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The Sussex Plan and a Very Brave Woman

Insignia of Plan Sussex 1944. Photo by Sussex 44 (2016). With gratitude to Dominque Soulier and Collection SUSSEX 1944 – MM PARK – 67610 La Wantzenau. PD-Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0. Wikimedia Commons.
Insignia of Plan Sussex 1944. Photo by Sussex 44 (2016). With gratitude to Dominque Soulier and Collection SUSSEX 1944 – MM PARK – 67610 La Wantzenau. PD-Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Remember the “rabbit hole” I talked about in a recent blog post (Curious George Flees the Nazis)? Well, I went down the rabbit hole for a week and popped back up with the relatively forgotten story of The Sussex Plan and its one hundred twenty brave agents. What initially grabbed my attention was the address in Paris of an established safe house used to shelter more than forty agents. It will be a stop in my new book.

The story and memory of The Sussex Plan and its agents are kept alive by Dominique Soulier and the MM Park France Museum (twelve miles north of Strasbourg France). M. Soulier is the son of Georges Soulier, a former Sussex Plan agent.

SOE and Resistance Efforts

By mid-1943 the Nazis had successfully infiltrated and crippled the efforts of the British run Special Operations Executive (SOE) organization (blog post: Women Agents of the SOE). The same could be said for some of the larger French resistance networks when their leaders were arrested, interrogated, and tortured. If these men and women survived the torture, they were either killed by the Gestapo, committed suicide, or deported under the Nacht und Nebel decree (blog post: Night and Fog).

About this time, General Eisenhower and Prime Minister Churchill had agreed upon an invasion of Europe for some time in 1944. To plan properly for the invasion, Eisenhower needed information on German troop movements and other surveillance facts, particularly in northern France. However, the SOE and its agents in France could not be counted on to accomplish what was needed. So British MI6 created a new organization called The Sussex Plan and its mission was to gather information to assist in the planning of D-Day. Read More The Sussex Plan and a Very Brave Woman

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The Monuments Woman

Cover of Rose Valland: Resistance at the Museum. Author: Corinne Bouchoux. England: Laurel Publishing, 2013.
Cover of Rose Valland: Resistance at the Museum. Author: Corinne Bouchoux. England: Laurel Publishing, 2013.

Almost sixty years after the end of World War II, the French government formally recognized Rose Valland (1898–1980) for her efforts as a Résistant during the Nazi Occupation of Paris between 1940 and 1944. A plaque was placed on the south wall of the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume (the Jeu de Paume museum) commemorating Rose’s role in saving precious art stolen by the Germans.

Rose and her boss, Jacques Jaujard (1895–1967), were responsible for ensuring 100% of the Louvre artwork was returned to the museum. Jaujard convinced the Germans to keep their hands off of public or state owned art. Rose was responsible for directing the Americans and British to the various sites in Germany where the Germans had stored the tens of thousands of pieces of artwork stolen from French private collections and other occupied countries.

The Monuments Men

Many of us are familiar with the story of a small group of men who, in the latter stages of World War II, were given the responsibility for identifying cultural works of art, protecting these priceless items from destruction by advancing armies, and tracking down the art stolen by the Nazis. These men were called The Monuments Men.

The movie The Monuments Men was based on Robert Edsel’s best seller The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. It is a fascinating story of the efforts of these men and one woman.

One of the real heroes of this monumental task was a French art historian, art curator, and member of the French Resistance. Rose Valland was also a spy operating right under the noses of the Nazis.

Rose Valland was The Monuments Woman. Read More The Monuments Woman