Habilitation & Horrible Halloween

As I have mentioned before, there are two days in the year that I hate more than anything. One is Easter Thursday and the other one is Halloween. For me, these days are very stressful because my children have such high expectations. They have to become perfect and for them to become so, I have to bend over backwards. And this is tiresome. For both days, the children need costumes and unfortunately they are becoming more and more opinionated on what they want to wear. Some mothers of course will go all out and purchase expensive things or make them, but I am sorry, I am not going to go overboard for ONE day! My budget is limited and the costumes will be accordingly. But the children will try and nag and “Cookie” will whine the loudest that she can. She “is sick and tired of always being this or that, she is sick and tired of wearing the same thing every year”. If she only knew how spoiled she sounds and how angry it makes me to hear it!

So, my morning was not a good one. And I did not even go near the pumpkin carving. E. was in charge of it, or she and “Cookie”, and that is not more than right in my opinion, because this really isn’t my holiday nor my country’s. I understand elderly people who don’t open the door for kids begging for candy on this day. And I understand if people do not have anything at home to give the children either. At pre-school they did not bother carving their pumpkin this year, since it rots so quickly when you have done that.

Kids made pumpkin to the left here at home and "Cookie" made the one to the right at a friend's house

Kids made pumpkin to the left here at home and “Cookie” made the one to the right at a friend’s house

I did not see the finished pumpkin till I got back home, since me and “Gubby” had an appointment at habilitation for “Gubby” to be IQ-tested. WE thought! I arrived there at 13:00 and was received by K. who took us both in to this room. And she started right away with one thing after the other. He had to draw a straight line, make a cross, make a triangle, make a square. He had to cut things out. He had to puzzle. Count, name shapes. He was told to ONLY colour the tail of a bunny, and I reflected on how well he colours. He does his best to stay within the lines and he colours everything so there is no white. Not quite what his two-year older brother does. At all!

The testing went pretty slowly, because she had to read and do things correctly and find things that were missing, even though she said she had prepared for the test before we came in. I guess it is very important that everything is done the same way with every single child, otherwise one can not trust the test results. Half way, we took a break and he was allowed to go in and play with toys in the two-way mirror room, beside the testing room. Boy did he think that was fun! He found this funny toy by Fisher and Price I think, where two chickens race down two tracks and it sounds. He really loves toys that sound! He did it over and over again and of course did not want to stop when it was time to stop and go back to the testing, nor leave the room. I had to coax him, but back in the room, he was not as cooperative anymore. We already knew that there would have to be a second testing day, the following week, but the more that could be done this first day, the less needed to be done the next time.

When he finally laid down on the floor and refused to do as told, she said it was time to break. And then she told me that this of course is not an IQ-test. WHAT? But it is an IQ-test we need! – No this is a PEP-test which shows where he is and what he has learned so far. There is not going to be an IQ-test now, since he is going to be at the pre-school an extra year. “This is the extra year that he is doing now!”. – No, the personnel is convinced that he is staying another year! “No, they know this is his last and final year because you can’t have him stay there another year. He is one year older than all the oldest. It’s a pre-school that runs up till you are six years old and he is already six! It says 3-5 years of age.” – But then there has been a misunderstanding! “Yes, there has and he needs to be tested quickly so we know what school to look at for him!”. She was shocked and promised she would talk to the team which also contains psychologist and counselor. She did say that this test is not wasted though, because it does give some indication of things. Good, because I really have better things to do with my life than to sit at habilitation and wasting good petrol and car parking money.

“Gubby” and I drove home and went by Serena. Because that is the awful thing, this Halloween fell on the same day as All Saint’s Eve. I decided to go early since it was starting to get a little bit dark and the candle trees fill up awfully fast on All Saint’s Eve, the holiday when we honour and remember our dead with candles, wreaths and flowers. I did not want to go home and get the gaggle, since “Boo” just can’t behave in the cemetery. He starts chasing “Gubby” and hits “Kitty” and this is NOT the place nor the DAY to do so! So, “Gubby” and I trotted in together and tried to get the candle to light on a very windy day, when the candles did not want to light. Some older women were there at the same time and raised an eyebrow, because when I fought with the candle wicker, “Gubby” started to flax around on top of where the dead are buried in the ash grove. I need to get those business cards from the Asperger and Autism society that says “The behaviour you have just witnessed is difficult to understand and explain”. They also say “This person has autism. Difficulties with interaction, communication and a different and abnormal behaviour are common symptoms for autism…”

imageWe did manage to get the candle lit for “Gubby’s” baby sister Serena Rose, and there were a couple of places left in the candle tree. I did not have any flowers or a wreath though, so we just had to admire the beauty of all the others’.

image image image image imagePity that the cemetery workers had not got rid of all the leaves laying about. But the wind is blowing so much every day, that I guess it is a fruitless job, new leaves on the ground every morning.

When we got home from the cemetery, people were pretty frantic about their clothing and “Cookie” had received a last-minute invitation from her best friend, whom she sees very rarely, since her friend lives way out in the countryside, goes to another school than her and lives a busy life with riding and you name it. Her friend’s little sister was having a Halloween party and S. wanted “Cookie” to come and help her with the scaring part. This would have meant “Cookie” foregoing her trick and treating and she said she had planned her costume since Easter. So she wanted a two-hour trick and treating and then for us to just drop everything and run her up North, to her friend’s farm. I said, forget it. I was not going to force E. to bring everyone home if they were having a good time, so that “Cookie” could do two things in one evening. And who does her friend’s family think they are? We should drop all of our plans, to suit their life?! I am sorry, but I do not feel that this is alright. Yes, they have “Cookie” over for sleepovers lots of times and have often fetched her, but it has been on their way home from work, so they were out driving anyway. No, they have money, they spoil their children, but I am not going to kneel to the rich and play their games of being a subservient person. I have a life too which is as much worth as theirs and my children matter as much as theirs do. And my children had looked forward to candy and going begging for it, for weeks.

I had to sort out everyone’s costumes when I got back and as soon as it really got dark it was time for them to head out. But not until I had tried my best at dressing them warmly. A feat in itself. “Boo”screaming his head off, refusing to wear a sweater under his skeleton outfit. Not even wanting mittens or beanie on his head. I had to force him because I knew noone would appreciate him whining from being cold, 10 minutes after they got out there. Poor “Gubby” looked somewhat like “Andy” in “A Christmas Story”. It was not easy to get fleece trousers under his pirate outfit, but no way I was going to have sweetie suffer out there.  I guess I did a very good job eventually, because they have never ever been out as long as they were that night. “Cookie” was supposed to be driven up to the party at her friend’s house before it was over, (what was it 21:00 or 22:00?), and they were not back by then. When they finally did arrive, I had been a little bit worried. They had been out for so long! I saw the reason why:

imageThe sad part was that I had bought candy and so had T., for children ringing our door bell and there were only two rings that evening when I would have thought lots of children would come for free candy. Once it was three girls, soon after my children walked out. The second time, it was my own children… So, we had a lot of candy at home for a while! But I know that if I had not seen to having candy at home, there would have been lots of children ringing the door bell. Perhaps they don’t find it fun anymore? They are too spoiled with candy as it is. A friend of mine and I discussed it a couple of months ago, that the excitement of receiving Easter eggs full of candy is sort of gone. Loose weight candy has come down in price and children eat too much of it during the year, that Christmas and Easter is not special anymore, when it comes to the candy aspect. Both she and I confessed that we don’t splurge and go overboard at the holidays either because who wants sick children? And perhaps that is why my children love going out at Easter and Halloween to beg for candy, because as you see above, they hit jack pot!

To finish the story, it was too late for “Cookie” to head up to her friend’s that evening! Her dad had put on pyjamas and I was not in the mood for doing a late night trip in the dark either. She had to go up there come morning instead, but they had a fun time, and carved the weirdo pumpkin seen further up in the post. And I survived another year of Easter Thursday and Halloween!!!

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My Friday book: “Dora Bruder” by Patrick Modiano

Nobel prize winner of 2014. But to most of us, I am sure that he was unheard of. The Nobel prize committee for literature are famous for choosing the most odd authors for the prize and in my mind, I must ask myself, is that really what Alfred Nobel had in mind? That the winners should be authors who hardly have been read by anyone, except for a very small elite? The intellectuals. Or rather not, since I count myself among them.

The nothing saying cover of the Swedish edition of the book, looks like this. Don't ask me what it is supposed to describe except the drole, cold winter that Dora Bruder disappeared in?

The nothing saying cover of the Swedish edition of the book, looks like this. Don’t ask me what it is supposed to describe except the drole, cold winter that Dora Bruder disappeared in?

Since I am of a curious mind, I did look him up in the library catalogue, only to find out that hardly anything by him is translated in to Swedish. Nor in to  English! Great choice for Nobel prize in other words. We just have to trust the committee that he is worthy of it. Unless we all want to get his books in French, struggle through them and end up having not understood a whole lot? On the day that his prize was announced, I set myself up in queue for “Dora Bruder” but tons of people had done so in the hours before me, so it’s taken till yesterday, Friday, to receive the book and you only get to have the book for 14 days since it is so “popular”!

No problem, since it is only 119 pages long and after checking up other translated books by him, I realize that he really writes short books. Which makes the price of them the more horrendous and are these books really books  that you want to own? I would say no. Reading “Dora Bruder” is only necessary to do once. Over half of the book is full of street names and locations, so you could say that less than 60 pages contain the story. And why does he do this? I have my own theory but first I will say, that every person who think they are smart in this country, think that it is such a fantastic thing, this thing he has for documenting every street. To me it is a bore and I just skimmed through it all. True, if I was to travel to Paris, I would have bought the book, highlighted all the street names and numbers and would have gone to see them all with my own eyes. But I have no Paris trip planned and most readers don’t either. Nor do we feel like sitting with a map on the lap while reading. So, I have no sense where in Paris all the things mentioned, happened. And then you lose the importance of having the street names written down in the book.

But there is a reason why someone like Patrick Modiano does a thing like this, which has not been mentioned by a single journalist or literature expert. Why? Because Sweden is pro-Palestine and deeply anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, which has become the same thing in this country. I am going to mention it though, because people need to know. Patrick Modiano is Jewish. Well, I have no idea if his mother was Jewish and if she was not, then Jews themselves do not count Modiano as Jewish. But the Nazis certainly would have counted him as a Jew, because his father was Jewish. Which is mentioned in “Dora Bruder”. Is Patrick Modiano religious? Doubt it very much. But he is one of those Jews who feels like Simon Wiesenthal (I think it was him that said it but I can’t swear to it 100%, since I read it 25 years ago) once described as “victims”. Jews that feel like victims, will not look to the future but will only live in the past, Jews that feel like victims will feel ill-treated by everyone, act paranoid and will talk about us and them, about an enemy. And many of them will feel guilty about having survived the Holocaust or realize that had they been born earlier, they would have been sent to concentration camps and been worked to death or gassed.

I have only read one of Patrick Modiano’s books, but the “experts” here in Sweden say that he is pre-occupied with the Occupation years in Paris. They do not mention at all that his family was deeply affected by it. That his father escaped being arrested and deported, I don’t know how!? I guess, if they had mentioned it, noone would have queued up at the library for his books, which is very, very sad. After reading “Dora Bruder”, I can’t say that I understand why he got the Nobel prize. It was not fantastic in any way, nothing spectacular, but it was interesting. To me as a genealogist but also as a historian. Because what it is, is a research report. He did what could and should have been done for every French Jew deported from France. He tried to find out the fate of one single person, in destroyed archives and no-more existing streets and buildings. And all the streets mentioned in the book, are needed for this purpose: to show a disappeared Paris, to give clues what could have happened, and to document what was where and what happened where. He is trying to document an anti-semitic Paris, practice during the Occupation and put people on the map, who are remembered by noone. One can clearly tell, that he knows that it could have been him. And he feels guilty for not having lived through it? For existing when so many do not? That he was given the chance of being born in 1945, when others were not. He wants people to really see the shameful behaviour of the French during the occupation, since the fact is that the Germans did not have to enforce the Holocaust in France, the French police gave much more help than asked for and were more than willing collaborators.

It says on the back of the library edition of this book that it was in 1988 thatimage Modiano happened to look in an old newspaper from 1941, and discovered a plea from worried parents, asking if anyone had seen their missing daughter: Dora Bruder, 15 years of age, 1,55 m, oval face, brown-greyish eyes, grey coat, burgundy sweater, dark blue skirt and hat and brown lace-up shoes. Information was to be given to the worried parents, Mr and Mrs. Bruder living in 41 Boulevard Ornano, in Paris.

imageModiano researched her case for all of 8 years, and most questions are still unanswered today, but what he managed to find out, said a lot about the situation for many Jews during the Occupation. His first discovery was of course, that the address belonged to a hotel. 41 Boulevard Ornano, was a hotel both before, during and after the war. And the family lived at the address already in 1937-1938. Three people cramped up in one room with a kitchenette or what you would call a bed-sit, on the 5th floor.

During those 8 years, it took him 4 years to find out that Dora Bruder was born in Paris on the 25 February 1926 at 21:10 and her father Ernest Bruder was born 21 May 1899 in Vienna, while her mother Cécile Burdej was born 17 April 1907 in Budapest. The baby was born in the Rothschild Hospital, where many poor Jewish families had their babies. And present at birth was a Gaspard Meyer, 73 years of age, who was living in the Rothschild work house next door. Strange witness, but …?

Rothschild work house/poor house

Rothschild work house/poor house

The author has to draw a lot of imaginary conclusions, like that Dora’s father must have worked at the Westinghouse Brake factory. Well, that is how it translates but I have no idea if that really is what was meant. I am sure there is a French name that has been inadequately translated in to Swedish. The family lived right by it, and so did many other poor people, and most of them did work in the factory. Question is if he really could have worked there, since he was a war invalid. (My reflection.) Modiano assumes that Ernest grew up in Leopoldstadt, the part of Vienna, where all Jews lived and that his parents must have come from Galicia, Böhmen or Mähren, like most Jews, who lived in Vienna at the time. I don’t know why he adds that wave after wave arrived in Vienna in 1919, from the Eastern provinces that now no longer belonged to Austria. But since Ernest was born in Vienna 1899, why does he mention this?

During the occupation, the French police kept a card index of all the Jews, in order to be able to perform razzias more effectively. In the card for Ernest it says that he was in the Foreign Legion. When you signed up, you did so for 5 years and there was no need to travel to France, it was enough to walk in to a French consulate. For him, it must have been tough in the Foreign Legion since Germans, Austrians, Russians, Romanians and Bulgarians were not really made to feel that welcome and they were very under-nourished thanks to four years of war food rationing. These groups were sent to Morocco, in order to try to regain peace in the French colonies. Some time during his five years, he was invalided out, for being 100% made useless. But he did not get a French citizenship, as a thank you for service.

In 1924, 12 April at 11:28, he married 16 year-old Cécile, daughter of Erichel Burdej, a tailor, and his wife Dincze Kutinea. She worked as a seamstress at the time and her family of 8, had arrived to Paris in 1923. She had 4 sisters then and 1 brother. Originally they were from Russia but landed in Budapest around 1900 and by the time they arrived in Paris, three of the girls were about to die. They had basically only arrived to a Jewish shelter, and then the 14 year-old, 12-year-old and 10-year-old sisters of Cécile, passed away from typhoid. Ernest parents, Jacob Bruder and Adèle Vaschitz, were both deceased by the time of the wedding.

As newly weds, the couple lived in Montmartre. And while there is proof that Cécile worked as a seamstress, at times in the fur trade, it is more or less certain that Ernest was unemployed since he was an invalid. They must have been very, very poor. But they did manage to go to the photographer now and then, which must have meant that not all was bad in the family, or? If you want a photo to put yourself on the map, to remember and be remembered by, there must have been some love in the family, or?

Cécile Burdej, Dora Bruder 13-14 years old and Ernest Bruder

Cécile Burdej, Dora Bruder 13-14 years old and Ernest Bruder

Modiano, was able to find a cousin of Dora’s, who was able to tell him that Dora was a rebellious girl and very independent. Spoiled only child? Which ever, she was sent to a charity boarding school on the 9 May 1940, before the Germans arrived. And it was all run by nuns. She stayed at the boarding school till 14 December 1941, when she went missing and which was what made her parents put the missing ad, in to the newspaper. Why was she put in the boarding school? Were her parents afraid that she would be interned or that they would be so? Modiano’s questions. 1939, all enemy state citizens of Das Reich and ex-Austrians of male gender, were interned in camps. They were divided in to suspects and non-suspects and the latter were put together with foreigners conscripted for forced labour.

Maybe her parents were right to be cautious because four days after Dora entered the boarding school, all female citizens from Das Reich and ex-Austria, were interned for 13 days at Vélodrome d’Hiver and then they were moved to Basses-Pyrenées, to the camp Gurs. Noone knows if the Bruders were interned but what is known, is that at the boarding school, 300 miserable girls were divided in to reading classes and practical classes. In other words, those who were hopeless cases, were forced to learn how to do household chores and the smarter ones were allowed to study for a certificate. In 1940 the school with the nuns, evacuated to the mother church, in Loire. Most information about the school came from a former pupil who was at the school when she was ten and hiding from the Nazis. She remembers that they lived on turnips, the school was not heated and the discipline was harsh.

On the 2 October 1940, the Germans demanded that all Jews register as Jews alphabetically. To not create chaos, every letter got a certain day and B was on the 4 October. Ernest Bruder registered, but he did not register Dora, and got his own card in the card index. But Dora was somewhat safe in the convent school, on the other side of the street where she was born. Because this area was not really safe for Jews. Between 1942-1944 there were numerous razzias in the Rothschild hospital, orphanage and work house. The hospital in particular was a mousetrap since sick people from the camp Drancy were sent there and they were only sent back at the Germans’ discretion. All over the place, they had French spies who were part of the private police Agence Faralicq. The biggest number arrested in the area, came from the orphanage, where lots of Jewish children and teenagers were hiding. The only safe place was really the boarding school and the park. The latter did not make sense to me?! How could a park be safe?

By this time in the story, Modiano gives away the end, that he has seen her name above her dad’s on a transport list to Auschwitz on the 18 September 1942. And I was grateful to find out already this early on in the book, that Dora did not make it so that I didn’t have to sit and hope! But there is a long time between 14 December 1941 and 18 September 1942. What happened in Paris around 14 December 1941? Between 8-14 December Jews had a curfew after 18:00, as a retaliation for two recent attacks. A bomb had been set off and an officer had been shot at. First there had been mass arrests. Then 700 French Jews were arrested on the 12 December and the Jewish community had to pay  a fine of 1 billion Franc. On the 15 December 70 hostages were shot.

But this was not all, on the 10 December the police prefect ordered all French and foreign Jews to regularly show up for controls when they had to show their ID-cards stamped with Jew or Jewess. More regulations were passed, which forced them to register any new place of housing within 24 hours and they were not allowed to leave the Seine area.

Dora ran away from the convent on the last day of the curfew, Sunday, when the pupils were allowed to go home and visit parents. Did the nuns know that Dora was Jewish, asks Modiano. Not likely, is the conclusion he draws, especially since church organizations did not start to hide Jewish children until after the first mass arrests in July 1942. The next record he found with Dora’s name on it, was the one saying that she, among 300 others, was interned in Drancy on the 13 August 1942. The 300 came from the camp les Tourelles. A camp which was created in October 1940, to house foreign Jews without residence permit. But from 1941, it was only Jewish women who were sent there, while the men were sent to Drancy. From then on, the women sent there were women considered to have broken German regulations. They were interned with communists and criminals.

Soon there were new restrictions issued for the Jews. In February 1942 they were not allowed to go outside after 20:00 and they were not allowed to change address. Modiano’s dad was arrested on the same day as Dora Bruder. His dad was out without an ID-card on the first day, when the law was inforced, and must according to Modiano, have travelled in the same RIOT as Dora. Neither were registered as Jews. But there was a difference between them, since his father was 14 years older than her and a man, which made it easier for him to survive on the streets as a lawless. She was just 15 years old and on the run with nowhere to go. Noone will ever know what happened to her that night and afterwards because all files were destroyed by the French office for Jewish questions. All records of ID checks on the streets, the reports after the mass arrests and the card indexes. What Modiano knows, is that the man arresting his father and maybe Dora, was Superintendent Jacques Schweblin, who became famous for visiting internment camps with his helpers, 7 men and 1 woman, to rob the inmates of all the valuables, before transporting them to Auschwitz. He disappeared in 1943 but was spotted after the war, a war criminal who got away.

Throughout the book, Modiano’s strange relationship, with his father shines through. There was no love lost between them. His parents did split up and while his dad moved on to another woman, his mother had a difficult time surviving and raising their son. When she demanded payment and was awarded alimony by the courts, her ex-husband refused to pay and had the son arrested, pretending to not know him. I guess his criminal past made him assume that his son should provide for himself and solve his own problems, the way he had during the war.

The book skips back and forth which makes me as a researcher myself, realize that Modiano describes the research process, rather than things in chronological order. You do not get information chronologically when looking for people in history. At this point he did find out that Ernest Bruder finally went to the police on the 27 December and reported his non-registered daughter, as missing, which was risky of course, since it put the family on the map, so to speak. At a time when you needed to lay low. I felt resentment for Dora at this point, because her running away, seemed an incredibly selfish thing to do and made her parents take risks that eventually lead to their deaths. They tried to keep her safe and she did the worse thing she could do, she brought on all the search lights!

At this time, the Jews were not wearing Stars of David but in June 1942, the regulation arrived that all Jews above 16 must wear a star and three stars per person were issued to Jews at 50 different locations in Paris and the suburbs, and they all had to be signed for. But by now, Ernest had already been arrested. On the 19 March 1942 he was taken to Drancy, and it was recorded that he was an invalid since he was poison gassed while in the Foreign Legion and suffered from Tuberculosis. His index card at this time said that he was a wanted man. And Modiano reflects that “Those, whose task it is to search for and find you, makes an index in order to make it easier to make you disappear, eventually forever”. Ernest went to the police to get help with finding his daughter and this facilitated killing her off! Because they did find her. 17 April, the 16 year-old girl is returned to her mother’s housing and since the card said “her mother’s”, they were well aware of that her father had been arrested.

It’s at this point, Modiano discloses that his father’s family were Italian Jews from Saloniki. Explains the surname!

A serious Cécile, with her equally serious  mother Dincze, and a defiant looking Dora, smiling about some hidden secret, says Modiano..

A serious Cécile, with her equally serious mother Dincze, and a defiant looking Dora, smiling about some hidden secret, says Modiano..

On the 17 June 1942, Dora has done it again. She once again has run away, which made Modiano wonder if this photo is from before the second “escape”. What was she running away from? Who did she run to? How did she survive? Why did she put herself and her family through this? Stupid, stupid girl! Because this time it is recommended that she is sent to a reformatory. A message was sent to a Mademoiselle Salomon, who was working for UGIF, a Jewish organization set up during the occupation. Union Générale des Israelites de France. Like their Polish equivalent, the Judenräte, they were all distinguished Jews and was supposed to organize help actions for the Jewish congregation in France. But it was Vichy and the Germans who forced its creation as a help for their own plans. Just like the Judenräte, they had special ID-cards that protected them from razzias and internment. And of course, in 1943, they no longer were safe either, just like their Polish equivalents, and 100s were arrested.

Modiano suspects that Cécile contacted UGIF out of desperation. She was poor, her husband had been interned so she wanted to know where he was and she needed help finding her obstinate daughter. The message sent to the organization suggested Mademoiselle Salmon ask the social workers at the police station for help and they would gladly help put the girl in a reformatory. How did they find Dora and why was she arrested? Perhaps she was not wearing a Star of David? Letters A and B had to wear the star from 2 June 1942 and by the 7 June, all Jews had to wear them. If you did not wear one, you would be arrested and your case was sent to the Department of foreign and Jewish questions. This department decided from case to case what would happen to the persons arrested, after conferring with the German authorities. This lead to mass arrests of youths in June, because the teenagers refused to wear the stars, and they were sent to the arrest, then Drancy and on to Auschwitz. Dora was sent to les Tourelles with five other girls on the 19 June. One girl was from Poland and was handed over to the Germans already on the 19 July, the others who were French, were sent from les Tourelles to Drancy on the 13 August.

image

If Dora did not understand in what deep trouble she was in by now, she did when she arrived to les Tourelles since all Jewish women between 18-42 were called out. The 66 in question was put in isolation, transported to Drancy on the 22 June to be joined by 900 men, and this became the first Auschwitz transport with women, from France. Some of the women heading for their deaths were Claudette Bloch, 32, who had done the mistake of going to Gestapo headquarters to ask about the fate of her husband. Tamara Isserlis, 24, had sewn the Tricolor under the Star of David. Ida Levine, 29, kept writing letters to her family till the last-minute. The final letter was thrown out of the train carriage and a railroad worker posted it, so the family knew where she was heading. Polish Hena, 19, broke in to a flat and stole 150 000 Franc and jewelry and because she was Jewish she was sent to Tourelles as punishment. (Modiano points out that his father at the time broke in to the SKF warehouse and took all the ball bearings to his and his friends black market stash. Modiano thought that since the German regulations, the laws of Vichy and the newspapers, all said that Jews are criminals and pestilence, why not behave that way then, in order to survive?) Annette Zelman, 21, had the saddest story of the girls. She lived with her boyfriend Jean Jausion, the son of a professor of medicine. The family found out their son was marrying Annette, so they had her arrested and sent to les Tourelles. On the 11 November 1944, Jean was working as a war correspondent and his newspaper was looking for him, because he had gone missing. He had actually driven in to a German military convoy, where he started to shoot until the Germans picked up their guns, shot and killed him. He never got over the loss of his fiancée Annette. One wonders how his parents felt, who so unnecessarily wrecked their son’s life, by turning his fiancée in, when she had been “safe” in Vichy.

Modiano can not keep to his story, but his mind wanders to a Robert Tartakovsky, whose letter he found and purchased at a book box-shop. Robert wrote to a Madame Tartakovsky with an urgent plea. He knew he was to go on a transport somewhere, but knew not where. If he had only known, he might have written a totally different letter to his loved ones. Instead he was concerned with his work, asked people to run errands for him, for things to be sent to him, to bring on the journey. All so pointless for us who knows what happened to him or what was about to happen to him, when he wrote that letter. I can see how he must have regretted his letter on arrival in Auschwitz and when he stood in that gas chamber, knowing that this was it. That all his plans, all his concerns had been pointless. This is what hurts the most when reading Holocaust literature. I know the end, they did not, I can see how they wasted their last days, hours, on petty concerns, they realized too late. It hurts to read it.

Robert wrote that he was about to have his head shaved on the 20 June. What happened next was the isolation and having to be escorted everywhere by French police, even to the loo. Modiano adds that the Jewish police, collaborators and informers were also about to go through Robert’s luggage, in order to steal. This really is a black part of France’s history and makes me think of Modiano as France’s Simon Wiesenthal. Simon W. lived in Austria after the war as a protest because they refused to deal with their past, bringing Nazi criminals to justice. In a way Modiano is doing the same thing in France, even though he was never in a camp himself, nor his father. He is reminding the French of a very nasty past and a past which still lingers today with  a widely spread anti-Semitism.

During July 1942, the mass arrests took place and among other things, 9 children and youths were dragged out of 48 B Rue de a Gare de Reuilly, in the morning hours.

Part of the Rotschild charity complex of hospital, work house and orphanage: 48 Rue de la Gare de Reuilly

Part of the Rotschild charity complex of hospital, work house and orphanage: 48 Rue de la Gare de Reuilly

Such nice, calm looking houses. Modiano has taken a walk around most of the streets were the Jews lived and were arrested and for the most part, the buildings have been torn down, roads have changed directions, new houses and roads have been built, all to cover over what really took place here, so that noone will know anything about what happened in the past.

Modiano even admitted to his own criminal past in the book. Like father, like son as we say in Sweden. He had a female friend who boarded with different families. He did not say why, but he raided those families’ homes for anything that he could sell at second-hand shops. At one time he sold the things to a man, Polish Jew, who had been 18 years old during the mass arrests and who had been able to avoid getting arrested. Strange that it was the criminal elements who fared so well and were able to survive. But I guess it comes with the territory  of being criminal. You adapt to the situation, you know where to hide, you have contacts, but most of all, you are selfish and not held down by duties, tradition, family and feelings.

Modiano was able to find out what Dora Bruder’s life in les Tourelles must have been like. You were able to receive packages and visitors on Thursdays and Sundays. There was a roll call at 8:00, lunch was cabbage, dinner was served at 18:00 and then another roll call. You were able to shower two and two, every 14 days. To receive the visitors, you had to write and request a permit, from the prison warden. If you were lucky, you got the permit, but a visit could be cancelled as late as an hour before visitor’s time, if the prison warden wanted to. It was actually refreshing to read about the Aryans present in the camp, who were there because they had been wearing the Star of David out of defiance and out of solidarity. One woman had put the star on her dog’s collar. Many had embroidered names inside the star and one woman had embroidered the letters v-i-c-t-o-i-r-e in the star’s points. These women came from all parts of life: typist, tradeswoman, newsagent, cleaner, postal worker, student. Modiano did not mention their fate though!

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Drancy internment camp

 

On the 19 and the 27 July, Jewesses were taken to Drancy, among them Raca Israelowicz, arrested on the same day as Dora Bruder. On visitor day, the 12 August, Dora with others, were taken to Drancy. On the 15, 4000 children arrived whose mothers had already been sent to Auschwitz. Thousands arrived from the free zone. The camp was getting over-crowded and the French Jews were sent on to the camp in Pithiviers on the 2 and 5 September, but not Dora. She asked to stay behind with her dad. The French Jewesses who had arrived with her to les Tourelles: Claudine Winerbett, Zélie Strohlitz, Marthe Nachmanowicz and Yvonne Pithoun, were among the 1500 who left for Pithiviers. I guess it is nice to know, that Dora and her father could give each other some comfort, because they left together for Auschwitz, already on the 18 September.

French police checking new arrivals a Pithiviers internment camp

French police checking new arrivals a Pithiviers internment camp

What happened to Dora’s mother? Cécile Bruder was arrested the day before the mass arrests, 16 July, and was sent to Drancy where she was able to see her husband for a couple of days, but she was released on the 23 July, because she was from Budapest and there had not been any orders for the arrest of Hungarian Jews yet. That came 9 January 1943 instead and she was on her way to Auschwitz on the 11 February, that same year.

The day after Dora’s and Ernest’s departure for Auschwitz and death, a new curfew was inforced which forbade the Jews to be outside after 15:00. There had been an attack at a cinema, that time.

Modiano finish his book by saying that the Germans could take away everything from Dora Bruder except one thing: Her secret that noone will ever discover. Where was she in the cold winter of 1941-1942 and in the spring 1942? With whom did she spend her time? Where did she hide? How did she spend her  days?

Like I said, it was a good book, but nothing spectacular. Nothing that pulled at heartstrings really nor a book that deserves five stars. But it was good because it shows how dark France’s past is and I doubt it is taught in the French schools of today. It also shows how difficult it is to give all those lost lives, meat on their bones. When you do genealogy, you try to find out more than just the dates people were born and died. Many times, it is the only thing you CAN find out. Modiano wanted to take the fate of one girl and find out as much as he could about her. But having finished the book, one can still only guess at most things about her. Most of his questions go unanswered, especially the biggest one, why did she run away and put herself as well as her parents on the death list? What went through the silly girl’s mind? Or was she just an inconsiderate teenager, like most teenagers are? Invisible, unbeatable, it won’t happen to me attitude?

What hides behind those eyes?

What hides behind those eyes?

 

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Un Village Francais: Season 1, Episode 6

I hate watching the final episode of a series, when I know there are more seasons available, and the TV channel does not let you know when they will continue broadcasting the series. I detest cliff hangers with a vehemence! And with this series there will be cliff hangers till the end, I’m afraid.

In the previous episode, Marcel Larcher had serious problems with his son finishing an assignment for school. All the children were going to write a letter to Petain and Marcel outright forbade Gustave to do the assignment, but teacher Lucienne did not accept that and this episode starts out with Gustave sitting at the breakfast table, trying to finish the assignment. Marcel has him reading it to him and actually is impressed with the message: “Right now our soldiers are in Germany and the German soldiers are here. It would be much better if our soldiers were here and the German soldiers in Germany”. But he is upset over his son’s spelling and mistakes, so he orders him to rewrite it all on a clean sheet of paper. Marcel goes out to talk to Suzanne, the post mistress, who has come to plan the action, with the leaflets. It is going to be very tight, them only having one hour. But Suzanne is confident that everything will work out. She works with a Madame Morvandieu, who is always late for work because of rheumatism, so if they are a tiny bit late, it is alright.

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

While they discuss things, Gustave grabs the only paper he finds in the kitchen. One of the leaflets that say OUT WITH THE GERMANS on it and he writes his letter on the back of it! Marcel doesn’t see it, but hurries Gustave and tells him that he must not tell anyone about Suzanne’s visit and he has to get himself to school. Suzanne drives off to fetch the newspapers from the printers, picking up Marcel on the way back and while she drives to town, Marcel sits in the back trying to get the leaflets in to the newspapers, but he can’t. Suzanne stops the van and joins him. Thanks to it being the 11 November, the edition is extra thick, because the Germans are forbidding the day to be “celebrated” and the strings around the bundles are extra tight. Suzanne refuses to abort the action and persuades Marcel to go on, even though they are both scared. First they cut the strings, put in the leaflets and then they drive by the lumber yard to steal more string.

In mayor Larcher’s kitchen, the atmosphere is tense. Hortense and Jean just do not know what to talk about when they are together. Daniel comes in and makes matters worse, when he asks Jean if Hortense is not the most beautiful woman in Villeneuve. Of course Jean wants to say so, but it would give his feelings away. Daniel tells his wife that she has to come with him to the soup kitchen, which has been set up in town. She is not too keen but he says that as the mayor’s wife, she has to.

Lucienne is preparing for class, when she finds out that not only is the headmaster coming to listen to the letters to Petain, being read up. So is Foulquier, from the school board and a German sergeant, in order to promote better relationships between the French and the Germans. Gustave arrives early, before everybody else, anxious to read his letter but also because his dad did not walk him there.

Marcel and Suzanne have been able to get all the leaflets in to the newspapers, and now he is running in to work, before everyone gets there, to get the string and finish the job before 09:00, when the newspapers have to be a the post office. What Marcel does not know, is that he is not alone in the lumber yard that morning, being up to no good. In a bed, owner Raymond and his mistress Marie, have just finished a session of sex, and Raymond jumps up to see why a van stops outside. He is bewildered at seeing Marcel, but can not do anything in the nude. He watches the theft of the string, and then goes back to bed. It seems like the couple’s new routine is to meet at the lumber yard, when Lorrain, Marie’s husband, is off visiting their children at his mother’s, but then she has to get back home since he goes back to do the milking after visiting them.

Mayor/Dr. Daniel Larcher and Under-prefect Servier

Mayor/Dr. Daniel Larcher and Under-prefect Servier

At the soup kitchen, Daniel and Hortense gets to listen to a most droll speech by the under-prefect Servier. Servier is disappointed in the lukewarm response from his audience and says that “The French only think about food”. Hortense retaliates and says “Well, the Germans take it all!” and she gets rebuked by Servier, but he is interrupted by Kommendant von Ritter, storming in. That is what he does in every episode, storms in, delivers his lines and then storms out. Ridiculous! He informs the mayor and under-prefect that all celebrations of the 11 November are prohibited and he will post guards at the war monument. I guess Daniel could not keep it back because he asks von Ritter “Are you afraid that the dead will demonstrate?”. Von Ritter does not take that well: “My father died at the Somme 1917 and personally I think it is a shame that we can not commemorate, but I am a soldier like my father and have to obey orders!”. Whereupon he leaves.

Suzanne drops Marcel off and they agree to not contact each other for three days, to be safe. At the school, the day has also started. Foulquier has arrived as have everyone else and the children are told that the best letter will be sent to Petain. They are also told that when they write to Petain, they write to France, the real France. Anti-Semite Foulquier points out that the new France has got rid of its old bad habits and the parasites. One can guess what he means by this.

While Gustave sits and waits his turn, his father has arrived to work and Raymond immediately wants answers to why he was in so early. Marcel lies and says he was out of cigarettes at home but Raymond tells him that he saw him take string. He tells Marcel that he could not care less but at that early of an hour? Marcel says that he is incorrect and Raymond doesn’t want to press things, so he tells Marcel that he needs to stop smoking in the mornings if he wants the cigarette ration to last all month and Marcel plays along, saying that it is not easily done.

While at the soup kitchen, Jean finds out that old Camille Heusinger, the man who tattle told (?) on Sarah Meyer, has been found dead. Hortense goes there to deal with the body and write the death certificate, so that Daniel can get back to his duties. Old Camille froze to death since he slept with his windows open, so it is all straight forward, but Jean and Hortense are extremely stiff with each other. Jean feels he has to say something, trying to break the ice perhaps, so he makes sure to tell Hortense how much he loves staying with them and Hortense responds that they love having him live with them. They are certainly an accident ready to happen! While they sit there at Camille’s table, the newspaper arrives and Jean discovers the leaflet right away. Vive La France!

Meanwhile in the school, this boy has read his letter, which states that it would be so nice if all soldiers could come home for Christmas and if the children could get chocolate. Foulquier reacts severely and scolds Lucienne for not teaching the children that collaboration between France and Germany is more important than chocolate. That France has to be cleansed and resurrect in a new better form. The German sergeant feels sorry for her, because she always shows what a bimbo and nervous wreck she is.

Jean has started the investigation, trying to find out who are the culprits of the leaflet action. He determines that they could only have been put in to the newspapers at two locations. But at Sayolles, where they were printed, they were guarded between 04:00-06:00. So he determines that it must have been done at the second location, at the post office and someone there must have been involved. He tells De Kerven, Daniel and Servier and the latter is petrified with what the Germans might do. Jean says that it must be Suzanne Richard, post mistress, 38 years old, mother of two and with her husband at a work camp in Germany, who is the guilty one. But he says that it must be a group action, and the only ones organized are the communists. Daniel points out that the communists are not saying “out with the Germans” at all, since they do not see them as the enemy! But Jean insists, it must be the communists and Daniel’s brother Marcel has been a registered communist since 1936. Daniel says that there is no proof that his brother still is one and does Jean really intend to arrest him? Servier tells him that they brought in Bellini’s son, so it is not more than right that they bring in he mayor’s brother for questioning! Jean says that he will start with Suzanne since she arrived late to the post office, at 09:00, and then he will go after Marcel.

Future lovers? Lucienne and her German Sergeant

Future lovers? Lucienne and her German Sergeant

At the school, the turn has finally come to Gustave and he walks up in front of the class to read the letter to Petain. The headmaster informs Foulquier that Gustave is the mayor’s nephew and Foulquier asks if they should not just choose his letter then. But they decide to hear it first, since it is the most fair on the children. Gustave reads his letter and both the headmaster and Foulquier are impressed but before they can do anything, the German sergeant runs up and grabs the letter from Gustave and takes it to the stove and burns it. He noticed the back side of the paper and wanted to save Gustave. But when Foulquier screams out that it was a great letter, the sergeant tells him that it was bad because all the German soldiers are happy to be in France.

Marcel gets contacted by his communist Vichy contact, who shows him the leaflet and tells him that the police is about to arrest Suzanne and he wants to assure himself that Marcel has nothing to do with it all. The noose is tightening.

Raymond Schwartz affair with Marie, is now reaping its rewards. He storms in to his wife who sits drinking by her make up table, and he is livid. Jeannine has written to her father, who is the true owner of the farm they lease to Marie and Lorrain, and she has asked her dad to evict the couple.

imageAt the same time Suzanne is arrested. Madame Morvandieu, who usually gets to the post office late thanks to her rheumatism, arrived early that day, because she had been helping at the  soup kitchen before work. She swears that Suzanne did not arrive until 09:00. Suzanne having said that she arrived at 08:00 and then went to her father’s grave to pray, is now in deep trouble. But she alters her story, and says that the rule says that she has to drop the newspapers as soon as they are delivered, but since she knew that noone would be at work until 09:30 that day, she decided to go to he grave first and then to work. Jean still locks her up because he can feel that she is scared.

At the school, the headmaster is upset after the reading. The letter was so good and why did the German burn it? He intends to go and formally complain. “Noone understands the Germans!” Lucienne walks by him and says “Perhaps that is why they won the war?” and she continues out to the school yard, making sure she walks really close to the sergeant, and tells him thank you in passing.

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Madame Morvandieu is asked once again about Suzanne’s whereabouts and if she has acted different during the week. If Madame M. does not answer, she will be held as an accomplice and that does the trick alright. She tells Jean that Suzanne has been seen with Marcel Larcher.

Raymond is acting very strangely in my opinion. Screaming at his wife, I guess acts like Viagra for him, because in the middle of the screaming, she starts to stick her tongue at him, both of them being equally turned on. I must say that the scene just holy, completely disgusted me. Especially since we all know that he spent the morning in bed with Marie. But perhaps it was to save Marie and his relationship with her, that he slept with his disgusting wife? He tells her that it is over but is interrupted since Jean Marchetti has arrived to talk to him. Now I finally understood what went on in the first episode when people were running around at the lumber yard. Jean is a McCarthy! He sees communist conspiracies everywhere and that is why he investigated the lumber yard. He was correct that there was a communist group there and they actually used the office copy machine, to print their leaflets. He asks Raymond if he still has the copy machine and Raymond tells him that after two break ins, there is nothing left to steal. The copy machine having been stolen as well. Jean does not believe thieves would steal such a thing but Raymond’s anger is aroused by now. “Out with the Germans? That is not my thing. I want to keep the few customers I still have!” He does not mention Marcel though, even though he fully well knows what Marcel needed the string for.

imageDe Kerven is upset with himself. Madame Morhange, who now works for him, becomes his confidant. He tells her that if he had taken charge of the case, he could have turned a blind eye to certain things but Marchetti is like a blood hound and will find and punish the culprits, since he is all for the collaboration politics.

Marcel understands that he is in grave danger. He runs to the school and takes Gustave away while Lucienne screams at him that she will go to the headmaster and tattle tell. Marcel tells Gustave that he must go live with uncle Daniel for a while but when Marcel gets to the Larcher house, he is anything but nice. Daniel actually asks him how he can come there and ask him for a favour at the same time as he blames him for everything. Marcel asks his brother to not tell the police for a couple of hours, that he has been there and then he runs off. But not in to hiding. He goes home to get rid of communist evidence and of course Jean is already outside the door, waiting for him. At the police station, Suzanne denies knowing Marcel at all. Marcel being a gentleman, takes all the blame. He says that he seduced poor Suzanne in order to get access to the newspapers. After they made love, she fell asleep in the van and he went in to action. De Kerven, is present and he lets out a sigh of relief and says “So that is why they have been seen together. It is adultery, not politics” in order to save them or Suzanne at least. Trying to see if Marchetti will swallow it. Marcel begs “Please do not ruin her reputation by letting this come out!”. Jean, being self-righteous, starts saying that she does not deserve to be saved since she is married, has committed adultery and has a husband in a work camp. But De Kerven feels that they should not make a big deal of it.

Madame Morvandieu did tell the police that Suzanne goes to pray by her father’s grave every single morning, so when Marcel points out that they met at the cemetery, it is believable. The judge certainly falls for it and Suzanne gets off but Marcel is interned according to some law of 1939 and it is believed that he might get 6 months for the offence with the leaflets.

If things were stiff in the Larcher household before, they certainly are now, with little Gustave at the dinner table, and Jean Marchetti, the house guest, having arrested the doctor’s brother, Hortense’s brother-in-law and Gustave’s father. Who knows how it will all develop? Lucienne obviously will have it off with a imageGerman soldier and have her head shaved at the end of the war, for having slept with the enemy. De Kerven’s love for Madame Morhange obviously will have a sad ending. Jean and Hortense no doubt will get together sooner or later. And Raymond will hardly give up Marie for his disgusting alcoholic wife, who is the one with the money, but she might have waved that carrot too many times. But time will tell if I am right or not!

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November 12, 2014 · 21:07

I must give thanks more often!

Oh it is getting cold here now. I thought it was a nightmare when I woke up this morning and realized that I had to get out of bed. It was so warm and cozy in bed, wearing my nice new pyjamas that I bought Saturday. I know, me in a pyjamas! Unheard of. I always feel so claustrophobic in pyjamas or like a stuffed sausage. Always wearing nightgown instead. But Polarn’ and Pyret, was having 20% off on their clothes Saturday and I fell in love with the pyjamas trousers. Typical that they did not have the size I wanted for comfort then. I bought a navy T-shirt for them and a not comfortable size, hoping that some shop would have my size. Easier said than done. The only shop having it, was in downtown Malmö and no way I can drive in there and park, with a Toyota Hiace. E. volunteered to go down there after school, exchanging the smaller size to a bigger one, since her gymnasium card lets her travel all over the province for free, before 20:00. Very nice of her!image

 

So last night, I was able to go to bed wearing my pyjamas and keep the furry blanket off me, that I have covered up with in the past week. This morning, I noticed “Gubby” snuggling up to me completely covered up by his duvet and I hated to wake him by climbing out of bed and then head out on the cold floor, to turn the light on in ” Boo’s” and “Cookie’s” room. I added a wool cardigan and wool socks to my outfit, and felt semi-ready to face the morning. Much better to be dressed this way than wearing the fluffy furry fleece robe. It doesn’t breathe, so even though you are cold, you sweat.

I started to search for clothes for my three sons, intermittently walking down the hallway telling “Cookie” to get out of bed. I turned on the light at 06:45 as usual. “Boo” got out of bed right away. At 07:00 she sat up on her pillow. At 07:15 she had got to the end of the bed, still sitting on the mattress. I can not tell what a hell that child makes my life in to. Every morning it is the same thing. I have to go down there over and over and over again, nagging for her to get out of bed and she does not stir a fin. And when she does, it is all in a slow motion, slower than a slug fashion. Why should I have to tell a person who knows that she has to get out of bed, to get out of bed, get dressed and get out the door? She is now  14 years old and she makes my blood boil every morning, almost giving me a coronary. She prepares nothing the night before, she walks around searching for things every single morning and for some reason, the clock ticking, does not get to her at all. She has no sense of time and I think it is ghastly that I have to send “Boo” off himself to the bus station at 07:30 and she not leaving until 07:40 when the bus leaves at 07:48. How can anyone in their right mind enjoy having to run like a lunatic to the bus every morning? She never ever has the time to eat breakfast because she doesn’t get out of bed and when she takes a fruit to bring with her, I find it on the sofa bench in the hallway, when I turn off the hallway light! So till lunch, she has nothing in her stomach! She is a holy nightmare and I strongly have started to suspect that she has ADD or is in the Autism Spectrum somewhere. Why would she not be, when almost all the others are? She has no memory, she can not plan anything, she doesn’t understand things, she doesn’t pay attention to important information, doesn’t understand to write it down or remember it, she is overly anxious about everything and she has terrible, terrible OCD.

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She was not my only problem this morning. I started to iron very nice things, I thought. “Boo’s” grey US flag T-shirt has suddenly surfaced after some months disappearance and he wanted to wear it with his camouflage trousers. It took me ten minutes to sort through the clean laundry to find those. While doing that, I found “Kitty’s” really nice petrol coloured T-shirt from Polarn’ and Pyret, which is really his colour. He looks great in it. Sad that he does not agree. Out in the kitchen, I ironed while “Boo” had his breakfast behind me, us both listening to my iPod sitting in the docking station. The day after Halloween, I started to listen to Christmas music. T. asked me Saturday, “why”? Well, I hate November. November and January are the worse two months of the year. November is dark, boring, cold, wet, grey and rainy. Life feels hopeless in November. But if I play Michael Boublé’s Christmas record and all other Christmas songs I have on my iPod, as often as I can, I KNOW that there will be an end to this month, that there is hope. And when this month is over, wonderful December will start when it is legit to listen to the songs.

So, there I am in the kitchen, finishing today’s ironing. And “Kitty” who gets up super early to watch the children’s programs and eat what he wants for breakfast without comments, comes out and tries to put on “Boo’s” T-shirt! Just because he wanted to wear it. “Boo” started to scream. I told “Kitty” to take it off immediately and put on the T-shirt I had ironed for him. He screamed no. He did take off the one, but didn’t put on the other one. He threw a wrinkled, old Angry Birds T-shirt at me instead, which is from H&M, bad quality, nightmare to iron since the seams no longer sit where they should sit, but have gone twisted and I told him, forget it. I was done ironing HIS clothes. I was working on “Gubby’s” jeans and then I was finished. I had his sister to order out of bed.

“Kitty” stormed out of the kitchen and put on the wrinkled T-shirt. By now, D.  had come down to rip the T-shirt off “Kitty”. He confiscated the T-shirt and went back to bed. I headed down the hallway to notice that “Cookie” was standing combing her hair in Victorian fashion, SLOWLY, clad in nightgown and it was 07:25. And “Gubby” had pulled out his duvet on the living room floor, trying to roll himself in to it. While Michael Boublé  happily was singing away in the kitchen. By now, “Kitty” had stomped down the hallway and up the stairs so I thought they would come down. I swear, one day they will. D. tripped one night and pulled down the handle that runs along the stairwell! So, the stairs might give in, as many of my children who stomps up those stairs as hard as they can. I had to scream for him to come back down and then call T. on the train to Helsingborg and tell him to order “Kitty” to put the T-shirt on and for “Cookie” to get a move on. I put on the loudspeaker since they refuse to talk to him and he just laughed! I wish I could see the humour in this mental hospital! Michael Boublé blaring away “It’s a holly, jolly Christmas”, “Kitty” looking like a thunder-cloud and screaming that he doesn’t want to wear things that I pick out, “Cookie” swearing under her breath, “Gubby” sitting drawing on the sofa in my notebook and “Boo” putting on one green sock and one black one. Great choice “Boo”!

“Kitty” stormed off in just a hoodie, no jacket and I said a prayer with “Boo”. 07:42, I angrily told “Cookie”, “how nice it must be, to be so important that the bus waits for you!”. I am sorry, I had just had too much. I found her banana on the sofa bench when turning off the light. “Gubby” had got dressed with the “clothing race” on the TV and was sitting watching “Shaun the Sheep”, so I went to make his porridge, only to discover that T. had not got me any protein bars=no breakfast and no morning walk, since I don’t have any energy to walk on without breakfast. I can not describe how unfair I felt my life to be and how sick and tired of things I am.

Good thing the post came early today, actually before I went to fetch “Gubby” at pre-school 12:10.image I received a beautiful Thanksgiving card from my penfriend C. and it was just so nice receiving that today of all days. We don’t have Thanksgiving in Sweden and hers is earlier than the US one, since she lives in Canada. But it is SO nice receiving something apart from bills in the post and a handmade card, really shows care! Things got better yet. When I fetched “Gubby” ten minutes later, I found the cutest little drawing, in his rucksack. I had to go back and ask his teacher if he actually made it himself or if he had got another child’s drawing by mistake. No, it was his. He might be autistic, and not up to snuff. But his development is going forward. It makes me so happy to see his drawings developing, in particular! Here is his version of …

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“Sponge Bob Squarepants”! Someone he loves very much!!! Sorry it is difficult to see the yellow but the feet are attached to yellow legs and the hands are attached to yellow arms. He has all the colours right! :)

 

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Un village Francais: Season 1, episode 5

Next to last episode of this great new series about the German occupation of France. A small town called Villeneuve gets to symbolize what all of occupied France had to go through. Both the good and the bad, both collaboration and resistance. In episode 5, it’s become 7 November 1940, and we see a very primitive cinema set up in probably the town hall. Rich lumber yard owner Raymond Schwartz enters the hall with his wife Jeannine, and finds them a seat but he also notices that his beloved mistress Marie, is out in the wardrobe area. He walks out to try to exchange a couple of words with her and gives his wife the excuse of needing to use the loo. She is all absorbed in the newsreel on the screen which among other things show Petain shaking hands with Hitler. But more about that in a little while.

Raymond goes out to talk to Marie Germain and she is as delighted to see him as he is of seeing her, even though the situation has become very complicated for them, after her dead husband showed up alive. They both agree that they can not live a double life and yet, they can’t keep from kissing each other and starting to make out, there in the open, outside the loo. And they are seen by the Schwartz’ maid, Sarah, who happens to walk by. They interrupt themselves since the film is cancelled. Some people in the audience whistled and booed at Petain. Or was it at Hitler?

imageThe next morning, Marcel walks his son Gustave to school and intends to do some communist work but before he can continue handing out his propaganda leaflets, the man who saw him outside his house, recognises him and screams for the Gendarmes to arrest Marcel. Marcel takes off running and runs in to the post mistress. She understands what is happening and demands that he gives her, his leaflets. She puts them in her own bag, pretends that he almost knocked her down and when the Gendarmes ask him why he ran, he just says that he got scared. When they demand to look in his bag, and he shows an empty bag, they want to know why he walks around with an empty bag. He quickly answers that he carried his little boy’s school books to school. And he is let off the hook.

Kommendant von Ritter is once again back at the police station to talk to the police and the mayor. A man from Gestapo had been in the audience at the cinema, with a young lady, and he was the one who had stopped the film from being shown after the whistling. The Germans want to have the whistler arrested and De Kerven basically tells his colleagues to forget it, since Marek got 10 years of prison for selling items on the black market, so why should they hand anyone over to the Germans again. But Jean Marchetti is obsessed with justice, sometimes (not when it has to do with Hortense Larcher), and he sets out to find the culprit. De Kerven warns him that he is loosing his soul when he does as the Germans tell him. Not knowing what a hypocrite Marchetti really is.

Marcel manages to find the post mistress again and gets horribly angry when he

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

finds out that she burned the leaflets. But she explains to him that she had to and she also found them utter trash. She wonders how on earth the communists can say that London is the enemy. She introduces herself as Suzanne Richard and offers to actually help him with his work. IF he changes the text to say “Out with the Germans!”. Marcel says that he has to discuss this with his communist comrades in Vichy first and she gives him the time he needs.

Meanwhile, Jean Marchetti is trying to sniff out the whistler among citizens reluctant to talk to him. Finally he strikes luck when an older man reveals, under threat, who sat on the back row where the whistling came from. He gives Jean the name Sarah Meyer. “She is a nice girl though, for being an Israelite! She always let me go ahead of her in the queue. And she did not whistle!” The problem is that Sarah was supposed to be home working Sunday night, when the event took place, her day off being Mondays. Jean goes to find Sarah but he does not find her, but Jeannine Schwartz, and puts ideas in to her jealous head.

Jeannine must be feeling that her husband is having an affair and now she thinks that it is with Sarah. IF Sarah was at the cinema, he must have been with

Marcel Larcher and Sarah Meyer

Marcel Larcher and Sarah Meyer

her there, since his visit to the loo was far too long in her opinion. Raymond swears that he is not having an affair with Sarah, which of course is true. To make sure that Sarah stays quiet about what she saw at the cinema, he goes to her room early in the morning. Only to find her in bed with Bellini’s son Michel. Bellini being a very powerful man, the president of the chamber of commerce. Raymond doesn’t care, he is more concerned about Sarah not letting his wife know the truth.

Marcel Larcher meets his communist contact from Vichy and that man lectures Marcel no end. The comrades are displeased with him. Under no account is he allowed to work with Suzanne Richard, who is married to a socialist. He must repent and fix the mess he has created by losing the leaflets. Marcel is not pleased with the way the man is talking to him though. He is a hot head and will do as he pleases, no doubt.

Sarah Meyer is forced to go to the police station and she tells Jean that she was home darning socks, putting up the black out curtains and cooking dinner. When he objects to it not taking very long darning socks, she begs him not to tell Madame Schwartz that she was reading “Martin Eden”. She tries to pacify the detective, asking him if he has read it and he very stiffly points out that he only reads police reports. Being of a somewhat obsessed nature, he will not swallow her lie though and points out that she is an Israelite which has not registered as a Jew and that Camille Heusinger, pointed her out as having been to the cinema, and being “very nice for being an Israelite”. He says it doesn’t look good that she lies to the police and lies to her employers. She finally gives up and tells him that she was at the cinema with Michel Bellini, and he realizes that this is probably a young man they can not touch. But between her tears, she says that he did not whistle either.

Out at the farm Lorrain is making Marie’s life hell. He is suffering from PTS, can not get anything done and he has started to look in to their finances, realizing that they owe money right and left and that Marie has not paid rent for three months. He wants to know the reason and she says that she struck a deal with Raymond when the banks closed, that they would pay rent when things got back to normal. But Lorrain wants to know details about interest and things and in the middle of the argument, he notices that a big heavy cupboard has been moved. How did she manage to move that? She says some workers helped her, one in particular, who died in a bombing. But Lorrain points out that the man in question had something wrong with his hip, so WHO helped her? Of course she does not tell him that it was Raymond and that they afterwards made love. She is saved by a man who comes in to requisition a horse and a pig. Lorrain looses it and says that doesn’t he want his wife too? Now suspecting everyone of having it off with his wife. He grabs a gun and threatens the man, screaming at him that without the animals, they will not be able to produce a thing.

In Villeneuve, De Kerven, head of police, has invited Madame Morhange for dinner. At the police station. He wonders how she is getting along and if the work as a seamstress is going well. She tells him that she never knew she was so lousy at sewing and that so many women had the same idea as her. She is in trouble and De Kerven suggests that she comes and works as his secretary, part-time. But she points out that she is not allowed to since she is a Jew, but he has found a loophole in the law. The contract is only for a year and it would not be counted as a permanent job then, which is what Jews are not allowed to uphold. She wants to know why he is so kind and wants to help her. Only a blind person would not see that. He likes her but is too much of a buffalo to tell her. She is starting to understand though and she asks for his advice. Should she register as a Jew? He says, absolutely. That would keep her safe from more hassle. “What else could happen?” he says sincerely. Famous last words aren’t they?!

By now, the rumours about what Lorrain did, has reached the Schwartz and Jeannine tells Raymond that she wants the couple fired, that they should not be allowed to run the farm anymore, which belongs to the Schwartz family. Raymond tells her that he will go out there and talk to them, which he does. He imagegets to talk to Marie for a couple of seconds and kiss her and then Lorrain shows up and tells Raymond that he plans to take Marie and move, since he is sick and tired of being in debt and of requisitions. He asks Raymond to help him and Marie slaughter a pig, and then Raymond comes up with the idea that if they sell the pig to this man who is throwing a wedding for a daughter, in just a couple of days, they can earn 1000 Francs instead of the 20 they would get at the market. Raymond takes the pig with him in his car, to Villeneuve, but is stopped on the bridge by his new friend, who is back from leave in Düsseldorf and wants to show him a gift from his wife. The gift being a German shepherd, called Willie, who smells the meat in the car. Raymond has to promise him some meat, in order to pass.

During a dinner with the under-prefect, Larcher and Jean Marchetti tells the previous, who the whistler was. The under-prefect says that they can not arrest the son of such an important person, as the president of the chamber of commerce. That now is not the time to destroy social order. But Jean insists that now is the time to show that money, class and position doesn’t mean a thing anymore, that justice will be served and that this will reinforce the society they are trying to build in occupied France. Finally, the under-prefect agrees to let them do as they please, if it helps the new order to become more popular.

Jeannine Schwarz

Jeannine Schwarz

While Raymond stands and tries to sort out the pig, never having cut up a pig before, his wife comes in drunk as a skunk. Sarah has confessed to her about the cinema visit and that Raymond has a mistress. Jeannine screams that she is going to punish Raymond by telling her dad and when she does, he will lose his son Marceau and the lumber yard. In the middle of it all, Sarah comes in and says that her parents have written that she must go register herself as a Jew and she must have the day off, since it is the last day to register. But Jeannine refuses to let her have the day off. Also displaying a now famous French anti-Semitism, not really caring a straw for Sarah and what happens to her.

At the police station, Jean Marchetti has brought Michel Bellini in for questioning and De Kerven is also present. Bellini says that he did not whistle and boo at Petain, that it was at Hitler and that he could not help that Petain was shaking his hand with Hitler right then. He adds that he did not know that it was forbidden to boo at Hitler. Jean asks him to empty his pockets and De Kerven grabs the first thing, an address book full of girl names. Jean grabs the second book that comes out of his pockets and we all recognise it from the church in episode 2. Téquiéro’s mother was clutching it when she died and he took it from the corpse when he was trying to help Lucienne organize a sorting and queueing system. Jean looks in it and understand what it is. He asks where Michel got hold of it and he tells him “from a corpse”. Jean asks him if he has read it and he says no, he doesn’t understand Spanish. Jean reminds him that stealing from a corpse is a crime and Michel says that he saved it from being thrown in a mass grave, so what? “You are young. You can go for this time”. De Kerven can hardly believe what he hears Jean say! But Jean defends himself with that we must keep the under-prefect happy. Sudden change of mind!

Jean of course understands how dangerous this diary is for Hortense Larcher and her happiness. Inside it, is a photo of Carlotta and the man who is now in prison thanks to Hortense and Jean. Jean takes the diary to Hortense and when she sees the photo, she realizes that the man in the photo has Téquiéro’s eyes. Or vice versa. Jean can hardly take his loving eyes off Hortense when she goes to put the diary away in a drawer. It is getting more and more difficult to keep that baby away from his rightful family and yet, Jean will do anything for Hortense. It is with sadness I realize that there is only one episode left of season 1 and who knows when they will show the next one here in Sweden. As a matter of fact, Jean and Hortense are not the ones I wonder most about, but the people running the greatest risk here are Marcel, who has decided to go with Suzanne’s daring plan and not his communist comrades’ plans. She fetches newspapers at the printers and during one hour, they will stick leaflets in to all the newspapers, saying out with the Germans. Marcel is scared since it is a risky action but he wants to do something and has started to see Suzanne’s point, that the Germans are the enemy. And what will happen to Madame Morhange and Sarah Meyer, after they have registered as Jews? They of course are heading for concentration camps, but when and how? Will someone hide them? Help them? Will they survive the war? Jeannine Schwartz certainly has no feelings for her maid. But De Kerven certainly likes Madame Morhange. For their sake, I hope it all ends well. I hate unhappy endings!

 

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Un Village Francais: Season 1, episodes 3-4

Episode 3 of “Un Village Francais” starts with the Kommendant officially complaining to dr. Daniel Larcher, who has now become mayor of the town Villeneuve, that there has been sabotage done to the Germans’ communication lines at the boy school. He wants the saboteur found and punished and demands a list with men from 20 different households on it. These will be hostages until the saboteur is found, and will be demanded to patrol all night, every night, by the railway lines, so no sabotage is made to them.

Larcher sits down to write this list and he puts himself on top. As a matter of fact the Germans raise more than one eyebrow, when they see the list, since the mayor has put himself at the very top and his head of police, De Kerven, second. Putting themselves at risk of course if the culprit is not found and more sabotage is committed.

Raymond Schwartz, the owner of the lumber yard, is one of the few people who have an Ausweis, to move between Vichy and Occupied France.  When he is told there is a telegram for Marie Germain, his mistress and passion, he finds an excuse to cross over to Vichy France, and hand deliver the telegram to her. But he does not get very far. The crossing is closed because of the sabotage, so Marie has to be sent for and he gets to hand her the telegram over the gate. Her husband Lorrain Germain is dead and while Marie breaks down on one side of the gate, Raymond can do nothing but look at her from the occupied zone of the border. Hurting and wanting to be with her.

At school, the board has arrived to have an interview with young school mistress Lucienne Broderie, who is being blamed for taking the children out on a dangerous picnic, on the day the Germans arrived, and for the death of two children, when they were attacked by a single German fighter plane. Lucienne is terrified and headmaster Madame Morhange has promised to be there and help her along and testify of her innocence. But at the same time, as the two members of the school board arrive, who tend to be on the anti-Semitic side of things, head of police, De Kerven, arrives to investigate a theft. Madame Morhange has to leave the room and asks them to wait for her.

While she explains to Henri De Kerven, that half a ham, some quince confectionary and honey have been stolen from the kitchen, during the night, the board ignores her wishes to wait with the interview of Lucienne. Under extreme pressure, they make Lucienne feel so bad and so guilty, that she signs a confession as Madame Morhange enters the room. And there is nothing Madame Morhange can do to help her from there on.

It is soon clear to the viewer that the bitter, deserted French soldier named Jacques according to Wikipedia, who helped Marcel Larcher’s little boy Gustave, on the day of the occupation, is the thief. He obviously is hungry and climbed on the telephone cords outside the school building, to get in to the school’s kitchen, to steal the food. Ripping some of the cords off the wall in the process. But we know more than the town’s people!

Marcel Larcher, communist and also brother of the new mayor, Dr. Daniel Larcher, is called in to communist service, by his party members. He is told to risk his life and cross the border at 21:00, to meet a known communist on the Vichy side. He is not too happy about it, having a sick wife at home and a little son, and the curfew having been moved to 18:00, because of the sabotage. But he is true to the cause and plans on going, telling his son that he must not tell anyone.

Lots of things happen that evening. First of all, the Kommendant instructs the 20 men, what to do. None of them are excited about their task and they feel rather foolish, since they are supposed to patrol the railway line without weapons. If anything happens, if they find someone, they are supposed to shout for the German soldiers to come,who are supposed to keep close by. An absolutely idiotic plan. The kommendant, finds it very strange that some of the most influential men in the town are among the 20 and he takes the opportunity to imagetalk to Raymond Schwartz. He points out to him that the occupation is a fact and that he doesn’t really want to be there either, but it is both of their duty to make the best of the situation. He wants to fix the school up for his soldiers, the part they are in, and needs timber. Schwartz can provide him with this, and while Raymond Schwartz is not too keen to work with the Germans, he is promised petrol and even more important a new Ausweis that will work! The Ausweis being necessary in order to be able to go see Marie!

During the night patrol, chaos soon breaks out. The deserted soldier Jacques tries to cross over to Vichy France and a fierce argument breaks out between the French and the non-French speaking German soldiers, who is going to be allowed to arrest him or rather take him in to custody. Head of police De Kerven gets so terribly upset by the ordeal, that he gets a heart attack and has to be taken to the doctor’s house. The entire chaos saves Marcel Larcher’s life though, since he was also out, to cross the border right there, to see his important communist contact.

When Raymond Schwartz gets home to his wife, he tells her of the Kommendant’s business deal and she is all for it, even though he has qualms. She wants to eat better than they can by now, their cook hardly being able to find a thing at the market. To her it is all about money and she is used to having plenty and abstain from nothing. She can only see advantages. So Raymond of course agrees to the deal, which means petrol and Ausweis for him but he in return has to give the Germans a list of all his workers and a floor plan of his “factory”.

When De Kerven comes down to the Larcher breakfast table, he notices that they have no problems with getting food. As a matter of fact he is served ham and he is told that the cook had bought it on the black market for a lot of money. De Kerven knows to go back to the school and talk to the custodian Marek, who lives in a shed on the premises. Poor Marek says that he saw a thief run off, dropping a bag with the ham and honey in it. He sold the items, since he needed the money. But there was no candy in the bag. De Kerven arrests Marek, since the Germans want results and he thinks that Marek is safe, but not so. He is forced to hand him over to the Germans instead of Marek getting judged by a French court and when he complains to under-prefect Servier, this man says “Who cares about a foreigner anyway. We have to protect the French people, our own.”

With Marek, in the cell, sat the deserted soldier Jacques, and when De Kerven has seen Marek being taken off in a German military transport, he lets the soldier out. He sees a candy wrapper on the floor, exactly the sort of candy which had gone missing from the school, but he doesn’t make the connection. Nor does he call the soldier back to ask him about it.

De Kerven’s discovery at the breakfast table is not the only disruption of that meal. Larcher receives a phone call and has to rush off. He has been called to Marcel Larcher’s household. Marcel has not arrived home yet. When he does, he finds his son, his brother and a priest in the room of his wife Micheline. He gets furious with his brother for having called in a priest and Daniel just tells him that the boy was home alone, his mother dying and after all she was born a Catholic. Micheline has died and Gustave never disclosed anything about the secret meeting his dad had been to and why he was home alone.

Episode 4:

15 October 1940

Our deserted soldier, Jacques, can’t stay away from crime. When the episode starts, he is smuggling a family of Jews, over to Vichy France but demands more money than was agreed on. They do not have the money and while they argue about what to do, how to get to Marseilles, Jacques sees a parachute coming down from a crashing plane and just takes off, leaving the poor Jews standing there, not knowing what to do next and where to go.

Farmer Marie and Raymond of the lumber yard, carries on their love affair without any worries. He easily can go visit her now in her home, thanks to the Ausweis, and he tells her after their love-making in this episode, that he can drive her to where she needs to go. On their way towards town, they run in to Jacques who stops them and forces them to help him with the RAF pilot. It is agreed that the pilot needs medical attention and Jacques will not let them both leave for help. Raymond is allowed to go in search for someone who will not talk while Marie stays behind to try to wash the pilot’s wounds.

While Marcel Larcher, sits and puts together communist propaganda, on order from his Vichy France comrades, his brother the mayor, sits and writes out official orders in French, which he has received from Kommendant von Ritter, about the punishments, which will be inforced if any French person helps British pilots. He also receives a second nasty shock that morning. Outside his door, stands a man claiming to be Téquiéro’s father.The man explains that his wife Carlotta gave birth in Villeneuve according to a soldier that he ran in to in Besancon. The soldier clearly told him that the doctor had handed her over to him, in order to take her to a field hospital. Dr./Mayor Larcher tells him that there was no obstetrician in Villeneuve that day and send the man packing. But he is worried, since both he and his wife have grown very attached to the baby.

The pilot in the hut is now awake and wonders if he is in Vichy France and when he is told that he is in the occupied zone, he understands what danger he is in. The Germans are getting closer and closer to the hut, since they have found the crashed airplane. Marie is getting nervous and wants to go find a doctor or turn the pilot over to the Germans, to save themselves and give him a chance to survive his wounds. Meanwhile, Raymond is doing his best but he has been stopped by von Ritter, who has an important guest who wants to see the lumber yard. Raymond wants to prevent them from finding the pilot, as long as he can, so he drives them down on a muddy road on purpose, in order to make them cancel all their plans and let him go do what he wants to do.

Marcel Larcher is breaking the law as well, secretly handing out his recruitment propaganda letters, in everybody’s mail boxes. He keeps doing this until a man steps out of his house and notices what he is doing. Now there is a witness who can report him! He takes off running, like a hunted rabbit.

Téquiéro’s father has headed for the police station, where he informs policeman Jean Marchetti, that dr. Larcher is a lier when he says that he did not deliver a baby on the 12 June, when the father has been told the opposite. Jean, who is VERY fond of Hortense Larcher, can’t take his eyes off the woman as a matter of fact, tries to tell the father that if the doctor can’t find any births in his papers for that day, there were none.

By now, the deserted soldier Jacques has let Marie run off to get a doctor, since noone has arrived with one. She has to lie to Larcher to get him to come along and he is shocked when he realizes what sort of risk she has put them both in, when they reach the hut. But before they reach the hut, the pilot has shown a photo of his wife and child, to Jacques, trying to communicate with a non-English speaker. Jacques understands though, that the pilot loves his family and he starts talking about his own life, not really to the pilot but just to reminisce. He tells us all that he once was married and loved his wife very much. But he never told her so or let her know. Instead he worked too much, all the time. Leaving her on her own too much. Then one day, when he came home unexpectedly, he found her in bed with another man. He lost his temper and beat the man half to death, including breaking his nose. “And then I lost my patience with her screaming and …”. He doesn’t say it, but it basically sounded like he killed his wife. His loud thoughts are interrupted when he hears the Germans getting closer with their dogs and he decides to try to carry the pilot to safety, to Vichy. But the pilot is heavy and they do not manage to get very far. They have left by the time Larcher and Marie arrive and Larcher firmly tells Marie that the war is over and that she must not take any risks what so ever. At the same time, Jacques realizes that he can not save them both, and the pilot understands. He gives the soldier his wedding ring and begs him to take it back to his wife in England. Jacques doesn’t understand a word, but puts on the ring and tries to cover over the pilot with leaves before he runs off. But it doesn’t matter. The pilot is dead.

Raymond, stuck at the lumber yard, with the Germans, suddenly receives a guest. The deceased Lorrain Germain, husband of Marie, stands there in front of him and asks him to take him to Marie. He and a couple of mates, had walked by some corpses a month earlier and had stolen the dead people’s identity discs, so they could escape. All soldiers ending up in POW camps. Raymond being their landlord, can hardly refuse to help Lorrain and takes him across the line to Vichy via the official crossing on the bridge outside the town. He has become friendly with a guard on the bridge, who happily lets them cross since he is on his way home on leave. And when they get to the Vichy side of the bridge and Raymond says “French soldier who has escaped”, the French guards happily say “Bravo!” and let them both through.

imageJean Marchetti has gone home to talk to Hortense Larcher, meanwhile, and he wants to know how far she is willing to go, in order to keep Téquiéro. She wants to know what he means by this and he tells her that the police is on the lookout for an escaped convict. The father of the baby fits the description perfectly and he does not have any papers anymore to prove who he is, which means that Jean can have him locked away for anything between 6 months to a year. Hortense wants to know why he wants to help her and says that nothing is ever for free. Jean looks at her with love and says that he likes the Larchers and that he feels that the baby would be better off with them. He adds that the only thing he wants from her is total silence. “Should I make the phone call?”. -“Yes, yes” is the answer Hortense gives him. And the man’s fate is sealed.

At the Germain farm, Marie gets excited when she sees Raymond’s car, thinking that a moment of passion will ensue. She is not prepared to see her husband, and has to do everything to disguise her feelings for Raymond and pretend to be excited about Lorrain’s return, Raymond having to try to do the same thing. Lorrain’s suspicions are almost aroused at once, since she is not jumping for joy.

In town, Madame Morhange at the school, comes to talk to Lucienne. The school board members open anti-Semitism had its explanation. She has been fired from her headmaster’s job, since the new Jewish law in Occupied France, forbids her to continue work in state facilities. Lucienne is shocked and Madame Morhange bitter. But she turns to Lucienne and says “As for you, they can’t fire all Jewish teachers or there will not be any teachers left”. Cryptic. Did it mean that Lucienne is also Jewish? Or bad Swedish translation from the French?

De Kerven enters the school a moment later to talk to Madame Morhange, but she is gone, with suitcase and everything, so he has to ask Lucienne a favour. He needs someone to wash the dead pilot, for burial. Lucienne reluctantly says yes. De Kerven sets off after Madame Morhange and catches up with her at the town square, where parents are saying goodbye to her. He asks if she has anywhere to go. She says she has relatives in Paris but he tells her of this man who has committed suicide. The heirs are bickering over his flat and meanwhile, she can go live there, since the solicitor says it can take years before they sort out who is the rightful owner to the flat. Madame Morhange gratefully thanks him and agrees to his offer. While they walk off to the flat…

Daniel Larcher arrives home to find his wife Hortense and baby Téquiéro in the bath tub. He is tired and says that they are his only joy. He tells her that he is contemplating adopting the baby. She asks him, guilty faced, if he did not see Jean? “The man who came here was not Téquiéro’s father after all. A case of mistaken identity. We need not to have worried.”

At the school, Lucienne has to face a naked, dead man covered in blood. She is scared and starts singing to herself, to calm her own nerves.

And that is how Thursday’s two episodes broadcast back to back ended. It is difficult to say what one thinks. I think that the most offensive thing in the series, is the usage of “israelite”. It shows how prevalent the Anti-Semitism was among everyone. And why call them “Israelite” when the French word is “Juif”? Is it a modern day thing or was that what they called them back in 1940? I have no idea. I just know that if you call a Jew an Israelite today, you are telling the Jew that might be a citizen of your own country, that he or she doesn’t belong anywhere but in Israel. And when the Israelis do something which the rest of the world does not approve of, that same Jew will be attacked and held responsible. If I was a Jew, I would not want to be called an Israelite unless I was born and raised in Israel! The show so far does not show any real hatred for Jewish Madame Morhange, but it does show a deeply ingrained attitude of the French of not feeling that the Jews were part or complete citizens of their country. Good to show in this day and age! As a warning!

The show also shows how quickly people started to perhaps not take sides, but show their true selves. The rich seeing the advantages of cooperating with the Germans, money-wise but also comfort wise. Marcel Larcher, who before was fighting the establishment, suddenly sees a bigger enemy in the Germans. Which is most important? Your country or your ideology? His communist comrades in Vichy, doesn’t see the Germans as any enemies. Only the Nazis are, and the propaganda they have him spread is that London and Vichy are equally bad enemies. He is having his doubts though. He is not as pleased with the Germans as his comrades seem to be. And while the head of police really detest running the Germans’ errands and feel that they can get away with not doing all the things the Germans order them to do, trying to keep their integrity intact, dr. Larcher is scared of doing anything wrong and feels that his hands are completely tied. He does not dare to do anything wrong. Hm…

 

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Lexibook Tablet Junior 2 from BR

All summer long, I suffered the same upsetness, as many other parents I have spoken to. We all remembered our childhood summers. Going swimming. Playing outdoors. Reading books. Playing with dolls, if you were a girl of course, otherwise with boy toys. I remember how D. dressed up as a knight and played outside every day, and when he grew out of knights, he dressed up as a soldier and ran around with a plastic gun, pretending there was a war on in the forest, with the neighbour boys.

Now you don’t find kids out playing games anymore. You almost have to force them to take part in the library’s summer book campaign, “read eight books and receive one for free”. Forget trying to get the boys to participate in that! No, come rain, come shine, they park themselves in front of a computer to play games and for the children, who are not on the computer, there is the DVD player to use, while they wait their turn on the computer. I don’t think I have ever spent such a frustrating summer ever, trying to get my children to do something else, but sitting parked in front of the TV and the computer screen. When school started in August, I was glad because for one, there would only be computer games played on Saturdays, again.

But, by then I had discovered that “Boo” did not play the silly, innocent games I had allowed him to play on the computer. No, when everyone was out of view, he just surfed in on games that I do not approve of. I can’t prevent D. who now have turned 20, from sitting killing people on-screen. But my other boys can forget sitting playing anything remotely close to people or things dying! NO SHOOTING or destroying of anything. For a while, I have noticed the little tablet Lexibook, at the toystore BR. When it first got out, it was way out of my range. But lately, or say for the past 6 months, they have had it on sale, for half the initial price. The price now being 799:- (£ 67.26 , $ 108, € 86.15 ). When I noticed that “Boo” was playing games I do not approve of, when I realized that I can’t prevent the kids from loving computer games, and when I realized that “Gubby” needs some form of stimulation, to learn colours, shapes, math etc., then I started to think about the Lexibook seriously. I started to think that perhaps 799:- was not such a bad price after all. T. and I checked the tablets available, since there are two, and decided that the tablet for small children, would be perfect. Nice, kind games. And sturdy construction if they accidentally drop it on the floor.

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So, as a surprise, on the 22 August, I went to BR, with D. and “Gubby” in tow, and bought a Lexibook for “Gubby”, “Boo” and if necessary, “Kitty”. When the lady in the shop saw “Gubby” she said, no that is for babies and toddlers, you need to get the one for older children and I had to point out that, he is behind in learning, he is autistic and “the other child who is going to use this is also being tested for the same thing, and is behind in language and learning. I WANT THIS TABLET, with simple games and a sturdy construction”. She stopped arguing with me and happily we walked home with the machine and plugged it in for charging.

As a word of warning, the lady in the shop said “Make sure it is a grown up who plugs it in for charging. We have had a couple of them back, because children have plugged the charging plug in too hard, and have pushed something in the outlet hole too far in.”. I had no idea what the lady meant when I plugged it in. You have a holeimage on the machine, on the side. You have a charging cord with a metal “pin” at the end and you have to stick the pin in all the way in to the hole for the cord and the black plastic part, to touch the machine. You can’t have the pin hanging out half way, or you get no or uneven amount of electricity in to your machine! The boys were happier than happy!

We took photos of them with the tablet and created three “accounts”, since you can create three. So all three boys had their faces and their names on one box each, when you start the tablet. They soon found favourites among the games. “Boo” loved the squirrel, who has to get over a field of traps. And he also sat with a monkey jumping upwards, getting rewards and trying to avoid obstacles. “Gubby” loved to try most things, but he really loved the making hamburgersimage. I had to steer him in to the learning games, like one who taught shapes, and one who taught colours and light/dark. He also managed to do the funny game Jump Frog Jump, in the learning section, with my help and tried his hand at parking a car, or getting it out of a parking space really, and the memory game. He really came to love the latter.

Two Saturdays went by and the boys looked forward to every Saturday, since that is when they got to play on the Lexibook. And if I was nice, also on Sunday afternoons. But with the arrival of the third weekend, after my purchase of the tablet, the Lexibook no longer wanted to start-up. Sadly, I had to take it to BR and ask them what could be wrong. “Your children must have plugged in the charging cord too hard!”. No way was I going to accept that. I told them, that the only two people putting in the charging cord, was myself and my husband, after the warning they gave us when I bought it. I had decided that it was not going to break on us! I have an iPod, an iPad, an iPhone and have charged all of them for years as well as my laptop. I know how to charge electrical things and don’t use excess force! Nor does my husband. The machine was in for repairs, for an entire month and came back in time for Saturday, 12 days ago. The repairs people said we had put the charger in too hard.

I got really upset at this, and once again explained that only two grown ups had dealt with the charging. I also told the woman how it is very strange to sell a machine that is that hypersensitive. The girl agreed and said the binder in front of her, was full of Lexibooks in for repair, for the same thing. She had pointed out to the company, that since this machine is made for toddlers, it is insane to make the charging hole/outlet so sensitive. It is meant that children should charge it by themselves, and we did not even allow our kids to do this! They are no toddlers, who are a famous for being clumsy and not careful with things, but I wanted to make sure, just in case. I don’t understand why they have not put in an iPhone charger plug/outlet instead, which is wide? Or as T. suggested, a USB port opening which is also wide. Instead of having just a pin! But I told the girl, you have to stick the pin all the way in or your machine is not going to work! I went home with the machine, and “Gubby” was soooooo happy. He sat and played a lot on it that Saturday. And 3 days ago, he once again wanted to play on it, since it was Saturday again. But lo and behold, the machine no longer worked. Again!

This time I had told T. that I did not dare to charge it up, so he was the only person who was allowed to charge it up after we got the tablet back, a week ago. Sunday night, I told him “Since we bought that machine two months ago, it has spent the majority of the time, at the repairs. What’s the point? How many times are they going to repair it for us before they say, no, we refuse to fix it another time?”. The girl said they had never received a tablet back a second time for repairs. I thought that sounded hopeful, till ours broke down after one day of use. So, last night, I had T. take the tablet back to BR and demand my money back. I bet everyone else have done the same thing and that is why it never comes back for a second repair. T. said they did not fight him at all, no questions asked. It breaks my heart, but I did not see myself having any option. What is the point in having a tablet which spends all its time in a repairs shop and not in my children’s hands? I am so horribly disappointed with the whole thing because I considered the purchase for so long. It was a great sacrifice to shell out the money. But I wanted to do something nice for the boys, I wanted their time with computer games to be meaningful, I wanted especially “Gubby” to learn things. It had puzzles, films, memory game, feedback when doing colours etc. The thought behind the tablet was such a good one. Safe games, good games, collected in one place. And if  I am going to be honest, both E. and “Cookie” thought the games were funny as well. Even I sat and filled hamburger orders, finding it a challenge to do so on time. So, it was very, very sad to let the machine go. But what is the point in having a good-looking tablet that will not start, a dead item for 799:-?

They did tell T. that an update is planned. For Christmas, he asked them? No, we have to sell all the ones we have first! Excuse me, but is that not totally dishonest? They have a big inventory of lousy tablets, which they are planning on pawning off on people, people who then in return, are going to come back to the shop with them broken. Because this machine will break! Noone can plug-in that charging cord without breaking the machine. It is impossible. We can testify to that! And why are they doing this? Would it not be cheaper to accept their mistake, throw away the machines and start all over? People are not going to buy the update when they know how bad the first one was! The market is a slim one, with lots of competition. They can’t afford making these mistakes. They really can not afford to sell off their inventory first and then have every customer come back with their machines. Idiotic plan!

I have no idea what to do next? Proper tablets with proper charging cords and outlets, are designed for grown ups. They are fragile and they are expensive. T. pointed out that he might be able to find some of the same kind of games for the boys, BUT it will take hours of searching and he doesn’t have that! It was so nice to have a tablet programmed with it all from the start, that someone had done the job for us already. And to go out there and get a Gameboy or Nintendo, is just not my thing. Kids get tired of games as the Dragons said in “The Dragons den” when they were asked to finance this lady’s business venture with carry ons which had built-in games in to them.

Last week I had my nails fixed and my nail technician told me how her son is really in to Skylanders. I have seen the little figurines at BR and did not know what they were for. But according to her, you buy a game and all these little figurines. Every figurine costing 129:- (£ 10.86, $17.43, € 13.91) and kids of course wanting them all. You put the figurine on the game somehow and then it “jumps” in to the game and stays there, till you remove it. So the little figurine is just needed for that first transfer. Her son had received the game and lots of figurines for it, when it first came out. Then the following year, they introduced new figurines called Giant Skylanders or whatever. But you could not use them with your game, you had to buy a new game for them to work. You could use your old figurines, for the new game, but not new figures for the old game. Old after one year, mind you! If this is not nasty and taking advantage of children’s game obsession and needing new kicks, just like game addicts, what is? The next year, a new game came with 27 new figurines. Can’t remember their names. Her relatives had asked what her son wanted and she told them all, that he wanted those figurines, she and her husband buying the game, once again. Of course he wanted all the 27 new figurines and that is what he received and when school started in January, he was the most popular boy in school. But for how long? She said that they release all these in time for Christmas and as it happens his January Birthday. She added that if you go home with your game to a friend and put one of your friend’s figurines on your game, then you get that character inside your game, so you could easily get all characters, if you and your friends share and visit each other, plan wisely in other words. But she said that kids just don’t go home and play at each other’s houses. They sit alone at home instead, when they easily could had saved a lot of money, if they had walked around to friends, adding characters to their games.

I must say that I detest all this business. If those figurines could have been sold on eBay or something, to children just entering the gaming age, I guess it would not have been too bad.  But what child wants last year’s model or figurines from three years ago, when everyone in school talks of the latest models? It’s not cool is it? I will never jump on anything like this. And I will never buy a little machine with one game, which will be boring after so an so many weeks and then the nagging for a new game starting. No, we will have to come up with some other solution. But it will not be any of BR’s options, that is for sure. The Lexibook tablet was a huge disappointment!!!

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