French TV ‘proves` Coco Chanel spied for the Nazis
A French historian produced `documentary evidence` that celebrity dress designer Gabrielle `Coco` Chanel worked as a Nazi spy. In a documentary titled `L`Ombre d`un Doute` (The Shadow of a Doubt) historian Franck Ferrand said documents locked away in France`s Ministry of Defence archives since the war proved that the glamorous socialite worked directly for German military intelligence. Chanel`s love affairs with high-ranking Nazis, including senior Gestapo officer of Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, have been widely known for years. But this is the first time a French state broadcaster has admitted that she went so far as to spy for the occupiers. Chanel operated under the codename `Westminster` and had the Abwehr (German military intelligence) number F-7124.
French archives of Jews deported to Auschwitz shown for first time to public
They are among France`s darkest days: Police dragged over 13,000 Jews from their homes, confined them in a Paris cycling stadium with little food or water, and then deported them to the Auschwitz. But even in France, one of the most brazen collaborations between authorities and the Nazis is unknown to many in the younger generation. Police are hoping to change that, opening up their archives on France`s biggest single deportation of French Jews for the first time to the public. Tallies list the daily count of men, women and children detained, alongside black and white photos of deportees.
French police sent 13,000 - including a Jewish child aged 18 months - to die in Auschwitz
The French child aged 18 months was the youngest of 13,000 people rounded up in the Vel d`Hiv incident and sent to the concentration camp. The details are recorded on papers being disclosed by French police to mark the 70th anniversary of the tragedy. Another Vel d`Hiv file has an officer stating: "Many refused to open their doors. We must make use of a locksmith." The facts about French involvement in the Holocaust have been released as France comes to terms with its "black hours". The Vel d`Hiv round-up took place at a velodrome in Paris on July 16 and 17, 1942. A total of 5,802 women, 4,115 children and 3,118 men were sent to Germany.
A new book shows previously unpublished photos of French women frolicking with Nazis (new source w photos)
Erotic Years, as the coffee-table volume is provocatively entitled, shocks France - a country still struggling to come to terms with its Nazi collaboration. The photographs, many of which were taken by German soldiers and acquired in car-boot sales and flea markets in Germany, show French women making eyes at the enemy as enthusiastically as they welcomed the allies who liberated them. Such images - collected by historian Patrick Buisson - are at odds with the collective French memory of hunger, fear and resistance. Up to 200,000 children were born to Franco-German couples during the Second World War.
WWII serial killer Marcel Petiot butchered Jews and fooled Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France
As a youngster, Marcel Petiot tried to boil the family cat and, when thwarted by his mother, succeeded in smothering the beast later that night. Worse was to come. Before he was guillotined in 1946, Petiot may have murdered more than 100 people in the four years that the Nazis occupied France. The number is vague because so little was left of his victims once. Petiot was charged with killing 27 men and women -- most of them Jews, though he was hardly encouraged by any Nazi overlords. In "Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi- Occupied Paris" author David King explores this strange tale.
15-year-old daughter of a WWII brigadier became the mistress of a Nazi SS officer in Paris and betrayed the French Resistance
Antonia Lyon-Smith`s feats in her teenage years are both highlighted and mysteriously vague in the MI5 notes in the British National Archive. She became engaged to four men and married none of them, moved among some of the war`s leading Resistance figures and was saved from the Gestapo`s clutches when one of her interrogators fell in love with her. The daughter of Major Tristram Lyon-Smith she was on holiday in Brittany shortly before the country was invaded by the Nazis. Trapped in the country by the speed of the German advance, Miss Lyon-Smith enrolled herself at a convent school. However, in 1940, she was sent to an internment camp in Besancon, only for her to persuade the authorities to release her due to her age.
WWII documentary series: Nazi Collaborators
Nazi Collaborators lifts the lid on the stories that history prefers to cover up, asking the simple question: how could anyone collaborate with the Third Reich? The series is told through the experiences of people who were prominent collaborators, from Pierre Laval, who was one of the most loathed men in France after rounding up Jews in Vichy, through to the Latvian Viktor Arajs, who set up his own Kommando, which took part in the killing of 26-thousand people. Many say they did what they did out of the best intentions. Some argue they had no choice, whilst others offer much darker and disturbing motives. At the heart of Nazi Collaborators lies one uneasy question: If you were in a similar position, would you have done the same thing and danced with the devil?
Renault founder`s granddaughter sues French Government for seizing company after WWII
French automaker Renault made 30,000 trucks for the Nazis, and repaired German tanks during the Second World War. But does that make founder Louis Renault a Nazi collaborator? His granddaughter doesn`t think so. So along with seven other Renault grandchildren, Helene Renault-Dingli is suing the French government over what she calls "the illegal confiscation of the company in November 1944" after claims that it had backed Nazi Germany`s war effort.
WWII film "The Round Up" (La Rafle) tells of the Nazis` 1942 roundup of 13,000 Jews living in Paris
Writer-director Rose Bosch`s latest film "The Round Up" explores the Nazis` 1942 roundup of Jewish families living in Paris by focusing on three boys who wear the yellow star.
French railroad "regrets" - as a part of their bid for a big U.S. rail contract - shipping Jews to the Nazi death camps
France`s state-run railroad SNCF has for the first time expressed "sorrow and regret" for its role in the WWII deportations. Unfortunately the regret, confined to its English Web site, is only a part of a bid to win a big U.S. rail contract.
French court orders a French mayor to take down a portrait of Philippe Petain, leader of Vichy regime
A court ordered a French mayor to remove a portrait of Philippe Petain, leader of Vichy regime, from the wall of a town hall. The portrait of Petain, often viewed as an anti-semitic Nazi collaborator, hung in a municipal marriage chamber in Gonneville-sur-Mer, near the Normandy landing beaches. The court ruled against a decision by town`s mayor Bernard Hoye, to keep the portrait which had been hanging there for decades. "The principle of neutrality in public services is opposed to putting up in public buildings signs expressing political... opinions," the court said in a written judgement.
And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alan Riding (book review)
In what was one of the darkest period in the history of France, the theaters, cinemas and cabarets in Paris never slowed down. During the 4 years in which France was under Nazi occupation, artists painted; musicians performed; and authors, poets and playwrights produced work at a pace that reflected Paris`s fame as a cultural beacon. It was in the interest of both conqueror and vanquished that the French cultural life flourished: For the Nazi occupiers the activities offered a distraction for the Parisians and themselves, while for the French it offered a source of pride after the Wehrmacht had walked over the French Armies.
Documents reveal that Vichy leader Philippe Petain widened anti-Jewish law
A French Nazi hunter announced the discovery of the original document declaring WWII restrictions for Jews revealing that Vichy leader Philippe Petain made tight measures even harsher. "This document establishes Petain`s decisive role... revealing Petain`s deep anti-Semitism," explained Serge Klarsfeld. The pencilled-in changes to the document, from October 1940, are a "profound alteration" of the document`s nature. The original excluded "descendants of Jews born French or naturalised before 1860", but Petain struck out this reference, applying the measures to all Jews.
WWII photographs: French Resistance fighters executing Nazi collaborators
After Paris was liberated from Nazi occupation in 1944, LIFE photographer Carl Mydans and correspondent John Osborne saw a grim activity took place near the town of Grenoble in the foothills of the French Alps. A group of Resistance fighters (known as Maquis) gathered to execute a half-dozen Nazi collaborators who had collaborated with the hated and feared Milice - the Vichy police.
California to force rail companies - especially French SNCF - to come clean on Holocaust role
Rail companies will be required to disclose on their part in transporting Nazi victims during the Holocaust when they compete for a contract to operate a new bullet train in California. A Democratic politician is pushing to make it a requirement that any involvement in transporting people to work, concentration, POW, or extermination camps between January 1942 and December 1944 must be revealed. The motion is specifically aimed at SNCF, the French national railway operator, which is expected to apply for a contract to run the new $45 billion high speed connection between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
List of French citizens who collaborated with Nazis to be published online
Thousands of French citizens who collaborated with the Nazis will be revealed when police reports from the era are finally made public and published online. Since the liberation of Paris, the details of the collaborators - many of whom have successfully conceald their Nazi ties - have been kept hidden in boxes in the basement of the police museum. The archive will include every police log from stations across France. The files will shed new light on the work of the Gestapo across France and the role of the Brigade Speciale, which pursued resistance fighters and other enemies of the Nazi regime.
French historian: France using de Gaulle anniversary to cover up World War II collaboration with Nazis
Jean-Pierre Azéma is concerned that awkward truth about France`s wartime past is played down amid a surge of patriotism around de Gaulle`s June 18, 1940 appeal from London. Dozens of events across France to remember the appeal, in which de Gaulle declared: "Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not and will not be extinguished." In reality the vast majority of French had little regard for the wartime General de Gaulle when he launched his appeal on radio. When Philippe Pétain announced the French surrender, his decision was welcomed with relief by a majority of the French.
Jewish grandmother banned from telling school how French police handed her over to Nazis
Ida Grinspan, who was deported to the Auschwitz in 1944, wrote a letter about her WW2 experiences to children at a school in Parthenay, France. But when the town`s deputy mayor, Michel Birault, learned she was to tell the children it was "gendarmes" (French policemen) who arrested her aged 14, it was censored. Mayor Xavier Argenton said she could only speak to the students if she referred to the police as "men". French media accuse both men of covering up France`s collaboration with the Nazis. During the war, French officials helped the SS round up tens of thousands of Jews and sent them to the gas chambers.
WW2 film La Rafle forces France to face up to its Holocaust role
19 July 1942, 13,000 French Jews were rounded up by members of their own country`s authorities and locked inside a velodrome in Paris, before being shipped to the Nazi concentration camps. La Rafle follows the events of the Nazi-decreed raid through the eyes of a group of kids. Director Rose Bosch thought the film had to be made to reveal one of the most sensitive chapters in wartime France. The film is a good step in France`s recognition of its part in the crimes of the Nazi Occupation. The French shame lies not just in the scale of the collaboration with the Nazs, but also in the failure to confront it.
British blood was shed to liberate a French village, now mayor puts up portrait honouring Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain
A French mayor has insulted the memory of British soldiers who died liberating his village by displaying a portrait of a Nazi collaborator. Bernard Hoye, civic leader of Gonneville-sur-Mer, insists on honouring the Vichy leader Philippe Petain - in spite of the fact that British commandos including the Royal Marines and SAS spent days fighting off the town`s German garrison after D-Day. First World War hero Petain was imprisoned after the 1944 liberation of France after establishing a pro-Nazi regime in the spa town of Vichy. He passed away in disgrace in 1951.
Un village Francais: French TV series faces reality of wartime collaboration with the Nazis
French tv series "Un village Francais" is the first to face the reality of the country`s wartime past with an honest look at collaboration, resistance, and ordinary people living under German occupation during World War II. Skipping the cliches of glamorous Resistance members, evil Nazi collaborators, and families with radio-sets listening to General Charles De Gaulle on the BBC, Un village Francais instead shows the confused reality of adapting to foreign military rule. "In 1940, no-one knows what `occupation` is. It is just each person`s own life. Nor does anyone know what will be the fate of the Jews," explained script writer Frédéric Krivine.
Essential books about France under Nazi Occupation
Occupation by Ian Ousby. Nothing can be more degrading for a nation than to be occupied. And the Nazis even used the ancient practice of hauling people off to be slaves, in this case as forced laborers in German factories. --- Vichy France by Robert O. Paxton triggered what came to be regarded the revolution in studies of French collaboration by showing that the collaborationist policy of the French government was voluntary and went further than the Germans had asked. --- France: The Dark Years, 1940-1944 by Julian Jackson - This is the fullest 1-volume account of both the high politics of Vichy and the daily life of the population.
Sorrow, Pity, Celebration: France Under the Nazis - exhibition at the New York Public Library
One of the amazing things about the exhibition "Between Collaboration and Resistance: French Literary Life Under Nazi Occupation," at the New York Public Library, is that it feels as if we were looking at dozens of relics each going in a different direction, each revealing different hopes and expectations. The Prix Goncourt winner Henri Béraud cheered the new regime in editorials for the right-wing weekly Gringoire. There is a 1940 letter from the philosopher Henri Bergson: "I have seen this coming for several years now. We have touched the bottom of the abyss. At least we will now know where the evil comes from."
Nazi Occupation: I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Those nights were fantastic
An unusual WW2 book focuses on French women who slept with the enemy during the Nazi occupation. Patrick Buisson depicts the Nazi-era as the "golden age" of the French brothel. The book, 1940-1945, Erotic Years attacks the myth that life under the Nazi boot was all resistance and suffering. Handsome Nazi officers with good manners won admirers in a country whose natives were rude with prostitutes. Fabienne Jamet recalls: "I`ve never had so much fun in my life. Those nights of the occupation were fantastic." There were about 100,000 French women seeking favours from the Nazis just in Paris - crushed when the Germans left.
Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation 1940-44 by Charles Glass
Before World War II Paris had the largest number of expatriate Americans in Europe - 30,000. With the Nazi invasion, most chose to leave, but 3,000 chose, or were had, to stay on and stick it out. All went well until Dec. 1941, but when Adolf Hitler declared war on U.S. 4 days after Pearl Harbor, the Americans went from being neutrals to enemy aliens. The most baffling figure in Glass`s researches is American multimillionaire Charles Bedaux. Using his business links, he was able to consort both with the Vichy regime and Nazi officials. His car had a WH numberplate, letters used by the occupying Nazi forces.
French court: State responsible for the deportation, but Jews have had enough compensation
The French State was responsible for deporting Jews during World War 2, the top judicial authority ruled, but it appalled families of victims by announcing that they had already been compensated. The decision by the Council of State, the final arbiter on civil law matters, made formal a view that has been accepted by governments since 1995. The late President Mitterrand (who left office in 1995 and served as an official of the Vichy regime) refused to accept the responsibility of the nation for the 75,000 people who were sent to Nazi death camps after they were picked up by French police.
The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe [book review]
It is a paradox that after an occupation few nations are likely to like their liberator for long as the joy is replaced by a view that the liberator has become the new occupier. Despite the efforts to explain the woe of the occupied nations, many GIs did not like or trust the French. Even before D-Day they saw France almost as an enemy country. Myths of Frenchwomen acting as snipers alongside their Nazi lovers spread quickly. At the end of the war Allied officers were angered to have to attend 5 big victory parades, with fly-pasts, using American military vehicles and gas. Not a single US or UK flag was to be seen anywhere, as if France had won the war alone.
Up to a million French people betrayed their neighbours to the Nazis
Up to a million French people betrayed their neighbours to the Nazis, historians have revealed. The findings - aired at the world`s first conference on French denunciation in the Second World War - dispute some of the myths about denunciation in wartime France. Historians say only a very small percentage of the betrayals related to Jews and a large proportion (25%) of the letters were about French family dramas - and the majority of letters were from women. "Denunciation was a very easy way of getting rid of someone," said historian Laurent Joly, mentioning the example of a father who opposed his daughter`s suitor, so he sent his name to the Gestapo.
Shameful Peace: How French Artists and Intellectuals Survived the Nazi Occupation
World War II and the Nazi occupation are sore topics for the French. How a once powerful military force could have gave in so easily to German forces called into serious question the moral fibre of a nation. In "Shameful Peace" Frederic Spotts argues that France`s proud cultural heritage was of huge psychological importance in the wake of its military defeat: "... in the arts the French had... their only weapon to continue the war." There was a number of French intellectuals who viewed positively Hitler`s plan for a united Europe. For example Drieu la Rochelle was won over by what he saw at the Nuremberg Nazi party rally in 1935.
Nazi occupation of France advanced the sexual liberation of women
A book which suggests that the Nazi occupation promoted the sexual liberation of French women has outraged a country failing to come to terms with its collaboration with the Nazis. "The reality is that people adapted to occupation," said Patrick Buisson, author of 1940-1945 Années Erotiques (erotic years). With their husbands in prison camps, many women slept not only with German soldiers (the young "blond barbarians" were irresistible to French women) but also had affairs with anyone else who could help them through hard times: "In times of rationing, the body is the only renewable, inexhaustible currency."
Color photos of nazi-occupied Paris reveal the happy life and collaboration
"Parisians under the Occupation" -exhibition of rare color photos of occupied Paris has created a controversy, as it shows too happy a picture of life under the Nazis. Paris deputy mayor Christophe Girard has proposed shutting down the show by French photographer Andre Zucca. Photography was not allowed in WWII Paris, but Zucca got permits from his employer, the Nazi propaganda magazine Signal. The happy-go-lucky shots show a grande dame on a shopping promenade, sunbathers along Seine, chic youths flirting and families spending a day at the races - life going on as normal in a city valued by the Nazis.
The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France
During the German occupation of France, Suzanne Desseigne started contact with the Nazis. She became the mistress of a German soldier who enrolled her to conduct espionage missions against the Vichy regime. Her mother described the Nazi spy as "a young French girl who, from the age of 15... felt the danger of Bolshevism and of the Jewish conspiracy." She remained, even after her captivity, a earnest traitor, attacking other inmates who did not share her loyalty to the Nazi cause. --- Historian Simon Kitson`s research of the French counterintelligence service`s pursuit of German spies is precise, but maybe not aimed to appeal to a mass market.
Alsace-Moselle veterans fight to be recognized as victims of Nazism (Article no longer available from the original source)
World War II veterans stood proud in front of the memorial cross that looms over the town of Obernai. The gathering was to mark the 65th anniversary of the forced conscription into the German army for the French population of Alsace-Moselle. Tainted by their service to the enemy, the malgré nous ("despite ourselves") are demanding a statement from President of France, saying that they were victims of Nazism. And they want a committee to establish that they were neither traitors nor collaborators. 160,000 were forced into the abattoir that was the Eastern Front. Many ended up in the Soviet prison camps - and returned to a country that questioned their loyalty.
Maurice Papon: Nazi-era collaborator of pro-Nazi Vichy regime dies
Maurice Papon, a former Cabinet minister who became a symbol of France`s collaboration with the Nazis, has died at 96. Papon, an official in the pro-Nazi Vichy regime, was the highest-ranking Frenchman convicted. The April 2, 1998, guilty verdict throttled the nation backward in time, offering a painful look at one of the darkest periods in modern French history. Papon, who never showed remorse, was later released because of failing health. Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld said the decision showed that "part of the French establishment does not admit that a man like Papon can die in prison."
The Forgotten WWII Children of German-Occupied France
Some 200,000 children of French mothers and occupying German soldiers are still a taboo topic. Josiane Kruger has broken the silence with her new book. While growing up Josiane Kruger always felt a bit different. Finally she was told the truth: her father had been a German soldier. He was transferred from France to the Russian front and had not been heard from since. After the war ended, anger grew in France over the occupation. Collaborators became targets of revenge, including those French women who had had relationships with Germans. They were bullied, their hair was shorn, they were driven naked through villages and forced to turn their children over to orphanages.
French state fined: Not Gestapo but French state took action (Article no longer available from the original source)
In the first case of its kind, the French state and the SNCF national rail operator were fined 62,000 euros for their role in the deportation of two Jewish men in Second World War. Previous attempts to condemn the SNCF in criminal and civil courts have failed, and the current case rested on claims that the French state authorities, the police and the SNCF failed in their duty to provide services to citizens. Lawyer said that "in the round-ups, it was not the Gestapo but the French authorities who took action".
France to Shine a Light on Its Notorious Camp
A memorial marking the role of France`s Vichy government in shipping Jews and others to Nazi death camps will be created at Rivesaltes, an internment facility near France`s border with Spain. It will be the first official Holocaust memorial in Southern France, the stronghold of the Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis from 1940 to 1944. Rivesaltes was the most active way station for persecuted Jews and political opponents. In 1941, the height of its operation, Rivesaltes had a population of 8,000, an estimated 3,000 of whom were children.
In Occupied France, Heroic Silence Amid the Fog of War
For six decades now, the French have cherished the myth of the Resistance, the insurgency that undermined, a little, the repressive authority of their Nazi occupiers and preserved — at least in memory — the honor of their otherwise humiliated nation. The apparatus of clandestine operations is imperishably cool: the false names, the passwords, the dead-of-night rendezvous. But, perhaps because in their national imagination the ethos of the Resistance slides so easily into the comfort zone of Musketeer-like fraternal gallantry.
Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Fame and France
By 1938 Louis Darquier was the head of the Anti-Jewish Union, the most prominent anti-Semitic organisation in France. Obsessed by racial purity, he was in eager agreement with the Nazis, whose influence he cultivated assiduously. For some years, the Third Reich supported many of his activities from a distance. In 1942, after the fall of France, he became head of the Vichy CGQJ, devoting less time to his administrative duties than to tracking down and seizing Jewish assets, a process known as "economic Aryanisation". When the Final Solution gathered pace, he helped send 32,000 Jews to Auschwitz.
The Unfree French and Bad Faith - Two Books
The novelty of The Unfree French is to discuss those forgotten people, dismissed as "collabos", who had to make impossible choices: the ones, for example, who voluntarily went off to Germany as workers, or the women whose heads were famously shaved (les tontes) for sleeping with the enemy, or black market "profiteers". Vinen suggests that sheer survival was frequently a factor, particularly for those escaping histories of abuse or poverty, not sufficiently privileged through contacts, wealth or class.
"French Eichmann" Louis Darquier - Villain of Vichy France
By focusing on Louis Darquier, an overlooked villain of the Vichy regime who acted as Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, biographer Carmen Callil says she used the "underbelly of history" to expose the truth. In 1978, Darquier gave an interview to "L`Express" in which he called the Holocaust a "Jewish invention" and said the reason for the gas chambers was to get rid of lice. In the end the Vichy state deported 75,000 Jews. Of 70,000 sent to Auschwitz only 2,500 survivors returned to France.
WW2 POW reveals nasty side of the French Resistance (Article no longer available from the original source)
Jack Fairweather temporary worked with the French Resistance, earning one of France`s highest honors. He was part of the June 6 D-day landing in Normandy. On the second day he was taken as a POW, but his POW train was bombed by the Allies, and he escaped. He was soon picked up by French resistance fighters. "The leader of the group was an outlaw of sorts named Lecoz. The guy was pretty much out for himself. Anyone that got in his way he`d have them either executed or beaten to death." After liberating the small French town of Loshes Lecoz rounded up many of the residents and executed them for no reason other than he found them undesirables.
Georges Guingouin - A Communist maquisard
Georges Guingouin was a legendary figure of the French Resistance who was awarded the title of Compagnon de la Liberation by General de Gaulle in 1944. Of 1,053 recipients Guingouin was one of only 12 Communists. -- Because Hitler and Stalin had signed a non-aggression pact, the Communist party refused to take sides in the imperialist war. After the fall of France in 1940, this meant that the party did not directly condemn the German occupation. Guingouin drafted a manifesto in August 1940, denouncing the occupation. Later his activities became more ambitious: sabotaging a railway and blowing up a rubber factory near Limoges.
Gendarmes` role in Nazi rule revealed as Vichy era archives open
Gendarmes were used by the Nazis to round up Jews and guard transit camps. 60 years after World War II ended, the gendarmerie has finally agreed to open its archives. The extracts give an insight into how the 36,000 gendarmes in service during the Nazi occupation were torn between obedience to the Vichy government, collaboration with the Germans and sympathy for the French Resistance. For more than half a century, France failed to face up to this painful period in its history and it is only in recent years that attempts have been made to come to terms with the reality of French conduct during the Nazi occupation.
A nation shamed - Extent of French collaboration with the Nazis
The Sorrow and the Pity is one of the greatest films about the Nazi occupation of France. But when director Marcel Ophüls submitted the completed over 4-hour documentary in 1969, the station refused to screen it. Not because of its length, but because of its disturbing content. Network head told a government committee that the film "destroys myths that the people of France still need". The documentary painfully showed the extent of French collaboration with the Nazis.