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Four Short True Stories of a French Family

Alain F. Corcos

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ISBN 10: 1587363712 / ISBN 13: 9781587363719
Published by Hats Off Books
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Paperback. 88 pages. Dimensions: 8.8in. x 5.8in. x 0.4in.Alain Corcos, author of The Little Yellow Train, presents different moments in history from the perspective of his family and friends. This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to gain insight into how historical events impact the everyday lives of those who experience them. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Bookseller Inventory # 9781587363719

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Title: Four Short True Stories of a French Family

Publisher: Hats Off Books

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

Book Type: Paperback

About this title


Alain Corcos, author of The Little Yellow Train, presents different moments in history from the perspective of his family and friends. This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to gain insight into how historical events impact the everyday lives of those who experience them.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Escape from Nazi France

In early 1944, a few months before D-Day, the French people were living in political and social turmoil. The war was not going well for the Germans. Soviet troops were slowly moving westward, and in trying to contain their advance the German army was losing a lot of men. Things were not any better on the Italian battlefront, since the Allies were at the door of Rome, and it was just a matter of time until they would invade Northen Europe. Even though it was clear that the Third Reich would eventually lose the war, it had not given up the battle. Life for people of Europe under the "Nazi boot" became very harsh. They were hungry, cold, and sick after suffering a terrible winter. All the agricultural and economic resources of France, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark had been taken by the Germans to support their war effort. Little was left for these countries but the hope that the Allies would soon land. To top it all off, every day the Anglo-Americans were bombing their cities, killing people who would never see the liberation of their country.

Things were very bad, but for my brother, Gilles, and me, the thing that made us decide to escape from France was the real possibility of being sent to Germany as slave laborers. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. Since February of 1943 compulsory labor laws had forced French people to be drafted to help the German war effort. Deep in Germany, the cities were bombed daily. In order to keep his factories running and still have enough soldiers for battle, Hitler found it necessary to replace German factory workers with workers from occupied Europe. It has been estimated that throughout the war four million of them were sent to Germany where they were treated as slaves. In the winter of 1944 the SS resorted to kidnaping in order to get the workers the Reich needed. They blocked streets in towns and cities and went from house to house picking up men and women eighteen to twenty-five years old.

There were only two ways by which young people could escape slave labor in the German war factories. One was to join the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). These were guerillas whose camps were in forested mountains or plateaus high in the center of France, in the Alps or Pyrenées. The mountains made it harder, but not impossible, for the Germans to fight them with heavy artillery and tanks. The FFI were supplied with guns and ammunition by the Allies. Unfortunately, the airdrops were not always sufficient and many FFI died, waiting for supplies that never came or came too late.

A second way to escape forced labor in German factories was to flee from France to allied lands through Spain or Switzerland. The preferred route was across the Spanish border because, once in Spain, it was possible to go directly to North Africa or the United States. But crossing the Spanish border was very dangerous, not only because of the possibility of being caught and shot by the German guards, but also because Spain, being an ally of Germany, might chose to send any escapee back into the hands of the Gestapo. In spite of these dangers, many men and women escaped from France through Spain; members of the Allied Air Forces who had the unhappy experience of being shot down in Continental Europe; members of the underground and intelligence groups, and political figures.

Escapees, helped by the local underground, were either hidden in car trunks or railway baggage cars, or they scaled the Pyrenées through passes ranging from forty-two hundred to nine thousand feet high. Some made it. Others were caught by German border guards or died under their bullets. Many died of fatigue, injuries from falls in the mountains, or the cold, particularly from frostbitten toes that became gangrenous. Yet, because of the worsening social and economical conditions in France, the flight through Spain intensified in the early months of 1944. Many young men, a few young women, and some older men took the chance of dying crossing the border. Among them were Gilles and I. It was March 1944. Gilles was seventeen years old and I was close to nineteen years old.

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