French version here.
German version here

Violette's story

Paris is liberated

Photograph of Violette in 1943 In occupied Paris on the 6th of June 1944 news of the landings in Normandy spread quickly.

Again, one was skeptical... until August when the Germans left the place in a hurry, their trucks "camouflaged" with branches of trees.

They went East in haste, protected by the dangerously unpredictable SS Storm-troopers such as the two that were on the quay at Boulogne and made us remain bolt upright against the wall of the factory, under threat of death. There were 7 of us hostages, with our handkerchieves as white flags; we all waited approximately 3 hours until the arrival of the Leclerc Division of the French army released us. Then we regained our shelter (an 80cm wide tunnel) to pass there the night. At midnight, a worker of my father's water-works arrived, triumphant, to tell us that Paris and Boulogne were freed and illuminated, that the war was finished!!!

Alas, the following days were not so good, the battle was still intense around us. Germans still occupied many factories and buildings and these were summarily shot by the Leclerc tanks, the streets strewn with corpses.
Eventually life resumed its course.

On the 26th, the Germans had their revenge; they resumed bombings and these continued night and day until the end of the war on 8 May 1945, happy day for some, disastrous for so many when the wave of denunciations and revenge took place. I have seen women shorn bald because they were too friendly with German soldiers.

Tragic result of bombing for us:
- in the family: 1 death, 3 injured
- in the neighbourhood: dozens of dead, among them 3 small girls who came often to my home. One of them was little Josette, held in the arms of a man of the Air Raid Workers saying as she died "I was going to Auntie Violette's to eat some peanuts and play a game of 'little horses'." The peanuts were a rare treat and nourishing in those times of hunger and this small girl whose Daddy was a prisoner in Germany loved to come to us where there was a semblance of fun, because she was bored at her old godmother's house.

Even our animals paid a price! Cats, dogs that it was necessary to have destroyed because they were driven crazy by their fear of bombs and sirens.

Finally, the 'Boches' left. Americans have taken their place in the general enthusiasm, distributing from their trucks, throwing at us food, kitchen furniture, spoons, forks, etc... carrying workers to their work in their trucks to the great joy of all and especially of the feminine population where the beautiful black or white GIs made havoc.

In July 1945, there was, for me, a happy epilogue : I embarked on a boat for Rouen and Le Havre. The Seine continued to flow, but its banks were full of military debris, wrecks. No bridges... only a passage hastily made for the American river traffic. The beautiful city of Rouen was under the rubble, Le Havre totally destroyed and in ruins, no bridges, rafts, or boats to cross rivers.

Although we were not represented at the Yalta Conference, all confirms that France has also paid a heavy price.

Violette Wassem
July 1997


Violette has written other stories about this period :

This story has been translated by her grand-nephew Alexandre.
You can ask her some question if you click here to write to him.


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