The story as it was told to me by my grand-father
and my father
My grand-parents on both sides were
living in Elisatbethville during WWII. Elisabethville is a neighborhood of
Aubergenville and is located 25 miles west of Paris. In 1944, the French
living in Aubergenville saw allied airplanes flying in the direction of
Paris. They were perfectly aligned, all flying at the same altitude. A short
while afterwards, they saw the same airplanes flying in the opposite
direction (towards the UK). They were in a complete mess, all flying at
different altitudes etc. Two were on fire... then they saw a parachute
popping out of one of the two bombers on fire... the French realized that
the parachute was going to land close to the center of city. Dozens of
French civilians rushed to greet the allied serviceman. My grand parents
rushed out of the garden; my 8 year old Dad wanted to follow them. However,
my grand pa said: "You stay at home; it could be dangerous". My Dad stayed
in his garden watching the parachute falling towards Aubergenville-Elisabethville railway station and
he was petrified at the idea he
could become an orphan...
When the French arrived on the scene, the American was in a tree close to
the railway station... and six Germans were waiting for him. He threw his
knife and pistol to the ground. A German soldier picked up the weapons.
Apparently, he was
scared to get down from the tree. The French first thought he was scared
because of the Nazi soldiers but they quickly realized that he was instead
scared of the French! At first, the French couldn't figure out why he was scared of
them. The most likely explanation is that the American was worried about possible
of the allied bombings. However, in Aubergenville, there was absolutely no
resentment whatsoever against the allies. The French were on the contrary excited to see their first
American and they were hoping to many more very soon!
A French guy rushed out of a coffee
shop with a glass of liquor and offered the glass to the American and said
in English with a strong French accent: "The people is with you". The
Germans abruptly pushed away the Frenchman and the American couldn't drink
the liquor. However, he got the message, smiled and immediately relaxed. The Germans on the contrary were extremely nervous
and annoyed by the growing crowd.
The American got off from the tree and surrendered to the Germans. The
Germans and the American crossed the railway and then entered Place de
l'Etoile. The French were following behind the soldiers.
As they were about to leave the Place de l'Etoile, a French civilian was facing the soldiers and made a
military salute to cheer up the American and simultaneously tease the Germans.
Somebody took a photo at the very moment.
Further on the way to the Standortkommandantur, a French guy who was perfectly fluent in English asked
the permission to speak to the POW. The Germans abruptly told him it was
verboten; however, strangely enough, they let him offer a
cigarette to the American.
At some point, the American figured out that he didn't really need the close protection of the
Wehrmacht. He decided to walk faster. He was taller than the Germans and the
Germans had a hard time following him and had to run... and the French civilians
were running joyfully behind the Germans soldiers. At each intersection, the American would turn
around and nod his head to ask the Germans which direction to follow and
depending of the circumstances, they would bark (in German) "RECHTS!",
"LINKS!" or "GERADE AUS!" (RIGHT! LEFT! or STRAIGHT AWAY!)