Sunday, August 24, 2014

Recollection: The Liberation of Paris in August 1944 (part 1)

This year 2014 is a year of war commemorations.  I already wrote posts on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War here in Georgia, then I wrote posts on the centennial commemorations in Paris for the beginning of World War I, and this week is the commemoration of the August 1944 liberation of Paris.  From 19 August through 25 August 2014 the city of Paris is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its Liberation during World War II.  Tomorrow, on Monday 25 August, 2014, there will be an official ceremony on the Place de l'Hotel de Ville (City Hall Plaza) where, for the first time, the President of France, the Prime Minister and the Paris Mayor will all be there to address the citizens.  On this same plaza, 70 years ago, General de Gaulle gave his famous speech "Paris ! Paris outragé ! Paris brisé ! Paris martyrisé ! Mais Paris libéré ! Libéré, par son peuple, avec le concours des armées de la France …."  (Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Freed by its people, with the support of the French Army ...)  Below are photos and postcards of that historic day (courtesy Mairie de Paris.)  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Anne Hidalgo, the first woman mayor of Paris, will talk there about the roles of women in the French Resistance during the war.  Below are women from the French Resistance walking in Toulouse in August 1944 next to a Resistance woman working on a rail sabotage.

Several Paris museums are having exhibits on the Battle for Paris.  The surviving veterans of the 2nd Armored Division (2e DB) of General Leclerc are being recognized and celebrated.  The 2e DB included men from 22 countries and many from Africa.  A special tribute is being paid to the fighters of the 9th Company from Chad, known as "Nueve" because it was made up of Spanish Republican volunteers.  It was the first regiment to enter Paris on 24 August 1944.  On Monday August 25, 2014, there will be a large sound and light show (video mapping) projected on the Hotel de Ville building re-enacting the day Paris was liberated followed by a public ball with a "swing" style orchestra.  On August 26, 2014, a remembrance mass at Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral will be celebrated with a special tribute to the city employees and elected officials who died for Paris.

I wrote this post under "Recollection" because I was there the day Paris was liberated.  I was 4 years old and can barely remember it, but I remember part of it.  Here is a picture of me with my dog Jade taken in Paris on 15 April 1944, four months before the liberation.

My mother, of course, talked to me often about this special day, as well as my grandfather, since I did not remember that much.  My granddad had a collection of postcards and photographs from the war.  In addition, the photos I show on this post are courtesy of the City of Paris archives, the Library of Congress and Wikimedia Commons.

The liberation of Paris lasted from 17 August, 1944, to 25 August, 1944, when the occupying German garrison surrendered.  Paris had been occupied by the Germans since the fall of the city on June 14, 1940.  A puppet French state had been set up with its capital in Vichy.  On June 17, 1940, General Charles de Gaulle moved to London, England.  On 18 June, 1940, de Gaulle talked to the Resistance and French people from the BBC radio.  On 28 June, 1940, Winston Churchill recognized general de Gaulle as the head of the Free French.  De Gaulle established a political headquarter in Algiers, Algeria, and a military staff in London.  He kept speaking to the French people from London, via the air waves, urging them to keep fighting and resist Nazi and Vichy rule.  He went on leading the French government in exile and the Free French Forces (FFI) (made up of French soldiers in Britain and men and women from the Resistance) until the liberation.

On August 10, 1944, the railway and Metro staff went on strike, followed by the police and post office workers on 13 August.  The city was on a standstill with 20 minutes of electricity per day.  The head of the German occupation of Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz secretly started the evacuation of some of his staff, but he still authorized, on August 11, the arrest of several Jews.  On August 15, 1944, the news came to Paris that a second Allied landing had successfully happened on the coast of southern France.  This energized the Parisians.  On 16 august, 1944, 35 young high-school students who had just joined the FFI were betrayed by a Gestapo agent.  Von Choltitz had then executed by his soldiers in the Bois de Boulogne (machine-gunned and finished off with hand grenades.)  Spontaneous fighting happened all over the city, in the Latin Quarter, near the Louvre, etc. 

On 18 August, 1944, Colonel Rol-Tanguy, head of the Paris underground French Resistance, or French Forces of the Interior (FFI) launched an order of insurrection.  The FFI and the citizens of Paris started attacking their German occupiers.  Some of the fighting was violent.  The 2,000 to 3,000 policemen on strike took arms and on 19 August invaded the Prefecture of Police, their former headquarters - the first official building to be liberated, then more buildings were liberated.  The FFI and citizens had few arms and had to deal with 20,000 well equipped German soldiers with 80 tanks, 23 cannons, and more.  Posters were placed all over Paris urging the Parisians to fight.

The posters above asked the Parisians to take arms, to place French flags on windows, to do everything possible to stop the enemy from moving within Paris by sabotage, harassment, building barricades, cut trees, puncture the tires of German vehicles, attack isolated Germans, to create as much havoc as possible and show courage and heroism.  Men, women and children responded by building barricades everywhere.  My mother helped build one on our street, rue Condorcet at the crossing of rue Turgot (my father could not as he had been gravely injured in the war.)  She bought a photo of our barricade from the local photographer, and I still have it.  I scanned it, front and back below, showing my mum's writing.  (Click on photos to see better.)

I do remember these barricades as they were such an unusual sight in Paris.  The Parisians responded enthusiastically to the call for insurrection.  Men, women and children used wooden carts to move the materials needed for the barricades.  In the center of Paris 600 barricades were built to fight against the German army.

My mother would constantly urge me not to look up, to the rooftops.  There the "milice" or Vichy collaborators, auxiliary of the Gestapo and German forces, had snipers taking aim at random citizens.  I remember watching some from our apartment dining-room window - one was standing in front of the window below.  I don't have a picture from the 1940s but the photo below is one I took in the 1950s - the roofs looked the same.

Civilian vehicles were painted with camouflage paint and marked with the FFI emblem.  There were thousands of Resistance members in Paris.  They would use these vehicles to transport ammunition and orders from barricade to barricade and to bomb gasoline depots.  Women on the top right picture below are helping to move cobblestones in rue des Martyrs, not far from our apartment.

Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, nicknamed "Leclerc" was a French officer who escaped twice from German prisons.  He went to Britain to meet de Gaulle and to fight with the Free French.  De Gaulle sent Leclerc to Africa to lead battles there.  In 1943 the forces under Leclerc's command were re-equipped by the Americans and transformed into the 2nd Division Blindee (2nd Armored Division - 2eDB.)  This division was formed in London with the goal of leading the liberation of Paris during the Allied invasion of France in order to have an important French formation in situ at the re-occupation of Paris.  On August 21, 1944, Rol-Tanguy, the head of the Paris Resistance/FFI, sent an envoy to advise Leclerc that if reinforcements did not come soon "the Parisian insurrection will be drowned in blood."  Below are photos of FFI and civilians fighting.

On that same day, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, told de Gaulle (who had just arrived in France to meet with him) that he did not consider Paris a primary objective, that Paris would be bypassed.  American General Omar Bradley wrote in his memoirs about Paris, that it was "nothing more than an ink spot on our maps to be bypassed as we headed toward the Rhine."  Because of politics and tactics the Allied Command had very early decided to defer liberation of the city.  De Gaulle insisted, warning that if no help was given to the Parisians and the FFI soon, the city was doomed and it would be a disaster.  Below is a photo of General Leclerc and his staff waiting in Rambouillet for orders to bring his 2eDB into Paris.

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt "hated de Gaulle so fiercely that he was almost incoherent on the subject."  (from a book by Robert Dallek on FDR.)  FDR was dismissive of de Gaulle's requests of "legitimate French rights."  Since 1942 FDR and his governemtn had decided that French General Giraud would be the one that they would work with to liberate France.  FDR even had de Gaulle under surveillance.  But General de Gaulle sent a letter to General Eisenhower threatening to break away from the Allied Command with his Free French Army and the Resistance/FFI and send his own orders to Leclerc's 2e DB to go into Paris.  Because of this letter, on August 22, 1944, General Eisenhower did reconsider and finally agreed to let the 2e DB proceed with the support for the liberation of Paris, escorted by the 4th American Infantry Division.  Skirmishes in Paris were high on that day, August 22, 1944, with 800 to 1,000 FFI killed and 1,500 wounded.  (photo below courtesy Raymond Vanker.)

Part two coming up in my next post.  More to come.....

Monday, August 18, 2014

Local food in Appalachian hills ... and more

My last post was pre-programmed as last week I drove to Tennessee, near Nashville, to my daughter and her family's home.  My husband had been staying there for two weeks enjoying our four grandchildren.  The week-end before I arrived they all had driven to Columbus, Ohio, to visit my husband's sister and her family.  On the way back to Nashville they stopped at the 364-acre (147 ha) Kings Island Park, east of Cincinnati.  It is advertized as the largest amusement park in the Midwest, with "thrilling" rides (I have never been in this park.)  There is even a, somewhat, replica of the Eiffel Tower there.  Below on the right is my husband with the grandchildren.  Our daughter is on the left holding our granddaughter and the young au-pair French lady from New Caledonia is on the right.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

The grandchildren have so much energy - they kept my husband busy.  We had not seen them since last March and could tell that they had grown.

When it was time to go back home, I decided to drive on some Tennessee back roads for part of the trip.  From Murfreesboro, TN, we went to the little town of Beersheba Springs, TN.  I had read that it had been a resort in the 19th century.  In 1854, a rich Louisiana planter had bought property there and built a luxury hotel to accommodate 400 guests, cabins and stores.  French chefs cooked for the guests and music from New Orleans entertained them.  The hotel declined after the Civil War and in 1940 was purchased by the Methodist Church as a retreat and for summer camps.  There is a yearly arts and crafts festival there.  The resort area has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Below are photos and postcards of the hotel, with the current view at the bottom right, but now the town is tiny with only 477 inhabitants and it is hard to imagine it as a "resort."

The area is very hilly with narrow roads curving up and down.  The hills are not tall mountains but still when you get to the top and see all the hills surrounding you and the valleys way down below, it seems that we are pretty high.  It is difficult to take pictures because there are no places to stop and it is dangerous to stand by the road - it would be easy to tumble down if a car came by, but there were hardly any vehicles on the roads.  In the valley tall corn and other crops were surrounding us.

These hills are part of the Appalachian mountain range.  The name comes from the Apalachees, a Native tribe who used to inhabit the area.  This mountain system is very old, formed about 480 million years ago as a result of tectonic movement.  It is the oldest chain of mountains in North America and located mostly in the US apart for a small part extending into south-eastern Canada and France.  Yes, France, but France in North America.  Most people do not know that France is in North America in the northwestern ocean, facing Newfoundland, in the small islands of St Pierre et Miquelon.  We visited the islands in August 2008 and I wrote several posts about it (click on the post titles to read them) - Destination St Pierre et Miquelon, part one, then part two,  and part three, and lastly the final part.  Below are some pictures I took while at St Pierre et Miquelon where the hilly Appalachian terrain can be seen.

The Appalachian system of mountains extends for almost 2,000 miles (3,200 km) with a width of from 100 to 300 miles (160 to 480 km) wide.  It spreads from Newfoundland and Labrador province in Canada to central Alabama in the USA.  The mountain used to be as high as the Alps or the Rocky Mountains but they eroded and now the average height is 3,000 ft.  In addition to the provinces in Canada (Newfoundland-Labrador, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc.) and France (St Pierre et Miquelon) the mountains cover parts of the US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.  Most of the range of the Appalachian Mountains is covered with thick and extensive forest (evergreen, spruce, birch, oak, beech, etc.)  When you drive to the top of hills the view is very scenic.

Our little Kennesaw Mountain (1,000 feet high/300 m) is part of the Appalachian chain.  I took the photo below about 12 miles from the mountain coming back from a grocery store.

Hikers can walk the Appalachian Trail or Appalachian National Scenic Trail which is about 2,200 miles long (3,500 km.)  A while back I was at the place where it ends, or starts, in the North Georgia mountains.  It extends to Mount Katahdin, in Maine.  The top 4 pictures below were shot in Georgia (photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

From Beesheba Springs we drove down Highway 56-S to Tracy City.  We went up and down hills and winding mountain roads at least 3 times.  We stopped in Tracy City, in the foothills of Monteagle, as I had read that the oldest family bakery in Tennessee was located there.  We parked on the side of the building, facing some large squashes on a rack.  Across the road was the Tracy City Police Department and City Hall (population about 1,500.)  No one was around.

We entered the Dutch Maid Bakery, established in 1902.  At first, it is difficult to concentrate as the shop is full of baked goods, antiques, Americana, photographs, signs, vintage objects, etc.  In the center of the room were tables with small cakes and sample plates.  On the side were racks of breads - salt rising, sour dough, whole wheat, old world rye and more.  Cookies were displayed on top and inside glass display cases.

We sampled some of the little cakes.  My husband decided on chocolate chip cookies and I choose several of the small cakes in addition to a loaf of salt rising bread.  Fudgy brownies were just coming out of the oven, so we purchased one as well.

Two of the cakes I purchased were the Mixed Berry Mountain Moonshine cake and the Apple Pie Moonshine cake.  You could sure taste the liquor in the cakes!  When I came to the US I did not know what "moonshine" was.  Moonshine is high-proof distilled spirits, produced illegally, mostly during Prohibition (1920-1933.)  In Appalachia distillers produced moonshine (mostly corn mash) at night so as not to be detected.  Moonshine has many nicknames: white lightning, mountain dew, Tennessee white whiskey, hooch, city gin, skull cracker, ruckus juice, mule kick, panther's breath, cool water, happy Sally, wild cat, jump steady and many more.  It was a big industry in the backwoods of the Tennessee hills as well as other part of Appalachia such as Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, etc.  Government prosecutors would arrest bootleggers when found, send them to jail and destroy their still.  Below is a postcard of a still and two old photos from Grundy County, Tennessee, where both Beersheba Springs and Tracy City are located.

In the 1950s moonshining was widespread in the Southern states.  From 1954 to 1974 Federal Agents destroyed 72,000 stills in the Deep South!  Now you can legally purchase some moonshine brands but distillers are still producing it in large quantities, illegally.  In 2009, an 82-year old woman from North Carolina, was arrested for distributing moonshine out of her child day care center.  Two brothers were arrested, also in 2009, for producing 929 gallons of moonshine.  On the map below you can see the approximate route, in red, we took from our daughter's house outside of Nashville, to our home.  I circled number 44 which is the location on the map of the Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City.

We were so tired when we arrived home that we did not eat supper - just a couple of peaches.  The next morning we had a large breakfast at the J. Christopher restaurant - actually it was too large as we took half of it home.  My husband had the Route 66 Skillet: corned beef hash and oven-roasted potatoes capped with sunny-up eggs and an English muffin.  I had the J."Grits'-opher's" a bowl of cheddar grits topped with bacon and served with a biscuit.

In the afternoon we had a cup of tea, served in our new St. Petersburg, Russia, mugs and slices of the Mixed Berry Mountain Moonshine cake.  We kept the other moonshine cake, the maple cake, brownie and cookies for another day.

At the bakery, Appalachian local food maps were given, called Bon Appetit Appalachia!  I took one.  It shows the locations, in the Appalachia areas, of farmer markets, farm-to-fork restaurants, farm tours, festival and events, vineyards and wineries, craft breweries and spirits.  They have a site online and it is active - you can click on a number in a state and see what is offered at that location - click here to have a look.

We will certainly use this map again.  While looking online I saw that the historic Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City has a small YouTube video showing how they make their moonshine cakes.  The owner of the bakery does not give out the recipe.  I guess I am going to have to find some moonshine and bake my own version as Tracy City is a bit far away.  At the beginning and the end of the video you can see the roads and hills around Tracy City.  Here it is below.

It must have rained in Georgia while we were away as our plants in containers looked gorgeous.  Also some unknown mushrooms sprout up outside the kitchen window.  Anyone knows what type they are? Good to eat?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A magazine request ... and more

This post is starting with the "...more" of the title and is another eclectic post.  Now that the Tour de France is over, life is returning to a normal routine.  I found some lovely apricots at the market, so I made some jam - spiced apricot.

Later I found some good looking raspberries - so made more jam.

My husband is with our daughter and her family, near Nashville, Tennessee, for a couple of weeks.  They traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to see his side of the family.  Our other daughter, who lived in Memphis, Tennessee, moved to Sacramento, California, last April.  Then, before we could go and visit her there, her company promoted her and she had to move again, back to Atlanta this time.  But wait - as soon as she arrived they sent her on business to Florida and Pennsylvania, even before the furniture had arrived in Georgia.  I have been feeding her cats.  Last week while driving on my way back from her town home I saw an "estate sale" sign.  I stopped to have a look.  It was a good sale, with a lot of stuff and inexpensive.  I know I should not look at books anymore because I have so many - but I did.  I only bought 3 books - a book by George Orwell on Dickens, Dali & Others, and another by Eudora Welty "The Golden Apples."

The third book is large.  It is called "Year: Mid-Century Edition, 1900-1950 - The Dramatic Story of 50 Turbulent Years in 2,000 Pictures, 100,000 words.  A Permanent Record of All the Important National and World Events."  I should learn a thing or two from it.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

I paid a total of $5 for these three books (or 3.72 Euros.)  I checked online to see if I made a good deal - the 1946 first edition of the Orwell book is valued at about $30.  The Year book at about $10 but the deal is the first edition Welty book.  In good condition with a dust jacket it starts at $50.  CDs were also for sale, two for $1.  I did get several in a variety of music styles.  So far I have only listened to the Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson Trio CD - it sounds very good.  I like the cut "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.)

Other purchases were a retro coffee pot - an advertisement for Sanka decaf coffee ($2) and a vintage ceramic salt cellar, made in Czechoslovakia ($2.)  I'm using the little coffee pot while I am alone (but dark roast coffee, not decaf.)  I'll use the salt cellar not for salt, as I don't use much, but to keep my little match boxes handy.

I could not resist that delicate bone china cup from England ($5.)  The lacy tablecloth was also a good deal at $4.

I was pleased with my purchases and then stopped at a new pizza restaurant.  It is called "Uncle Maddio's."  I had a thin crust, extra crispy, Portabella Pesto Pizza: herb pesto sauce, mozzarella, portabella and white mushrooms, feta cheese, Roma tomatoes and fresh basil.  It was tasty and filling - I took half of it home for my dinner.

I am missing watching the Tour de France.  I found out that next year it will start in the Netherlands, in Utrecht.

It's time for some of my observations.

Some of my blogging friends, last year and also this year, have commented that they do not watch the Tour de France anymore because some of the cyclists used drugs such as Lance Armstrong.  As a fan of Lance Armstrong, I was deeply disappointed with him.  It is disheartening to cheer an athlete and then find out that he did not win on his own merit but with the use of drugs or other external means.  There are close to 200 cyclists in the Tour de France each year and most of them are hard working professional who are tested very often.  The Tour de France association is at the forefront on the fight against doping and has made great efforts to eradicate it from the sport.  They perform numerous checks throughout the year and during the race which is the reason why the public has been made aware of the problem.  I enjoy watching the Tour and won't stop because some have been found to use drugs.  It has hurt them, their families and the sport.  For the same reason I keep watching the Olympic Games even though several athletes have tested positive for drugs.

I just checked to find a list of doping cases in professional sports, and there are so many names listed that they are in alphabetical order.  You can check it here on Wikipedia - List of doping cases in sport.  If you click on A for Armstrong, you will see that his name is there but also names of athletes convicted of doping in swimming, boxing, water polo, cricket, wrestling, weightlifting, drag racing, tennis, football (soccer,) shooting, rugby, volley ball, ski jumping, auto racing, American footbal, baseball, boccia, etc.  and this list is just for the athletes whose names start with the letter A!  Using this same logic as for the Tour de France then people should not be watching football, soccer, baseball and tennis anymore.  How about drugs used by musicians, writers, actors etc.?  Same logic applies - no more listening to music, reading books or going to the movies?  I don't think so but it's the same analogy, isn't it?  But there may be other views and opinions on this subject, and that is fine with me.

Some bloggers have beautiful gardens and I love looking at their photos.  Unfortunately, we have a mass of trees, much shade, hard Georgia clay and rocks.  This year again my husband planted some annuals and herbs in containers.

 The view above is of the back yard.  We are not in a subdivision or have neighbors close by so I can place my laundry on the line to dry.  The caladium grew very tall but the basil looks pitiful (on top in photo below.)  In the front yard however the basil is growing nicely (pictured at the bottom below.)  I don't know what happened - same basil.

In the front yard, just like the basil, the plants are growing strong and lush.  The Torenia plant (Torenia fournieri) is a profuse bloomer with a multitude of little upturned violet flowers (the plant is deer resistant as well.)  The green coleus almost looks artificial and the curly caladium has beautiful patterns.  The wild periwinkles are everywhere.  I like their name in French - "pervenche."

In the front yard is a horde of little crawling insects.  If you touch them, they curl up.  They are about 2 cms (1 inch) long and if by chance you step on one it sounds like you walked on a potato chip - a crusty sound.  Does anyone know what they are and if they are good or bad for plants?  They are at the top of the containers also but the plants look healthy.

Now about the magazine request: about a month or so ago I received an email from the photo editor of the magazine "Civil War Times."  They had planned a small story on Allatoona Pass in Georgia for their October issue and were asking if they could use my photograph.  You may remember my photo; it was at the top of my post of November 20, 2013 called "Hiking on historic Allatoona Pass Trail" - click here to see it.  They used my photo for their article.  My post on the pass trail was much longer (as usual) than their story.  A copy of the magazine was courteously sent to me so I could see my picture.

 Civil War Times magazine contains many period photos, eyewitness accounts, maps, travel guides, biographies and more.  For people interested in that historic time period, this magazine is a great source of fascinating stories.  I read only part of the magazine, so I'll go now and keep on reading.

Woman reading in a garden, by Peder Severin Kroyer, Danish, 1851-1909

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