Learning from the Resistance in Vichy, France

I really did not know where to begin this new article. I have written about the Occupation of Paris by the Nazis in Jewish Business News and the book I am reading about has detailed so much about the Vichy government during World War II. This is also a book about the resistance of the French people to the takeover of the Nazis. In Paris and throughout the occupied territory it was clearly the worser of the two situations. The Nazis under the armistice agreement were not allowed in Vichy, but those terms were never honored as their agents streamed in right away. That reminds me of the good ole USA during the 1930s when I was reading Hitler in Los Angeles and Hitler was waiting for his agents to strike a blow and overthrow our democracy. Vichy had two choices and the first choice that came to power under Marshall Pétain was the light version that did not last long. The resistance does remind me of the protests that have been going on throughout our nation and around the world as people seek justice. The second choice was draconian measures having nothing to do with a free society.

France gave the world the idea of Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité and that concept was replaced by the Nazis. In Vichy, France the theme was travaille, famille, and patrie (work, family, and country). There is, of course, a blending of those terms within our own nation with the problems it is now facing as it has always been. But things now are much worse under Trump.

But this history actually began, according to Lynne Olson and others, of course, in 1936 with the lack of preparedness of the French government. Just as I reported in the last article how Germany failed to calculate properly the damage being done of its Eastern Front, we see that the government and military commanders of France were wrong in expecting the Maginot Line to hold and Germany attacked through the Ardennes. Pétain who failed continued to hold power in his hands in Vichy afterwards which the French accepted. Franklin D. Roosevelt found out from Ambassador William Bullitt that the French leaders ”have accepted completely for France the fate of becoming a province of Nazi Germany.” So there was really plenty of time to react, but failed leadership gave Hitler the advantage.

Navarre whose real name was Georges Loustaunau-Lacau was one of two military men who opposed the French plan to defend France against an attack by Germany. The other officer who opposed was Charles de Gaulle. But to Madame Fourcade or Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, she called Georges “Navarre” for the rest of his life. The two men were rivals and de George would not even consent to their joining forces in the resistance movement. The help that Madame Fourcade and Navarre needed then came from Britain when its representative, Kenneth Cohen, a top intelligence official (who was Jewish) agreed to do whatever was possible to aid the resistance. England was alive and desperately in need of help.

Henri Rollin was a Frenchman in Vichy that seemed so out of his place at that time. A man who had been an opponent of anti-Semitism and who had written a book about The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was married to a Russian Jew. July 16-17, 1942 were the dates when the French Roundup of Jews took place in Paris and Henri Rollin and his wife met with Madame Fourcade in 1942 to ask her to discontinue her resistance efforts in France. Anti-Semitism led to the persecution of Jews in Vichy but that woman was shielded. So there were Jews around Hitler and Jews around Pétain.

The history provokes deep thinking about things as the time required deep thinking in the effort to defeat Nazism. Otherwise defeating Fascism could not have been possible. Consider this. The British attacked the French Navy of Vichy and killed twelve hundred French sailors on July 3, 1940 at Mers El Kébir in Northern Africa, blowing up the battleship Bretagne (Britain in English).  This ushered in a tremendous amount of hate and resentment of the British, particularly among the military in France and did not forebode well for drafting people into  the resistance. Navarre, one of the organizers of that resistance felt that recruitment could end up being “zero” and shatter the hopes of Frenchman who would resist. What was largely place was the great collaboration of veterans, military, and police with the Nazis as life went on throughout Vichy, but more and more men and women were found who joined various resistance groups. Protest was not possible, but resistance was and it was very dangerous.

Here at home today we observe a man who cannot lead our nation constantly talking about patriotism, reminding and praising his followers about their being the patriots. Invoking a low level of patriotism in the fight against COVID-19. His White House made a call to the Jewish community in March 2020 to explain to Jewish people who were not socially distancing in Brooklyn that their behavior was contrary to Jewish law. After that call very little happened to control things. That was the limited control that Trump had on the virus as the virus jumped from killing one or two to killing hundreds of thousands. So just as in the killing of over a thousand sailors in Vichy, people had to decide which side to be on and it was difficult to obtain unity. Vichy was resigned to become a part of the Reich and there were those who would not stand for it.

The limited freedom that the French had in Vichy in the beginning could be eliminated at any time that the Nazis were ready to do that. That was determined largely by how the war was going in Europe. Things were quite easy at first but by 1942 and the attack on the Soviet Union, people everywhere sensed that the Nazis (Fascists) could be defeated.

At one point in the book, there were several arrests including the arrest of Madame Fourcade’s mother. The stress she felt was incredible. That moment was also one of decision making. Would the resistance continue or would it fall apart or it be destroyed.  Madame Fourcade was given a decision to make. She was told by one of her agents that he was able to get the release of the agents by using 2 million francs. That moment got my attention and I spoke about it at home. A day later this was confirmed in the book. The man had only given the authorities 80,000 francs as the ransom for the agents and he had pocketed the rest.

Madame Fourcade was given an ultimatum since the Vichy agents knew about her and her operation which was to give up the struggle and join the other side.  She led them on to believe that she would comply with their wish. She knew that things were changing in Vichy from bad to worse and that the Nazis were taking over, but she chose Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity over what Vichy had offered, did a great job, and contributed immensely to the success of the Allies in the war against the Fascists. She did her best also to protect her agents from harm and death. Trump has done the opposite as he pushed for the economy to open when the highest form of patriotism was in order. Saving lives!

I have read about the formation of the KKK and how that was a money-making scheme. We have learned about the financial fraud in the news of the NRA or National Rifle Association. And last night I learned about a case that was recently closed for lack of evidence pertaining to the money as the agents in Washington, D.C. assigned to investigate Donald Trump could not gain enough evidence on $10 million that he transferred in 2016 to the Republican Campaign Committee, money that could have come from an Egyptian bank. The dictator of Egypt later had a meeting with Trump after the election results were in. Would Madame Fourcade have helped that investigation? She easily learned about the 1,920,000 francs that were fraudulently acquired by her agent by going to the source and asking the right question. There was corruption in France as that money was hidden and you can see how a Donald Trump might have handled that after what he did to Puerto Rico which was terminally ill after Hurricane Maria. And Puerto Ricans in his party accepted the slow flow of funds to the island.

So Pétain was given power after his mistakes. Trump has caused economic suffering and increased deaths during COVID-19 and his party wants him to have four more years. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and destroyed our airplanes that were not being protected, MacArthur who made the error continued to lead and provide lots of theatrics and showmanship to cover up his mistakes. I cite one such example of the fighting in the Pacific where the general’s right hand man, Willoughby said that the Japanese  would put up “stubborn, but not serious , enemy resistance” on Biak Island and that was far from the reality of the situation.  MacArthur’s spokesperson predicted 5,625 enemy troops and there were around 12,350 there. This turned out to be a brutal fight.

 And the beat goes on! The war against COVID-19 has become bigger and longer due to Trump’s tactical errors. This “patriot” should be patriotically dismissed from American political life or he could just fade away. Trump touted this and he touted that and we are still waiting and people are getting sick, sicker, and dying. And the beat goes on!

And this just came in and my readers know that I have been writing and warning about this for a long time.

Secret audio recordings detail how white supremacists seek recruits from military, police

Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY  1 hr ag

 Kim A TO

Kim Hjelmgaard   USA Today 1 hour ago

I am sure that there will be more about the French Resistance coming. We are resisting right now and we hope for the best on November 3, 2020. Trump has been whipping up his supporters to concentrate on attacking communism and socialism. The time has come to reject that and fight against fascists and white supremacists.

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