SPY Historian Vince Houghton sat down with Paul Kix, deputy editor at ESPN the Magazine, and author of the book The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France's Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando

United States



00:00:05hi welcome to spike from secret files international spy museum in Washington DC I'm documents of museums a store in a curator every week spike has brings you interesting conversations with authors scholars and practitioners who live in a world of global us you know any questions comments or concerns
00:00:23about spike cast or if you want to suggest someone who might be a good future guest email us at spike has a spy museum dot org that's why cast of spy museum dot org also if you like what you hear in even if you don't please take a
00:00:36minute review S. on I tunes or whatever platform you might be listening were always looking for ways to make spike has better and you can help so join today by Paul kicks was a deputy editor ESPN the magazine as workers appear to the New Yorker G. Q. New
00:00:53York men's journal in the Wall Street journal among others is the author of the book the saboteur the aristocrat who became France most daring anti **** commander he's in New York and he's got a day job so we are recording this via phone so Paul welcome and thank
00:01:07you for taking the time to talk to search by cast happy to do it so he found one of the perfect situation for a writer an incredibly interesting subject of whom almost nothing at least in English has been written so how did you come across this topic yeah
00:01:20I always sort of virgin territory out I was reading that I've twenty twelve and I was reading obituary in The New York Times and %HESITATION it in which I read as it was Robert is a **** and this guy's wife was credible %HESITATION it was actually so good
00:01:35that I have a file home called book ideas %HESITATION and I kept that to this which were in that file and I probably did absolutely nothing with it %HESITATION because %HESITATION I just started this job I have now is I guess the and %HESITATION and I didn't speak
00:01:52French that with that that was a really big drawback right %HESITATION but it kept nagging at me is actually I got to the point where I was like I have to do this half so %HESITATION by the fall of twenty twelve I reached out to his family and
00:02:08asked if they would cooperate and they said they would have found the %HESITATION this story prepares for which you said it was which never Frank %HESITATION and then you know set about doing the work and I I spent four years in in five different countries research that was
00:02:26asking me any time I have an author writing about intelligence which is a level of difficulty that goes a little beyond some of the other topics because of the paucity of sources because how difficult it is to find out information for some of these things you only mention
00:02:39the family a little bit but you talk a little bit about how you put this book together what kind of source material you used to create such an interesting narrative yeah there's actually that's absolutely true if there is another layer application of this which is if you are
00:02:53a part of the resistance during the war the last thing you would ever do is leave a paper trail in country at all you know certain agents in in other parts of the country would at least be able to report back where they would be some sort of
00:03:07paper trail or something like that there was nothing %HESITATION %HESITATION white get for resistance fighters in France %HESITATION this second complication was that %HESITATION Robert said that he works with a British operation called special operations executive well there was fire in the late nineteen forties that destroyed %HESITATION
00:03:28what the official historian of SO we would later call seven eight of the source material are found with it as a week archive so I had those two things to try to wait two hundred seventy one I relied on a few things that he set number one with
00:03:46that one number two was an audio recording where he recounted for his children after he received the highest level accommodation in France with honor after he received that kids want to know is adult children in a way you've never told us what exactly did during the war so
00:04:02he works with a journalist Harris's put together the CD which is three plus hours of material lastly there was a DVD from a family that recounted what the occupation itself was like super that material I was able to sort of get a sense for the episode but that
00:04:19didn't help me in any way for me these episodes working for making sure that the chronology of events were right that strip so first the chronology of events I turned to repairs military record here's where it gets kind of interests %HESITATION if I can get here for a
00:04:36minute about source with your you got you got all your so what I said a minute ago about you know if you if you leave a paper trail behind the Germans without you or your resistance fire right so what happened after the the government wanted to find a
00:04:52way to create database I guess for lack of a better work course pre computer rested basically to try to that all these people who said they were part resist so this oral tradition was put down on paper with the batter up certain guys saying this is what I
00:05:11did this is where I did it offices we like it antics here are three other people that you could talk to that could verify that right so %HESITATION so that the government would go to those other three people okay can you tell us what you did yes this
00:05:27is what I did yes I work with that guy insisted you know over time is really frankly somewhat rich tradition of of source material built up around resistance cells and what they did %HESITATION so a lot of repeaters military records from that period if he'd seen I've decided
00:05:46that the here's when I did it here's who you can talk with war heroes resistance cells light worked with so that was great right now I have a base level of understanding %HESITATION what I did was went to the resistance networks themselves which often times kept either during
00:06:03the war or secret the war after the war a record of everything that happened these would also be very terse reports right like there's this great episode book where Robert is asked to infiltrate a stop the run should factory and %HESITATION he said it every point of reference
00:06:24that he sabotage this thing but I could additional he find anything for it all of booking through a couple of what I thought were raised in British files I found %HESITATION of verification that that was %HESITATION sabotage during the summer of nineteen forty four feet by an organization
00:06:45opera Robert would have worked so that's all that is that right at all of it said it at the at the group resistance level just to sabotage happened years when %HESITATION and here's what here's what the damage was right but because like you again that sort of based
00:07:01industry all those episodes because I knew what he was saying that it because those episodes were themselves reflected repairs military records which was itself vetted by the government now I start to get an understanding for okay it seeks to all make sense and to make this rather long
00:07:18and somewhat shorter %HESITATION in the end I was able to independently verify every major episode of repairs or sometimes it took work like heck to find that people in Spain sometimes having to fight against %HESITATION of files that I thought would necessarily be helpful in %HESITATION it on
00:07:37a lot of time which is asking the French government or four or five was that work with that work with the main work book on %HESITATION are going back to the ministry of defense week after month after years just keep asking for or doctor who will be able
00:07:54to get a great grasp of this guy what you mentioned the idea of people having difficulty verifying who was actually in the resistance it really reminds me of %HESITATION that they can in the JFK syndrome where %HESITATION I guess it was a decade or so after JFK was
00:08:09assassinated they ask people that did you vote for Kennedy and if they took the reactions from the people they asked he would have won by like a massive landslide over actually him winning %HESITATION it gets Richard Nixon in nineteen sixty is that a lot of people came later
00:08:25on and so yeah I voted for Kennedy %HESITATION when it it's a lot of people it's impossible to say yeah I work for the resistance or I didn't because in many cases there is no paper trail there is no document and it may be that you work the
00:08:39resistance with people who had been killed your the only one still living of your little resistance cell and there's no one there to verify whether you actually work for them or not and of course after the war if you did collaborate with the **** it was in our
00:08:52best interest to say that your work with the resistance yeah but here's where it gets kind of interesting because a lot of times people who work for the resistance would only be held by coating it show if if the code names and that match %HESITATION then suddenly that
00:09:08the people would be on to something right so the people tracking it would be on something %HESITATION suffice to say that and I believe we forty seven there with the French government began to issue these battles called metal French English is just simply because of this %HESITATION and
00:09:26%HESITATION and you could have only heard that at all through actual sabotage that other with other people with this war %HESITATION actually know what that is that is the one I'm thinking of another battle what Robert was among the first class of %HESITATION first class people to receive
00:09:45that battle and I've I've got the files with that so once I had that in once I had other things as well like for instance he says I gotta be honest when I started this I thought his his accounts were so unbelievable I I like I began to
00:10:00think about that literally I like you because I've been a journalist for fifteen years thank you skeptically are cooking some of this in one of one of the one of the major points was he said he escaped his own execution and I was like wow so I went
00:10:17and found on the prison rolls in Asir which is in north central France and he would help there he said it in late nineteen forty three and sure enough I found %HESITATION there are Russian co %HESITATION held there in nineteen forty three and I keep looking through the
00:10:34role and I'm doing this work with the local story turned out to be phenomenal could he do that department history of resistance credit as well and he's like I always wondered what the backstory was at this de la Rochefoucauld guy and I said well why is that and
00:10:48if we kept flipping through more rolls and he goes this is why any point to March twentieth nineteen forty four where it says a box or in English skate in a place so we could do it he's like I don't know us so %HESITATION %HESITATION it so we
00:11:08you know it was it that like I said if there wasn't any one big composite file where you could verify everything but the work of working across all these different across all the different are cut across all these different countries I got to the point where I felt
00:11:26very comfortable putting down the page by page let's talk a little bit about the background of Robert de la Rochefoucauld and I'm really proud of myself for pronouncing that correctly great yeah this is not just some kind of random kid who decided to fight the **** this is
00:11:40a we don't see this a lot United States but you know I guess the level of the Rockefellers of the Kennedys or that Carnegie's this is an aristocratic family that goes back centuries inside France mean if it's literally I mean Hey history runs through one thousand years French
00:11:56history %HESITATION that my favorite anecdote is Louis sixteenth at looking down on the garden of their side seventeen eighty nine and he sees the pitchforks approach he turns to an eighty eight he goes %HESITATION is this a revolt in eight says no sire this is the revolution %HESITATION
00:12:14and it was %HESITATION and %HESITATION and that he was repairs like great great great great great grandfather so this family was firmly aligned with the monarchy this family descended from you on this family like what you mentioned a minute ago L. if the Kennedys would have had some
00:12:36sort of power in America for one thousand years they perhaps would have equal power that %HESITATION the Russian close it joy for about the past and some of the the ancestors were were beatified by the the Vatican their saints and others you know in the street in Paris
00:12:54named after his family mean this is somebody who grew up with maybe not it a silver spoon might be too cheap this is somebody who grew up with an extraordinary amount of wealth inside France some of the public a road out the war %HESITATION in relative comfort %HESITATION
00:13:10and not not actually chosen to risk his life as much as he did yeah that's absolutely right and you know that that was that's really important because that became one of the antibody questions for me if I was working my way through this research why did you do
00:13:24that and I won't give away everything but also to help you to a couple of things number one on his father who is himself a %HESITATION officer during World War one it had been are reconditioned at the outbreak of World War two is about a fifty year old
00:13:40his father was held up in Asia German run W. K. %HESITATION at the start of the war and Robert didn't have any real contact %HESITATION indicated there was contact with Spencer %HESITATION in so you you didn't really get a sense of what was actually going on what was
00:13:57going on there little site within this all part of Austria credibly called %HESITATION %HESITATION it's that's one facet other if you expect what we got portrait of your kid to understand except for those who have whose whose names are synonymous with American history but you know there was
00:14:20a part of repair slot that sought I need to do this I want to do this he would ensure a guy anyway but I need to do this because he wanted to write his own chapter family history he saw the country that his forebears had literally created or
00:14:38helped create he saw that the you know perhaps not permanently altered indoor destroyed by the Germans and he wanted to do his part %HESITATION battles like white decided this let me let me ask you about the route I was gonna bring up the you know what I will
00:14:58it one of the great anecdotes about his upbringing to give an idea of how risk predicate this person is this is a guy actually met Hitler when he was a kid yeah yeah I I just started laughing when I read the kind of you always say you know
00:15:12what if you had met Hitler when he was younger you know had a chance to kill him before he became a bag got this this kid literally went yelled Hiller patted him on the head and said such a cute little Frenchman when he was a kid yeah and
00:15:24he did that because of that thank you for bringing it up so yeah he he goes only the most of the boarding schools in Europe and I think we he's probably fifteen or sixteen ocular nineteen thirty seven or nineteen thirty eight %HESITATION he is he is he is
00:15:41in Austria and %HESITATION he and this Jesuit should be Marist pres end up leading the boys up to the bill in its results alpine retreat Mike record keeping my German is really about it Burkett gap right %HESITATION I in in in BC as they're taking in this massive
00:16:03pop out the line of Mercedes when their way down the long drive and the boys are sort of taken aback a lot of them are Austria but Robert says that there were a couple of freshman well and %HESITATION the the priest had that sort of stand off to
00:16:20the side but then the line of course stop and give herself gets out and he goes down and start introducing himself and and they think that I have with me with interest in it Robert didn't speak great German but he thought that he should speak it of work
00:16:39and %HESITATION is usually included to just a minute ago soft through the hurt treaty at the the accent right away and that friends those in which means freshman or French one and %HESITATION it's patted him on the head and it went on his way so here's what's interesting
00:16:55is you said a minute ago like what about what would you have done if you know who he was there was never really studious cabinet but wondering %HESITATION he understood because of its own purchase life he understood power %HESITATION in he saw throughout his childhood the extent to
00:17:12which people in so long that would be hosted this house we talk about it he saw as well that day the reverence with which the Austrian boys and the priest himself %HESITATION held Hitler %HESITATION so he admitted which I found really telling he admitted that he was kind
00:17:32of awestruck and even a little bit guilty that day to America and it took a couple more years it took him reaching adulthood took him starting to pay attention to or newspapers in particular to the BBC %HESITATION %HESITATION in it took of course the imprisoned father used to
00:17:48drastically alter but in that moment as the all of the fourteen fifteen sixteen year old kid again he thought that he was kind of cool I guess for lack of a better word to to get to got a chance to be right loose talk a little bit mother
00:18:02the resistance I think there's a misunderstanding %HESITATION even among people who know this a little bit that that the resistance was immediate the minute the for the German showed up in occupied France that there are people executing **** officers and blowing up buildings and bridges and and and
00:18:18you mentioned the book and even in and %HESITATION rush for co talks about the fact that nineteen forty it was actually hard to find resistors to join up with in the beginning with army had been disbanded all the weapons had been you know given in or taken by
00:18:32the Germans and basically it's just a bunch of you know underground newspapers writing bad stuff about the German occupiers yeah that's absolutely true it would take until probably you know that the first real the first real active resistors mean those who took up arms would have been the
00:18:48%HESITATION French copy and you didn't start to see that nineteen forty one to nineteen forty two in nineteen forty %HESITATION there wasn't really a whole lot of any Jewish people trying to figure out what side the other side was really all %HESITATION and I'll give you a great
00:19:03example there it is John Paul Sartre wrote it and made his collection of essays from that trying to like record in the moment what is white and he said %HESITATION to distinguish the enemy wind that enemy is not on the other line of fire and so the the
00:19:22Germans the ball room regions lived %HESITATION it Robert travel back and forth he had with any college by the hair is where you could go back to this the family estate %HESITATION north of Paris but I the people who encounter the Germans at least initially %HESITATION did not
00:19:39take up arms against them there paper half will do to but that was about it our source source October the bit about the same thing repair does which is that the Germans became this sort of as a part of the scenery of everyday life and perhaps the only
00:19:55thing to know that the country was occupied at least initially where the stock up like that were suddenly everywhere whipping in the wind and fell on the top of the Eiffel Tower it almost seems to me in you can correct me if I'm reading this wrong with that
00:20:08it rose to co which is a complainer at first I mean you know the other kind of teenage kids got together and kind of wind about the **** being in power but he was almost forced forces along were really kind of he was forced it to did make
00:20:23a decision when he was denounced and you know people denouncing one another as being a recent report of the resistance in that kind of made him make a decision about whether or not he was going to actually go off and fight versus just kind of continuing to whine
00:20:38about the German occupation yeah I mean I think that you know there's there's %HESITATION there's a French %HESITATION sociologists and psychologists whose name escapes me at the moment but he he argues that a lot of teenagers have a sidekick %HESITATION complex right and they think they can change
00:20:55the world and Robert and his friends would gather and they would say this is ridiculous I can't believe the way that you know that the adults are acting on we will fight we will fight he had it took we were sort of talking each other up right because
00:21:09again at the beginning there was where you know and with what are you know in the German to confiscate everything all the way down it hunting knives so %HESITATION so it was just a sort of a lot of %HESITATION here again late adolescent boy talk right %HESITATION but
00:21:26%HESITATION that sort of the this collection of its rent this sort began to ask each other on each other on each other on the overbearing husband is trying to actually %HESITATION sabotage train and %HESITATION and then at the end of a man of the older generation probably World
00:21:43War one stop them doing that look you're going to date or not only your own lives but lots of lives of people around you just simply for doing that well to go back to what your mission and go %HESITATION does that sort of talking those sort of %HESITATION
00:22:00%HESITATION actions or email Kwok near and dear actions actions today that ends up getting its way to the question of %HESITATION via stop own country and %HESITATION repair was denounced by one of his own country and %HESITATION it was at that point of view this is very effective
00:22:19just share this kind of interesting here the postman who I have worked for the resistance insofar as if he saw it not too short letter addressed to the SP %HESITATION which is the the the the the official acronym for Christopoulos %HESITATION if he saw a letter addressed to
00:22:37them he would %HESITATION Steven open see who was the person now and then burn it go to that person house and warned him or her that you know there are other letters so Robert got a warning that he had been denounced for what he's not exactly sure %HESITATION
00:23:00I you just said that he was acting like he aborted %HESITATION mission to sabotage a tree it may have been just frankly is talk I'm not exactly sure but in any case he that was that was the instigator right that was the moment where he said alright well
00:23:17I've got to make it official I've been talking about this enough I'm going to actually do it now so he began to find a way to get out of country and it begins to to %HESITATION first he wanted you go to call it Monday and join because free
00:23:32French forces that with the usual plant but other things that are being right yeah you what will skip some of the narrative so people can actually read it and in return for themselves but no no absolutely mean it will say that he was spotted by a talent scout
00:23:47for a new British organization the very mention the SOP %HESITATION which at the time really needed Frenchman there are there are not a position where you would think there be freshman all over the place %HESITATION but yes we at this point was was low on people they could
00:24:01send back and to get away %HESITATION with pretending to be friends was very you know no matter how good your foreign languages you may all have a little bit accent so the perfect thing is having somebody who actually is French us them back in and so you know
00:24:17Roche Foucauld was almost the perfect person for this operation yeah he was %HESITATION beyond a doubt John at motivation I think that it's got the father that it on family history and %HESITATION he of course spoke perfect English French so %HESITATION it he he was persuaded %HESITATION did
00:24:39not join the goals was but he had sleep agreed to do this if the gall gave him blossom then again speak is the record is rich crack station he has that if I get a meeting with the call and if the call give blood alcohol word I'll join
00:25:03your little rag tag outfit %HESITATION brick and so this meeting is actually set up in the group and should be repaired it it makes in this memoir that perhaps my last name help facilitate this it's not the most seventeen or eighteen year old would have gotten a face
00:25:19to face with Dick all this point yeah for what it's worth the wait resistance leaders right %HESITATION captains or or if the generals and whatever the case may be %HESITATION but yeah easy to get to meet somebody who hadn't yet joy %HESITATION we get that beating and it
00:25:40was a lot of fun all the state with a lot of fun if you look at the shifting relationship over the course of the war between Churchill and de Gaulle %HESITATION and how they both sort of love of each other and why repair that to him %HESITATION to
00:26:00repair work what to call it the life of the devil bill for France to go out that a lot of the devil part it reflects a lot about how much he needed the Brits how much he despised that he needed the brick homes and %HESITATION in just again
00:26:20the shifting nature of his relationship with the allied forces throughout the course of the war would you decide to join the associating a really good job and and laying out kind of a training regiment %HESITATION and kind of the very specific a demolitions training in hand to hand
00:26:37training they went there and I think a lot of our listeners will have a little bit of this understand little this background but I think you do a good job in talking about really the kind of surgical necessity of some of the demolitions work and it can misperception
00:26:48is let's blow up the bridge let's blow up a factory but that yes so we really focused on making your your operation counts yeah you know I am in being much more strategic about how you do sabotage yeah and there was a guy named redeem our allies quote
00:27:06it laying off for at least because when reading through his maybe even more votes than I am right in and read it she recalled daughter us real sabotage and it was exactly that you know %HESITATION it's far better for all of our %HESITATION the intricacies of a plan
00:27:28to understand it engineering to sabotage only the key parts that that that can be even more affected than blowing up the whole of of of of a factory or whatever the case may be %HESITATION same applies to telephone line he pushed ingenuity wherever he could he wanted to
00:27:46read this great anecdote where %HESITATION some %HESITATION resistant some resistance in north branch the north of France had what explosives that looked a lot like coal in eight not run coal powered factory and they with the internet who up and it was so dangerous I think actually it
00:28:14wasn't without civilian loss but the reason that redeem loved it and he told us that the classes of actual he just sort of take off line because the workers themselves refused to show up there after %HESITATION because they didn't want to be the next one that if there
00:28:32was also a wait and see what was actually Cole what wasn't because she looks better earnings would either blow up or if we just sort of you know burn is energy %HESITATION so even if it does sort of attack out that there are many many others I mean
00:28:48%HESITATION your some of the some of the listeners maybe earlier with %HESITATION %HESITATION Fairbairn insight about my those guys be I didn't have I didn't know a whole lot about what exactly the bridge it during the war as I started out of this research but to read the
00:29:08books of their parents likes to read and do to read the thing that they would have had you know page by page illustrations of what these maneuvers looks like and you know these were called silent killing and the United it was he cites that this is inspired by
00:29:25jujitsu but unlike you should see it it recognizes no rolls and it is the most barbaric thing that we would ever want to wish on anyone right so high these maneuvers %HESITATION %HESITATION were very effective let's just put it that way yeah I know anyone who's been through
00:29:41the museum will %HESITATION not only see explosive coal but also %HESITATION the knife that was created by Fairbairn Sykes so yeah I mean this is something that like I said I I was pleased to see how well are you laid out the kind of training %HESITATION that %HESITATION
00:29:57not only Roche Foucauld but other SO we %HESITATION trainees had to go through I think you do a really good job with that %HESITATION always good to see I I've said this before and I'll say it you know as part of recording because the listeners know this is
00:30:10is there's always a hesitancy when we get a book from someone who is not has no intelligence background and it's kind of this weird %HESITATION it anytime we get a book from a dozen intelligence background expected not enjoy the actual writing because there's it's it's it's it's nice
00:30:26to find a happy medium of somebody who can write and has done enough research to understand the background behind us and and so it was nice to see %HESITATION how well you lay this out I think you do a very good job of that thank you thank you
00:30:39I mean at one thing out offices that that's actually part of the reason %HESITATION by my publisher at one point asked why are you including this many notes ended up having over seventy pages worth notes for this book and part of it was just to play out for
00:30:53the reader where I get the stuff from %HESITATION I just wanted him to be aware that all I'm trying my best work with many primary documents %HESITATION as possible here %HESITATION %HESITATION so yeah very greatly appreciate that because it was it was truly I've wanted to tell a
00:31:10great story and I wanted it to be as accurate as possible %HESITATION %HESITATION in in any given big thing was I want to tell the true story and be comfortable with what I put it on the page at the end I I thought that both of those things
00:31:23I was able to carry out an absolute anything that I'm the last person you want to watch a spy movie with her a TV show because it's like doctors watching ER lawyers watching Lana and assuming that's not true that's not true guide it's a night and I didn't
00:31:37do that Sir which which is great I will I'm I I enjoy in not taking apart books written by %HESITATION people outside the field because it you know when you do see when it's written well which obviously this is you are a professional writer and it's clearly comes
00:31:51through in this but someone also who's done the research and seems understand the field %HESITATION makes us very happy so I gonna gradually you on that %HESITATION let's talk a little bit of joining the resistance because it's not necessarily as %HESITATION as many people would think because more
00:32:09popular culture or even you know some historical believes bin at the French resistance was a mass of group that was half of France and the population rising up this is a really really small number of people who actually actively resisted and for anyone joining especially somebody being sent
00:32:26over %HESITATION as part of the SO we the life expectancy was not very long no no no I mean we have we can start there %HESITATION and who we handlers said that the agent country could expect to be there six months before the all star to work %HESITATION
00:32:43and every as we age without fitted with a sigh till %HESITATION that Baker Papa their bows whatever the torture of interrogation became too much does for the final two buses of as a week so you learn all about how to basically kill anyone with your bare hands and
00:33:00then there's this final lesson in humility because there were many great agents who had a small box Iraq there were many great agents who who's who's ought to work against %HESITATION after six months %HESITATION so yes it it and to go back to your earlier point you know
00:33:16the call after the war perpetuated this this for decades that nearly all the French resistance well the reality is according to scholars who spent a lot of time to study that perhaps as few as ten percent of the French populace actively resisted me took up arms up meeting
00:33:34that touch %HESITATION perhaps an additional eight to ten percent were passive resistance %HESITATION giving information to those who were active or at a minimum trying their best to confuse the Germans were slow their progress %HESITATION it it you know and contains two when he had to protect twenty
00:33:52more on the flip side you have perhaps as much as twenty percent of the populace actively working with the chair and that the battle is that great battle and it is it is at best athletic %HESITATION it is at worse %HESITATION switch sides of the course the work
00:34:09saw the Germans an exceptionally good job and discouraging resistance I mean a major repercussions you know for one resistor they would line up dozens and dozens of people and kill them even if they had nothing to do with the resistance there very good infiltrating cells I there's page
00:34:26after page after page in this book of just there infiltrating one cell after the next after the next and turning people that's a lot to do with the collaborators would work with them who are just potentially just as bad as the Germans in a respected to people that
00:34:39are turning in their own countrymen and turning against them in so that six month life expectancy made sense because the likelihood of you sticking around in going on without somebody infiltrating your cell or you know or dining you out to the Germans was very low very low and
00:34:57it was that there is this notion of the fountain of course reporting as one of them was that radio Paris the usual %HESITATION Vichy broadcaster had a show called repentance %HESITATION which translates to repeat and %HESITATION that show with nothing but Frenchman denouncing their own country sometimes your
00:35:18business associates sometimes their own family members this was broadcast %HESITATION it well I don't know actually that the the frequency with which was broadcast I knew it was either daily or weekly %HESITATION %HESITATION that's special to give you a taste of what it's like for people who are
00:35:33not even a part of the **** operation and then you start to deal with those who were actively working who entered a tortured and left who have looked at their own accord %HESITATION or just frankly like I've spent a little bit of time talking about a guy in
00:35:48the book %HESITATION that that helped lead to repairs first present the present day %HESITATION Kurt birdcage caps tighter %HESITATION and he was incredibly good job credibly and later there's a later in the book there's a there's almost up to be a perfect %HESITATION and I mean that only
00:36:04in the sense of storytelling that he would also be %HESITATION but there is that there is a gentleman by the name of right to kill dose of %HESITATION and that I mean the way that he ran counter intelligence %HESITATION in Bordeaux was breathtaking yeah you know I want
00:36:24to get to him in a second because I want to talk about berdoa because Bordeaux %HESITATION because I know I know later operation he gets sent in to Bordeaux to sabotage munitions factory among other things in Bordeaux itself is particularly problematic for the resistance because not only did
00:36:40you have not to repression taken to the limits that you might never see is that S. the agency's Methodist operations had been there since the very beginning of the operation is a mass of submarine base there and so they knew the area they knew everything they they kind
00:36:55of had settled in yeah they had indicated that there since nineteen fourty they've had an opportunity to understand the local populace as well as the local populace understood that %HESITATION and that you you add on to that the justification of someone like those whose father was a was
00:37:13a French professor and harm opal I don't have the book for but I think it's possible %HESITATION and who understood the language perfectly waters to the culture perfectly and who had this bright shiny about %HESITATION and thought he was the intellectual better of every as the agent for
00:37:31dell and it just so happens that probably was %HESITATION %HESITATION in for what it's worth to be he was incredibly complex and I I felt I wanted to really have the reader understand I I give %HESITATION almost a full chapter two a day two doses and %HESITATION one
00:37:52of the things that I actually found health aside from the horrors that he would inflict upon resistance fighters is that he would have been if he were in Iraq or Afghanistan today %HESITATION he proposed ideas that would have been seen as very effective counterinsurgency measures for instance he
00:38:14said that the best way to try to persuade the populace %HESITATION is to understand the populace and not to terrorize %HESITATION he proposed that the fighters that he prison up you treated like that and %HESITATION and if need be even returned to %HESITATION without too much information he
00:38:32wanted to basically it was a hearts and minds sort of thing that he was proposing that of course got no work in Europe %HESITATION so %HESITATION so he really he returned to its more brutal tactics and they were proved they were as brutal as %HESITATION as they were
00:38:48quick let me ask you a little bit more about him to set this up without giving away the narratives of such a good story %HESITATION but a roofer co gets captured %HESITATION for one of the multiple times if his character in the book and he's going to be
00:39:02in terrible argue that perhaps he wasn't so good at the job I was I was gonna say that but I was thinking like man he's and he's in country like twenty minutes and then all of a sudden it gets captured but we'll we'll let the reader forget that
00:39:14on their own on he is he is captured he sent to a file for that he is going to be interrogated by it does %HESITATION after the weekend right so is yeah he's captured it's the weekend is basically getting it locked up until does the shows up on
00:39:28Monday the narrative is wonderful I won't spoil it but he finds a way to escape before of four does so it shows up one thing you had a ton on him but digit was or anything anywhere that talks about documents evidence about how does so reacted to his
00:39:44escape now you have a lot about that they look for him and I got really difficult to get out and actually a costume a disguise that he had used to try to escape the area but not a lot on doses reaction to his escape yeah and %HESITATION there
00:39:58was that there was a sort of storytelling reason for that which is I wanted the camera to return to Robert %HESITATION and I wanted it to to just deal with %HESITATION you would just sort of understand in passing that they were looking for believe there is there a
00:40:12couple of things happening %HESITATION shooting at your question directly %HESITATION number one it's July of nineteen forty four so it DJ clustered they're busy very busy and to the extent that they're looking for one inmate who skates report ha %HESITATION they have but they have many other concerns
00:40:30%HESITATION so that's one thing and the the other thing is this a little bit frustrating %HESITATION not all that surprising because I ran into this issue different times but there a lot of German filed with the Germans destroyed %HESITATION after the war there were or should be during
00:40:46the war like as the as the Germans repeating as as it does over the there were a lot of French scholars I spoke that he felt that does a very likely towards a lot of what he had been document as he left so %HESITATION if he you know
00:41:00baby there would have been something off Robert there %HESITATION but I do I wasn't able to find it from the record before the hot it would indicate how he would have responded interesting story is one of those things where like I hope I want to know more about
00:41:13this guy yeah and I wonder how right and I guess the the you know at that point root for co wasn't known to be who he was sick and you just kind of a random escapee that was going to get out of let me shift gears a little
00:41:26bit and you've already hinted at these ideas but some of the in fighting between the resistance movement I thought was very interesting %HESITATION that you you're able to get across in this book not just between the movements themselves but also between resistance movements in the gall and how
00:41:42much the gall look to minimize the impact of resistance movements because Eisenhower and you mention this upbeat people may have heard the statistic before but Eisenhower essentially said that the %HESITATION it the ability of the resistance to do what they did right before and during the D. day
00:42:00invasion may have added something close about fifteen division's worth of of combat power as a force multiplier during the invasion ins into the sea how much de Gaulle minimizes the impact of the resistance especially that that that I'm sneeze name is escaping me but the lessons are to
00:42:18that Eleni Landis perhaps major resistance leader that de Gaulle says you've got to leave that you have two days or something to get out of my face yeah yeah he was the big %HESITATION it is going to be there %HESITATION was with a era started that was it
00:42:32he was a major operative in Bordeaux %HESITATION it's a lot of what's happening there is politics really %HESITATION you know you you've got these guys who been in countryside in the underground any real power %HESITATION militarily as well as political politically %HESITATION by you know is by the
00:42:53summer of nineteen forty four as we thought fall of forty four and that they're operating these disparities like it's got one cover said Michael feudal lords and then as branch as French cities are liberated liberated in August of forty four and then after that the goal tries to
00:43:15really clamp down resistance because he sees he now has a real political well all of these very legitimate heroes who have been there fighting off while he has has literally been on %HESITATION now that is not to diminish partly what the free French forces did because this forty
00:43:33three because forty four they began to play a more active roles in various allied operations throughout the world but in a country in France absolutely there's a holiday fighting and there's a ton of sort of trying to mark off territory %HESITATION and in the end because to call
00:43:53had the supreme power he squashes the resistance part and I think what's interesting for me as it pertains Robert repair the fall of nineteen forty four decides to join officer school with it with the French army and he is learning skills there that he has already learned by
00:44:13hand executed on over the last two and a half years any sitting there thinking what they're doing it by the way these French army officers are staring at you know and we are you you don't you don't know what you're talking about and he's like well I could
00:44:29do we you know it was it was very interested to see that back for %HESITATION play out of the resistance leaders had a had a phrase for %HESITATION the army leaders that was basically like you're sure they're there their outfits you can still see the box on the
00:44:43right %HESITATION and and the army officers her would do their best to diminish %HESITATION there is this by because the call was our guest by the fall of forty four and you have to follow his way through the joint officer school but then quickly leaves it because there
00:45:00were thankfully a Duff %HESITATION right officers to see that well there's actually a service that offered basically but with the French are Louise if you'll permit me to talk a little bit more about the narrative that final missions I think it's real there's some interesting dynamics going on
00:45:17on that last mission there the set up is that although allied forces are pushing almost out of France at this point into being a Belgium and the the low countries in Germany there's still a major pocket of German forces in southwest France covering the sub pens they're still
00:45:34being used as many summaries that are left %HESITATION deter her ashes been coming across the Atlantic and %HESITATION talk a little bit about that because I think that the the decision about whether just to let them go you know let go ahead let's win the war and then
00:45:49kind of walk in there and be like Hey guys the war's over you know give up or actually attack them and because that the decision to actually attacked them probably led to the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of French civilians yeah absolutely Sir you've got about nine
00:46:06thousand German officers stationed just to the west of Bordeaux across that dropped estuary and and the French want a French victory on French soil %HESITATION answer that is sort of the the impetus for this nineteen forty five back where they've always use for one of the first times
00:46:29%HESITATION in World War two and it is incredibly destructive of course it doesn't destroy everything all of these all of the squad German compounds with the heavy artillery guns are some of them are still sitting there so that's part of repairs final mission but to address your larger
00:46:45point it goes back to the politics %HESITATION there was such a thirst for cleaning some sort of victory even a moral victory %HESITATION that %HESITATION they decided to go ahead with this mission whereas there were there were there were admirals there were generals who themselves for questioning the
00:47:07validity of this out because now if people forty five minutes bunker you have to you have the Americans the British public from %HESITATION if they're closing in on them %HESITATION from the east and then you've got the Russians close again west it is almost over which simply would
00:47:26have waited but they didn't wait and they dropped a lot of the Paul on a couple of different dates and %HESITATION after the war there was talk as to whether or not the final solution which Robert took part is basses operation %HESITATION if it were a fact if
00:47:42it were fact some sort of work fine that happened there were many people or many local local people who thought that it was in fact work when repairs final mission it works out wonderfully as far as a command emissions concern but I I it is counter factual history
00:47:58but I can imagine how much second guessing would have happened if is it very during commando mission had failed and you know they had all been killed I mean they they take out this bunker without losing a man who doesn't even injure himself such a huge success but
00:48:13it seemed to be a huge success with absolutely no reason to take upon this operation yeah yeah that think that's absolutely true %HESITATION it and you know it it's funny Robert wood with names according to that is a record to prevent offered up the path to about that
00:48:31thank you and there were other episodes after World War two even stuff that I I thought it was sort of beyond the scope of what I want to write about it the book operatives he goes he's played a role in the branch of the China worked largely as
00:48:44the global fighter up to counter the other group of fighters and what you've got your %HESITATION and that he he he's playing the role that other battles throughout search for boat fight %HESITATION and what I've noticed from that period which there was time for either Robert self is
00:49:01questioning on your is this deficit %HESITATION it is this something that's worthwhile %HESITATION and I wonder if you know it course I don't I don't hear about it until I read the **** worry but one of the things I would like to ask even after the war did
00:49:16you end up leaving %HESITATION the operations were were expanded world used up because you did you see that perhaps not all of your questions were worth while in some sense of there's a hint of that again in some of his writings but %HESITATION I would have liked to
00:49:33support for yeah I mean maybe there's a part to the book that you cannot offer I think of that thing I've I've I've loved what I've done %HESITATION and somebody else last week said Ole here's here's another resistance fighter %HESITATION it she was to be here she looked
00:49:50at that and she was that she went back to France apart it's like yeah I got it done I think I think I've had enough of of that for a while I'm ready to move on to something else I get I get that yeah after after turning in
00:50:03a book you you like I need a little bit of time and then I can talk about it please don't tell me that changes anymore yeah exactly let me let me finish with this and this is a pain in question but you you are certainly the American that
00:50:16knows this guy the best only what do you think that Robert was given his just do as the hero he was certainly in France you got the highest award but one of the British and the British really have him as their operatives during this time is very little
00:50:30is written about him until he dies yeah and %HESITATION and this is this is where %HESITATION there are some British dollars myself disagreed because there is no %HESITATION I make a note of this is that there is no %HESITATION acts will be record of repair %HESITATION in the
00:50:47us we are caught sight that there's like seven reasons for why I think he was an operative have you with us French records which makes it clear that he was working with the British %HESITATION %HESITATION but that %HESITATION there or something must be are like well we don't
00:51:04know exactly %HESITATION to answer your question more directly about do that who's giving I think even in France I mean I there is the there is this thing with more respect on %HESITATION and I don't know if you and I should discuss better if we should just leave
00:51:20that for the readers because that that even his reputation in France solely because of that episode so %HESITATION %HESITATION he wrote is not more of our sport in response to %HESITATION what he had done what response %HESITATION at the end of his life %HESITATION so it's you know
00:51:37her something else about that I'd like to %HESITATION I think from the American perspective you look at World War two and the lines are so clear the seller is so obvious %HESITATION and so you can't help but celebrate people fought and who and who fought admirably in France
00:52:01it's waited because in our the occupation was not as dark years and %HESITATION if you're just wishing that even to this day accompanied a conversation about the dark years so Robert I don't know if he ever really got its due even leaving aside the pop thing I don't
00:52:19know if you would have got to do because there are so many reasons fighters who it up because it's much easier to just forget about that that the author of those who had acted courageously well the book is called the saboteur the aristocrat who became France's most daring
00:52:36anti **** commander the author is Paul kicks the book is out now thank you so much fault for taking the time to talk to us here on spy cast which really appreciate it absolutely thank you so much for have

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