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Chapter Thirteen

from And the Shark, He Has Teeth

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2018

Benjamin Bloch
Affiliation:
Oberlin College
Marc Silberman
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin
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Summary

After ten days in the stadium we were loaded onto buses, again at the break of day, again under a guard of rifles with fixed bayonets, and brought back to the Gare d'Austerlitz, where we boarded a train. We were forbidden to open the windows for the length of the journey. The train arrived in Limoges in the evening, from there our group was marched in quick step along a forest lane. After some time we came to a stop: a German civilian in a brown suit and beret was waiting for us with the guard detail of the camp at Braconne. When the guards had arranged us in rows of four and taken positions to the right, left, front and rear, the man addressed us in shrill German:

“You are now civil internees. You have a five-kilometer march to the camp ahead of you. Anyone who stops marching or steps out of formation will be shot without further warning!”

A number of the men shouted: “Parle français!”

He answered: “Shut your mouths, or you'll see what happens to you.” Everyone was silent. To whom could one complain? We started marching. It rained, and we were quickly soaked through. We reached the courtyard of the camp after sundown. Searchlights were turned on us, and we were ordered to leave our suitcases in the quadrangle. They told us it was too late for inspection, that this would be seen to early the next morning. Someone pointed out that with the steady downpour, the contents of our suitcases would be soaked by then. We were forbidden to speak another word, and sent to the barracks. Jacoby, who was assigned to my barrack, whispered to me, “I'm going to get our suitcases!” I wanted to stop him, but he was already gone. He came back five minutes later with the baggage. I would see him perform many other such feats after this one. He was the greatest débrouillard I ever knew (“debrouillard” is not easily translated; the French use it to describe a person who knows how to help himself in every situation).

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2018

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