Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Forgive, never forget"

I shall always remember the guardian at the well-kept cemetery at Ivry who showed me the graves of resistance members executed by the occupation forces. 'Even now,' he told me, 'more than thirty years afterward, they have not been forgotten. Look at the fresh flowers.'

Nor shall I forget the lovely lady who lives in a house on the other side of the railway plaza at Antony. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I noticed her husband cutting grass. Across the iron fence that separates the lawn from the sidewalk, I asked whether he had been there during the war. No, he said, but his wife had, and he went inside to fetch her. She had been a little girl in 1940, and she described for me what she had seen. As she recalled the scenes, her voice choked with emotion, and her eyes filled with tears.

I was terribly touched. 'Excuse me, please,' I said. 'I am sorry to ask you about these painful things.'

Tears rolled down her cheeks. She reached out and touched my arm. 'Oh, no,' she said. 'I am glad that they are still remembered. There was glory too.'

I thought of the sign over the door of the memorial to the two hundred thousand French persons who were deported during the war. It says,
'Pardonnes, n'oublies jamais' - Forgive, never forget.

(From the "Author's Note" at the end of "The Vilde Affair" by Martin Blumenson)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Operation Overlord - D-Day: 6 June 1944

"You remember it. Remember every bit of it, 'cause we are on the eve of a day that people are going to talk about long after we are dead and gone." - The Longest Day

Sixty-seven years ago, to the day, Allied forces landed on a fifty mile stretch of the coast of France. Since 1940, the English Channel was all that stood between Nazi occupied France and Great Britain. However, early in the morning, the mightiest armada the world has ever known sailed from the English coast and landed at five different beaches of the French coast. The American forces at Utah and Omaha beaches, the British at Gold and Sword, and the Canadians at Juno.

The Allies succeeded in fighting their way inland and establishing bases in France. It began the push toward Germany and the eventual fall of the Nazi power. On June 6th, General Eisenhower issued a statement to the troops embarking on this massive attack. " . . . The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world." In his pocket, he carried a statement for release in case the operation failed. It was never used.

In 1962, 20th Century Fox founder Darryl F. Zanuck produced an All-Star epic film, "The Longest Day". It featured cameos by 42 international stars, including John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Curt Jurgens, Robert Ryan, Sean Connery, Peter Lawford, and Richard Burton.

This has been our very favorite World War II film for years. It can't get much better than this. Well acted, well written and top notch sets and camera work! This is one war film that is worth watching over and over. They do a great job keeping up with all the different fronts and characters without making choppy film. Honestly, this film makes a great overview study of D-Day. The best single resource of the topic out there!

"Just look at it, gentlemen. How calm... how peaceful it is. A strip of water between England and the continent... between the Allies and us. But beyond that peaceful horizon... a monster waits. A coiled spring of men, ships, and planes... straining to be released against us. Believe me, gentlemen, the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive. For the Allies as well as the Germans, it will be the longest day... The longest day."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Welcome to 'Allies Underground'!

"If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway." - President Franklin D. Roosevelt

In 1943, Warner Bros. released "Edge if Darkness", starring Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan. Set in October 1942, the film tells the story of the town of Trollness in Nazi occupied Norway. It deals with the emotions of the different people in a small fishing village as they try to go about life under German rule, waiting for the day when they will get arms from the British so that they can revolt against the Nazis. However, many of them are active in the underground resistance, doing small acts of sabotage in the town's fish cannery. They are led by the innkeeper, Gerd (Judith Anderson); Karen Stensgard (Sheridan) who is daughter of the only doctor in town; and a fisherman named Gunnar Brogge (Flynn). I can't say anything more about the film without giving away vital parts of the story, and it is such a fascinating film that you will be on the edge of your seat from the first scene all the way through the end!

Superbly filmed and acted, this underrated film is a must for any WWII or Resistance fan. Errol Flynn is surprisingly mild in this film compared to his normal onscreen personality which makes the film a joint effort between the entire cast instead of an Errol Flynn movie with supporting players. Walter Huston is great as the doctor who has to come to grips with the occupation and Judith Anderson really shines with, in my opinion, the best performance in the film.

This movie is available in the DVD set Errol Flynn Adventures. It features Edge of Darkness (1943), Uncertain Glory (1944), Desperate Journey (1942), Northern Pursuit (1943), and Objective, Burma! (1945). They are all restored and come with bonus shorts, newsreels and trailers. Can't beat the quality of the transfers. A must for any WWII film fan!