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Les Bleus, Le Collabo et Le Execution

We’ve become immune to the stories we hear every day about professional athletes who get into trouble with the law. Their crimes range from acts of violence to murder and everything in-between.

Our story today is about one of these athletes. He was a French footballer. In other words, he played soccer. His saga starts with the first World Cup in 1930 and ends fourteen years later with his execution at the hands of the French Resistance. He was a well-known and vicious Nazi collabo (collaborationist).

Meet Our Villian

Alex Villaplane. Photo by anonymous (c. 1930).
Alex Villaplane. Photo by anonymous (c. 1930).

Alexandre Villaplane (1905–1944) was born in Algiers and between 1921 and 1935 played football (i.e., soccer) for various French club teams. Known for his vicious tackling and headers, Villaplane’s greatest achievement was on the pitch (i.e., field) playing for the French national team (known as Les Bleus or The Blues). The national team kit (i.e., uniform) is red, white, and blue. Unfortunately, by 1944, Villaplane was wearing a different uniform and was better known for his cruelty, blackmail, and murders.

Learn more about The 1930 World Cup

Official poster of the 1930 Football World Cup in Uruguay. Illustration by Guillermo Laborde (c. 1930). PD-70+ Wikimedia Commons.
Official poster of the 1930 Football World Cup in Uruguay. Illustration by Guillermo Laborde (c. 1930). PD-70+ Wikimedia Commons.

The first FIFA World Cup was played in Uruguay between 13 to 30 July 1930 and consisted of thirteen teams including France and the United States (yep, you read this correctly and here’s the other shocker—the United States national team came in third).

Alex-Villaplane-001
Alex Villaplane, top right, lines up as France captain for the game against Mexico at the 1930 World Cup. Photo: EMPICS (July 1930).

Villaplane was named captain of the French National World Cup team, Les Bleus. France was one of four teams in Group 1: Argentina, Chile, and Mexico rounded out the group. On 13 July 1930, he led the team to its only victory of the 1930 World Cup—a 4 to 1 score over Mexico. The next two games (against Argentina and Chile) were both 1 to 0 losses. Only Argentina broke out of the group stage and advanced to the knockout stage. Ultimately, Uruguay would beat Argentina in the finals with a score of 4 to 2. The World Cup was ultimately seen as the highlight of Villaplane’s football career. After this, his club career went into a downward spiral. Read More Les Bleus, Le Collabo et Le Execution

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Twenty Years After the End of World War II: Dutch Memories

Unknown Soldier Cross. Photo by Visserp (2013). PD-CCA-Share Alike 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.
Unknown Soldier Cross. Photo by Visserp (2013). PD-CCA-Share Alike 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Posting this blog on or near the fifth of each May has been a tradition for me.

Liberation Day (also known as Freedom Day) for Holland was 5 May 1945. Canadian forces along with other Allied forces were able to obtain the surrender of German forces in the small Dutch town of Wageningen. This led to the complete surrender and liberation of the country.

NETHERLANDS AMERICAN CEMETERY (MARGRATEN)

American World War II Cemetery in Margraten, The Netherlands. Photo by Kees Verburg (2014). PD-CCA-Share Alike 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.
American World War II Cemetery in Margraten, The Netherlands. Photo by Kees Verburg (2014). PD-CCA-Share Alike 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

There is a cemetery near Maastricht. It is the final resting spot for 8,301 American soldiers and a memorial for the 1,722 men missing in action. They were the casualties of Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) and other battles aimed at liberating Holland. Operation Market Garden was a failed Allied attempt to liberate Holland on their path to Berlin. Other military cemeteries are located nearby for the British and Canadian men who did not survive the battle.

John J. Lister killed in action on 7 April 1945 – 48 Infantry Batalion – 7th Armored Division – C Company. Photo by Erfgoed in Beeld (2006). PD-CCA-Share Alike 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.
John J. Lister killed in action on 7 April 1945 – 48 Infantry Batalion – 7th Armored Division – C Company. Photo by Erfgoed in Beeld (2006). PD-CCA-Share Alike 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Individual Dutch families have adopted every man who perished in the battle. Each man’s grave is kept up and decorated by their adopted family. Even a portrait of their adopted soldier sits in their respective homes. Read More Twenty Years After the End of World War II: Dutch Memories