tv American Resistance in Nazi Germany CSPAN December 17, 2016 10:30am-11:31am EST
bill of rights day. it is the anniversary of this we >> watch the entire tour 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on sunday on american cutbacks. this is american history tv on c-span3. thelex kershaw talks about jacksons, and american family updated the french resistance and not see occupied paris. i occupied paris. the hour-long talk is part of a multi-day conference in new orleans at the world war ii museum. >> i hope everyone had ample time to get your books and our legs and have lunch. up next is one of the museum's most featured historians.
alex kershaw. alex has been a guest speaker over the years, sharing deeply personal stories of individuals who made dramatic differences during this global conflict. he's made his impact with book launches and conference appearances here in new orleans, but also by being one of our featured historians on many european doors. including normandy and the battle of the bulge. he is here to talk about his latest look "avenue of spies," which is the basis of the tour alex just got back from last night, where we took people from normandy, following the bedford boys, then to paris with a remarkable story we are about to hear unfolded during the not the -- the nazi occupation. please join me in welcoming alex kershaw. [applause]
alex: can you hear me ok? good. can you hear me over here if i walk around, pace around nervously? as i walk the avenue of spies? good. great to have you here. fantastic audience. i'm going to be very politically incorrect now and say something that i probably shouldn't say. i am actually going to thank someone from the museum who is the reason why i am standing here right now. please, jeremy collins, can you stand up, raise your hand up? where's jeremy? [applause] the reason why i'm going to embarrass him briefly, and please forgive me for this, is because jeremy first invited me to go on a tour with the museum several years ago. we spent three weeks together.
he has been a big supporter of me over the years. it was on a trip to europe that i came across the idea of the book up here, "avenue of spies." this is a famous color photograph from world war ii. it is pretty rare. on the left, you will see over here, the second nazi flag is outside the hotel moritz, which is the headquarters during the german occupation of the city of lights. it was while jeremy and i were walking, not staggering i should say, walking late at night that i decided i had to try and work out a convincing plan to get a new york publisher to give me enough money to go and get drunk
several times in paris. which unbelievably, i managed to do. so anyway, without too much ado, i will get on with the story. i will try and whip through fairly evocative images. first of all, i wanted to read to you -- i am not a great believer of reading anything from any book that i've written because people tend to fall asleep. i noticed that there is no wine on the tables, which is a good thing because you definitely would be falling asleep if you had some over lunch. this is what a frenchman, a brave frenchman -- and there were many during world war ii, including i should say de gaulle. here's what he said about belonging to the army of the nights, the secret army, the frenchman and women who gave everything to defeat fascism and naziism. and terror over 150 days and nights.
ofy lived in the shadows soldiers of the night, that our lives were not dark. there were arrests, torture and death for so many of our friends and comrades. and tragedy awaited all of us just around the corner. we did not live in or with tragedy. we were exhilarated of the challenge and the rightness of our cause. it was in many ways the worst of times. and in just as many ways the best of times. and the best is what we remember today. so i said this before. i think that quote is powerful and evocative because i think it reminds us of what many i think she'll today about world war ii
and what if you choose to remember about world war ii. we don't want to focus on too often the terror and the darkness and the death and the suffering. we want to remember heroism, the human spirit at its finest, sacrifice, and humanity at its very brightest. on the left over here, sumner jackson, he is in uniform. it would be an understatement to say that he was born poor. he was born in the backwoods of maine. his dad was a part-time laborer. he left school at 14 to work at a quarry. by 1917, he had managed to qualify as a doctor almost miraculously. this is an example of american meritocracy at its finest.
he volunteered to serve with the british on a song in the first world war. as is him on the left in uniform. a doctor, obviously. this is him on his way to france in 1917. he met his wife, a swiss french nurse, in an operating theater. he is at the head of the table furthest from me. it is thought that his future wife is right at his side, right on the immediate left. and this is the hospital for wounded american soldiers, other allied troops during the first world war in paris. sumner fell in love with her. their son philip said, when they met in hospital, they would kiss each other in a closet very often.
but this was taken in the early 1920's. he decided to stay in france. he gave up his career, his family, everything in the u.s. to be at her side. he had to retrain as a doctor in france. the french were anti-semitic in many ways. they didn't want jews to come from eastern europe to replace the doctors in france and they wanted anybody from a different country to come to france and requalify as a doctor. he spent five years in the u.s. -- he spent another five years in france, when he could've been practicing medicine in the u.s., to qualify as a doctor, but his son told me that it was worth it because he was madly in love. they were very keen tennis players. she was one of the finest tennis players of her generation. she beat a great french champion many, many times. this is philip with his father, born in the late 1920's. he is alive today.
he's almost 90. this was taken outside the number 11 avenue foss. that is sumner and philip. the railings you see, the blurred lines behind him, are still there today. i'm going to flip through some of the family photos. sumner was a very powerful man. spent most of his youth performing heavy labor. this is jackson's, philip, the dog, his mom and dad. in the late 1930's, they went to normandy every summer during holiday. those people who know a little bit about d-day, when i say this is juno beach, you know what it is. that is where the canadians landed in 1944. here is philip slightly older. the gentleman on the left taught philip to swim in the cold,
choppy waters of the english channel. he would later of his life to this man because he learned to swim in the english channel and was able to survive later on. it we have avenue posh, named after the famous french general, who predicted the day that the germans would be forced to surrender after world war i. it would be an armistice only 23 -- 20 years. the second world war broke out a to the day, when he predicted it would. they conquered paris, and [indiscernible] the gestapo chose the nicest places to live in paris.
foch was the most attractive address for the just apo and they took it over. ,his is number 11 avenue foch only taken a few years ago. i was there five weeks ago with a group from the world war ii museum. livedis the jacksons right behind the black iron railings. this princeton graduate, and of americans earliest spies, was taken in by sumner jackson. he was protected by him, he worked at the american hospital in paris, and he found his way to the american hospital, working as a volunteer ambulance
man. that was a front. he was actually one of america's earliest spies. an foreignhave atelligence -- we do not have foreign intelligence service but we did have people who worked for the american state department before the second world war, and donald costa was ster was one of those men. later, he was involved in the planning of operation torch when the oss really kicked in and went into action. in an interview in 1981, he said that sumner jackson hit him in -- hid him in the basement of the american hospital in the summer of 1940 until he could find the appropriate papers and a way out of nazi-concord france. this is the first connection that the jackson family have with intelligence and the first risk that sumner jackson took during world war ii to aid intelligence efforts.
by the fall of 1940, i have a flag in front of me. you will see i highlighted some of the buildings where the gestapo were most active. number 11 is shown there. if you go along the avenue and if you have good eyesight, you will see several of the buildings have been taken over by the gestapo. very powerful figures in the ss apparatus in occupied paris. actually this here is an arrow pointing to number 72. by 1943, 1944, the most powerful man in occupied france. this is him here. he was 36 years old when he
arrived in paris in the 14th of june, 1940. had a phd in medieval literature. an academic who became a very devoted nazi. he arrived in paris in disguise on june 14, 1940, disguised as a military policeman, not as an ss officer. because the senior generals in paris in 1940 didn't want any of these so-called gentlemen anywhere near paris. they were called the blockbusters -- the black bastards. if you were a christian aristocrat, you didn't want this person in the most beautiful city on the planet that you now dominated. these people, when they arrived, had extermination, assassination, all of the apparatus of the ss. that arrived, too. not want these guys
around and that is why they arrived in disguise. that's why from early june 1940, right until almost 1943 the ss and the gestapo struggled to dominate the situation in paris and also france. moving on, if i can get this to work. this is winter 1940, just outside paris. on the left is sumner jackson. he was allowed to stay. many americans were interned by the germans. because of philip jackson connections, he was allowed to stay on as the chief surgeon at the american hospital in paris. to the right is philip jackson. philip told me he liked this photograph because it showed him and his father together. they weren't together very often because sumner was so busy. it also shows sumner possibly at his happiest. he loved to give them a hand, to
carve, to be outdoors. he came from the backwoods of maine. this is a reminder of the lifestyle, the upbringing he had left behind in the u.s. may of 1942, this is the airport. you maythe third reich, recognize the central figure, heydrich. he is described easily as the architect of the final solution. he was at the conference when they planned the final genocide, final solution, rather. he arrived in paris to make sure the ss, in particular the gestapo, were placed in the position of primary power, the france become an ss state. the ss were the ones to call the shots. to his right is a protege on the
-- of heydrich. he was an inspiration. have carl left, we , alsoerg -- carl oberg arriving for the first time in paris. he would run the ss in france. an ssance would become state, a racially pure place where the gestapo and the more fanatical followers would make sure they could get what they want done is done. and they would assassinate and murder anyone they need to to get what they want, which is namely destroying the french resistance. the french today would argue -- and they are right, i believe -- that the two of them are responsible for the mass murder
of over 80,000 french civilians who were jewish and around 80,000 resistance french civilians who dared to defy them. july 1943, joe manos was shot down over paris. i interviewed him four years ago. this is a report he made when he got back to england. over 3000 americans completed what were called home runs. one of the most incredible beats any american managed in world war ii. the home run meant, if you are shot down over northern europe, and in joe's case, if you manage through connections to the them, andenees, climb get back to england, joe manos
went back to the same pub, where his crew had been before they left on the mission where he was shot down. for two weeks, he was interrogated very severely and he resented it for the rest of his life. he had been through hell. he had been held by 50 people through the french resistance. he told me, when he got back to england, they spent two weeks -- they quarantined him and interviewed him at great length because they thought he could be a double agent, that he was maybe turned by the gestapo and then came back to become a spy. he wasn't a spy. in the report he made, a very detailed report, he mentions a doctor sumner jackson. he made his way to escape line, which was connected to a liberal national resistance movement. it was to the american hospital, jackson met with sumner . he says that sumner jackson took him back to his home at 11 avenue foche in july 1943. it is not sumner jackson -- it
is talked jackson helped several other down allied fliers to return to spain. this is the only documented evidence i can find of joe manos. he was part of the escape line that helped many others to spain. late summer 1943, the war against the ss and gestapo war against the resistance, they know the major aid from france itself for any allied invasion would come from the french resistance. gestapo also note an invasion will come at some point, maybe even in the fall of 1943. that was believed by some. certainly in some point of 1944, the allies would invade france. the gestapo and ss were determined to keep the french resistance from helping them so
they went to war with the resistance. they destroyed anybody that was involved in the resistance and used all kinds of tactics to do so. here you have number 84. by late summer 1943, his empire has grown from number 72 to number 74 and also number 76. number 84, you have a senior ss officer who becomes one of the most successful spies of the third reich. he specializes in capturing soe agents, operation executive special agents. one of the myths of world war ii is that the british made use of spies. in france, they were disastrous. it was a child's game.
as the ss described it, it was a child's game to capture british spies in france. you had posh englishmen arriving with bad french accents. they would be arrested within hours of walking into cafe. they were amateurish. many of them. theh is not to undermine broader intelligence efforts of the british during world war ii, but to pick on france, when you point to france, you have to say that it was a disaster. it was an absolute disaster. and the guy that was the chief bloodhound for the nazis, the one who tracked down most of our best soe agents was hans kiefer, a former policeman, a good colleague. , it was when they were captured and sent to germany.
they were tortured severely. [indiscernible] the beautiful, charming in working-class, one who married a frenchman and parachuted into france, and she was interrogated at length on number 84, which is by the summer of 1943, called h because there were so many germans that lived there. moving on, if i can get this thing -- he lived next door to the jacksons. this photograph was taken of him three years ago. he is still alive. he is 96 years old today. incredibly, he is part of the team that first climbed in 1950. the british managed to summit everest -- i should take that
back, but before everest was, the highest mountain that had been conquered and he was part of the team that did it. he was also part of the french resistance. in 1943, he knocked on the front door at number 11 and talk to the jacksons and said, i belong to the french resistance. i have something to ask you. would you be prepared to use your house as a meeting place and a dropbox for my resistance group? he told we got she said yes and in that hesitate for a second. she said yes to you can use our home as a meeting place for resistance agents. the decision to join the resistance was a very serious one obviously. she had a husband, sumner jackson, and a 15-year-old son, philip jackson. by deciding to use 11 avenue foch as a place where the resistance can meet, she was risking not only her life, but her husband and her son's life.
but she was still prepared to do so. august 1944, this is a photograph taken at number 72 avenue foch. it was taken by the great french photographer, one of the founding members of magnum. he was in paris on the 25th of august, 1944 when it was liberated by french second armored division and americans. let's not forget that, the fourth infantry division that fought in the heart of paris on the 25th of august, 1944. armored --ue, what where armored tanks rolled, he went into the offices of the gestapo and he took a shot of the polished boots of the senior ss officials. and it shows the papers been discarded, the haste with which the gestapo had left paris after
150 days and nights of occupation. in late may of 1944, literally just a couple weeks before d-day, there is a knock on the front door. the knock on the front door from -- finally came on 11 avenue foche. and the police arrived and they arrested toquette, sumner jackson and philip jackson. toquette found herself in ravens -- ravensbruck. the largest prison for women in history. it is thought many perished in the second world war there. this is during the winter of 1944 to this is an unusual 1945. photographic as it shows the women in that period actually wearg uniforms. toquette was a group of a -- was a part of a group of french resistance fighters who only war summer dresses for the winter of
1944-1945. she was the oldest by 10 years of the group that was deported from paris with her. and she was the only one to survive. of a small group that were deported from paris. this is on the 29th of april, 1945. she has been rescued by the swedish red cross at the 11th hour. and going to read you quickly. this is the 29th of april, 1945. she has just come off a boat from across the baltic. she's a group from other woman who had been saved. she writes to her sister in paris. "my sister, i know nothing about you since we saw each other in paris. do you have any news of jack?"
the nickname she had for her husband, sumner, or pete, the name she used for her son philip. "if my handwriting seems to tremble, it is because i have open wounds on three fingers and no eyeglasses. --lso have both the titus titus and my ears run. i can't hear on one side. my feet are swollen, and i have terrible dysentery. but after all that, my morale is good." she's 57 years old. "it is a miracle i am not dead. and to think i will see you soon. no time for more. kisses. your sister." so toquette jackson survived, but she didn't know if her husband and her son, who had been deported to the third reich, if they had survived.
this is philip in the summer of 1945. he did survive, but he did not know that his mother had lived. i'm going to read you one more short section from here. philip found himself on may 4, 1945, a prison ship in the baltic. there were three near new beck over 3000ontained concentration camp survivors. around 10,000 men had been taken from a work camp and philip had been among them, with his father. on the fourth of may, they decided they would sink any ship afloat in the baltic and that is what we did, killing over 12,000
people on the fourth of may, 1945. three days from the end of the war. sink every ship that floated in the baltic, including where philip and his father were held beneath the decks. philip managed to somehow miraculously survived. he was one of 200 people of over 2000 that lived but his father was drowned. he was liberated by the british. for the summer of 1945, he worked for the british because he spoke fluent german and english and french. photograph taken of him in the summer of 1945. finally, he discovered that his mother had survived and she wrote to him and said where are you? please come back to paris. he told me it was september 1945 when he got on a metro in paris. he cost paris and he got out at l'etoile.
the avenue and walked back to his house. his mother was there to greet him at the door at number 11. he said, i had gone back into my bedroom which i had left a year and a half before and it was the same. my mother hadn't moved anything. he was 17 years old. he had been deported when he was 16. but he told me, for me, everything had changed. i spent a year in a concentration camp. my father has been killed. i missed my entire adolescence. i went from being a child, a boy, to being a man. this is him in 1946 in hamburg. he testified at a war crimes trial against the senior ss. it was in court when he was able to point to nine ss officers and all of the nine were executed by the british after the war. and he told me, when i
interviewed him, that is the single thing he is proudest of, not belonging to the resistance, but the fact that he was able to testify against men who had murdered thousands and that his testimony had been an important and he had been believed and it had led to the direct execution of nine of what he had described as monsters, people he had seen every day to be monsters, people who made him lose all faith in humanity as a 16-year-old. here's the two men i showed you earlier on when they arrived on that fateful, humid day in may 1942 and they were the kings of france, when their twisted, racist ideology held sway throughout europe. before, they had fully dispatched over 160,000 frenchmen and women to their deaths at the heart of the third reich.
here they are on trial in paris in 1964 in knochen. both were sentenced to death. the british also insisted on trying them and sent them -- sentenced them to death there were crimes. for political reasons, they were both able to survive. in this gentleman on the right, helmand knochen, and you google his name, you see an academic sitting with knochen and he had become a very successful insurance men after the war. he said, you know, i was never a criminal. he died at age 93. he said, i was never a genocide eist. i was never a mass murderer. i was serving my country. and the great tragedy of my life, what is so unfair about my life, is that, yes, i did
organize the deportations, yes, i did sign the orders to send these people to the third reich. but i didn't know what was going to happen to them when they got off the trains at the end of their journeys. no one ever told me. a skilled, fantastic fabulist to the end. this is philip in 2014, and it is a great photograph, taken by friend of mine because it shows you the golden dome just behind him. below that dome, as many american gis from world war ii knew, because it was the most visited place by american soldiers in paris in world war ii, it's the tomb of napoleon. and philip today lives a stones throw from napoleon's tomb. it is one of the select few and
very elite few of the resistance who are allowed to live there, which is of huge, historical significance. for anyone who was involved in the french military, that is the place where the creme de la creme are looked after and nursed after at the end of their lives. i have to say that five weeks ago, it was my great honor and privilege to take 25 people from the museum tour -- we did a trip to france. at the last minute, i was able to surprise all of them and we were able to walk into the main reception area and were able to shake this man's hand. it's a very powerful experience for all of us because we knew all of us were doing it for maybe the very last time. he maybe has one year -- he is at the end of his life. he hasn't got long to live and
he did not look well. but it was a very powerful thing to be able to do. this is my ugly mug beside philip jackson in 2014. i'll move forward because i can't stand looking at myself in the best of times. [laughter] anyway, that was taken at a restaurant, a place that was phillips favorite restaurant. without being too much of a booster, i am ashamed that i know that's where we had dinner after we had met philip that afternoon. it's his favorite restaurant. thank you for being such a wonderful audience. i wanted to read you just one last thing before i disappear before you. before you can spend the rest of your time here listening to wonderful historians. it is a poem by philip zarbo.
indulge me. i am something that a sentimentalist. if you are not realized. wagons in the same train jackson on august 15, 19 44, when deported from france. the women were naked most of them and it was a very hot day, very, very hot, and the metal crews of the boxcars made it feel like a sauna inside. in the women's bodies slithered together because they were perspiring so much. and as some of the women collapsed, they would slide and down each other's backs. and some women were seen on their knees and they were licking drops of sweat that draw from other women's backs. vilette zarbo was one of those women and toquette jackson was one of those women. she was taken out in february of
1945, with two other british women agents, spies, and she was made to kneel down and shot in the back of the head and murdered. as many of our finest intelligence agents were who ended up on avenue foche. but before she arrived in france, before she gave her life to defeat naziism, she became an agent for the british. and leo marx, who ran her, who was her boss in the soe, knew that she needed to practice her code making. leo marx wrote a beautiful poem that she would decode and code and decode to practice her code making. "the life that i have is all that i have, and the life that i have is yours. the love that i have of the life
that i have is yours and yours and yours. a sleep i shall have a rest i shall have if death will be but a pause. for the piece of my years in the long green grass will be yours and yours and yours" thank you very much. you happen a great audience. [applause] >> if you have questions, please raise your hand so alex can get to them. start in the center at the very front. alex: sorry, i wanted to run away. i've not yet been deported. [laughter]
>> just finished your book a couple of months ago. i think it is the fifth or sixth of yours. just a question. what led to the arrest of the jackson's? was it the one incident or a series of observations by the gestapo? alex: they belonged to a group called [indiscernible] and i managed to come across the document which is in the archives in paris, which names the members of that resistance organization who were deported with the jacksons. on may 22, 1944, a safe house near vichy was rated by the gestapo. and the police, they worked close and together, and they found a list of names. whoever had been operating that safe house were very amateurish. the names are not coded.
at the same time that they found the list of names, which included the jacksons, they found some letters addressed to mrs. jackson in paris. that is how there given away. it wasn't when happened in paris but a different part of france with a different part of the same organization. in a way, the simple answer was complete amateurism. you don't have letters addressed andist of agents uncoated letters addressed to people with their real names. it was amateurism. >> to your left, alex. alex: sorry. >> you talk about the soe being penetrated. with the exception of the jet birds. i don't know if you can elaborate, but there was a certain department within soe that had been terribly penetrated in their communications on the ground, department h or department c. could you expand on that a little bit?
alex: the network that is most famous for being penetrated, which kiefer rolled up pretty quickly, is prosper. that is the one that had several very famous agents. there were others involved in that network, and that was particular to france. that was penetrated i believe in early july of 1943. and the gestapo, hence kiefer, was the guy that bold that network up, and he did it very carefully and cleverly. when you arrived at 11 avenue fromyou are an agent there, you arrived in a van. i took people to the actual entry of number nothing's 84. changed. you went underground into a courtyard. then you were taken up to a
second floor of 84 and if you are british, and most of the guys were posh and the women were interesting because they had married frenchmen or spent part of their lives because they were bilingual, but you were taken to the second floor and kiefer would have an englishman who would be there with biscuits and tea and sandwiches. i don't know if the sandwiches or cucumber with the crust cut off, but it was sophisticated. and you would be offered a cigarette. the point was sit down, cooperate, have a nice cup of tea. tea. there's no point in resisting. if you don't, we will talk to you later on and use you as we see fit. prosper is the same. in the back of my book, i have a long story, a note about some of the agents in that.
it is seen as a classic example of how the gestapo in paris so easily undermined and captured british intelligence agents and soe. soe ise to remember that not mi6. if you google my name, you will see that i am listed as an mi 6 agent. [laughter] my place of recruitment is geneva in 1997. mi-6 andlex kershaw that's because i went to college with a few people who did actually work for british intelligence and probably still work for british intelligence. but anyway, i'm not an mi 6 operative. but the mi 6 existed at the same time as the soe. and it was thought that the soe were a bunch of churchillian
amateur's. the kind of bar. by churchill.d he wanted a group of opposites to set europe aflame, he said. they were not professional intelligence operatives in the sense that mi 6 were. all the way to the war, mi6 soehed a silly -- watched and they were set up. mi 6 got on the real business of intelligence. churchill's cowboys and cowgirls paid the price. some believe there were betrayed by mi 6 operatives. three germans would swallow a false story about when they were going to invade france on d-day. it was propagated that it would be the fall of 1943, not june of 1944. we wanted the germans to buy that, so mi 6 used soe to do that. prosper is the example of how
easy it was. knochen interrogated some of the soe, members of the prosper network in france. >> alex, to your right. >> a comment first and then a question. i notice that april 29 of 1945 was also the same day that felix sparks liberated dachau. it is interesting how that plays out for protagonist in another story. would you comment on the overall effectiveness of the resistance movement in france? and also, i get a sense from what i read, that the french look back on the second world war -- here is a country with the largest army in the world at one point, gets rolled over by the germans in nothing flat.
and now a matter of shame in many respects. somehow, the resistance movement seem too kind of bolster the french and how they look upon that period. alex: if the french ambassador is here, please leave the building now. [laughter] maybe not, given what just happened briefly. fantastic question. i don't want to go on too long, but i think you raise very important points. a wonderful question. i will try to be brief. and i will do it by -- i went to see philip -- the third time i went to see philip, i was rolling his wheelchair to get quite drunk at his favorite restaurant. he was in his wheelchair and we are on the third floor and a woman was in a wheelchair right beside us and got into a lift. she was slumped in the wheelchair and she must have been in her mid-90's. and she was drooling.
i looked at her and i looked at philip and we went to lunch and the french know how to treat their veterans, especially their resistance veterans. rich are huge deal for them. we each set, nine of us, all of them in their late 80's, early 90's, nine members of the french resistance were in a separate room at the restaurant. each table had a white linen tablecloth and we had a half bottle of burgundy one for lunch. this is how they treat their veterans. and i said to philip, who is that in the lift? and he said, oh she was in the resistance. you know, i have been able to -- i have not been able to sleep. i have not had a wink of sleep because she's been screaming every night. well over 70 years after the second world war, this woman wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. because when she was caught by the gestapo, they were clever. they were clever a lot of the
time. instead of killing her and torturing her, they made her parents kneel down in front of her and shot her parents in the back of the head. and they said to her you can go free. just remember to tell everybody else that is what is going to happen to them, too. so when you go to france and normandy -- i was there publics ago -- when you talk to the -- i was there five weeks ago, when you talk to the french about de gaulle, about what happened in the second world war, you will have different reactions. some frenchman i talk to are very angry about the accusations that somehow they lacked spine, that they give up too easily, that they were so quickly defeated. hitler said in may of 1940 come -- i will be in paris in six weeks and everybody thought he was crazy but he was right. six weeks almost to the day, he was wandering around the highlights of paris. it was a terrible, moral, emotional, physical shock to be defeated that quickly as a proud nation.
but let's not forget, as brits, we were also defeated. we had dunkirk, the so-called miracle. if we had not had the 21 miles of the english channel, they would have had scotland. maybe they would not have defeat the scots quite as easy as the brits. [laughter] anyway, the wall would have been built quite quickly, some kind of wall anyway. sorry. but the english channel saved us. no one was immune. blitzkrieg was fantastic. it worked. it was the most violent, modern, deceptive form of warfare anybody had seen. so yes, the french were defeated. now, in 1941, when sumner jackson became involved helping downed allied airmen, when he became the resistance, even if he did not join, he was almost 1944, and did not have
any kind of connection to any population opposed to german role, let alone becoming part of the resistance. even in 1944, on the eve of d-day, there was a very small percentage of french people who were in the resistance. after the war, the mythology, the popular stories are that everybody -- my dad, uncle, everyone i knew was in the resistance -- it is not true. it's absolutely not true. there is a very large gray area that most people occupied during occupation and they did not want to actively support the nazis, especially when things were going in the germans' way at the beginning of the war. but even in the eve of liberation, when americans and british were about to die in the tens of thousands to liberate france, there were still very few frenchman and women involved in the resistance.
when they were, they were violent and effective to some extent. but they had no weapons. the reason why they had no weapons is because we made damn sure that they had no weapons. the communists in france who were in the resistance, and they were the most lethal and most effective, the communists were the ones who would walk up behind you, who were german on the metro, take a single pistol and shoot you. you are a communist if you did that. you are ideologically motivated. we didn't want those guys running france. in fact, when i went to paris, people couldn't believe it when i said, you know, can you imagine normandy, 50,000 americans -- american casuals, -- casualties, 9387 americans 9286 americans buried.
imagine that sacrifice for nothing. imagine breaking out on normandy in finding out that the french resistance had taken over paris and the communists? and bordeaux and nice. what was the point? what would have been the point of liberation? there would have been no liberation. i hope i've tried to answer your question. i think if we armed them, it would have been the stupid thing to do because we would not have been able to have a democracy in france after the war. the communists heavily armed would have run the country. the reason why we put de gaulle in paris in 1944, even though we hated him, everyone hated him, was because he was a figurehead. we needed someone the french would believe in support and follow. we didn't want a communist.
that's why we ended up with de gaulle. >> we've got time for a quick question to you right, alex. >> the prevailing view i think is that torture is not only barbaric, but ineffective. is that also true with the gestapo experience with torture? alex: who's prevailing view is it that it's not effective? [laughter] i think it is pretty effective. it would work on me. [laughter] i would be having a cup of tea and saying, where is the next sandwich? [laughter] i don't think it worked on the right kind of agent. if you have the right kind of mentality and if you were vetted properly and had the kind of steel that people wanted, if you are like violette zarbo, for example, toquette jackson,
the kind of spirit, no, it didn't work. you are right. it did not work on people who were superhuman in a way. that cannot be broken, but many people it did. i don't think you can have a kind of binary view, successful or not successful. i don't think it's a humane policy. i say in general does not work. hiroshima was not particularly humane either. when we talk about war, we have to -- certainly in the second world war, we have to talk about how we won it. any method in the end, 1945 certainly, when we look at world war ii, we have to be honest. we have to say it was mass industrial slaughter. so torture becomes a rather arcane moral argument when one night in tokyo, 121,000 people
died from the houses being burned around them. we have to put it in that context. yes, i think torture is wrong. we should never use it. but then, mass industrial slaughter is also something we should question. but what isn't questionable is that it had to be done. we had to do anything we could, anything we could do to end that war and be victorious. the consequences of not doing that are still, i think everybody would agree, too horrific to even start to process or imagine. >> i want to take the opportunity before we thank alex -- we have a special guest with us, a world war ii veteran who himself had his own french-american relation during world war ii. to my right is judge from
lafayette, louisiana. even though his language was outlawed, the church and the culture allowed for the french to be allowed to be strong in acadiana. was putaid that, he into the intelligence corps in world war ii. in north africa, he worked with the french military, but also the civilian colonialists. and then he participated in the invasion of southern france. i just wanted to recognize a special veteran, a special hero. thank you. [applause] and thank you, alex. [applause]
>> >> this weekend on american history tv, this evening, patrick green and officer of the book "the land shall be daily in blood" deluged about nat turner's slave revolt. >> the clash between the slave owners and the free blacks embodied the difference in the black immunity asks some, including artists, decided to support the revolt while others elected to support the whites. >> then at 8:00, university of keane aboutatarina how consumer expenses changed during the early 20th century. >> instead of selling the
automobile as a means of transportation, you can sell a car as prestige. >> and just before 9:00, historian todd depastino discusses the post-world war ii career of sergeant bill mauldin, a cartoonist during the war. avoided ideological outbursts and never allowed partisan politics into his cartoons. but back home, he jumped into the political fray with both feet. . >> sunday at 6:00 p.m. on american artifacts -- >> one of my favorite artifacts is the draft version of what became the bill of rights. we refer to this as the senate markup. the 17ate took 12.dments and made them
12 amendments were sent to the states for ratification. 10 of those are ratified. christine blackerby and jennifer johnson tour the national archives, celebrating the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the bill of rights. for the complete c-span schedule, go to c-span.org. >> december 7 marked the 75th anniversary of the japanese attack on pearl harbor in 1941. up next on american history tv's "reel america," "the world at minute film from the office of war information from 1942. the film begins with the japanese attack on pearl harbor and president roosevelt's day of infamy speech. there is captured document film. it was shown widely in american movie theaters. this film, from the natural archives, contains many graphic