Captain Raymond Dronne‘s memoir of the regular army unit he commanded from the summer of 1943 to the spring of 1945, No. 9 Company of the Chad March Regiment, also known as ‘La Nueve‘, a company made up almost entirely of Spanish veterans of the civil war and social revolution of 1936-1939 — anarchists, socialists, republicans. It was Dronne’s column that was ordered by General Leclerc to liberate Paris, which it did — flying the Spanish Republican flag from their Sherman tanks and half- tracks — on 24 August 1944. Of the 146 men of ‘La Nueve’ who landed in Normandy, only 16 survived to be the first to enter Hitler’s Berchtesgaden Eagle’s Nest.
COMING SOON: ‘LA NUEVE’ — 24 August 1944. The Spanish Republicans who liberated Paris by Evelyn Mesquida. Preface by Jorge Semprún and afterword by General Michel Roquejeoffre. £12.00/ €16.00 / $19.00 (+ p+p). Publication date: 5 January 2015. Limited print edition of 100 copies so advance orders (cheque, cash or Paypal, to email@example.com) are essential. Hopefully copies should be available before Xmas.
Officers, NCOs and soldiers of the 9th Company of the 3rd March Regiment of Chad, ‘La Nueve’. First row, l-r: Martín Bernal, Antonio Gualda, Bullosa, Zubierta, Domínguez ‘el Extremeño’, José Cortés, Domínguez ‘el Valencia’, Blanco, Lt. Campos ‘el Canario’, Amado Granell, Sarasqueta, Captain Dronne, Montoya, Federico Moreno, Salvador, Antonio. Others include: Lozano, Pradas, Pedro Castillo, LLorden, Juán Molina, Delgado, Elías, Escudero, Royo, Antonio Curto, Felipe Rodríguez ‘el Feo’, Antonio Sanchez, Salinas, Anarés Carayón, Juán Fuentes, Ginés Martinez ‘el Gallego’, Valero ‘el Sevilla’, Gutiérrez, Fernando Moreno, Antonio Muela, Vazquez, Hernández, Jordi Gomis, Luís Morales, Andrés Castillo, Santi, Liébana, Antonio Navarro ‘Carapalo’, Abenza, Baños, Pablo Cañero ‘el Murciano’, Llesta, Clarasó, Floreal, Jacinto Paniagua y Fábregas. A number of the men chose not to appear in the official photograph citing their past activities and possible future involvement in clandestine anti-Francoist activities. Lt. Campos, for example, and his other anarchist comrades of ‘La Nueve’ set up arms and materiel caches for the urban and rural guerrillas of the Defence Commission of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in exile.
They are the heroes from a hidden page of history, the soldiers of ‘La Nueve’, No 9 company of General Leclerc’s renowned 2nd Armoured Division (DB). According to the history books, the liberation of Paris began on 25 August 1944 when General Leclerc’s 2e Division Blindée (2e DB) entered the city via the Porte d’Orléans. In fact, Leclerc began the push earlier, on 24 August, when he ordered Captain Dronne, commander of No 9 Company, to enter Paris without delay. Dronne thrust towards the city centre via the Porte d’Italie at the head of two sections from No 9 Company, better known as ‘La Nueve’.
The first vehicle from ‘La Nueve’ reached the Place d l’Hôtel de Ville on 24 August 1944 shortly after 8.00 p.m., “German time”. Amado Granell – Paris’s very first liberator! – climbed down from his half-track to be greeted inside the city hall by Georges Bidault, president of the National Resistance Council, Jean Moulin’s successor. Granell, like 146 out of the ‘La Nueve’s’ 160 men, was a Spanish republican!
The Battle of Paris cost the 2nd Armoured Division the lives of 71 men and 225 wounded. Material losses included 35 tanks, six self-propelled guns, and 111 vehicles.
On 26 August, General De Gaulle strode down the Champs Élysées accompanied by four vehicles from ‘La Nueve’ acting as his escort and protection detail. The procession was led by Amado Granell and his armoured car.
Survivors of the Spanish Revolution and the civil war against Franco, having enlisted in the Free French army, the Spaniards of ‘La Nueve’ — anarchists, socialists, communists and republicans — went on to liberate Alsace and Lorraine and continued fighting relentlessly into Germany as far as the Nazi heartland in the Obersalzberg in the Bavarian Alps. Of the 146 men who landed in Normandy, only 16 survived to be the first to enter Hitler’s Berchtesgaden Eagle’s Nest.
Evelyn Mesquida has done justice to these heroes of freedom, honouring the pledge she made to the survivors. Journalist and writer Evelyn Mesquida, is honorary chair of the Foreign Press Association in Paris and vice-chair of the European Press Club. She is the author of La Mémoire entre silence et l’oubli. Les soldats oubliés de la libération de Paris (Presses de l’université de Laval, Québec, 2006) and of Sorties de guerre des hommes de ‘la Nueve’ (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2008)
We have seen the war powers, which are essential to the preservation of the nation in time of war, exercised broadly after the military exigency had passed and in conditions for which they were never intended, and we may well wonder in view of the precedents now established whether constitutional government as heretofore maintained in this republic could survive another great war even if victoriously waged.
From an address delivered by Charles Evans Hughes at the Harvard Law School, June 21, 1920.
The real traitors to America at present , . . are precisely those false patriots who cry down truth, obstruct the path of social discovery, deny a free forum to Intellectual Honesty, pretend— while storm clouds gather ominously overhead,— that America is a cooing dove of peace and prosperity, a bird of paradise, a harbinger of glad tidings to a world in despair.
From Samuel D. Schmalhausen’s preface to Behold America!, published 1931.
June 1950, John Service faced loyalty investigations by the State Department and the Senate. Cleared of the charges he was fired in December 1951 on orders of President Truman’s Loyalty Review Board….
“The procedure before the boards,” wrote the attorney, L. A. Nikoloric, in his article, “Our Lawless Loyalty Program,” “violates the provisions of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. The employe ‘answers’ the charges to his accusers— not to an impartial judge. He is not told where the derogatory information originated; it is impossible to impeach the reliability of its source . . . His only defense is to prove a somewhat nebulous ‘loyal’ state of mind.”
And lest some one should persuade ye, lords and commons, that these arguments of learned men’s discouragement at this your order are mere flourishes, and not real, I could recount what I have seen and heard in other countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes . . . There it was I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner to the inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought.
John Milton, Areopagitica, 1644
The country will swarm with informers, spies, delators, and all the odious reptile tribe that breed in the sunshine of despotic power. The hours of the most unsuspected confidence, the intimacies of friendship, or the recesses of domestic retirement, afford no security . . . Do not let us be told that we are to excite fervor against a foreign aggression to establish a tyranny at home; and that we are absurd enough to call ourselves free and enlightened while we advocate principles that would have disgraced the age of Gothic barbarity.
Congressman Edward Livingston, speaking in the U. S. House of Representatives in opposition to the Sedition Act of 1798
Are your friends and associates intelligent, clever?
A question put by a U. S. Loyalty Board in 1948 to a government employee accused of disloyalty
Toward the end of the war, with public resentment against the disruptive practises of the Un-American Activities Committee at a peak, Chairman Martin Dies had withdrawn as a congressional candidate and three other Committee members had been crushingly defeated at the polls. At the time, it was generally believed that the Committee was about to be disbanded by Congress. Then, on January 3, 1945, during the opening session of the 79th Congress, a surprise bill was passed by a vote of 207-186 converting the Committee into a permanent congressional body.
“In my opinion, international fascism, though defeated in battle, is not dead . . .” wrote Assistant U. S. Attorney General O. John Rogge in a memorandum to the Attorney General on February 28, 1946. “No, fascism is not dead in the United States. On the contrary it is now in the process of postwar reconversion . . . The old familiar faces are once again spouting the old familiar fascist lies.”
A giant of a man with an incongruously boyish face, forty-two year old Assistant Attorney General Rogge, was a political anachronism in postwar Washington. He still thought in terms of the New Deal and talked enthusiastically about the prospects of “democratic capitalism” in America.
In the spring of 1946, Rogge received from Captain Sam Harris, a member of the US. prosecution staff at Nuremburg, information revealing that there existed in Germany concrete proof of former ties between the Hitler Government and certain American citizens. Rogge hastened to the office of Attorney General Tom C. Clark. He urged that Clark immediately send him to Germany to obtain evidence of the connections the Nazis had had in America. The Attorney General, while seeming not overly enthusiastic about the project, authorized Rogge’s mission.*
The Missouri Gang was composed of old cronies of President Truman and buddies who had served with him in the First World War. They formed what soon came to be known as the President’s “kitchen cabinet.” *
* A one-time haberdasher in Independence, Missouri, whose business had failed in the early 1920’s, Harry S. Truman had become involved in politics as a protege of the notorious, corrupt Pendergast machine in Missouri. Boss Tom Pendergast obtained a county judgeship for Truman in 1922 and then backed Truman’s election to the Senate in 1934, declaring he wanted “his own emissary” in the Senate.
During the following years, Truman maintained close connections with Pendergast and his political machine. When Pendergast was found guilty of tax evasion in 1939 and sent to jail, Truman remained a staunch supporter of his former political mentor. Later, as President, Truman removed from office the U.S. district attorney who had prosecuted Pendergast.
Less than two months had elapsed since the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt when, on the morning of May 28, 1945, Herbert Hoover entered the White House for the first time in twelve years.
Hoover was a few minutes early for his appointment wdth President Truman, and, while waiting, he strolled slowly through some of the rooms he had not seen since March 1933. The former President was now seventy years old; his white hair was sparse, his face wrinkled and pudgy; but, as the journalist Sidney Shallet was to report a few months later. Hoover felt like “a new man” . . .