THE VILDE AFFAIR: Beginnings of the French Resistance by Martin Blumenson

THE VILDE AFFAIR: Beginnings of the French Resistance

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A chronicle of one of the first WW II resistance groups--formed by Paris anthropological institute staff members and wiped out by mid-1942--which, while offering no new formulations, does suggest the spontaneous origins of the Resistance. Blumenson, author of eleven previous books on WW II, interviewed the survivors and constructed a highly detailed dramatic narrative from their recollections. The museum group coalesced out of French patriotism among young intellectuals, nobles, and British liaisons--the motive also of Russian emigrÉs Boris Vilde and Anatole Lewitzky. It published five issues of the underground sheet Resistance and, by means unexplained here, secured the German U-boat plans for disrupting the St. Nazaire harbor, enabling the Allies to open up shipping channels. When Gestapo arrests began, Vilde insisted on returning to Paris from the Vichy sector, and after speculating that ""It would be amusing to see how the attorney sought to save him from the gallows,"" concluded that ""it is beautiful to die completely healthy and lucid."" At the trial, the German judge Roskothen (""impartially fair and sympathetic,"" according to Blumenson, and living prosperously today in West Germany) shook hands with Vilde after condemning him to execution; a German soldier hoped for clemency; and even the malignant prosecuting attorney admired how bravely the seven men died. The book conveys the spirit of the group and the suspense of its operations, and touches those emotional chords ready to be stirred by tales of the Resistance.

Pub Date: July 14th, 1977
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin