While it’s not hard researching the Nazi occupation of Paris, sometimes it can be difficult reading about it. There are so many stories of the Nazis’ brutality, viciousness, and policies that you sit back and wonder how human beings could turn into such monsters (and for many, taking pride and pleasure in their actions). Yet just when you don’t want to continue that line of research, you run across stories of people who, despite knowing death awaited them if caught, acted with kindness, bravery, and unselfishness.
This is one of those stories.
Nancy Wake (1912–2011) was one of the most remarkable women during World War II. The French Resistance primarily used women as couriers or perhaps radio operators but not Nancy Wake. She wanted and demanded a role beyond those duties. Nancy would eventually become the leader of more than 7,000 maquisards (Le Maquis) and that was during her second phase of resistance activities (more on that later). Her reputation was built during the early years of the occupation based on her exploits, which earned her a Gestapo code name and a sizeable bounty on her head.
Nancy began her resistance activities almost immediately after the Germans began their occupation of France. She had moved to Paris from New Zealand (via New York and London) during the 1930s. By 1937, she had met and would eventually marry Henri Fiocca (1893–1943), a wealthy French industrialist living in Marseille, France. Read More The White Mouse
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 duJeu 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.
Stew takes you on a walking tour of buildings, places, and sites significant to the theme of each of his books. But most importantly, you will learn the intricate stories of the people and places that many other tours do not.
Stewart Ross’ book is full of interesting documents and research, it put you well on the tracks of Marie Antoinette, Danton, Robespierre and many more, whether in Paris or in Versailles, extremely interesting and easy to read!
Raphaelle Crevet | Certified Tour Guide, Paris, France
Mr. Ross brings the streets of Paris to life, making it possible for you to stand on the very spots where the grand and tragic events of the French Revolution took place. If you are looking for more than just the typical tourist experience in Paris, then this book is must reading!