Thursday, March 31, 2005

 

Donuts can be good for you

My donut shop is cool. Like my video store. But different.

If you're a WWII history buff like me, you've probably wondered: "Hey, what ever happened to guys like Edouard Daladier, Paul Reynaud and Maurice Gamelin after France surrendered to Germany in June 1940? And how about Leon Blum?"

These guys were leaders of France's Third Republic and waged the short but disastrous war against Nazi Germany in 1939-40. Daladier was Prime Minister of France at the beginning of the war, and became War Minister when Reynaud took over as Prime Minister in 1940. Gamelin was the field marshall in charge of the French armed forces. Leon Blum was Prime Minister before Daladier and a vocal opponent of Hitler.

So what happens to the leaders of a country that surrenders? The WWII history books I've read typically gloss over that. All they tell you is that the traitorous "Vichy" government took over the weak remnant of France that was not occupied by Germany. The leaders who opposed Germany simply "pass from the world stage," so to speak.

I suppose I could have just Googled these guys, but I didn't. Instead, I learned the answer at my donut shop.

My donut shop has walls covered in memorabilia of various kinds, but one particular section has memorabilia of the founder of the shop and, I gather, some of his friends and relatives from World War II. These guys were in various branches of the U.S. armed forces. Prominent among the snapshots, newspaper clippings, discharge papers and the like is a large front page spread from the newspaper of a nearby town. It's dated May 8, 1945, and the banner headline announces the surrender of Germany. VE Day.

A small item in the lower left hand corner reports that various former VIPs were released from prisons in Germany and Italy just liberated by allied troops. These included Daladier, Reynaud, Blum and Gamelin. They were imprisoned during the war, that's what... Marshal Petain and the Vichy government had tried them for treason!

"The things you can learn if you just keep your eyes on the prize," I thought, as I turned back to the display case bristling with chocolate old fashioned, glazed raised, jelly filled and other assorted donuts.

***

Comments:
Have you read _Strange Victory_ (not to be confused with _Strange Defeat_)? I thought it was an absolutely riveting account of the German defeat of France.
 
Jeremy, you are cool! Yes, I have read Strange Victory. I thought it was riveting too. (Couldn't he have thrown in a sentence about what became of these whom he was talking about through most of the book?)
 
Oh great, something to extend to my reading backlog into the 2020s. My question is, where's the donut shop on what I'd presume to be the near east side of the city where you live?
 
Greenbush bakery, on the near West side.
 
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