Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Traveling Tuesday: France During WWII

 Traveling Tuesday: France During World War II 

Located three hours from Paris by train, Vichy sits in the middle of France. From the 1880s until June 1940, the city could be compared to a high-class Las Vegas. Filled with casinos, restaurants, and brothels, Vichy also offered mud baths from the mineral-rich sulphurous waters, running warm from the surrounding Auvergne volcanic mass. The town became famous as a cure center for rheumatism and liver complaints. 
Then came the Battle of France in May 1940. In a matter of six weeks, Germany pushed through the Ardennes, then along the Somme Valley, and finally the Maginot Line, arriving in Paris on June 10, 1940. Twelve days later Marshal Pétain signed an armistice with Germany that came into effect on June 25. Prime Minister Reynaud resigned rather than sign the agreement. Parliament then voted on July 10 to make Pétain leader of the newly established regime known as Vichy France. 
By the time Hitler arrived in Paris, Brigadier General Charles de Gaulle was attending the Anglo-French Supreme War Council in Briare along with French Prime Minister Paul Raynaud who asked to be released from the agreement the country had made with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in May 1940 so France could sign the armistice with Germany. 

De Gaulle was then given the mission to travel to London and discuss a possible evacuation to North
Africa. On the 18th, he was given permission to address the French people on BBC radio at which time he denounced Pétain’s “treason” and encouraged the citizens to resist the occupation. He was tried “in absentia” in France and sentences to death for treason. De Gaulle considered himself the last remaining member of the legitimate Reynaud government and considered Pétain’s assumption of power to be an unconstitutional coup d’état. De Gaulle’s government in exile operated from London until the Allies recaptured Paris in August of 1944. 
The armistice cut France in half with Pétain’s puppet government policing the so-called “free zone” of the south while the Germans remained in the occupied north. Eventually, the Germans violated the agreement and moved their troops into southern France, rendering Pétain a useless figurehead. The media was tightly controlled and promoted anti-Semitism and anti-Bolshevism. 
Living conditions were difficult, French citizens responsible for covering the expenses of the 300,000 strong occupying army. Onerous regulations, strict censorship, incessant propoganda, and regular curfews were aimed at breaking the spirit of the French people. Two million French soldiers were imprisoned, carrying out forced labor. Jews, communists, political refugees, and other “undesirables” were rounded up and either sent to labor camps or killed outright. 
By early July, resistance began to pop up, first individually, then in small cells, and finally in concerted efforts that were supported by Britain’s Special Operations Executive organization. The Resistance attracted people from all walks of life and with diverse political views. An early problem for the group was the lack of military experience and inability to secure weapons and ammunition. 
The landings at Normandy in June 1944 was the beginning of the end for the French occupation. In the middle of August, the Resistance began to rise against the Germans. Employees of the Paris Metro, the Gendarmerie, and police went on strike followed by the postal workers. Employees throughout the city joined them causing a general strike on August 18. The Resistance prepared for a siege and set up barricades all over Paris and skirmishes broke out over the course of several days. The Allies entered on the 24th and General von Choltitz shortly thereafter. 


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She wants to do her part. He’s just trying to stay out of the stockade. Will two agents deep behind enemy lines find capture… or love? 
1942. Emily Strealer is tired of being told what she can’t do. Wanting to prove herself to her older sisters and do her part for the war effort, the high school French teacher joins the OSS and trains to become a covert operative. And when she completes her training, she finds herself parachuting into occupied France with her instructor to send radio signals to the Resistance. 
Major Gerard Lucas has always been a rogue. Transferring to the so-called “Office of Dirty Tricks” to escape a court-martial, he poses as a husband to one of his trainees on a dangerous secret mission. But when their cover is blown after only three weeks, he has to flee with the young schoolteacher to avoid Nazi arrest. 
Running for their lives, Emily clings to her mentor’s military experience during the harrowing three-hundred-mile trek to neutral Switzerland. And while Gerard can’t bear the thought of his partner falling into German hands, their forged papers might not be enough to get them over the border. 
Can the fugitive pair receive God’s grace to elude the SS and discover the future He intended? 

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