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Tag: World War II

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The 177 French Soldiers of D-Day

The D-Day Landings on the Normandy beaches took place on June 6, 1944, led by 57,500 American soldiers, 58,815 Brits, 21,400 Canadians, and just 177 Frenchmen! A tiny but elite commando force the history books have long forgotten. “Action stations, 0430 hours, the last coffee before France. The night is drawing to an end, we are stunned by the sight...

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Of Bombs and Beaches: Leon Kroll’s Mosaic Ceiling at Omaha Beach

A chapel stands amidst the graves in the U.S. military cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, the focal point of the Allied landings in France during World War II. Inside, the ceiling of its dome features an astonishing, colorful mosaic by American painter Leon Kroll. Standing among thousands of white marble crosses on a bluff above Omaha Beach in Normandy is a...

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From Connecticut to Normandy: The Planes of D-Day Take to the Skies

Ten World War II cargo planes took off from an airfield in Connecticut last Sunday morning. They will fly across the Atlantic and drop several hundred parachutists over Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the 1944 landings. D-Day Doll is almost 76 years old but purrs like she has just come out of the Douglas factory in Santa Monica,...

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The Merci Train, a Locomotive Built on French-American Goodwill

The cane used by the Marquis de La Fayette, 49 Sèvres porcelain vases, a silk wedding dress, and toy soldiers belonging to a ten-year-old boy. These were just a few of the objects gifted to the United States in a convoy of transatlantic solidarity organized after World War II: the French Gratitude Train. Seventy years ago on February 3, 1949,...

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You Are Where You Eat

Looking for her roots in Normandy, an American writer fell in love with pungent cheese and discovered the importance of terroir in French culture and gastronomy. The sky of Normandy is so blue that painters whose work hangs in the Musée d’Orsay had to find new pigment to paint it — so a guide told me. The sun that shines...

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“The Order of the Day,” a Goncourt Laureate Like no Other

For the first time since it was founded, the Prix Goncourt has been awarded to a historical account instead of a novel. The winner is none other than The Order of the Day by Eric Vuillard, a staggering work of some 130 pages which was recently translated and published in the U.S. After the initial surprise, readers will be firmly...

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France and the United States From Liberation to Exasperation

How did Americans go, in the mind of the French, from gum-chewing liberators to Coke-swilling invaders? A U.S. historian and a French cheesemonger examined this transformation in a book published this summer. During the Liberation, American GIs used calvados brandy to fuel their Zippo lighters. In 1948, the French communist party called for a boycott of the American soda giant, accusing...

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Flying Free: U.S. Pilots Saved by the Normans

American fighter planes and bombers supported the Allies in the Battle of Normandy from June through August 1944. During the war, some 2,700 pilots were forced to execute an emergency landing. Local inhabitants came to their rescue, and the soldiers were instructed to blend in with the French until the country was liberated. One such aviator, Major McLeod, went on...

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“Memoir of War,” an Excruciating Wait

Memoir of War is an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical work by Marguerite Duras. It recounts the novelist’s seemingly endless wait for her husband, Robert Antelme, who was imprisoned at Buchenwald during World War II. Director Emmanuel Finkiel offers a heartrending movie which was chosen to represent France at the 2019 Oscars ceremony. June, 1944. France is still living under Nazi...

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Yann Castelnot, Remembering Native Veterans

Frenchman Yann Castelnot, a Quebec-based amateur historian, has identified thousands of indigenous soldiers who fought for Canada and the United States since the arrival of the Europeans in the 17th century. In recognition of his archiving work he received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Province of Quebec and was congratulated by the Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs. Exactly...

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Claude Lanzmann, Shoah Memorialist, Dies at 92

French journalist and film director Claude Lanzmann, famous for his nine-and-a-half-hour documentary about the Holocaust, Shoah, passed away this Thursday. He was 92. "The people in the Jewish community that I meet are not ordinary deportees," explained Claude Lanzmann to France-Amérique in December 2010 as his film Shoah was being screened in New York. "They are people who have gone to...

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Serge and Beate Klarsfeld: “We Will Keep Fighting as Long as We Are Alive”

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have spent their lives hunting former Nazis, war criminals, and high-ranking officials of the Vichy regime. France-Amérique met with these “militants of memory,” 82 and 79 respectively, while they were promoting the English publication of their autobiography, Hunting the Truth. “He was over 6 ft. 5 and had a revolver in his pocket. I was also...

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France-Amérique Turns 75!

Seventy-five years ago today, on Sunday, May 23, 1943, the first issue of France-Amérique, “America’s French newspaper,” was published in New York. At the outbreak of World War II, the French community in the United States no longer had a newspaper. The respected Courrier des Etats-Unis, founded in 1828, had ceased publication in 1938, ruined by the Great Depression. In...

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Iconic: The Escape Scarf

Before becoming a collector’s item, silk scarves adorned with map prints were actually distributed in World War II to allied pilots, who would hide them under their collars and use them to find their way through occupied territory. In 1939, the British secret service created a covert organization — MI9 — responsible for giving Royal Air Force pilots flying over...

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“A Bag of Marbles” in U.S. Theaters

A Bag of Marbles (Un Sac de billes), in U.S. theaters on March 23, is a new adaptation of Joseph Joffo’s best-selling novel, and portrays two Jewish boys fleeing the war through Occupied France during the 1940s. Following on from Jappeloup and Belle & Sébastien, his two previous movies shot in France, Quebecer director Christian Duguay has chosen to bring Joseph...

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Remembering the Americans Who Gave Their Lives for France

A U.S. government agency founded in 1923 with offices outside of Paris continues to preserve the memory of the 67,629 American soldiers killed during the two World Wars and buried in France. The 150 students from the elementary school in Charly-sur-Marne have just left, and the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery falls silent once again. This military cemetery covers 42 acres of...

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Tearing Down the Statues

Embarrassing symbols of American history are being torn down one by one; after removing Confederate flags in the past, the focus has now been turned to statues. A commission in New York has been tasked with identifying exactly which symbols are to be confiscated, starting with the name “Philippe Pétain” engraved on Broadway. French people will hardly be surprised by...

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Jazz, a Transatlantic Love Story

The arrival of the ocean liner Queen Mary II in New York harbor, on Saturday, July 1, marks the return voyage of the first American soldiers who fought in France during Wold War I, but also the birth of a new form of music, jazz. A number of African-American musicians took advantage of the French infatuation with this new American art form and...

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A Monument in Honor of the Native American Soldiers of D-Day

A memorial stone was inaugurated in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer in the Calvados département on June 5, 2017, to honor the Native American soldiers who died during the Normandy Landings on Omaha Beach in 1944. A chapter of history that deserves to be remembered. Almost 25,000 Native American soldiers fought in World War II. History (and Hollywood) have remembered the role played by Navajo...

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Josephine Baker, a French-American Heroine

"I have two loves, my country and Paris," sang Josephine Baker at the Casino de Paris in the 1930s. Forty years after her death, the celebrated African-American dancer and singer is often reduced to her banana costume in the Revue nègre in 1925. Yet she was also a freedom fighter and an activist for African-American civil rights. Should she enter...