Charles Glass new book unravels the untold story of Americans in Paris during the Nazi Occupation. Although volumes have been written about how Parisians behaved under German occupation, little has been said about the Americans who stayed in Paris during that time.
Before the war an estimated 30,000 Americans lived in or near Paris. Although the US Ambassador had advised those without vital business to leave when war broke out in 1939, almost five thousand remained.
For four hard years from the summer of 1940 until US troops occupied Paris in August 1944, Americans were intimately caught up in the city’s fate. Glass ponders what he would have done in that situation. “Would I have risked my life, or the lives of my family, by fighting for the resistance? Or would I have waited patiently with the majority of Parisians for the German retreat?”
Those who stayed behind were an eccentric, original and disparate group. Some collaborated while some resisted. The Germans forced some into slave labor. At least one was taken back to the US to face a trial for treason.
Charles Bedaux, a French-born, naturalized American millionaire, had played host to the Duke of Windor’s wedding in 1937 and went on throwing lavish parties for European royalty and high-ranking Nazi officials. Countess Clara Longworth de Chambrun, who accepted the legitimacy of the Vichy regime, dealt with anyone including the Nazis, to keep her beloved American Library of Paris open. Sylvia Beach on the other hand attempted to run her famous English-language bookshop, Shakespeare & Company, while providing help to her Jewish friends and her colleagues in the Resistance.
Charles Glass has written an exciting, fast-paced and elegant account of the moral contradictions faced by Americans in Paris during France’s most dangerous years. His discovery of letters, diaries, war documents and police files reveals as never before how American expatriates were trapped in a web of intrigue, resistance and collaboration. Turning the pages of this excellent book the reader -especially ones who have lived in Paris -might well ask: “what would I have done?”
Americans in Paris. Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-1944, by Charles Glass
Charles Glass will present and sign his book “Americans in Paris: Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940-44,” which tells for the first time the true story of the thousands of Americans who stayed in Paris during the Nazi occupation. This tale of adventure, intrigue, passion and deceit exposes the lives of Americans caught up in war from the day the German army marched into Paris in June 1944 and took many of them into the Paris underground, the Maquis and the concentration camps. (Thursday 4th February , 7:00 p.m.) WHSmith – 248, rue de Rivoli – 75001 Paris – M°Concorde