“One Day in France: Tragedy and Betrayal in an Occupied Town” by Jean-Marie Borzeix — April 6, 1944

Borzeix, Jean-Marie . “One Day in France: Tragedy and Betrayal in an Occupied Town”, translated by Gay McAuley, I.B. Tauris, 2016.

April 6, 1944

Amos Lassen

On April 6, 1944, detachment of German soldiers arrived in a rural French town to hunt down resistance fighters, many of whom were hiding in the region. More than sixty years later, the villagers clearly remember the day when four peasants from a nearby village were taken hostage and shot as an example to others. However, it is questionable as to whether they remember the whole story. Jean-Marie Borzeix set out to investigate the events of Holy Thursday 1944, and to reveal the hidden truths of that fateful day. He uncovered that there was a mysterious ‘fifth man’ shot alongside the resisters and what the author unraveled led him to Paris, Israel and into the Holocaust in France. The events of that day in a small, entirely typical, town illuminate the true impact of World War II in France.

This is a study of the various happenings of April 6, 1944 in the village of Bugout, a small, mountainous community in Vichy-controlled France. Jean-Marie Borzeix begins this story attempting to run down the facts behind the Thursday before Easter 1944 and the murders of four men in his hometown.

He takes us through his research in the many data collections and libraries throughout Europe. We are with him when he finds and follows the trail of the fifth man murdered on that day and when he finds and follows the train carrying Jewish women and children away, eventually to Auschwitz. What he has found is true.

We get a look at memory and why we remember, what we remember, what we forget as well as a look into cause and effect of war crimes. Atrocities can only happen when it is possible for onlookers to separate themselves from the whole process and to justify the end results in their minds. We see here that it is often necessary to look at events in our current lives with a different focus.

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