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The Dark Years,
a duty of memory

Introduction

Soon they will be dead, all those who experienced «this», and, if we don't take note of their memories, if we don't heed them, if we don't take guard, then we shall have nothing lively to oppose to the lies of the negationist nutters or nostalgics of horror. From there the duty to note and publish those memories, which I accomplish here.

 

So that it will never take place again.

 

This is the testimony of my own mother, which I noted as such, without changing a letter. It will certainly disturb those who think that war is a normal and noble thing. It will also disturb those who think that there is always the baddies on one side and the goodies on the other. In 1940 there also were kind hearted persons enforced to serve under the wrong flags. In 1944 and 45 there already were «collateral damages»...

 

So here is the testimony of my mother, who met war at the age of five, beginning with flight, exodus, tiredness, filth and hunger, like millions of persons today in Darfur.

 

 

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My Grand-dad and my Grand-ma

My Grand Father and Grand Mother, in 1935. In the testimony of my mother Geneviève which follows, they are «Mom» and «Dad». This strongly united pair was broken by war. Today both are passed away.

 

The testimony of my mother:
THE DARK YEARS

 

The strongest memory dates back to the beginning of May 1940.

Sitting on the third step of the chair toward our bed rooms, my elder sister and me we are dressing «in Sunday», nice little pink dress sewn by Mom, white socks and dark varnished shoes, hairs neatly done ornamented with a ribbon!

I am happy, because I am nicely dressed, my sister is grouchy, it is not a problem, it is her character!...

 

Some days before, my father dug a hole under our pear tree, in the garden behind our house, to hide a laundry boiler filled with papers and precious things for our house.

 

The atmosphere, in this house, is tense, nervous, anxious.

 

WE MUST LEAVE!!!!!

 

Dad is grave, very grave! The PANHARD car factory, where he works as a foreman, closed its gates. Everything is locked, everywhere!

 

All the neighbours are leaving.

 

Only five years old, I am unable to catch the gravity of the situation! Nothing disturbs me, as I am clothed in my Sunday robes!!!!!


We have to leave in two groups; ME, I am with the little children, and goes with the first group. A car arrives, and we get in: the driver, (I never knew who he was) my grandma NINI, Mom in front, and in the rear me, Pierre and Jacqueline, two children younger than me, with the tall German sheepdog BOBY, and NINI's bird cage!

 

Try to get back in the context of year 1940, and see a PANHARD car of this epoch!

 

With such an equipage, we go to Grandpa PAUL, Dad's father; we all adore him! Grandpa is forest guard, his house is in a great forest, near a pond.

 

IT IS THE EXODUS!!!!!

 

Arrived to Grandpa Paul's farm, the car leaves immediately! After a short hello, I dash to the hayloft, filled with perfumed hay, aromatic plants, followed by the dog.

Heat, tiredness, happiness, lying in the hay, I fall asleep.

 

Shouting, panicked calls awake me: Geneviève, Geneviève, where are you?

My eyes still heavy with this improvised siesta, I go down, heedless, and receive a beating by my mother, fantastic! She is gifted for this kind of sport.

Where you were? We were thinking you were lost, fallen in the well, hijacked by men... etc. etc.

Mom released this understandable tense on me... Understandable for her, not for me!

Then, the second group arrived: Dad, Mom -three months pregnant- Jacques, Bernard, Daniel, Michel and Micheline, the five elders, exhausted by a twenty kilometres by foot, and the heat is strong for may!

For me, except for the unforgettable spanking, nice is beautiful: there is a seesaw, and a great one, and what a pleasure to go to the pond, wade in, and tease the fishes, as Grandpa forbad it.

 

Three days, four days, the nice pink dress is no longer fresh! And the white socks no more!

And we must leave. Go on the roads.

 

EXODUS!

 

And we leave, everybody on foot, this time, toward the countryside, toward the home of an aunt, Blanche, A Mom's sister, and Uncle Edmond. Uncle Edmond is rich, very rich: My cows, My vineyards, My lands, My cows... The house, on its side, is not rich! The wooden stairs are on the blink, dishes are inexistent, we crap on the manure heap, and everything else in the same way! Aunt Blanche milks the cows, cleans the stables, is busy with the garden, and with her four children!

In this house, it is a delight! Milk, real milk, still hot, still foaming from milking, in large bowls before going to school! Imagine: a country school, Bergères les Vertus, with 12 pupils and the unexpected arrival of five town dwellers, no more stupid than others! Jacques, the elder brother, helps to the farm, and Bernard, Daniel, Michel, Micheline and me, we go to school. My sister and me, we prefer to wade into the brook besides the property...

It was some days of «rest» before the great epic. Again on the road, a military ambulance, khaki with the red cross... and we are machine gunned by German aircrafts, by stukas of the German army... Anyway the gasoline tank is empty!! We continue the road, by foot, well in a rank, in Indian file, including our dog, on the side of the road, and, again, we are machine gunned, without anybody being hurt!

To continue, we follow small roads, or paths in the woods. Finished the «holidays», I start to realize what means: War! And we start to know what means: HUNGER! And we are not alone on the roads! Looters are afraid of nothing, especially not a numerous family; it is not the law of the strongest who wins, it is the law of the fastest, the most stealing!

The fear, the visceral fear of war is entering in me and will not come out soon! Always in alert, to quiver like a leave in the wind. And hunger... hunger! We must walk, with an empty stomach! Once we arrived in a farm yard! There are eggs, but nothing to cook them. To swallow one was enough! We sleep or fresh hay!

The next evening, after hours and hours of walk without knowing where to go, walking at random, without aim, without horizon at nightfall, we search for our dog. He doesn't come! He no longer answers to our calls. BOBY, my buddy! The morning after, at dawn, when we are to follow our road again, besides a still smoking fire, we find our dog's skin: it was a good meal for some hungry folks! BOBY, my buddy. I carefully avoid to complain, the parents have other concerns than to comfort me.

In war time we must do as in war time, no time to cry!

We advance, road after road, path after path! Dad found an abandoned baby carriage! What a relief to put in the two younger children. To sleep out in the open, our parents take turns to watch.

There is a splendid weather, a merry sun, warm! It seems to try to comfort us of our misfortune.

Always the run, the flight, to go nowhere!

 

We have no news on the advance of the German army. No contact! To advance! To advance, to walk, to walk.

 

An evening, we arrive, exhausted, in the yard of an abandoned landlord house, there are blackcurrant berries, well ripe as I think. And I eat, I eat blackcurrant! And I was sick, sick! I vomit, I vomit, I vomit blackcurrant! And I do blackcurrant pooh, liquid pooh!

Maybe there was something to eat in this house, we stayed here two days? Maybe we ate some of those rabbits who were running free in the yard? And vegetables!

 

Starting from Reims , we head to the south, toward nothing special.

Future wheat crops are burning.

Bernard finds a bike against a wall, thinking to be less exhausted, but he had no more strength to pedal!

There are more and more people on the roads, aggressive people, hostile people!

Houses are burning, others are in ruins;

Then a carrion stench, of rotting corpse, brings us the alarm. It is the corpse of a man, an army man, German, likely a deserter, shot on the spot.

The «war» is not far! Let us avoid it! We arrive at Clairvaux. The German army was here before us, only some hours ago!

My sister and me, we dash toward a classroom in the school, there is a large blackboard, I want to write on. My mother screams: COME HERE! I come, and, while looking backward, I see, piled up in the back of the room, a heap of deads, of corpses, still fresh, piled up like potato bags!

 

There are explosions, machine gunning, near or far.

The military invaders are happy, they still won a stopping place, without difficulties it must be said. They give us balls of barley bread, mouldy, but once the mould removed, there is still to eat.

The eight children, we remain in a group, snuggling against each other like the grains of a grapefruit. Dad asks, tries to make him understand: to eat!

-No, No, not to eat, you go back home, you go back home.

Useless to go further. We head toward the station to come back home!

 

And we return! Crammed into cattle wagons, we encounter promiscuity, FLEAS, dirty, starving, exhausted, they found here all what they need to be happy. Places are expensive into trains, and us, at ten, we are not welcome. Dad has to defend us. And we climb in, we are returning.

A halt, Dad goes down to find something to eat, we also go down, happily as the train restarts at once. Dad comes back with a fifty kilos box of sugar in pieces: «I found a hooch demijohn, and got this in barter». And still this death smell which follows us!

The bridges were blasted off, to try to slow down the advance of the invaders. We arrive, in a train, into one of the famous cattle wagons, without doors, across a river on a bridge which was blasted! Only the rails remain. I feel that the river is enormous, far, far away in the bottom, the train advances ad walking speed. The least acceleration, the least shock, and we all go into the water, in the bottom. There is a muttons herd drinking, besides dead muttons. What a stench! And also the stench of our bodies, unwashed since days, ruined clothes, and people urinating into the wagon.

 

I don't like war, I shall never like war! I hate armies, army men.

 

Once or two, we stopped to have some rest, in the free air, at night!

The return was faster than going!

We go back toward Reims , we walk again, just fifty kilometres, just some kilometres, and here is the boulevard... our house!

 

Our home, the refuge, to drink, to eat... to sleep!

 

My sister Micheline runs in, just to get out as quickly:

-Mom, Mom, the père Noël visited us!

Well, it could give the illusion to a child, at first sight!

The père Noël (Santa Claus) visited us, and took everything!

Only remains a round table (not to us) covered with a white cloth (as in Noël) a sideboard with a short in, and in the bedrooms only the wooden or iron parts of the beds! Even the treasure boiler disappeared!

 

But at least we can sit, we are at home!

To get busy about finding food, it is dad's job, together with my brother Jacques!

We are organizing a new living, as much as we can, but it is better to keep a low profile! The atmosphere is not really serene.

The German army enters Reims.

Warehouses are opened. Food is given sparingly.

One evening, a motorbiker with a German uniform stops at the corner of our street! He distributes some little treats to the children!

Dad intervenes, and the man, a soldier, replies:

-Me, not German, me Austrian, Austrians do not want to make war, forced by Germany .

He would come back more or less regularly, and then, one day, he stopped coming!

 

End of 1940, beginning of 1941, we are living from our reserves of health! 1942, I start hearing about: prisoners, stalags, concentration camps, deported persons, STO...

 

1942 is a year to retain!

My uncle Jean is taken as a prisoner, he is brought to Germany!

My elder brother takes profit of the naivety and weakness of his little sister, me.

Some months later, he leaves home, and is placed in a farm, at Prouilly, 20 kilometres from Reims , given reason: student, fifteen and a half, he must leave home in order not to be taken by the STO!

Aunt Denise, sister of Mom, wife of Uncle Jean, deported, finds a lover: a German officer, Schultsé!

My brother Bernard obtains the certificat d'études (primary school diploma), immediately, the school manager gets him to the Goulet-Turpin (a food shops chain). This is work, and money which enters home.

 

Dad succeeded in finding a job, to keeping the outdoors in the district we live in.

In 1941, my sister has her birthday party, and I question (I am six and a half)

-Mom, shall I also be eight today?

-No

-Mom, shall I be six soon?

-No!!!!

-Mom, do I

I don't finish my phrase, and receive a colossal pair of clouts!

-It is not that way we raise children. When I shall have children, I shall not raise them the way you raises us.

 

In my little girl's head, I already noted for long that my sister was by far preferred.

 

The manager of the Panhard factories comes to ask to my father:

-Do you want to work again to the factory?

-No.

-You will be well paid, as a foreman!

-To build what?

-Weapons for the German army!

-NO! I don't want to collaborate!

There is no appeal!

In 1942, Grandpa Paul is dead!

End of 1942, I was eight! But I had no birthday party, all the shops were empty from long ago.

Mom will never forgive Dad because he refused this work; the atmosphere in the family, until now very solid, is now going down the drain. Mom talks bad about Dad.

Me, I really love Dad, and start to have some grudge toward Mom!

After, life becomes very harsh; the winter 1942 was especially cold. We, the «younger» Michel, Micheline, Me, Pierre and Jacqueline, we slept in our parents bedroom, in the bottom stage, across a bed. Ghislain, born in 1940 had a snug bed. The elders, Bernard and Daniel, were sleeping together, in the upper stage. The years after, we were too tall, we slept all together in the upper stage, without heating, with thick ice on the windows.

No wood, no coal, just what was necessary for Mom, in the kitchen, and a stove in the dining room. 

I think it is at this moment the ration coupons appeared!

We encounter the Jerusalem Artichokes and the rutabagas!

Starting from thirteen, we were attributed coupons for a quarter litre of wine .......... At least of a sour and acrid liquid named wine. Of course the «younger» we don't drank it, it was reserved to the «elders» the boys. But what was good, was when Mom mixed wine and water, fifty fifty, and sugar, we dipped our bread in, and that made us a «fresh» meal.

At Prouilly, we went to gather potatoes, I should say: to glean, after the picking machine, we could take what was not harvested! Twenty kilometres by foot the morning, twenty kilometres by foot the evening!

And we went to glean wheat, everybody had to do it. After: beat, wind, grind, sift, and cook the bread! The bran was used to do a mash for the ducks and the rabbits.

 

Ill fed, half washed, in a bad bed, just covered with a cloth, distributed in 1941, vermin had a nice place to thrive: flea, lice, bugs, scabies, glanders, we tasted to everything! No more shoes in shops, or no money to buy them. We wore galoshes, wooden-soled shoes. The upper part, happily solid, knew several soles. It was my father who did new soles. He was very skilful with his hands and with his head.

The black market was flourishing!

Dad, antimilitarist, was also antitraffick and antitrafficker!

 

I remember a day where Dad went back home, very happy, with a thirty kilos bag of carrots. We went to school in the morning eating a carrot.

I remember going to the butcher to get some bones, we did bone soup, it had some taste!

 

Let us not speak of chilblains, urticaria crisis, and nearby permanent diarrhoea, from the visceral fear! Let us not speak of my «new» robes made from two old robes of my sister, the galoshes (wooden-soled shoes), and the bare feet into them; there is enough to fill a book! And the ration coupons, on the black market! «Coffee»? Roasted barley! Evening meals with one onion! In the shop where we were going, there were two young women serving us. They are well fed, well fat, heavily made-up, with nail varnish, and when they serve butter from 20 kilos lumps, we find scales of nail varnish into the butter!

I DON'T LIKE BUTTER

 

I don't remember when the bombings resumed, battles in the sky between stukas and spitfires! I tell you, a permanent fear in the guts! The air raids warnings, those sirens which pierce our ears and which tome was purposely designed to throw us in a panic!

 

May 1944 remains engraved in my genes! We were warned: there would be bombings by aircrafts from England , the first, ten, twenty and thirty of May, the first have no memories, but the ten!!!!!

 

Reims is a strategic town: just behind there is an air base. In town, there is a jail with a great number of prisoners ready to be brought in Germany .

There is a railway station, with a marshalling yard.

There is a gas factory.

All those objectives were privileged by the bombers!

 

This morning I was going to school, and I had to lead the two youngest to the nursery school, about 500 metres from my own school. Half way, the warning rings, and in the same time the sirens blare, fall the first bombs. I run as fast as I can, it don't prevent a large shard of bomb to fall just two metres from me. I am tetanized. Then I manage to arrive at school, and of course the door is locked. I spent all the time of the bombing, alone, sitting on a stair step. I was even not ten years old!

It is that day that my dad was taken under a collapse in a trench; he comes back home with an horrible wound on the leg, on his shinbone. This wound never healed, it became, with age, an ulcer.

It is that day that the one who would become my husband years after, is under bombing in the jail; he manages to escape.

It is this day that a bomb fell on a school hundred metres away from the jail. The water pipes broke, and the hundred and twenty pupils were drowned in the caves! Children of my age, I knew some of them.

We descended in the caves with gas masks. I did not knew if the gasses were toxic, but me I was choking with that thing on my face. I pulled it a bit to be able to breath.

After this tragic outcome of a bombing, we no more descended in caves of our school, we rather went into trenches, on the other side of the street.

 

It is since this day that I HATE WAR!

Since this time, I can no longer go down into caves!

 

It is very hard to see my father crying!

 

And I cry to write it!

 

Daniel got his certificat d'études; like Bernard, he found a job thanks to the director of the boy's school.

A bit more money entering home, it helps to buy coupons in the black market!

 

I hear about prisoners, concentration camps, deportation of the Jews who must wear the yellow star, to be spotted more easily. I hear about the roundup at the vel-d'hiv.

Not in time, maybe, or perhaps my child head did not noticed.

Dad was hearing at the radio, gathering the rare information we could catch. When the «music» announced the moment of the news, the silence was fabulous, and we tried to get some words.

 

Dad was a block chief, in the passive defence.

 

This day in the month of June, I was not at school, I was doing shopping to help Mom, in a shop where, as soon as nine in the morning, the chatterboxes and gossips of the district were gathering to comment the news.

 

I had the «privilege» to learn the landing of allied troops in Normandy!

I had the «privilege» to tell this to Mom!

 

-Ah, we are going to have war again!

 

As if it was finished!

 

I heard about Oradour sur Glane: All the inhabitants were burned alive in the village church, where the routed German troops locked them in!

 

I heard of the VERCORS: in a cave, German troops, routed, shot at close range injured persons, French or German, and their German Nurses!

 

Panic.

 

There are still more bombings. From our home, we have a clear sky, we can see the US bombers, four-engined super fortress, advancing with a roaring sound to bomb the air base at Courcy. What a spectacle to see one of those aircrafts, flying in a triangle, being hit by the anti-aircraft defences, explode in flight!

 

I was thinking to the men inside, and no more wanted to look at this.

 

Life is still more haphazardous than ever 

We wait for the town being liberated, thinking that as by a magic wand, everything would become like before 1940. EH NO! Still the food coupons, and nothing better in the shops!

Dad engaged into the passive defence, as a block chief. When everybody was expected to be in the shelters, he was going out to see if everybody had the lights off. Another kind of fear: Dad outdoors when there was a need to be in the shelters

The «allied» armies advance, will soon be «in our town».

The deportations did not stopped, not yet!

Then things are going on, and we live with only this thought: the end of the war, the end of the war! SOON!

 

End of December 1945 our tenth child is born: GERARD!

 

Reims is liberated! Ruined houses are too numerous to count. The damages are tremendous. The German army is disbanding, but it still resists.

We must wait 1945 for the armistice being signed! At Reims, in the Jolicoeur secondary school.

 

It is in 1945, that we hear of HIROSHIMA, and, soon after, of NAGASAKI!

 

Is not a single bomb which kills 150 000 persons in some seconds, a MASS DESTRUCTION weapon?

In the last news from Japan, there were 300 000 dead!

 

At the age of ELEVEN? I am 1.10 metre tall.

 

What to say about the liberation years?

 

Aunt Denise was shaved, as so many women who had German lovers

 

The German army was disciplined, elegant, clean in our streets.

But in the opposite side the GI give a feeling of being school boys in a holyday camp!

Munching chewing gum, their thumbs in the loops of their trouser belts, their rolling gait, coarse giggles when crossing young women: HELLO, MADEMOISELLE, ZIGZIG? This meaning clearly: come have sex with me!

The dumping ground for wastes is now near the Saint Thierry Bridge, with the new comers it is a continuous convoy of dumping trucks. The boys go to see among rubbish if there is not something to eat!

An American camp was set not far from our home, about five hundred metres, enclosed by two metre fences, with miradors to check if somebody may enter illegally to steal things.

We went to see this camp, it was our television. There were German prisoners, in shitty coloured Khakis, with, painted on their back, an enormous PW. We could really not confuse them with ladybirds!

Why did we went to visit this camp? Because, nearby everyday, a soldier, maybe not the smartest, with a little axe, was breaking full boxes of food cans, condensed sweetened milk, corned beef, fruit juice, the expiry date passed by the day, meaning that the 22 he destroyed all the cans with the 22 expiry date. And us the children, we were dancing an hungry belly dance, in the hope that some milk would flow outside the fence and we could eat it.

 

Never, never we had the least bit.

This man was doing the job he was paid for!

 

The armies arrive in Germany, liberate what prisoners were liberable.

Uncle Jean went back.

 

And now it is the horror of the discoveries: the concentration camps, the extermination of the Jews.

 

Never forget! DACHAU and AUSCHWITZ.

 

I think that all the responsible, leading the wars, WHEREVER THEY ARE, should be placed in the first row, wars would not last long!

 

Full trains of survivors arrive in Reims. As the school where we go is the nearest from the station, boys are requested to greet the repatriated! This day my brother refused to go. I went in his place, as he requested me.

Imagine, full wagons of men, only their skin on their bones, lain down dying, washed and shaved, clothed with the famous pyjamas with black and white stripes, skeletons with mobile eyes, they had only one idea, one hope: to see France again, and when they were told they were in France, they passed, they died.

I was the witness of this, I was even not twelve!

 

LET ME HATE WAR! AND ALL WHO BUILD WEAPONS TO KILL! THEY THINK TO BE THE MASTERS OF THE WORLD BY SLAUGHTERING! THEY ARE ONLY PSYCHIATRIC CASES, RACIST, SECTARIAN AND DEGENERATED!

 

The armies of the United States remained a long time in France, without doing anything to rebuild the country. They just became an occupation army. It is the General de Gaulle who asked them to leave, or to pay they war debt in GOLD!

 

Who dared to say, not long ago, one month maybe, that the German occupation was not so difficult than generally said? Sir LE PEN -he is not alone- The German occupation was not difficult for the collaborationists, traffickers, denouncers and prostitutes.

 

To tell also, that TWO YEARS after the signing of the armistice, in Reims, an US military aircraft went all along the Courcelles street, at the height of the houses, and machine gunned inside the houses, through the windows open to the fair weather.

 

GENEVIEVE GANDOIN, OCTOBER 31, 2005

 

I remind:

 

Winter 1944, the VERCORS, the German army, routed, destroys I don't remember how many injured persons, in a cave, French, Germans, taken care of by German nurses.
Oradour sur Glane: All the inhabitants are gathered in the church of the village, the German army sets the fire: no survivors!

I don't remember which year, the Japanese air force bombs the Pearl Harbor base, at Hawaii, base of the American army.

That I don't forget: the resistants! They did a good job, despites the risks they were taking. In this time, the men (the women and children) who wanted to work for the liberation of the invader, they were called «resistants». Now in other countries, also occupied, they are called terrorists!

And that I don't forget: HOROSHIMA and NAGASAKI: cancelled by US atom bombs. Is not a weapon which kills 150 000 persons in some seconds a mass destruction weapon.

Since some days I eat Jerusalem Artichokes again.

 

I remember eating «rabbit» in the very winter, when there was nothing to feed them, the hutches were empty. BUT we never saw again a superb BLACK CAT, a fat one. This day, Mom and my brother DANIEL did not ate rabbit, and my brother JACQUES was frustrated, this rabbit-cat had no head.

 

No more forget: the curfew! Electric bulbs had to be painted in blue, in order not to allow light outdoors.

 

And also, between the date of the landing and that of the armistice, the German Army was sending V1 on LONDON, and English aircrafts managed to destabilize those things with introducing their wings under the winglet of the V1, upturning them in flight.

 

And again, the numerous convoys of the US army cruising the streets of the town. Why? They had to use all these men.

 

Reviewed and corrected (as I can) on August 10, 2007. Geneviève GANDOIN.

SEQUEL...

Born in 1953, I did not knew the war, which noxious effects, such as food restrictions, were still felt until 1950. However I perfectly remember the American convoys on the roads, the aluminium coins bearing the shameful francisque, and other things such as the «thunder bridge» (a temporary bridge near Vitry le François) that made us laugh, kids, as we did not knew. Until 1960, I could still see ruined houses, there was one near my Grand Mother house, and I keep an horrified memory of this heap of charred beams and stones blackened by fire. I had no need to see what happened, my imagination was enough. Then, since this time, I think like my mother: All those who do wars, live from wars or speak of them as a normal thing, all of them are to be locked in as dangerous psychiatric cases. And today psychiatrists are beginning to think the same.

 

I would like to do some remarks on this raw testimony. At first we note that food restrictions were not for everybody: we could still see well fed and fat people during the occupation, and even Dutour did not imagined scales of nail varnish in his «au bon beurre» (well known French novel explaining how some managed to make a fortune from the misery of others, by artificially increasing prices and hiding reserves). And, for the victims of the Exodus, there were only cattle wagons, as if the ordinary carriages had suddenly disappeared!! Especially there was work force to make wine for thirteen years old children, and not to cultivate wheat! This kind of things, more the trick of the American camp which destroys its food cans in full famine, clearly shows that the famine was at least partly orchestrated, that certain things could have been avoided. Another remark is the ridiculous ideological side of asking for 10cm square pieces of covers for the prisoners (French soldiers captured in the routing in 1940). This still reminds us of some «propaganda for good causes» which are blasted in our ears today in order to hide more serious problems, or to prevent people from real action.

 

Another extremely serious point was the inhuman refusal to hear at the survivors, especially those of the concentration camps, who however had a vital need of this. But they had to «keep silent», and no more speak «of this». As the extraordinary barbary of the nazi camps sends us back to so much other more ordinary, more daily barbary: stalking, racism, egocentricity, indifference, automated divorces, etc. So long as we don't put an end to all this, there shall still be wars and camps.

HISTORICAL EXPLANATIONS

The Exodus was a massive flight of the French population in front of the advance of the German army, in 1940. One reason was the sudden and unexpected collapse of the whole French society in front of this ultra-fast invasion, after months of «phoney war» where apparently nothing happened. Another reason, that I learnt from my father, was a set of unfounded rumours as what the German were slaughtering everybody, as the Uhlans did during the 1914-18 war. The Exodus was accompanied by numerous looting of empty homes, by «ordinary» people suddenly «freed» of every social norm.

 

The routing in 1940. The causes of this incredible inefficiency of the most powerful army in the world at that time, are to be seek besides the 1914-18 war. It is today well-known that this war resulted only from an agreement between Franco-German families of war industry owners, unfiltered in both governments. The French army, under the command of, already, pétain, choose an extraordinary inefficient strategy of a fixed defensive front, the famous trenches, which cost millions of lives, when some well aimed attacks, or bombings as proposed in that time, could have broken the German weapon industry in some days, ensuring an easy victory with few casualties. After, the French policy of humiliation of Germany in the 1920' was also among the major causes of the rise of nazism. In the 1930', when the threat was appearing more and more obvious, the maréchal pétain, commander of the French armies, blocked all the efficient solutions proposed by people like De Gaulle, keeping to his obsolete concept of a defensive front, like the Maginot line, that the German army just had to circumvent, to freely enter a territory where the true defenders were deprived of any real means. Seeing the more that friendly policy of pétain toward the nazi regime, we can wonder if he acted that way only from idiocy, or to knowingly facilitate the invasion.

 

The negationism (This word is less often used than «revisionism», but more accurate) Tries to denegate the famous concentration camps (Places of extermination, but also, this is often forgotten, places of stalking and sadic/sexual play). My mother saw the rare survivors, so we cannot honestly denegate the reality of the facts. But this subversive movement also tries to denegate the incredible miseries the French and European peoples had to bear: famine, constant fear (bombings, hostages taking, denunciations...), disorganisation and radical ponerisation of the whole society. And what my mother had to bear was nothing compared to the total destructions of towns (Brest, Lorient, Royan, Dresde) or to the systematic slaughters of populations in central Europe.

 

The Liberation eliminated nazism and its excess, but not other more discrete things. So the Yalta conference in 1945 recognized the sharing of Europe between the United States and the fascist regime of stalin, which resulted in the cold war and the Berlin wall. But this sharing of the world also left a large blur in Africa and Asia, in order to allow all the senseless conflicts of the years 1945 to 1980, which were earning so much money for the weapon industry. In France we can consider that fascism was really uprooted of the army, only after the war in Algeria, with the anti-OAS purges in 1962. As to the use of the atom bomb against civilian populations, historians now agree it had no military purpose, as Japan was already about to surrender. The true motive was rather, already, to pose as the masters of the world, with exhibiting a weapon with a power radically superior to any other. Idiotic calculation, as it started at once a race to the bomb and to uranium ore ( Central Europe, Africa, Tibet), resulting in the today situation where apocalypse is at hand for any dictator or rich industry owner.

The Liberation however had some positive consequences: The recognition of Human Rights, the condemnation of racism and discriminations, and especially the European Union, of which we can realistically expect that it will put a definitive end to any armed conflict in Europe.

 

Added in July 2014: I am compelled to add this warning here: the today sadomasochistic austerity policies recreate the social distress conditions which prevailed in the 1930 years, which led to the rise of nazism and other totalitarian regimes. There is already a new increase of these ideas, and a growing hatred of this technocratic Europe which destroys our societies.