A little story about how much of a fucking mess WW2 was in France

France in WW2 was a fucking mess. In the late stages of the war the whole country was occupied, the Resistance was blowing shit up, the Nazis were killing people in retaliation, and the Yankees were just bombing the shit out of them in return. Unfortunately the messiest part was yet to come, somehow.

where I buy my ties right after it was liberated c.1944

One problem about the liberation of Alsace is that in in the 1940′s a great deal of the population was still born and raised in the 40 years of German occupation prior to WW1. Although that alone wouldn’t have been much of a factor, in the interwar era France’s government took on an increasingly left-wing stance, with the Front Populaire introducing many such things as paid leaves and 40-hours weeks. As any French person will tell you, Alsace was and still is somewhat of a right-wing bastion, which meant that unfortunately a bunch of assholes became heartfelt supporters of the fascist regime.
One of these persons, that saw socialism as a bunch of hippie communist decadent libertarian bullshit, was regrettably a pastor in Mulhouse. When the Allied forces came he of course didn’t lose any time and bailed to… the United States.
Apparently that worked out fine for him too. Go figure.

Anyway only one guy was left in the building that housed his church, probably keeping an eye on things while everyone was away. Now two accounts of what happened subsist to this day, and they’re a very good illustration of what kind of messy mess the situation was. The less official version is that as Allied forces liberated the city, soldiers of the FFI came looking for that dickish pastor. They found the guy in his place and assumed he was either lying to cover his identity or a collaborator anyway, and thus they killed him.
It was not uncommon in these days for illegal tribunals to be held in various cities, before order was restored under De Gaulle’s provisional government, and many proven or alleged collaborators found their death without proper trial in 1944 and 1945. In fact this kind of actions were somewhat endorsed by the military, with the famous general Leclerc himself being known for having killed French SS prisoners of war.

the omnipresent 1940′s version of the 4chan party van

The second, official account has it that some of the American soldiers, who were stationed on the grounds of the church - now a frozen food store and a bank, decided to go on a-looting. They wandered into the building and found the wine cellar that any Frenchman worth their salt had back in the days, and got drunk on it. The guy heard the commotion and came down to address the issue, things got heated and the GI’s shot him.
I’m not sure considering the other account how much we can trust this one, as it’s incredibly more convenient for France’s image to have the Americans be the culprit, but unfortunately this kind of incident was far from uncommon as the liberation went on. Even by 1946, there remained one and a half million Allied soldiers awaiting return beyond the sea that had been told in newspaper during their whole interwar years that France was super cool and full of bitches and wine and shit. Thousands of complaints of rape and crimes were reported, with citizens of the major harbor of le Havre protesting against “a regime of terror, imposed by bandits in uniform.“

where I post my mail right after it was liberated c.1944

This among other things is why France wasn’t all that much aligned with the US after WW2, compared to say the UK. This just goes to show just how fucking terrible this war was for most people involved, but also for the countries where the fighting actually happened.
For instance I heard of this story because I live in that same building and I knew some people of the guy’s family. Kind of why I save my jokes and admiration for WW1, everyone’s dead already so who cares.

there’s only so many world wars the landscape can take

The crew M4A2 “Sherman” with the proper name “La Moscowa” (“Moscow”) of the 2nd French armored division of General Philippe Leclerc. From left to right: Jean Fabre, Louis Decherchi — gunner, Sergeant Robert Boccardo — tank commander, Charles Kartner, unknown. Girl — “godmother” (marraine) of the crew (name not known). Each crew of the tank divisions had a godmother, who corresponded with the crew, sent them parcels and gifts. The photo was taken between 31 July and 1 November 1944.


The Liberation of Paris

After an uprising by the French Resistance and days of street fighting, Paris is liberated as German occupiers surrender to Allied forces seventy years ago on August 25, 1944.

Excerpted from:

From the series: Motion Picture Films from the “Combat Bulletin” Program Series, 1944 - 1951

The free French 2nd armored division entering the city of Strasbourg. The city and all the Alsace region was considered as German soil by the third reich and was seized from France in 1940. This last major city before the German border was considered as highly symbolic by General Leclerc, commander of the 2nd armored division promised to his men to not cease fighting until Strasbourg was liberated. He made this promess in Kufra in March 1941, after a victorious clash to regain an oasis held by Italian troops in Lybia. It was the first time French troops went back to offensive actions after the shameful 1940 armistice.

“General Jacques-Philippe Leclerc, French Army (center) On board the French light cruiser (ex-destroyer) Le Triomphant in October 1945. General Leclerc commanded the French forces that reoccupied French Indo-China in that month, and Le Triomphant was one of the warships that escorted his troops.”

(NHHC: 306-NT-3277-V)

                               Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc

                                               French General

                            (March 17, 1772 – November 2, 1802)

*First husband of Pauline Bonaparte