The Fortress

by Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey


Posted By on April 15, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hundreds of graves in this cemetery, hundreds of crosses, hundreds of names. Is this really where the story ends?

They didn’t come, the Americans. The Vercors was not important enough. It didn’t fit in the grand strategy for a new European Order. No Mediterranean landing, no backup of any kind, no paratroopers. When the gliders came, they were German. And while in London strategists were weighing timing, tactics, and already obsolete command structures, the small army of the Vercors, the first Maquis of France, the last few square miles of French territory, was abandoned to its fate. For six weeks they fought with fierce and sometimes desperate courage a force twenty times superior in size, equipment, and training. They were slaughtered, unspeakably tortured in some cases―too many sawmills in these mountains―deported to their death by the hundreds.

The Vercors lost its battle. Who remembers? It was not even worth one paragraph in De Gaulle’s memoirs. Just a battle like any other, with its heroes, its villains, its innocent victims and its martyrs, a battle that didn’t matter.

Or did it?

Don’t go to the cemetery for an answer, walk up the steep trails along the waterfalls. Look carefully, listen. The whispers in the woods, the song of the water, the shadows. You’re following someone’s footsteps. Follow till you reach the top, and then look at the cliffs. Ask them what really matters.

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