Archive for war prisonner

the story of Gertrud and Auguste Macé

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2020 by xi'an

The discussions about the links between early statistics and eugenism brought back to memory the tragic story of a German-Norman couple, friends of my grandparents, Gertrud(e) and Auguste Macé, whom I met in the mid 1980’s. Auguste Macé was a school friend of my grandmother, born near the harbour city of Granville, Manche and, like my grandparents,  a war orphan, son of a French conscript killed in combat during WW I. During WW II, when Nazi Germany promptly invaded France in the Spring of 1940, Auguste Macé was part of the millions of French conscripts captured by German troops and sent to a stalag, in North-Eastern Germany (Prussia), where he was made to work in farms missing their workforce conscripted to war. In one of these farms, he met Gertrud, daughter of the farm owners, they fell in love, and Gertrud eventually got pregnant. When her pregnancy was revealed, Auguste was sent to another POW camp. And, while Gertrud was able to give birth to a baby boy, she was dreadfully punished by the Nazis for it: as she had broken their racial purity laws, she was sterilised and prevented from having further children, presumably staying in her parents’ farm. At the end of WW II, Auguste was freed by Soviet troops and went searching for Gertrud. It took him around six months of traveling in the chaotic post-war Germany, but he eventually found both her and their son! They then went back to Auguste’s farm, in Normandy, where they spent the rest of their life, with further hardships like the neighbourhood hostility to a Franco-German couple, lost their young adult son in circumstances I cannot remember, and tragically ending their life together in a car accident in 1988, on a trip to Germany… [When remembering this couple, I have been searching on-line for more information about them but apart from finding the military card of Auguste’s father and Auguste’s 1988 death record by INSEE, I could not spot any link in birth or wedding certificates or in the 98 lists of WW II French POWs. Where I could not find my great-uncle, either.]

trip to the past

Posted in Books, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2019 by xi'an

When visiting my mother for the Xmas break, she showed me this picture of her grand-father, Médéric, in his cavalry uniform, taken before the First World War, in 1905. During the war, as an older man, he did not come close to the front lines, but died from a disease caught from the horses he was taking care of. Two other documents I had not seen before were these refugee cards that my grand-parents got after their house in Saint-Lô got destroyed on June 7, 1944.

And this receipt for the tinned rabbit meat packages my grand-mother was sending to a brother-in-law who was POW in Gustrow, Germany, receipt that she kept despite the hardships she faced in the years following the D Day landing.

Juno Beach [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2019 by xi'an

War memories

Posted in Kids with tags , , on December 31, 2009 by xi'an

Yesterday, I went to see my grandmother and she started talking about the hard times she had during the second World War. Before and after Saint Lô’s bombing. She described how the food restrictions were so harsh during the war years that items like trousers and socks, when available, had to be traded against butter or meat. How the sole delivery of meat my grandparents could pretend to for a whole week was often set aside to be cooked within a piece of bread in the local bakery and was sent as a package to a brother who remained a war prisoner in Pomerania for the whole duration of the war. She even showed us the receipts of all those packages, kept within a jar, which were dutifully delivered by the German post at the time rather than by the Red Cross…. All those privations while another sister who lived in a farm with unlimited access to this restricted food never contributed to support this brother. The same sister who would not lift a finger to help when my grandparents found themselves homeless after Saint Lô’s bombing. A selfish behaviour my grandmother still resents today for they were close family. Much more than the thefts of neighbours right after the bombing, when my grandfather recovered the large knife I saw him using all his life from those neighbours’ table during their lunch. More also than the laundry soiled by German troops occupying the ruins of my grandparents’ house for a few days during the Saint Lô’s battle. The hardships of those years is so remote from our current life that it seems difficult to believe it only happened seventy years ago.