Velvet Eyes: France’s Besancon, Rendezvous Of The Last Chance For Our Friend Who Did Not Know Where To Go! 5th New Episode (1942). Publication: Sept 6, 2009. A Story By Mike Fuller, PhD.

August 29, 2009

Besancon, I like the name of this City. The Embassy was closed and we were living in Switzerland, far away from Prague in a small town where we had nothing to do except to continue our mission of help and tenderness. We had nod the choice according to us: to stay meant to fight the totalitarism, to go back to America would have been to be traitors to all these families and people that we knew and appreciate in Europe, a big continent now devastated by the war and reorganized by armies and dictators. The Department Of State allowed us a permanent vacation status until the end of the war and we felt better to have this position with no pay but so many duties in this neutral state that was protected of the Nazism even if in the middle of its evil empire.

I had no choice: I had to go to Besancon. It was impossible according to Valentine, France was under the control of the German army even if a part (the south) of the Country was less controlled. I did not mind. There was there, in Besancon, a friend of Val’s Family, kind of cousin who lost his mind by staying on location after the Germans enter in Paris. But now it was too late, we supposed he was still there and we had the address written on his letters that we received in Prague until the end of the Peace in Europe. The American embassy in London confirmed us that his family in the States had no news from him.

So I had a project, not alone but with the French Resistance that I met in Geneva some months ago. It was a great idea. These guys were fantastic and they did their best to still supervise the trains network, even if the Nazis did their best to harass every train in the Country but it was not always possible, especially by night. So we thought about organizing the travel of our friend to Spain, first before to go from Spain to Morocco where he could join the Allied or find a plane for America. Nothing was possible regarding Great Britain that was really isolated from France an at war against Germany. Spain was neutral even if ruled by another dictator but Sam Franklin, it was his name, could not stay several more years in this situation in Besancon. We knew that the war would not finish soon and we were conscious that his neighbors helped him but the best for him was to leave. He could be arrested anytime. In some trains the Resistance installed special places below the wagon where a man could travel without being worried by the enemies.

For me, it was different, I went to Besancon in a truck of the French resistance, a truck that was transporting wine and there was enough room for a little secret place where I could stay. I went there like if I was on my way to my work in Prague. No particular stress, no fear. Val felt the same, said: Break a Leg and asked Malcolm to say Goodbye to his dad. “We are proud of you, Dad! You’ll be back soon!!” The family was working on the publication and the diffusion of a weekly magazine that we sent everywhere in Europe to every good resistance through particular networks of men and women who knew how to deal with this kind of confidential and dangerous diffusion. Our target: to say the truth about Nazism, to give true information about their failures and the victories of the ones who still fight against Hitler, to call for patience because the Allied would arrive one day but it was taking the necessary time for a complete success.

In the truck, I was uncomfortable but satisfied and self-confident. I believed a lot in the security of the French Resistance, people who sometimes were communist but they were so committed to help Americans because they knew the war would not be won without us. There were some controls but just routines ones and we arrived in Besancon for the night. There I staid in a Family who owned a Vineyard close to the town and we scheduled my day in Besancon for Tomorrow. The address was 15, rue de la Lorraine and I was there!

Disguised in priest, I arrived with a strong lady of the Resistance who had 2 guns with her. There was no Gestapo, no soldiers, nothing German in the streets. Lucky morning! At the 2 floor normally, there was Sam’s apartment and obviously there was another name on the door. We knocked and somebody was there. A cool French man who told us to have a seat and offered us to eat some cheese with a piece of French bread and some wine. After a while, he was decided to give us the new address of Mr. Franklin. It was a strange one: in the basement of the town’s City Hall!

The Resistance was doing a great job and we were there with a guide: the previous mayor’s brother. It was a kind of headquarters for them and I had some difficulties to find Sam who was sleeping with 5 other refugees protected by the anti-Nazis. I could not stay a lot because our wine truck had to go back to Switzerland the following morning. SO, I just told him that we loved him, he looked so thin and super-sad with little eyes looking nowhere. I said: you’ll do it, my friend. Everything’s almost ready to send you to Spain. There we have partners who will drive you to Morocco, step by step. In Africa, you’ll join our Country.” He repeated everything I said a first time, then began to repeat it a second time when I told him: “That’s it, friend! That’s it Sam! That’s it!” And we laughed together. This is my last memory of Sam Franklin who passed away in his hometown of Atlanta in 1962 because of an accident, he was 53 after almost 20 more years of happiness thanks to the thousands of Nazis fighters who helped him to get back there, including me and Valentine who prayed for our success every morning and every night. Before to leave, I gave to Sam the laissez-passer that probably saved his life. He said: “This is something I will never forget”. I still think about him with Val and he wrote us so many letters in the 1950’s. He was a great man.”

Velvet Eyes: France’s Besancon, Rendezvous Of The Last Chance For Our Friend Who Did Not Know Where To Go! 5th New Episode (1942). Publication: Sept 6, 2009. A Story By Mike Fuller, PhD. All right reserved.

René Magritte's Not to Be Reproduced (La Reproduction Interdit), (1937). In France, The Germans Made The Nation Under Their Control With No Place For Freedom And Friendship But Velvet Eyes Succeeded To Rescue A Friend Of His Family's Wife.

René Magritte's Not to Be Reproduced (La Reproduction Interdit), (1937). In France, The Germans Made The Nation Under Their Control With No Place For Freedom And Friendship But Velvet Eyes Succeeded To Rescue A Friend Of His Family's Wife.

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2 Responses to “Velvet Eyes: France’s Besancon, Rendezvous Of The Last Chance For Our Friend Who Did Not Know Where To Go! 5th New Episode (1942). Publication: Sept 6, 2009. A Story By Mike Fuller, PhD.”

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