"I don't believe it! I don't believe it! The man is insane!"
By now both Lilian and Jerry could understand French, even when it was uttered with such passion. Jean picked the newspaper up and whispered something unrepeatable. The article he saw read:
"At 3:00 this morning, thousands of French police officers fanned out through Paris on an unprecedented mission. They rounded up Jews, 13,000 of them, shoved them into buses and locked them up in the sports facility known as the Winter Velodrome. Among the people cowering beneath the bleachers are invalids, pregnant women and more than 3,000 children. The round up was part of an agreement Vichy's Pierre Laval made with the Nazis. The Germans agreed not to deport any French Jews to Germany if the French arrested foreign Jews. Laval claims he can save 75,000 lives. Critics say that he has bartered with the devil."
Some time later, a news report filtered back from Warsaw about the "new life" the Jews were getting in the ghettos in Poland. Over 60,000 were resisting the Nazis. A year earlier there were 500,000, but many were killed or dragged to the Concentration Camps. SS troops under the command of General Jurgen Stroop attacked the walled ghetto on April 19, 1943, with orders to arrest the remainder. When they entered the area, they began searching it systematically, block by block, house to house, basement to ceiling. When there was resistance, the SS opened fire with tanks, mortars and machineguns or they torched the homes with flame-throwers.
Word filtered back to the ghettos about what happened to Jews who were taken to the Concentration Camps, yet they had nowhere to hide.
Jewish resistance fighters, who were able to keep one step ahead of the Nazis, returned to Warsaw with stories from the ghetto at Lubin. From their apartment windows, Jews could see the fearful sight of the barbed wire of the Maidanek Concentration Camp, and they could also see the smoke rising from the large crematoriums.
Reports leaked back around the middle of May 1943, that there were no more Jews left in the Warsaw ghetto. Jurgen Stroop, the SS General said that his troops killed a total of 56,065 Jews, but not all of that number died from Nazi bullets. Many committed suicide by staying in their burning homes. Others jumped from their roofs.
Around that time, Andre, one of the trusted members of the Resistance disappeared. After making extensive inquiries, Jean concluded that the Nazis had captured and shot him. Little did he know that something worse had happened.
As Andre was leaving his home, he was stopped by two members of the SS, arrested and taken by car to the outskirts of Paris. There he was ushered into a small room of a large, block church building. The room contained two high‑ranking Nazi officers and the stale smell of cigar smoke.
He was told to sit down in a chair in front of a large desk. Then through an interpreter, he was informed that they had proof that he was a member of the French Underground, and they would let him go if he would merely give the address of Jean Moulin. Andre forced a smile and said he would never betray the Resistance.
It was then that the officer stood up, walked around and sat casually on his desk. He was holding two large photographs. He stared at them and said in broken French, "Oh, I think you will." He looked directly at the Frenchman, then handed him the prints.
Andre's heart sank as he stared at the pictures. They were of his beloved wife and his two young daughters. Jean had bent the rules and allowed Andre to join the Resistance only on the condition that he would send his wife and children out of the country. He was fearful that if any of its members had families, they would die by the hands of Nazis. Andre had made the mistake of sending his beloved family to what he thought was a secret location in southern Italy.
To be continued.