after being convicted of stealing electric power from Villeneuve. In 1933 he moved to Paris, where he enjoyed a good reputation as a doctor and continued to commit various crimes.

After the 1940 German defeat of France, French citizens were drafted for forced labor in Germany. Petiot provided false medical disability certificates to people who were drafted. He also treated the illnesses of workers who had returned. In July 1942, he was convicted of overprescribing narcotics, even though two addicts who would have testified against him had disappeared.He was fined 2,400 francs

Petiot’s most lucrative activity during the Occupation was his false escape route. Under the codename “Dr. Eugène”, Petiot pretended to have a means of getting people wanted by the Germans or the Vichy government to safety outside France. Petiot claimed that he could arrange a passage to Argentina or elsewhere in South America through Portugal, for a price of 25,000 francs per person. Three accomplices, Raoul Fourrier, Edmond Pintard, and René-Gustave Nézondet, directed victims to “Dr. Eugène”, including Jews, Resistance fighters, and ordinary criminals. Once victims were in his control, Petiot told them that Argentine officials required all entrants to the country to be inoculated against disease, and with this excuse injected them with cyanide. He then took all their valuables and disposed of the bodies.

At first, Petiot dumped the bodies in the Seine, but he later destroyed the bodies by submerging them in quicklime or by incinerating them. In 1941, Petiot bought a house at 21 Rue le Sueur.

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Petiot failed to keep a low profile. The Gestapo eventually found out about him and, by April 1943, they had heard all about this “route” for the escape of wanted persons, which they assumed was part of the Resistance. Gestapo agent Robert Jodkum forced prisoner Yvan Dreyfus to approach the supposed network, but Dreyfus simply vanished. A later informer successfully infiltrated the operation, and the Gestapo arrested Fourrier, Pintard, and Nézondet. Under torture, they confessed that “Dr. Eugène” was Marcel Petiot. Nézondet was later released, but three others spent eight months in prison, suspected of helping Jews to escape. Even under torture, they did not identify any other members of the Resistance because they knew of none. The Gestapo released the three men in January 1944.

According to his own account, Petiot worked with the French Resistance during the occupation. He planted booby traps, developed weapons that could kill without leaving forensic evidence, and met with high-ranking Allied commanders. While the veracity of these claims remains largely unsubstantiated, Petiot was cited as a source many years later by Colonel John F. Grombach, the former head of the independent espionage agency known as “The Pond”

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.In March 1944, neighbors complained of a foul stench coming from Petiot’s home in Rue Le Sueur, and of noxious smoke billowing from his chimney. Authorities were summoned. When they searched the premises, they found the remains of numerous victims including, reportedly, charred human remnants smoldering in the fireplace.

The extensive coverage of the Petiot affair soon escalated into a full-blown media circus. Newspapers dubbed the doctor the Butcher of Paris, Scalper of the Etoile, the monster of rue Le Sueur, the Demonic Ogre, and Doctor Satan. One of the first and more popular sobriquets was the Modern Bluebeard. […] Later, other names would be proposed for the murder suspect, from the Underground Assassin to the Werewolf of Paris.

The fervent media coverage extended internationally, the same source reports, and “In Switzerland, Belgium, and Scandinavia, the Petiot affair dominated headlines on a daily basis.”

 

Petiot evaded capture for a short while by adopting an alias and growing out his beard.During the intervening seven months, Petiot hid with friends, claiming that the Gestapo wanted him because he had killed Germans and informers. He eventually moved in with a patient, Georges Redouté, let his beard grow, and adopted various aliases.During the liberation of Paris in 1944, Petiot adopted the name “Henri Valeri” and joined the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) in the uprising. He became a captain in charge of counterespionage and prisoner interrogations.

When the newspaper Resistance published an article about Petiot, his defense attorney from the 1942 narcotics case received a letter in which his fugitive client claimed that the published allegations were mere lies. This gave police a hint that Petiot was still in Paris. The search began anew – with “Henri Valeri” among those who were drafted to find him. Finally, on 31 October, Petiot was recognized at a Paris Métro station, and arrested. Among his possessions were a pistol, 31,700 francs, and 50 sets of identity documents.

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Petiot was imprisoned in La Santé Prison. He claimed that he was innocent and that he had killed only enemies of France. He said that he had discovered the pile of bodies in 21 Rue le Sueur in February 1944, but had assumed that they were collaborators killed by members of his Resistance “network”.

But the police found that Petiot had no friends in any of the major Resistance groups. Some of the Resistance groups he spoke of had never existed, and there was no proof of any of his claimed exploits. Prosecutors eventually charged him with at least 27 murders for profit. Their estimate of his gains ran to 200 million francs.

Petiot went on trial on 19 March 1946, facing 135 criminal charges. René Floriot acted for the defense, against a team consisting in state prosecutors and twelve civil lawyers hired by relatives of Petiot’s victims. Petiot taunted the prosecuting lawyers, and claimed that various victims had been collaborators or double agents, or that vanished people were alive and well in South America under new names.

He admitted to killing just nineteen of the twenty-seven victims found in his house, and claimed that they were Germans and collaborators – part of a total of 63 “enemies” killed. Floriot attempted to portray Petiot as a Resistance hero, but the judges and jurors were unimpressed. Petiot was convicted of 26 counts of murder, and sentenced to death.It was estimated that he netted 200 million francs from his ill-gotten gains

On 25 May, Petiot was beheaded, after a stay of a few days due to a problem in the release mechanism of the guillotine.

Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup-the French deportation of the Jews.

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup.

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During the so-called “Vel d’Hiv” raid, which took place on July 16 and 17, 1942, the victims were held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium in Paris’s 15th arrondissement.

8,160 Jews, including more than 4,000 children, were locked up in the stadium in terrible sanitary conditions before being transported by train in cattle wagons to transit camps and deported. None of the children – who were all deported to Auschwitz – survived.

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The Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup , was a Nazi directed raid and mass arrest of Jews in Paris by the French police, code named Opération Vent printanier (“Operation Spring Breeze”), on 16 and 17 July 1942. The name “Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup” is derived from the nickname of the Vélodrome d’Hiver (“Winter Velodrome”), a bicycle velodrome and stadium where a majority of the victims were temporarily confined.

 

The roundup was one of several aimed at eradicating the Jewish population in France, both in the occupied zone and in the free zone. According to records of the Préfecture de Police, eventually 13,152 Jews were arrested including more than 4,000 children. They were held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver in extremely crowded conditions, almost without water, food and no sanitary facilities, as well as at the Drancy, Pithiviers, and Beaune-la-Rolande internment camps,then shipped in rail cattle cars to Auschwitz for their mass murder.

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French President Jacques Chirac apologized in 1995 for the complicit role that French policemen and civil servants served in the raid.

The Vel’ d’Hiv was available for hire to whoever wanted it. Among those who had booked it was Jacques Doriot, a stocky, round-faced man who led France’s largest fascist party, the PPF.

It was at the Vel’ d’Hiv among other venues that Doriot, with his Hitler-like salute, roused crowds to join his cause. Among those who helped in the Rafle du Vel’ d’hiv were 3,400 young members of Doriot’s PPF.

The Germans demanded the keys of the Vel’ d’Hiv from its owner, Jacques Goddet,

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who had taken over from his father Victor and from Henri Desgrange. The circumstances in which Goddet surrendered the keys remain a mystery and the episode is given only a few lines in his autobiography.

The Vel’ d’Hiv had a glass roof, which had been painted dark blue to avoid attracting bomber navigators.

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The glass raised the heat when combined with windows screwed shut for security. The numbers held there vary according to accounts but one established figure is 7,500 of a final figure of 13,152. They had no lavatories: of the 10 available, five were sealed because their windows offered a way out and the others were blocked.The arrested Jews were kept there with only water and food brought by Quakers, the Red Cross and a few doctors and nurses allowed to enter. There was only one water tap. Those who tried to escape were shot on the spot. Some took their own lives.

Although French police had already begun arresting both foreign and French Jews in 1941, the raids in July 1942 were the first ones in which women, children and the elderly were also taken.Intelligence from the time shows that the population found the roundup shocking.

The position of the French police was complicated by the sovereignty of the Vichy government, which nominally administered France while accepting occupation of the north. Although in practice the Germans ran the north and had a strong and later total domination in the south, the formal position was that France and the Germans were separate. The position of Vichy and its leader, Philippe Pétain, was recognised throughout the war by many foreign governments.

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The independence, however fictional, had to be preserved. 

On 2 July 1942, René Bousquet attended a planning meeting in which he raised no objection to the arrests and worried only about the “embarrassing [gênant]” fact that the French police would carry them out. Bousquet succeeded in a compromise that the police would round up only foreign Jews. Vichy ratified that agreement the following day.

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Thee police were acused for rounding up children of less than 16 years of age, the order was given by Pétain’s minister, Pierre Laval, supposedly as a “humanitarian” measure to keep families together.

This was fiction, given that the parents of these children had already been deported, and documents of the period have revealed that the anti-semitic Laval’s principal concern was what to do with Jewish children once their parents had been deported. The youngest child sent to Auschwitz under Laval’s orders was 18 months old.

Three former SS officers testified in 1980 that Vichy officials had been enthusiastic about deportation of Jews from France. The investigator Serge Klarsfeld found minutes in German archives of meetings with senior Vichy officials and Bousquet’s proposal that the roundup should cover non-French Jews throughout the country.

Many policemen had leaked the information the day before the rai ; the Germans were furious. They had hoped to arrest 27,427 Jews in and around Paris, but eventually they ‘only’ arrested 13,152.This figure includes the arrests from a simultaneous round-up, during which nearly 5,000 adults were sent to the Drancy transit camp and deported.

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In the two months that followed the Vel’ d’Hiv arrests some 1,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz every two or three days. By the end of September 1942 almost 38,000 Jews had been deported to Auschwitz from France. In 1945 only some 780 of them remained alive.

The French reactions to the arrest and deportation of Jews varied between active collaboration with the Germans, indifference, and empathy toward the persecuted Jews. Most of the civil administration and the French policemen who had been allocated to conduct the arrest collaborated with the authorities. A minority, however, tried to aid Jews in escaping, either by turning a blind eye toward escapees, or by actively aiding such escapes and providing Jews with hiding places. Many elements within French society – leading figures in the Church, the press and the underground – expressed revulsion at the events and protested against them. Public condemnation of the arrest and deportation of Jews was primarily sparked by the difficult sight of women arrested along with their babies. This negative public sentiment found its way into the official reports of governmental authorities and even the police.

The internment camp at Drancy – which is now the subsidised housing that it was intended to be – was easily defended because it was built of tower blocks in the shape of a horseshoe. It was guarded by French gendarmes.

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The camp’s operation was under the Gestapo’s section of Jewish affairs. T

Heinz Röthke was in charge of the camp. It was under his direction from August 1942 to June 1943 that almost two-thirds of those deported in SNCF box car transports requisitioned by the Nazis from Drancy were sent to Auschwitz. Drancy is also the location where Klaus Barbie transported Jewish children that he captured in a raid of a children’s home,

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before shipping them to Auschwitz where they were killed. Most of the initial victims, including those of the Vel’ d’Hiv, were crammed in sealed wagons and died en route due to lack of food and water. Those who survived the passage died in the gas chambers.

After the liberation in 1944, the camp was run by the Resistance ,who used it to house those .they considered collaborators with the Germans. When a pastor was allowed in on 15 September, he discovered cells 3.5m by 1.75m that had held six Jewish internees with two mattresses between them.The prison returned to the conventional prison service on 20 September.

Pierre Laval’s trial opened on 3 October 1945, his first defence being that he had been obliged to sacrifice foreign Jews to save the French. Uproar broke out in the court, with supposedly neutral jurors shouting abuse at Laval, threatening “a dozen bullets in his hide”.It was, said the historians Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper, “a cross between an auto-de-fé and a tribunal during the Paris Terror. From 6 October, Laval refused to take part in the proceedings, hoping that the jurors’ interventions would lead to a new trial. Laval was sentenced to death, and tried to commit suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule. Revived by doctors, he was executed by firing squad at Fresnes on 15 October.

René Bousquet  was acquitted of “compromising the interests of the national defence”, but declared guilty of Indignité nationale(national indignity) for involvement in the Vichy government.

He was given five years of Dégradation nationale(national degradation), a measure immediately lifted for “having actively and sustainably participated in the resistance against the occupier”. Bousquet’s position was always ambiguous; there were times he worked with the Germans and others when he worked against them. After the war he worked at the Banque d’Indochine and in newspapers. In 1957, the Conseil d’État gave back his Legion of Honour, and he was given an amnesty on 17 January 1958, after which he stood for election that same year as a candidate for the Marne.

On 16 July 1995, the President, Jacques Chirac, ruled it was time that France faced up to its past and he acknowledged the role that the state had played in the persecution of Jews and other victims of the German occupation. He said:

“These black hours will stain our history for ever and are an injury to our past and our traditions. Yes, the criminal madness of the occupant was assisted (‘secondée’) by the French, by the French state. Fifty-three years ago, on 16 July 1942, 4500 policemen and gendarmes, French, under the authority of their leaders, obeyed the demands of the Nazis. That day, in the capital and the Paris region, nearly 10,000 Jewish men, women and children were arrested at home, in the early hours of the morning, and assembled at police stations… France, home of the Enlightenment and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, land of welcome and asylum, France committed that day the irreparable. Breaking its word, it delivered those it protected to their executioners”

A fire destroyed part of the Vélodrome d’Hiver in 1959 and the rest was demolished. A block of flats and a building belonging to the Ministry of the Interior now stand on the site. A plaque marking the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup was placed on the track building and moved to 8 boulevard de Grenelle in 1959. On 3 February 1993, the President, François Mitterrand, commissioned a monument to be erected on the site.

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It stands  on a curved base, to represent the cycle track, on the edge of the quai de Grenelle. It is the work of the Polish sculptor Walter Spitzer and the architect Mario Azagury. Spitzer’s family were survivors of deportation to Auschwitz. The statue represents all deportees but especially those of the Vel’ d’Hiv. The sculpture includes children, a pregnant woman and a sick man. The words on the monument are: “The French Republic in homage to victims of racist and antisemitic persecutions and of crimes against humanity committed under the authority of the so-called ‘Government of the State of France.'”

 

A memorial plaque in memory of victims of the Vel’ d’Hiv raid was placed at the Bir-Hakeim station of the Paris Métro on 20 July 2008.

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Nancy Wake-AKA The White Mouse

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Nowadays people look at the likes Beyoncé,Lady GaGa,Rihanna,etc and think Girl power.

Now,Nancy Wake that was Girl power , the real deal and thank god she was on our side.

 “I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas.”

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC, GM (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011) served as a British Special Operations Executive agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies’ most decorated servicewomen of the war.

After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head.

After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. On the night of 29/30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into occupied France Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 themselves.

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Nancy Wake was a hard-drinking, hard-fighting World War II special agent, saboteur, and resistance commander who survived four days of Gestapo interrogation, saved over two hundred downed Allied pilots from falling into the clutches of the Nazi penal system, blew up a couple German supply depots, had a bounty of five million Francs placed on her head, and then killed an SS stormtrooper with her bare hands by apparently dishing out a judo chop to the throat.

Born to a poor family in New Zealand in 1912, Nancy Wake’s family moved her to Australia at the age of two.  Then her dad promptly abandoned Nancy, her mom, and her five brothers and sisters.  Growing up in poverty, Wake left home at 16 to go work as a nurse in Sydney, then at 20 she moved to London with about $300 in her pocket to try and make a new life.  By 22 this globetrotting Aussie/Kiwi was living in Paris, working as a freelance newspaper journalist.

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In 1933, Wake’s newspaper assignment took her to Vienna to do a story on the new German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, so she headed out to see what the big deal was.  Wake interviewed Hitler, got the official party line, and then watched as gangs of Nazi thugs roamed the streets of Vienna beating up Jewish men and women for no good reason.  Wake, horrified by what she was seeing, vowed to oppose this Hitler fellow at any opportunity.

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In 1937, Wake met wealthy French industrialist Henri Edmond Fiocca (1898–1943), whom she married on 30 November 1939. She was living in Marseille, France when Germany invaded. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. In reference to Wake’s ability to elude capture, the Gestapo called her the White Mouse. The Resistance exercised caution with her missions; her life was in constant danger, with the Gestapo tapping her phone and intercepting her mail.

In November 1942, Wehrmacht troops occupied the southern part of France after the Allies’ Operation Torch had started(the British-American invasion of French North Africa).

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.This gave the Gestapo unrestricted access to all papers of the Vichy régime and made life more dangerous for Wake. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head. When the network was betrayed that same year, she decided to flee Marseille. Her husband, Henri Fiocca, stayed behind; he was later captured, tortured and executed by the Gestapo.Wake described her tactics: “A little powder and a little drink on the way, and I’d pass their (German) posts and wink and say, ‘Do you want to search me?’ God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was.”

According to her fake French ID her name was  Lucienne Carlier.

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Finally, in 1943, the Germans started to figure out who The White Mouse really was, and planned to arrest her.  Luckily for Ms. Wake, the British spymasters intercepted the Gestapo communication ordering her arrest, and were able to relay a “get out” message to Nancy before Nazis knocked on her front door.  Wake ran for it, made a break for the Pyrenees, and then, despite leaping from a moving train to evade them, she was shot at and captured by the Germans and hauled off to the local Gestapo police station.

They tortured her for four days.  An acquaintance  managed to have her let out by making up stories about her supposed infidelity to her husband. She succeeded, on her sixth attempt, in crossing the Pyrenees to Spain, and from there she managed to get to Britain.

After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. Vera Atkins Vera-Atkins, who also worked in the SOE, recalls her as “a real Australian bombshell. Tremendous vitality, flashing eyes. Everything she did, she did well.” Training reports record that she was “a very good and fast shot” and possessed excellent fieldcraft. She was noted to “put the men to shame by her cheerful spirit and strength of character.

On the night of 29/30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, Captain Tardivat greeted her remarking, “I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year,” to which she replied, “Don’t give me that French shit.” Her duties included allocating arms and equipment that were parachuted in and minding the group’s finances. Wake became instrumental in recruiting more members and making the maquis groups into a formidable force, roughly 7,500 strong. She also led attacks on German installations and the local Gestapo HQ in Montluçon. At one point Wake discovered that her men were protecting a girl who was a German spy. They did not have the heart to kill her in cold blood, but when Wake insisted she would perform the execution, they capitulated.

From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 themselves. Her French companions, especially Henri Tardivat, praised her fighting spirit, amply demonstrated when she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm during a raid. During a 1990s television interview, when asked what had happened to the sentry who spotted her, Wake simply drew her finger across her throat. “They’d taught this judo-chop stuff with the flat of the hand at SOE, and I practised away at it. But this was the only time I used it – whack – and it killed him all right. I was really surprised.”

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On another occasion, to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a German raid, Wake rode a bicycle for more than 500 kilometres (310 mi) through several German checkpoints.

At the head of a group of dedicated, gun-toting Frenchmen, Nancy Wake spent most of 1944 – both before and after D-Day – leading daring guerilla attacks on Nazi supply depots, rail stations, and communications facilities deep behind enemy lines.  She sabotaged factories, raided depots, cut train tracks, and performed countless espionage and sabotage missions against the enemy. In another attack she and some Maquis fighters rolled up to the local Gestapo headquarters in Montlucon, France, shot the place up, lobbed some grenades, and killed 38 members of the Reich’s notorious secret police.

decades/PCD1731/031When enemy spies were captured, Wake was the one who interrogated them and determined whether they would live or die.  When supply drops were parachuted behind enemy lines by Allied transport planes, Wake was the one who received the coordinates, made sure guys were there to pick up the gear, and distributed it to the men.  On yet another occasion, Wake took command of a battle after her section leader died, then coordinated a strategic withdrawal that got her men out of a hardcore shootout with SS storm troopers without taking any further casualties.

Immediately after the war, Wake was awarded the George Medal, the United States Medal of Freedom, the Médaille de la Résistance, and thrice the Croix de Guerre.

She learned that the Gestapo had tortured her husband to death in 1943 for refusing to disclose her whereabouts. After the war, she worked for the Intelligence Department at the British Air Ministry attached to embassies in Paris and Prague.Being unable to adapt to life in post-war Europe, she returned to Australia in January 1949 aged 37. Shortly afterwards she ran for the Liberal Party against Labor’s ‘Doc’ Evatt and, having been narrowly defeated, made a second attempt in 1951, again unsuccessfully.

'Doc' Evatt

Unsatisfied with life in Australia, Wake returned to England. In 1957 she married John Forward, an RAF officer. The couple returned to Australia in 1959. A third attempt to enter politics also failed and she and Forward ultimately retired to Port Macquarie where they lived until his death in 1997. In December 2001 she left Australia for England where she lived out her remaining years.

Wake was appointed a Chevalier (knight) of the Legion of Honour in 1970 and was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honour in 1988.

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Initially, she refused offers of decorations from Australia, saying: “The last time there was a suggestion of that I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts. The thing is if they gave me a medal now, it wouldn’t be love so I don’t want anything from them.” It was not until February 2004 that Wake was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.

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In April 2006, she was awarded the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association’s highest honour,the RSA Badge in Gold. Wake’s medals are on display in the Second World War gallery at the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra

On 3 June 2010, a “heritage pylon” paying tribute to Wake was unveiled on Oriental Parade in Wellington, New Zealand, near the place of her birth.

Seasons 1 and 2 of the 1980s British television series Wish Me Luck were based on her exploits and much of the dialogue was copied from her autobiography.

 

Wake’s story was told in a 1987 television movie, Nancy Wake, released as True Colors in the US. She was played by Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst.

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Wake criticized the way in which the film portrayed her, for instance as cooking breakfast for the men or as being romantically involved with another resistance member.

Sebastian Faulks’s 1999 novel Charlotte Gray is thought to be based on Wake’s war-time exploits,[ as well as those of Pearl Cornioley, a British secret-service agent.

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The pictures below were  taken at the premiere of Charlotte Gray at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square in 2002.

Rachael Blampied portrayed Nancy Wake in the TVNZ docu-drama Nancy Wake: The White Mouse.

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Wake died on Sunday evening 7 August 2011, aged 98, at Kingston Hospital after being admitted with a chest infection. She had requested that her ashes be scattered at Montluçon in central France. Her ashes were scattered near the village of Verneix, which is near Montluçon, on 11 March 2013.

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Nancy Wake a true hero, we salute you.