Thursday, April 06, 2006

Executions, Torture, Recriminations


We live in a little village called Cherves Chatelars. It has a cafe, a bakery and a hairdressing salon. There is a Salle de Fetes, a church, a school, a Marie, a square for playing boules. It is in the Charente Limousine, middle of nowhere, on one side of a green valley. It is pastoral and quiet.

But during the Second World War France was divided into 2 parts: German-occupied France and Vichy France. The occupied portion was the North half of the country and the Atlantic coast. The frontier split the Charente in half and Cherves found itself in Vichy France only 12 kilometres (8 miles) from the border.

It was an ideal base for resistance fighters (maquis) to strike tagets on the German side and then retire and hide in the woods and farms. In the summer of 1943 Andre Chabanne formed the Maquis "Bir Hacheim".

Resistance was a bloody nasty business with people being denounced to the Germans, tortured, executed or deported.

After the Normandy landings, with the Germans in retreat across France the reprisals began. People were accused of collaboration and punished. This was a vicious few months which France would rather forget.

There is some evidence that up to 50 people were executed by the maquis Bir Hacheim between July and August 1944 and over the next few days I'll post some of this history, with links and photos

Bear in mind that in war, the first casualty is Truth. Revisionist historians are keen to dig up this sort of thing because by showing that Allied countries executed people they can add weight to their denial of the Holocaust. Personally I don't see how showing that the French behaved poorly in the war puts the Nazis in a good light.


At 5:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw your blogg, but realise that you have not added anything for quite a while. however. We are very interested in the history of the resistance in this area and did do a little driving around to find some of the places mention in the literature (tourist office) but found no plaques or any signs of local recognition or pride. Our neighbor told us some interesting stories from the time and i wonder if you have seen any specific and individual stories on the resistance.
ps we live 1.5 km away from cherves chatelars
please let me know if you get this comment.
ps are you still working

At 9:42 pm, Blogger Stew said...

Annie -

Hi - I've just come off a day shift at the tile factory. Still there. Work gets in the way of blogging!

There's quite a few things round and about re the resistance.

Closest to Cherves, at the hamlet of Chatelars there is a plaque dedicated to the resistance put in place by the school children of Cherves. It is under a pine tree, opposite the the old Priory. The old Priory is where the Maquis Bir-Hacheim used to meet.
Then, in the hamlet of Fourgieres there is a plaque on a farmhouse to commemerate that it was there that Andre Chabanne met the founders of the Maquis to encourage them to form.

If your french is up to it, you should arange to meet Marcel Rassat, who lives in Chez Veyret. He's the oldest serving soldier in the area. he would have been very young during the war (His war service is Algeria) but he knew all the Maquis and has many tales to tell. He's quite a character, and a visit to his chaotic, dark and very rural farmyard will never be forgotten.

My last blog entry was about 2 weeks ago. Fear not, I'll be back in the saddle soon.

Feel free to call me on "oh-five four-five six-seven 1-nine nine-5" if you want to discuss resistance stuff further, or need any translating done, or an introduction to Marcel, or a visit to the Priory.




Post a Comment

<< Home