Posted on

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

Posted on

The French Gestapo

 

Flag of the Milice. Wikipedia
Flag of the Milice. Wikipedia

Why did the French government collaborate with the Germans during the four years of occupation? Why did the politicians carry out and many times exceed the German directives and expectations (especially for the deportations of Jews)? Why did French organizations form to terrorize their own citizens? Finally, why did individual French citizens denounce their fellow countrymen and women knowing full well the victims would likely not survive?

These are very complicated questions with no simple answers.

Two of the most feared collabo (collaborationist) French organizations were La Carlingue and the Milice.

The Bonny-Lafont Gang

93 rue Lauriston, Paris

Formally known as La Carlingue or the French Gestapo, this group of criminals was better known to the Parisians as the Bonny-Lafont Gang. The Nazis called them Active Group Hesse (after the Gestapo SD officer placed in the gang), Lauristondienst (Lauriston Service), the Gestapo française, or Bande de la Rue Lauriston.

After the Gestapo established itself in Paris, they formed two special units: the Intervention-Referat (teams of killers to do the jobs the Gestapo didn’t want to be identified with) and a unit of Frenchmen for training auxiliary agents. Members of these units were primarily convicted criminals purposely released from prison. One of the principal recruiters was a career criminal who could not read or write: Henri Chamberlin aka Henri Lafont (1902–1944). Read More The French Gestapo