3 August 1944

3 August 1944


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3 August 1944

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Burma

Chinese troops capture Myitkyina



Hundreds of Jews are freed from forced labor in Warsaw

On August 5, 1944, Polish insurgents liberate a German forced-labor camp in Warsaw, freeing 348 Jewish prisoners, who join in a general uprising against the German occupiers of the city.

As the Red Army advanced on Warsaw in July, Polish patriots, still loyal to their government-in-exile back in London, prepared to overthrow their German occupiers. On July 29, the Polish Home Army (underground), the People’s Army (a communist guerilla movement), and armed civilians took back two-thirds of Warsaw from the Germans. On August 4, the Germans counterattacked, mowing down Polish civilians with machine-gun fire. By August 5, more than 15,000 Poles were dead. The Polish command cried to the Allies for help. Churchill telegraphed Stalin, informing him that the British intended to drop ammunition and other supplies into the southwest quarter of Warsaw to aid the insurgents. The prime minister asked Stalin to aid in the insurgents’ cause. Stalin balked, claiming the insurgency was too insignificant to waste time with.

Britain succeeded to getting some aid to the Polish patriots, but the Germans also succeeded-in dropping incendiary bombs. The Poles fought on, and on August 5 they freed Jewish forced laborers who then joined in the battle, some of whom formed a special platoon dedicated solely to repairing captured German tanks for use in the struggle.

The Poles would battle on for weeks against German reinforcements, and without Soviet help, as Joseph Stalin had his own plans for Poland.


3 August 1944 - History

Entry from the diary of an anonymous boy from August 3, 1944, in which he reflects on his impending deportation from the Łódź ghetto.

3/8 1944 [in English]

I write these lines in a terrible state of mind—we have, all of us, to leave Litz. Getto during a few days. When I first heard of it I was sure that this mean[t] the end of our unheard of martyrdom equatanously [together] with our lives, for we were sure that we should be “vernichtet” [annihilated] in the well known way of theirs. People were regretting that they didn’t die on the first day of the war. What for to have suffered five years of “ausrottungsKampf” [war of extermination]. Couldn’t they give us the “coup de grâce” in the very beginning?

But evidently some pressure on the part of the victorious allies must have had some effect on the brigands and they become more lenient—and [Hans] Biebow, the German Getto Chief, held a speech for the Jews—the essence of which was that this time they are not to be afraid of being dealt with in the same way all the other outsettled have been — because of a change in war conditions “und damit das Deutsche Reich den Krieg gewinnt, hat unser Führer befohlen jede Arbeitshand auszunützen” [and in order that the German Reich should win, our Führer has ordered to use every worker.] Evidently! The only right which entitle[s] us to live under the same sky with Germans—though to live as the lowest slaves, is the privilege of working for their victory, working much! and eating nothing. Really, they are even more abominable in their diabolic cruelty than any human mind could follow. He further said, “Wenn Zwang angewendet werden muss, dann überlebt niemand!” [If force has to be used, no one will survive!] He asked the crowd (Jewish) if they are ready to work faithfully for the Reich and every one answered “Jahwohl!” [Yes, indeed!]—I thought about the abjectedness of such as situation! What sort of people are the Germans that they managed to transform us into such low, crawling creatures, as to say “Jahwohl.” Is life really so worthy? Is it not better not [to] live in a world where there are 80 millions of Germans? O, [is] it not a shame to be a man on the same earth as the Ger-man? Oh! shabby, miserable human, your meanness will always surpass your importance!

When I look on my little sister, my heart is melting. Hasn’t the child suffered its [her] part? She, who fought so heroically the last five years? When I look on your cozy little room, tidied up by the young, intelligent, poor being, I am getting saddened by the thought that soon she and I will have to leave our last particle of home! When I come across trifling objects which had a narrow escape all the time — I am sad on the thought of parting with them - for they, the companions of our misery, became endeared to me. Now we have to leave our home. What will they do with our sick? With our old? With our young? Oh, God in heaven, why didst thou create Germans to destroy humanity? I don’t even know if I shall be allowed to be together with my sister! I cannot write more, I am terribly resigned and black spirited! 1


Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

I am seeking information on the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division in WWII. My great uncle, Arthur E Orcutt served in Company C, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, and was killed on August 3, 1944 in France. I have very little information through stories passed down in my family and that's it. I would love to trace his footsteps, find orders of battle, honesty any information to piece together his story. I also would love to work on getting his medals replaced. Not even sure what ones he might have had. Thanks in advance!

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

Hi Matt, if your uncle was killed overseas, you might want to begin by requesting his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF or burial case file) from the National Archives, if you haven't already done so. I have found that the information in these files varies, but it may give you some idea regarding the place and circumstances of his death.  At minimum he would have been awarded the Purple Heart. So there should be a record of that some where.

Another source of information would be his company's Morning Reports. These record the daily activities of an individual company or unit and are held at the St. Louis Archives. Hope this is of some help. joan

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

google book you can read online. Combat History of the Second Infantry Division. your uncle's name is in the book

A lot of information here about his unit

Good luck with your search

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII
Cara Jensen 28.05.2020 13:28 (в ответ на Matt Deome)

Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

We searched the National Archives Catalog and located a series titled the World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917-1981 (Record Group 407) that includes records of the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division during WWII. Records of lower echelon units, such as companies, sometimes were incorporated into the files of the regiment. For access to these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at [email protected]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

Additional information may be contained in his Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). For the IDPFs from 1940-1976 of personnel with surnames that begin with M-Z,  please write to U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Casualty & Memorial Affairs Operations Division, ATTN: AHRC-PDC, 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Department 450, Fort Knox, KY 40122-5405.

We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

As stated by Cara Jenson below the After Action Reports for the 9th IR are available and provided on a CD at a nominal cost.  I retrieved the AARs for the 23rd IR of the 2nd ID and they provided many details down to the battalion level, and sometimes Co. level.  Morning Reports at the Co. level provides mostly roster information like replacements, casualties, and sickness/injury.  Due to microfilming carbon copies and poor typing some are difficult or impossible to read, but most are pretty good.

Good luck. it is an interesting pursuit.

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

Dear Mr. Levline, please may I ask you from which period you have the AARs of the 23rd Infantry Regiment? Is it just June till September 1944? We would like to put together all Morning and After Action Reports to help families of veterans in their research. Did someone from your family serve in the 23rd Infantry Regiment? Maybe we have in our archive some documents that might be helpful for you as well. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

I have the After Action reports for the 23rd IR, 2nd ID for January through May, 1945.  My father was a replacement into the 23rd IR, Co. L.  I also have information on where in Pilsen he was billeted including the family name and address.  Please advise on what information I can provide to help you.

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

it is great to hear from you! I am really interested to know more about your father and his army service because men of the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment liberated my hometown Zbůch near Pilsen in May 1945. I even have pictures of men from Company M, 23rd IR in the village Líně next to us. To be honest, I must say that American soldiers like your father are still well remembered in the Czech Republic even after more than 40 dark years of communism in our country. Every time when I talk with the witnesses of the war they say: "Yes, I remember American soldiers, especially those with the Indianhead patch on their shoulders. The most friendly and kind. They were still cheerful and smiling. It was the happiest moment of my life."

Please, feel free to contact me. I am looking forward to seeing where your father was billeted. Also I can take pictures for you how it looks like now. We have some signed orders of the 3rd Bn, 23rd IR and what I know they were stationed mostly in Třemo&scaronná near Pilsen.

If you are interested, you can visit our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/MenOfThe2ndInfantryDivision/ We would be grateful for anything you would like to share with us. Unfortunately, we still do not have much information about Company L and only 6 names of Company L´s members in our database so anything can help us. 

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

As you probably know The 2nd ID (9th, 23rd, 38th IRs)  departed an area near Escarn, Germany on May 1, 1945 bound for Pilsen and the surrounding area.  The 23rd IR, 3rd Battalion basically followed Route 26 as they advanced toward Pilsen where they arrived on May 7th.

My dad, Robert E. Levline, was drafted on February 22, 1943, eventually serving in the Army Air Corps at Base Air Depot 1 near Warrington, England.  After the Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) he volunteered for the infantry and was assigned as a Browning Automatic Rifleman (BAR) in a squad of Co. L.

The picture was taken in Pilsen around the end of May or early June 1945.

He was billeted with the Edelmann family on Nerudova St. in Pilsen.  They had a son named Pauli.  Until 1948, when your "dark period" began, my family exchanged food and gifts with them.

Please let me know if I can provide any further information.

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

Thank you so much for sending your father´s picture. It's perfect! Also thank you for all the information you shared with me. I really appreciate it! Your father is a first example of a man who served in the Army Air Corps and volunteered for the infantry. I have never heard any story like that related to the 2nd Infantry Division. If you want I can try to find the Edelmann family. Do you still have any letters from them?

I have found the After Action Reports of the 23rd Infantry Regiment during my research. We want to visit and document exact locations in the Czech Republic where three members of the 23rd Infantry Regiment were killed in action - the last battle casualties of the 23rd IR during WWII. They were killed on May 5 and May 6, 1945. We have found so much information about them and also purchased the copies of their personal records from NARA which were really helpful. Unfortunately, the stories of these three men of the 23rd IR are almost forgotten so now our project team wants to commemorate these men and find out what exactly happened.

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

Hi Tomas, Vernon Hurley of the 23rd Infantry was killed on May 5, 1945 near Pilsen. Did your research find any information on him? Thank you!

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

Will NARA copy records onto DVD at charge? I’m trying to compile 2 ID WW2 records.  Despite probably clear instructions somewhere, is there a point of contact you’d recommend I talk to?

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

Dear Mr. Deome, thank you for sharing information about your great uncle. I am a historian from Pilsen, Czech Republic. Members of the 2nd Infantry Division helped to liberate my country at the end of war in May 1945. I am a co-founder of our project "Men of the 2nd Infantry Division" an online database of the 2nd ID´s members and also a community of veterans, families and fans of this Division in WWII. Our task is to preserve the legacy of all men who served in this famous Division. We had name of your great uncle in our database and now we finally know that he was a member of Company C. I made a short research and found several documents and information (including newspaper articles) that might be interesting for you. This is for example a part of S/Sgt. Hanford M. Rice´s diary. He served with your great uncle in Company C: August 3, 1944 (Thursday): "We attacked (again). Five men dropped out with combat fatigue. Stethem left so I took the 3rd platoon. (Enemy) artillery is falling like rain drops. (Those hit were) Captain Harvey, Pfc. Ed T. Niski, Pvt. Joseph F. Kelly, (Robt. L.) Perkins, (Elgin L.G. Bauer) Bower, Storey. (There are only) 16 men left in the 3rd platoon."

Re: Seeking records of 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in WWII

Hi Matt, The order of Battle for the 2nd Infantry Division is located at the following web site:


August 1944: Paris and Warsaw Uprisings - similarities and differences

August 1944 was marked by two uprisings in German-occupied countries. In both capitals of the respective states local resistance groups tried to liberate their capitals when allied forces were approaching these cities and German armies were in retreat.

While Paris was liberated after a short, more or less symbolic exchange of fire between German forces and the French Résistance, the uprising in Warsaw was suppressed in the most brutal way: cold-blooded murder of many civilans, soldiers of the Polish Home Army and the subsequent destruction of the Paris of the East.


Any thoughts why Paris managed to liberate itself in a couple of days while Warsaw was defeated and razed to the ground?

Larrey

Sam-Nary

The real difference between the two is that in the case of Paris, the Western Allies had forces that weren't going to obey orders NOT to take the city.

The Red Army wasn't going to disobey Stalin and thus let the Germans crush the uprising so that when the new Polish government was created after the war. it WOULD be Communist.

The Free French 2nd Armored Division wasn't going to stand by and watch the Germans raze their capital, no matter how much Ike wanted them to, and struck out for the city.

LordZ

Magnate

Larrey

The real difference between the two is that in the case of Paris, the Western Allies had forces that weren't going to obey orders NOT to take the city.

The Red Army wasn't going to disobey Stalin and thus let the Germans crush the uprising so that when the new Polish government was created after the war. it WOULD be Communist.

The Free French 2nd Armored Division wasn't going to stand by and watch the Germans raze their capital, no matter how much Ike wanted them to, and struck out for the city.

They also weren't going to risk standing by to see the Communists take the capital. A big reason the 2ème DB was dispateched was precisely because of the risk that the uprising might succeed, and then the Communists would have liberated Paris on their own. (And if they lost, then the Allies would have looked on as the Nazis were allowed to dispatch the Communists resistance, which also wouldn't be forgotten.)

De Gaulle's words to Leclerc before he set off was a reference to 1871: "The last thing we want is another Commune."

Antonina

Uhm, first of all Paris didn't "liberate itself", the Western Allies were just round the corner, two Allied divisions rolled into the city after a few days. The Germans made up their mind not to defend Paris and surrendered. Le Victoire.

Parisians had Allies nearby, Warsawers had a two enemies - one in the city (Germans), the other at the gates (Russians). Two former allies now turned enemies - Soviet Union and Nazi Germany - were in perfect accord as far as Poland was concerned. In September1939 Stalin had raised a toast to "Soviet-German friendship cemented in blood" (quote). The Nazi-Soviet friedship had since soured, but the old alliiance was indeed cemented in blood betwen 1 August -3 October 1944 on both sides of the river Visula during 63 day of the Warsaw Uprising.

Poland's Allies were far away and trembling lest auld aquaintance with their most loyal Polish Ally spoil their Grand Alliance with the Christian gentleman Uncle Joe.

The proverb les amis des nos amis sont nos amis didn't quite work out for us.


Part 3: August 1943 - 1944

“Another train journey, this time to Chittagong. At night, just outside the town, we stopped to let a train pass going the other way. It was full of wounded coming back from the front, and they shouted “Good luck” and “God help you!” to us, and called the Japs all kinds of names. At Chittagong we boarded a paddle steamer, about 50 years old, and sailed down the coast for several hours to a place called Cox’s Bazar.

We joined the 36th LAA Regiment, 1st East Surreys. Three of us were sent to B Troop 97 Battery, Number 1 Gun Detachment, about two miles down river by rowing boat. It was a Bofors like I’d trained on at Aldershot. We were in the 11th Army Group, 15th Indian Corps this was before the 14th Army had been formed.

With me on Number 1 Gun Detachment were:

Sgt TOM HOOK aged 24
BILL HOOK (Tom’s brother) aged 21
BOB MORTIMER aged 24
ERIC OSBORNE aged 25
BILL HOLMES aged 25
BILL HOUGHTON aged 26
DAVE THOMSON aged 27
TOM DEVLIN (driver) aged 25
TED SAUNDERS (cook) aged 29

They all came from the Hayes area in Middlesex except Thomson who was from Yorkshire, and Devlin who was, like me, from Liverpool. When the Sergeant shouted for ‘Bob’ we didn’t know whether he meant me or Mortimer, so they decided to call me Charlie, and throughout my time in the 36th LAA I was known as CHARLIE DUFF. This used to confuse the bloke who brought the mail, who asked one day why my letters had R. Duff on them. The Sergeant told him we couldn’t say as it was Top Secret!

Our gun was a mobile one towed by a 15cwt Chevrolet tractor. We could be in action in three minutes. When we couldn’t get the gun any further, because there was no road or the jungle was too dense, we would proceed as infantry. This was referred to as A Move and B Move. The gun fired 40mm or 2lb shells in clips of eight. We could fire 100 rounds in five minutes on automatic, or single shot.”

“Moved up to Tumbru Ghat by Bawli Bazar. Japs had moved up the Arakan Range, some were seen in Comilla and Chittagong, 90 miles behind us.”

“Moved up to Ngakyedauk Pass and arrived at 2am. There was machine gun and rifle fire all around us. We rushed to get the gun in action while Jap planes were dive bombing the road. The sandbags around the gun were split open by machine guns.

I was bleeding under my chin and on my right arm. I don’t know how it happened and didn’t feel anything at the time. The Sergeant said it could have been shrapnel. He used his field dressing to bandage my arm up. An officer came on a motorbike and told us to clear out back to Bawli Bazar. He asked if I could swim. When I said I could, he said if we couldn’t get the gun on the road to remove the breech block from it and swim across the river, as the British were going to blow up the bridge to cut off the Japs, and we wouldn’t have time to get the gun across.

When he’d gone I told the Sergeant what he said, and we decided to think for ourselves. We took the gun out of action, hooked it to the gun tractor and made our way to the bridge, which was about 5 miles down the ‘road’ — little more than a dirt track. We were ready to go when we realised that the road was full of refugees, and Indian soldiers who’d decided they’d had enough. We couldn’t get on to the road, so two of us stood in the road and held the traffic up, to get space to move the gun. We finally managed to get the gun and tractor on the road and travelled, at walking pace, about 5 miles to the bridge over the Bawli River.

Throughout this time we were being machine gunned and dive bombed by the Japs. We managed to cross the river and carried on over a mountain pass. At the top of the pass we had to cross a small bridge which had been partly blown away. It was at this time that the Sergeant jumped out to test the handbrake on the gun. We couldn’t stop and the gun went over his foot. The driver swerved and nearly went over the pass with us inside the tractor. We jumped out and found the front wheels of the tractor hanging over what was left of the bridge.

The Sergeant had to go to the First Aid station to get his foot attended to, so there were only 8 of us left and no Sergeant. At this point about 30 Jap planes came over and we were a sitting target, so we unhooked the gun and pushed it down the hill to a small clearing. We decided to leave 3 men with the gun, and the other 5 would go back and try to get the tractor back on the road.

I’d been trained on every position on the gun, so I said I’d stay, and the cook and one ammunition man stayed with me. We got the gun in action and I told the cook to lay on the aircraft vertical and the other fellow to lay horizontal. I stood up on the platform and loaded and fired single handed, with the other men laying the sights on the target as best they could in the hope of hitting something. I didn’t think we had much hope of a direct hit, but thought it might keep them up and stop them dive bombing the lads on the bridge.

There was a convoy of ammunition lorries on the road, so they had to take cover. All the drivers came over and asked if they could do anything to help. I said they could open the ammunition boxes and bring the shells over for me to feed into the gun. We had 100 rounds and fired 96 shells, keeping four back in case we were dive bombed again at least then we could fire the last four at them and go down fighting.

A Major came along on a motorbike and said we were doing a fine job and keep it up. He said we’d knocked the tail off one of the planes and I said it must have been sheer luck. The Japs moved away and bombed a hospital ship in the river. We managed to get the tractor back on the road and hooked the gun up. The other five guns in our troop were about 10 miles ahead of us. We caught up with them at the rendezvous at about 1am the following morning, having had nothing to eat or drink the whole time.

We had to report about firing the gun, and as we had fired it we had to boil out the barrel before we got anything to eat. It took over an hour to clear everything up and by this time all I wanted to do was sleep — I just dropped to the ground where I was.

Next day we travelled back to Tumbru Ghat where we had a gun sight on a small hill overlooking a big valley and deep jungle. Nothing much happened for about a week, then one morning we were on the gun, the barrel pointing out over the valley, when we saw two planes coming towards us. We couldn’t make them out at first, then we realised there were two more planes behind them. The first two turned out to be Hurricanes and they were being chased by two Zeros. We couldn’t fire until the Hurricanes went past us, once they were clear we opened up on the Zeros.

They were so low they only just missed the cookhouse. Unfortunately we didn’t. one of our shells took the roof off. Ted the cook was making breakfast, which came with added bamboo that morning.

C Troop were very inexperienced. They couldn’t seem to do anything right, and after blowing the back off a 15cwt truck full of troops reporting sick, they were kept out of everyone’s way. This particular morning they were about 10 miles back from us, and the Zeros were cruising along think they had escaped. Then C Troop spotted them. The Sergeant ordered automatic fire: they set it on single, fired one shot and scored a direct hit!

A few days later we moved again, back to Bawli Bazar then across the river and on to a place called Yen Yin. We built a dugout with some railway sleepers, and a ‘log cabin’ with a tarpaulin roof. There was a pool in the river nearby with a small wooden pier. Four of us went for a swim, two on guard with rifles and two in the water. I dived off the pier and found it was at least 20ft deep. Suddenly there was a terrific bang which nearly blew me out of the water. When I surfaced the lads were yelling at me to get out. I got to the bank - and then saw the two crocodiles. They had followed me into the water and the lads on guard had thrown a couple of hand grenades at them.

That night I was on guard with a bombardier. We were just about to be relieved at 1.30am when a 3 ton lorry full of Japs came along and stopped about 200 yards away. Of course we couldn’t do anything as we would give our position away. By this time the rest of the detachment were awake and in the gun pit. I was still 50 yards away in a trench with a Bren gun. One of the lads came over to take my place as I’d been there over two hours, and I managed to get back to the gun pit.

Before I was relieved the Jap patrol had tried to blow up some 3.7 inch guns belonging to the 8th Irish. A short distance from us there was some rifle fire and hand grenades exploding. A soldier from the 8th Irish jumped in a lorry full of ammunition, which was on fire, and drove it out of the way. He just managed to jump out before it went off with a hell of a bang.

Next morning we were just about to have some breakfast after being up all night, when we heard a whistle right above us. It was a Jap shell which landed just behind us, then came another which was much closer. At this point we dived for cover, and the shells kept coming until they reached the 8th Irish guns and all hell broke loose for the next hour.

We heard someone crying in a shell hole and cautiously went to investigate — aware that it could be a trap. Sadly, this time it was a Burmese man with a hole in his leg as big as an orange. We couldn’t do much for him apart from putting a piece of towel in the hole and wrapping a bandage round it.

Later in the gun pit when it was quiet again, the bombardier was standing next to me with his rifle pointing down. Suddenly there was a bang — he’d accidentally pulled the trigger and the bullet missed my foot by about half an inch.

The next day we were on the move again. We made our way to the Ngakyedauk Pass, about 10 miles away, under continuous mortar fire. We just kept going, keeping our fingers crossed. We continued over the pass, through thick mountain jungle. It was a nightmare, just a dried up mud track. We had to cover our faces as we couldn’t breathe with the dust, it was like driving through thick fog. Some of the 3 ton lorries failed to negotiate the bends and fell about 1000 feet down into the valley.”

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WW2 - The Second World War



The French have a saying: « Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose » (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, 1849). It can be translated as: "The more things change, the more they stay the same". In the long run, events in history have a tendency to come round again. Let us begin this tale of the Second World War by setting it into the context of the long march of history.

In his hit song 'The Village of St Bernadette' (1959) by Eula Parker, the American singer Andy Williams eulogised Lourdes as:

"One little town I'll never forget
Is Lourdes, the village of St. Bernadette."

'The village of St Bernadette': since 1858 this is the way that Lourdes in the French High Pyrenees department (the ancient county of Bigorre) has become known the world over. Yet, for most of its recorded history Lourdes has been an important military location. This was also to be the case during WW2.

The two principal reasons for the town's strategic military importance are its topographical position in the northern foothills of the Pyrenees and its great defensive position. In times past the castle of Lourdes Castle (Château fort de Lourdes) standing on a high rocky outcrop above the river Gave was the key to controlling the region and the central mountain routes to and from Spain. Among those linked to the history of Lourdes and its fortified castle have been the Emperor Charlemagne, Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) and Bertrand du Guesclin.
--------------------------

Even the name of 'Lourdes' and its coat of arms harks back to the legendary siege of the castle by Charlemagne in the year 778 AD. At that time, while returning north from Spain, Charlemagne and his forces laid siege to the castle then occupied by Moorish forces under the leadership of Mirat. As with many sieges, Charlemagne's aim was to starve the Moors into submission. According to the legend by chance an eagle having caught a trout in the river Gave then flew above the castle and dropped its precious catch.

With little food left one fish was not going to sustain the Moorish defenders for long. Hence, in order to fool Charlemagne into thinking they had sufficient food to survive the siege, they sent the trout as a gift to the Emperor. Apparently convinced by this little trick that the siege was still far from being successful - so the legend continues - Charlemagne then proposed a deal with Mirat.

Turpin, the Bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay suggested the plan to Charlemagne that Mirat could keep the town on condition that he would “surrender to the Virgin” (and hence not directly to Charlemagne). In other words, Mirat and the Moors would renounce Islam in favour of Christianity. At the same time Mirat's honour would also be upheld and needless deaths would be avoided.

Mirat and his garrison laid down their arms at the feet of the Black Virgin of Le Puy and Mirat became a Christian, taking the name of 'Lorus'. The name of the town of Lourdes derived from the name of this convert to Christianity. The coat of arms of Lourdes includes an eagle holding a trout in its beak above three castellated towers above the Pyrenean mountains and the river Gave. Over a thousand years before the Second World War the beleaguered military defenders of Lourdes chose to surrender with honour to the forces opposing them.

It would not be the last occasion that beleaguered troops in Lourdes would be faced with a choice of whether to surrender or fight. Time passes but the choice would remain the same. That choice would have to be made again in August 1944 by the commander of the German troops then stationed in Lourdes.
----------------------------

(3) Lourdes and district in WW2 before August 1944

In the 20th Century the long march of history once again saw opposing military forces in Lourdes and the whole of High Pyrenees region. Initially after the fall of France in June 1940 the High Pyrenees department fell within the 'Unoccupied' zone France controlled by the Vichy-based government of Marshal Philippe Pétain. Nevertheless, the Germans arranged a series of measures limiting the movement of people, freight goods and even the postal traffic between the German 'Occupied' and the Vichy 'Unoccupied' zone.

The High Pyrenees has a 90km border with Spain which was a 'non-belligerent' country during WW2. Inevitably, this offered the possibility of shelter and escape to those who were subject to persecution under the German Occupation. A number of escape networks enabling Allied airmen or escaped POWs to reach Spain and onwards to the British colony of Gibraltar, several of them by the mountain passes of the High Pyrenees. As previously noted because of its topographical location Lourdes was traditionally the key to controlling the region and the central mountain routes to and from Spain. Hence, in the 20th Century the long march of history saw the area return to being a strategically important location.

On 8 November 1942 the Allies launched 'Operation Torch' and invaded French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). The situation for the French people living in the Vichy zone was about to get much worse. As a counter to the Allied invasion of North Africa, on 11 November 1942 the Germans moved into the previously 'Unoccupied' zone. Occupation troops arrived from Bordeaux and occupied the High Pyrenees. Some detachments 'locked' the valleys giving access to Spain and small garrisons moved into the towns such as Lourdes, Tarbes and Lannemezan.

Despite these attempts at greater control of free movement to and from Spain local farmers and shepherds knew the highways and byways rather better than the Occupiers. The locals were able to guide people across the border by one of the many unguarded routes across the mountains. In these situations surveillance patrols by the German or French authorities proved to be rather imperfect. For some, the only form of 'resistance' was silence, while other residents of the High Pyrenees opened the doors of their homes for one or more nights so that Jewish refugees in distress could escape across the frontier. Some escaping Jewish refugees were to stay for a longer period and remained in rural villages for the entire duration of the war.
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(4) A refuge in the High Pyrenees

Lourdes, with its many hotels, was a perfect place to bring together children and protect them from bombing. In late 1943 children began to be moved to Lourdes and the surrounding district from the Marseille and Toulon region in anticipation of a possible Allied landing on the coast of Provence. Other children came from the bombed cities such as Bordeaux or Nantes. About 2000 such children were evacuated to Lourdes and were well received by the inhabitants of Lourdes who were well used to welcoming people of all nations.

The children were organised into groups of about 30 or 40 and supervised by a local adult, whom the children called 'Chef' (i.e. 'Chief' or 'Boss'). Several of these adult supervisor ‘Chiefs’ volunteered to work at school health centres to escape the labour service (STO). In the period before the Liberation the German Occupiers, particularly the Gestapo, maintained and increased the identity checks particularly looking for Jewish refugees.

Several of the town and village mayors, town clerks and teachers were involved in providing false identity papers for those most in need, including those residents resisting being sent to Germany by the dreaded S.T.O. (Compulsory Work Order). The local mayors and town halls also helped by providing food or organizing food collections. Some of the town hall employees also helped make it easier for food stamps to be 'stolen'.

None of this was undertaken without some personal danger. The case of the Mayor of Tarbes (capital of the High Pyrenees) illustrates how dangerous it was to resist the Occupiers. Monsieur Maurice Trélut was Mayor of Tarbes between 1935 and September 1944. During the German Occupation M. Trélut was the first link in establishing a network of refugees from the hospital in Tarbes. Many people turned to him through his position as mayor, including many Jewish refugees some of whom were originally from Eastern Europe.

Many of these refugees M. Trélut was able to send to Mother Anne-Marie Llobet, Mother Superior of the Daughters of Charity. Mother Llobet took charge of placing the children in residential schools across Tarbes while their parents were given work at the hospital. Persecuted Jews from Poland, Romania or Germany and who did not speak any French were given false papers categorising them as 'deaf and dumb' or 'mentally deficient'. This explained away the fact they could not speak or understand French.

By such ways and means, many were able to escape deportation and remain free until the day of Liberation. Unfortunately, this was not to be so for Maurice Trélut. His 'complicity' was discovered and he was arrested by the Gestapo. In July 1944 Maurice Trélut was deported to Buchenwald where he was executed in September of that year. By the time of M. Trélut's death the High Pyrenees had been liberated. His sacrifice had not been in vain. Many of those M. Trélut had been able to help during his tenure as mayor had managed to survive the war.
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The Allies land in Normandy (northern France).
The time of Liberation is close to hand.

D-Day, Tuesday 15 August 1944:

The Allies land in Provence (southern France).
The time of Liberation draws even closer.
******************

By 15 August 1944 the German forces in southern France were already facing the problem of the French resistance harrying their supply lines towards the Normandy front. The days following the Allied Landings in Provence also coincided with much of the German army in Normandy being trapped in the 'Falaise Pocket'.

Even before 15 August a large number of the Occupying forces had been moved north to fight against the Allied invaders. For their part the organised French Resistance harried this transfer of troops by various ways and means such as blowing up bridges and railway lines and setting up road blocks. In some instances the Resistance fighters had received weapons supplied by parachute drop from Allied aircraft. These Resistance groups were able to attack the columns of German troops during their move north.

The writing was on the wall for those remaining German Occupiers in the High Pyrenees. But how many Germans were there and what were the options available to them after the invasion of southern France?
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(6) How many Germans were there?

On 18 August 1944 the German Occupying forces in the Argelès-Gazost district of the High Pyrenees comprised of:

At Lourdes - German Customs and frontier guards for two French departments (the High and Low Pyrenees) under the command of Heigerugsrat Kulitszcher.

At Argelès - The Frontier Customs Post under the command of Zollkommisar Blanck.

Also at Argelès - A Gestapo centre headed by Herr Kranick

At Pierrefitte, Luz-de-Saint-Sauveur, Barèges, Gèdre and Cauterets - smaller command posts of frontier customs guards commanded by junior officers and NCOs.

At Cauterets - An information & communications post under Captain Michel.

In total, the total number of German Occupying forces remaining in this district amounted to 9 officers and 340 other ranks (NCOs and privates).

(7) What were the options available to the Germans?

For the German Occupiers remaining in the High Pyrenees after the Allied landings in August 1944 the realistic options open to them would seem to have been as follows:

(a) Pull the forces back to strategic 'strong points' and try to hold out for as long as possible

(b) Link up the remaining forces locally and then move to try and support the larger force of German troops still fighting the Allies elsewhere in France

(c) Surrender to the local Resistance fighters in the district (possibly facing an uncertain future)

(d) Attempt to hold out against the Resistance until the regular troops arrived and then surrender with likely protected rights as prisoners of war.

The German commander for the High Pyrenees department gave the order that all the occupying forces should first make for Lourdes and then move to Tarbes. From Tarbes, the troops would then head north to join up with the rest of the German army still in France. It was not going to be an easy task to carry out these orders.

The French Resistance had already made an attack on the garrison at Tarbes on 18 August. Early on 19 August the Resistance were to move on Lourdes and take control of key points within the town, such as the Pont-Neuf (new bridge). There was no possibility that any forces would arrive to relieve any siege, nor was there much likelihood they would receive supplies or reinforcements from elsewhere. The options available to the German Occupiers were rapidly diminishing. The highest ranking officer of the forces that had pulled linked up at Lourdes was Heigerugsrat (Commandant) Kulitszcher who was faced with the same dilemma as Mirat commanding the Moorish force opposing Charlemagne in 778 AD: whether to fight or surrender.
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(8) A negotiated honourable and peaceful surrender

The Sub-Prefect of the Argelès-Gazost district of the High Pyrenees for the Vichy French administration was M. Saint-Pierre. Generally speaking, for those Frenchmen active in the Resistance they regarded those who had worked for the Vichy administration as collaborators. If the writing was on the wall for the German Occupiers in August 1944 the same hand was writing the same message on the same wall for the Vichy administration. Yet, Sub-Prefect Saint-Pierre had one more card up his sleeve that he was able to play. He would be able to play a key role in negotiating a bloodless German surrender to the FFI (resistance). In a sense, M. Saint-Pierre had a similar intermediary role to that played by the Bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay in 778 AD. Both of them were involved in a peaceful surrender of Occupying forces at Lourdes.

On 18 August 1944 M. Saint-Pierre was at one of the spa resorts in the mountains, Luz-de-Saint-Sauveur. According to M. Saint-Pierre's written account negotiations about a possible German surrender began late in the evening of 18 August. At that time a German emissary, Inspector Schoeffel (a-d-c for Zollkommisar Blanck), and an interpreter (Herr Janous) arrived to meet with M. Saint-Pierre and discuss a possible surrender. These negotiations went through the early hours of the morning.

According to M. Saint-Pierre's written statement it was he who first suggested to the Germans that they could initially be interned in hotels designated by the Germans and that they should hand over their weapons. If the Germans did this the Sub-Prefect gave his word that, as prisoners, the Germans would be treated as regular prisoners of war. Early in the morning of 19 August, the Sub-Prefect met with M. Lemettre (Mayor of Argelès), M. Marque (Special delegation of Pierrefitte), M. Rousset Bert (one of the local Resistance leaders) and some others to discuss what would happen.

Later that morning, M. Jean Senmartin (son-in-law of the owners of the Hôtel Beauséjour, Lourdes) and Captain Leon (Honoré Auzon) of the FFI arrived from Lourdes in a car to see the Sub-Prefect. The French forces at Lourdes had delivered an ultimatum to Commandant Kulitszcher. M. Saint-Martin then returned to Lourdes with M. Senmartin and Captain Leon to finalise the terms of surrender.

Thus, in the early afternoon of 19 August 1944 four signatories affixed their names at the bottom of the document agreeing to the surrender of the German garrison of Lourdes. This is a translation of that document:

"On 19 August 1944, at the Hotel Beauséjour, Lourdes, Lieutenant-Colonel Martial under the General Direction of the Special Services Army Staff presented his credentials to Commandant Kulitszcher, German commander of the locality who agreed to disarm and surrender his troops to the French authorities in accordance with the rules of war.

The ultimatum had been issued to them at 22.00 h on 18 August by Captain Leon, Head of the Lourdes Sector of the FFI and confirmed at 10.00 h on 19 August. Having been in touch with the German Army commander at Tarbes, the same officer made contact at 11.00 h. At 13.00 h hours, the German commander captain asked the officer to see M. Saint-Pierre, the Sub-Prefect who had been negotiating the surrender with the German officers of Argelès during the night.

The nine officers will be interned in a hotel to be designated by them. They will hand over their weapons to an officer of the FFI who will prepare an inventory. The 340 men will be interned as regular prisoners and an inventory will be made of the weapons that belonged to them.''

The signatories to this document were:

M. Saint-Pierre (Sub-Prefect, Argelès-Gazost district)
Lt. Colonel Martial, D.G.S.S.
Captain Leon (Honoré Auzon), FFI

A few days after the German surrender M. Saint-Pierre, the Sub-Prefect for the district made a written record of what took place during the negotiations. The record survives in the archives of the prefecture, and at the Resistance and Deportation Museum in Tarbes. This is how the Sub-Prefect summarised the surrender of the German Occupiers:

« . Ainsi, sans un mort, sans un blessé, sans même un coup de feu, a cessé l'occupation de l'arrondissement dont l'administration m'avait été confiée»

". Thus, without a death, without anyone wounded, without even one shot being fired, the Occupation ended in the administrative district which had been entrusted to me."

Heigerugsrat Kulitszcher was commanding the German frontier troops of two departments: the High Pyrenees and the Low Pyrenees. He was the highest ranking German officer remaining in the Lourdes area.

The true identity of Lieutenant-Colonel "Martial" was M. Tessier d'Orfeuil. Commander Richon, otherwise known as "Jeannot", was the third of the main French resistance leaders assisting with the formal signing of the German surrender. Many of the French Resistance leaders adopted a different name to safeguard against possible reprisals being taken out on their families. Satisfied at their 'victory' - achieved without bloodshed - the FFI leaders could be content with their efforts.

The 9 German officers told the Sub-Prefect they wanted to be escorted to a hotel at Argelès. Consequently, the German officers were taken there to be interned. The 340 or so other ranks of the German army and administration that had gathered together at Lourdes were also transported out of the town and initially interned at Pierrefitte-Nestalas.

It will be remembered that the German forces had agreed their weapons would be handed over to the FFI at the time of their surrender, and an inventory made. Up to this time the FFI had been supplied with arms by parachute drops and other means. These weapons obtained from the German forces made a significant increase to the FFI armoury in the High Pyrenees. A short time afterwards many of the FFI of the Soulé column that obtained the German weapons volunteered for the 1st battalion of the Bigorre Regiment of the French Army. Captain of the 'Bigorre' Battalion after the Liberation was Captain Jean Richon ('Jeannot').

As they were now part of the regular army the 'Bigorre' soldiers fought the Germans in the closing months of the war. The German weapons captured at the time of the Liberation of Lourdes became a significant part of the Bigorre battalion’s armoury. On 25 September 1946 General Charles De Gaulle announced that Captain Jean Richon, otherwise known as 'Jeannot', was to be nominated as a member of the Legion of Honour (i.e. the 'Légion d'honneur').

The citation referred to his leadership and achievements in the wartime Resistance, as well as his achievements commanding the 'Bigorre' battalion. In particular, the 'Légion d'honneur' citation referred to the 'Royan Pocket' battle of 14, 15 and 16 April 1945 in which 'Jeannot' and the 'Bigorre' battalion had played a key role. After the Germans evacuated most of France some garrison 'pockets' remained until the final days of the war. Royan, in the Charente-Maritime department on the Gironde estuary of S.W. France was one of these German 'pockets'.
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(10) Jubilation at another Lourdes 'miracle'

Lt.-Col "Martial" and Sub-Prefect Saint-Pierre still had a concern about possible reprisals from the still-significant German garrisons within striking distance of Lourdes, such as at Tarbes, Pau, Orthez, Pau, Bayonne and Toulouse. They issued a poster which was posted around town by mid-afternoon on 19 August. This announced the surrender of the local German Occupiers, but also called for 'absolute discipline' among the civil population. In particular, they formally declared a ban on public gatherings on the streets, the closing of cafés and a curfew until 10 o'clock at night.

No doubt the 'new' authorities in Lourdes had good reasons for this 'order' but the posters did not stay in position for very long! They were torn down. The townsfolk and refugees took to the streets to acclaim their liberators. Unlike as often happened during the German Occupation the authorities took no action against those ignoring an official order. This was not going to be a day for staying indoors and being fearful. There had been enough of those sorts of days over the previous four years. This was the day of days to be out celebrating on the streets! It was a significant day in the history of Lourdes and on a par with the surrender of the Moorish garrison under Mirat to Charlemagne's forces in 778 AD.

Some three months after the Liberation, a pamphlet was published in the High Pyrenees 'The Liberation of the Pyrenees and the South West'. This collection of stories about the Liberation had been prepared by M. André Messager. Among the stories featured was one entitled 'The German surrender of Lourdes'. The French Resistance who had been at Lourdes on 18 / 19 August and knew the true course of events found M. Messager's miraculous account of the events somewhat amusing! Yet, the strength of the written word is such that this is the version that has entered into popular belief.

In a book of his wartime experiences written in 2002, M. Pierre Fauthoux, a voluntary combatant in the Resistance and one of the 'Jeannot' group that took part in the Liberation of Lourdes, wrote about this popular but 'mythical' account by André Messager:

"Upon reading its contents, one can only marvel at the performance of the two negotiators cited, Captain 'Auzon' and Jean Senmartin, son-in-law of the owners of the Hotel Beauséjour. In two hours, almost without weapons or troops, they brought 340 heavily armed German soldiers to their knees!

It is true, let us not forget that the city is Marian, from time to time, subject to miraculous events. But miracle or not, this is the account that later reference books mention about this event. Thus, Jacques Longué's 'Chronicle in Bigorre' was inspired by this story, as are other journalists who are consistently rehashing this version, with only a few adjustments with the passage of time. It has been recounted so much so that over the years, that this version seems to have become historical truth . "

Source: Fauthoux (2002), pp. 50-51

As can be seen from this example, sometimes 'myths' can become irrefutable historical 'truths'!
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By 20 August 1944, the whole of the High Pyrenees department has been liberated. The cost in life in 1944 was relatively light. But there had been a price to pay between 1942 and 1944. Post-war research estimates that between July 1942 and August 1944 guerrilla actions undertaken by the Resistance in this department was at the cost in life of 205 resistance fighters. In addition there were 527 civilians interned and deported either for acts of resistance, their political opinions or for being Jews. In the last three months of the Occupation the German reprisals on the civilian population in the High Pyrenees accounted for 78 dead and 50 wounded.

In the years after the war many tributes were paid to those who helped the Jews and those on the run from the Gestapo or actively participated in the Resistance. For example, many street signs in the towns and villages were named after some of these people, or memorials erected at the scene of where fighting or particular events took place.

Maurice Trélut, the Mayor of Tarbes who made the ultimate sacrifice for his wartime actions aiding the Jewish refugees, was declared 'Righteous among the Nations'. He is honoured on the 'Wall of Honour' at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Maurice Trélut is also remembered in his own region. The main sports stadium of Tarbes is named in honour of Maurice Trélut. Another of those listed as 'Righteous among the Nations' at Yad Vashem is Mgr. Pierre-Marie Théas. Monsignor Théas was Bishop of Montauban (1940 - 1947) and Bishop of Tarbes & Lourdes (1947 - 1970).

Outside the Hotel Beauséjour at Lourdes, is a commemorative tablet with the following inscription:

'Ici le 19 août 1944
Les troupes allemandes de la région de Lourdes se sont rendues, sans condition, aux Forces Françaises de l'intérieur, commandées par le Capitaine Auzon'.

"Here on 19 August 1944 the German forces in the Lourdes region unconditionally surrendered to the French Forces of the Interior (FFI), commanded by Captain Auzon".

Many hundreds of thousands of tourists and pilgrims must pass by this tablet each year without actually reading it or know what it represents. Yet, this was the place that the German Commander of the Lourdes garrison surrendered to the French forces and avoided wholesale destruction and bloodshed in the town. For this reason, it is one of the most important reminders of the long history of Lourdes - even if relatively few people are aware of its existence.
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(12) Acknowledgements & further reading

1. Resistance and Deportation Museum & Archives,
Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées département), France

2. The Castle Fort and its Pyrenean museum
25, rue du Fort
65100 LOURDES

3. The Reception staff,
Hôtel Beauséjour,
65100 LOURDES
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Further reading (in French):

1. Fauthoux, Pierre (2002),
"L'itinéraire d'un jeune résistant de BIGORRE,
D'un maquis pyrénéen au front de l'Atlantique",
ANACR, Tarbes.

2. Saint-Pierre, M. (1944)
"Reddition des garnisons Allemandes de Lourdes et Argelès:
Déposition du Sous-Préfet Saint-Pierre au Capitaine de Clarens"
(Resistance and Deportation Museum Archives, Tarbes, France)
**************


Bypaths of Kansas History - August 1944

A BLENDED WHISKY

From the Kansas Free State, Lawrence, April 7, 1855.

An Indian had gone to Westport [now a part of Kansas City, Mo.] one cold winter's day, and got very drunk. On his way home, he became completely overcome, laid down, and was frozen to death. His tribe was at that time much disposed to imitate the habits of white men, and accordingly held an inquest over the dead body. After a long pow-wow, they finally agreed to the verdict, that the deceased came to his death "by mixing too much water in his whisky, which had frozen in him and killed him!"

"TRAILER HOUSES" of 1859 CAMP-WAGONS FOR HOUSES

From the Emporia News, October 22, 1859.

We have before referred to the limited amount of surplus room which our building capacities at present afford, and the fact that immigrants were still pouring in upon us. The past week has added several more families, who, being determined to remain, have taken to camp life until they can either build or find room. We admire their courage. If some others who have come here and gone away for this reason had possessed such resolution, they would not now have cause for regret.

From the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin (D. R. Anthony, publisher), May 23, 1865.

This morning, C. R. Morehead & Co. were arrested and brought before the recorder for a violation of the Sunday laws, in permitting trains to be loaded from their warehouse on Sunday. The goods did not belong to them, but were left on storage by a Mexican trader. The mayor was applied to, and gave written permission to the Mexicans to load the teams, and also "ordered the policemen not to interfere, or to arrest the parties." The city attorney refused to prosecute the case, and moved that a nolle pros. be returned, which was granted by the court.

We do not find fault with this course, only in this: it is making fish of one and flesh of another. The German is hauled up for practising an innocent game on Sunday, roundly fined, and threatened with an iron jacket, if he dare drink his glass of lager or pitch a game of quoits on Sunday.

We were hauled up before his Honor, charged with carrying concealed weapons. We proved that we had a permit from the acting mayor, and that it was custom, usage, and in accordance with the charter. A fine of ten dollars was imposed. The city attorney did not move a nolle pros. in our case.

O ye gods, and the good people of Leavenworth! look out for these men "who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel."

Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains

The latest in scholarship on Kansas history, published quarterly since 1978 by the Kansas Historical Foundation.


August 1944: Liberation of Paris in Images

Middle of August 1944 witnessed an uprising in Paris. By the 25th, the city was liberated, and the celebration followed. These images record the history of the last few days leading to the liberation and then onto the celebrations.

August 1944: Troops of the 2nd Armored Division en route to Paris, August 1944. Credit: ECPAD.

August 23, 1944: Insurrection of Paris, set to join the Resistance, to liberate the capital. Here they erect barricades. Credit: ECPAD.

August 26, 1944: Troops from the 2nd Armored Division parade in a liberated Paris. They pass in front of City Hall. Credit: ECPAD.

August 1944: “Kiss the Winners”. Credit: ECPAD.

August 1944: General Leclerc, commander of the 2nd Armored Division, pushed the German General von Choltitz in his scout car, to take him to the police station in the Montparnasse train station, so that he signed the act of surrender. Credit: ECPAD.

August 1944: The arrest of German troops by the population of Paris and the resistance during the uprising in the city of Paris. They were taken to police headquarters. Credit: ECPAD.

August 26, 1944: High ranking German officers seized by Free French troops which liberated their country’s capital are lodged in the hotel Majestic, headquarters for the Wehrmacht in the days of the Nazi occupation. Paris, France. Credit: National Archives.

August 26, 1944: Crowds of Parisians celebrating the entry of Allied troops into Paris scatter for cover as a sniper fires from a building on the place De La Concorde. Although the Germans surrendered the city, small bands of snipers still remained. Credit: National Archives.

August 29, 1944: Parisians line the Champ Elysees to cheer the massed infantry units of the American army as they march in review towards the Arc de Triomphe, celebrating the liberation of the capital of France from Nazi occupation. Credit: National Archives.

August 1944: U.S. Tank in Paris. Credit: National Archives.

Crowds of French patriots line the Champs Elysees to view Allied tanks and half tracks pass through the Arc du Triomphe, after Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944. Credit: Library of Congress.

August 29, 1944: American troops of the 28th Infantry Division march down the Champs Elysees, Paris, in the `Victory’ Parade.” Credit: National Archives.

Soldiers of the 4th U.S. Infantry Division look at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, after the French capital had been liberated on August 25, 1944. Credit: John Downey, National Archives.

CALLIE OETTINGER was Command Posts’ first managing editor. Her interest in military history, policy and fiction took root when she was a kid, traveling and living the life of an Army Brat, and continues today.


August 3, 1944

American Jewish journalist Ruth Gruber arrives in New York harbor with 984 refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe, which concluded her secret mission to escort the refugees from Italy to America.

Ruth Gruber was an American journalist, photographer, writer, humanitarian, and a United States government official. At age twenty, she was the youngest Ph.D. in the world.

  • Ruth Gruber | Photojournalist International Center of Photography: https://www.icp.org/exhibitions/ruth-gruber-photojournalist
  • Ruth Gruber | Jewish Women’s Archive: https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/gruber-ruth
  • Ruth Gruber | Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ruth-Gruber/e/B001H6QHIA
  • Ruth Gruber | Quotes: https://www.azquotes.com/quote/820126
  • Ruth Gruber – The Movie | Real Inheritance Films and Vitagraph: http://www.aheadoftimethemovie.com
  • “Ruth Gruber finds haven for 1,000 Holocaust Refugees” | Jewish Women’s Archive: https://jwa.org/thisweek/aug/03/1944/ruth-gruber
  • “Women of Photos and Firsts, Ruth Gruber at 100” | NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2011/10/15/141325143/a-woman-of-photos-and-firsts-ruth-gruber-at-100

Link to Photo Credit: Edith Gruber

Disclaimer: This content was prepared by the author in her personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion, or position of their employer.


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