Lucette Destouches the Original Collaborator With Germany During Occupation of France Dies at 107
Some times truth can be stranger than fiction. News has emanated from France that the original Cheerleader for the Germans has died at the age of 107. She was Lucette Destouches who was a French dancer and married to the writer Louis - Ferdinand Celine. We must recollect that France was under the occupation of Germany from 1940-44 until it was liberated. General De Gaulle made a triumphant entry into Paris to cheering crowds.
Lucette Destouches and her husband the French writer Celine escaped from Paris at that critical moment. This was the time Paris was liberated. They were cheerleaders for the Germans like many other French men and women. There was an inherent fear that in case they were caught either by the French resistance or the government they could be executed. BBC has reported that she was the last surviving witness of the tragicomic, final days of France's collaborationist regime.
Lucette was an eye witness to the tottering Vichy regime. In October 1944, it was clear to all that the Germans were on their last legs in France. Most of the country had been liberated. The Germans realized this and wanting to keep their options open transferred Marshall Petain and his ministers to a 1,000-year-old castle in a small town in Germany called Sigmaringen.
The castle was part of the Hohenzollern dynasty and perched on a vantage point overlooking the river Danube. It had been taken over by the Germans and the Hohenzollern dynasty expelled.
Celine and his wife fled Paris and ended up in the medieval Castle. This was in 1944. The original rulers had been thrown out by the fascist German regime. Lucette and her husband were thus eyewitnesses to the last days of the Vichy regime. She was 32 when she accompanied her husband. The castle was a massive structure and could house hundreds of Frenchmen. It gave them refuge but many wondered how long it would last.
More than 1000 French collaborators with the Germans were holed up in this castle.
There was a semblance of French rule and French soldiers guarded the entrance to the Castle. Lucette was thus witnessing the peculiar world of the last vestiges of survival of the collaborators. In Paris, she had been a dancer when she was attracted to Celine the French writer. Without a thought, she left France and along with her husband began to reside at the castle.
Marshal Petain lived on the top floor of this castle. Pierre Laval the second most important man in the Vichy government lived on the second floor. They hated each other and never spoke. Other members of the Vichy government were hoping that there would be a change for the better. The Germans also kept them in the castle hoping French leaders would go back to France. It was a desperate group that stayed at the castle, knowing well that their future was sealed.
The last gamble of prolonging the war failed when in December 1944 the Ardennes offensive collapsed after making a dent of 45 miles in the allies' frontline. This was Hitler's final gamble and he failed.
Lucette was the original cheerleader for the German army. She may have been responsible was the execution of many members of the French resistance. It must be remembered that she was not alone in this. Many Frenchmen supported Germany and some even went to fight on the Russian front
At the end of the war, her husband and she were wondering where to go. They escaped to Belgium. Both spent some time in prison but were allowed back. Eventually, Celine went to Paris where he died in 1961. Lucette lived alone and died at Meudon, France. Her neighbors looked after her and three of them by turns spent time with her during the day.
From old photographs, we can see that Lucette was a lovely woman and she also must have been a woman of substance.
Lucette's death is like a watershed in the history of France. It all looks like a dream now, as the famous invasion of France through the low countries took place.
People have now forgotten the humiliation of the years of occupation when Marshal Petain became the main collaborator with the German war machine under Hitler, whose phone was auctioned for a large sum of money about 2 years back.
Lucette lived alone in the last years of her life and maybe at that time, she may have been prey to thoughts about how she became the cheerleader for the German army during the occupation year 1940-44.