“Don’t try to lock him up. He escapes, you know."
June 30, 2012 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Born in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, member of the French resistance and the SOE, multiple escapee from Nazi execution, RIP Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld.
posted by Artw (20 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now that is a life lived. Salut!
posted by das1969 at 7:44 AM on June 30, 2012


Great obit for a great man. There's also an obituary in the Independent. Sadly his memoir seems unavailable.
posted by prentiz at 7:46 AM on June 30, 2012


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posted by Brian Puccio at 7:50 AM on June 30, 2012


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posted by Cash4Lead at 8:06 AM on June 30, 2012


"Don’t try to lock him up. He escapes, you know.”

Bon voyage m'sieu

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posted by arcticseal at 8:10 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quel bummer.

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posted by tzikeh at 8:12 AM on June 30, 2012


From that Telegraph obituary, it sounds like, while he might have been a great man in a lot of ways, he fell far short in others.

It was, La Rochefoucauld later recalled, a dream come true for his 15 year-old self. Hitler was then the great statesman of Europe; young Robert and his schoolmates had attached swastikas to their bicycles in admiration. Really, in 1938? Who in the rest of Europe still considered him a great statesman at that point?

After training near Orleans, he volunteered for a tour of duty in Indo-China, leading commando raids against the Viet Minh. But his methods, which included launching ambushes dressed as a Viet, were frowned upon by senior officers He might have been a hero in his fight against the Nazi occupiers, but turning those same methods on the locals in a country where he belonged to the occupiers makes uncomfortable reading.

Helping Papon escape his trial for war crimes? This Maurice Papon? I find that very hard to understand.
posted by Azara at 8:22 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Still, we are running dangerously short on people who have actually punched Nazis.

We need to never forget how much Nazis need punching.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:02 AM on June 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


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posted by ob1quixote at 9:10 AM on June 30, 2012


Helping Papon escape his trial for war crimes? This Maurice Papon? I find that very hard to understand.

I find it very easy, actually. Not that Papon wasn't guilty as charged, of course he was. France after the war was very ready to rewrite history.

In the city La Rochefoucauld found men in glorious French uniform in every café; on the streets, others wore holsters. “It seemed the heroes were two a penny, now that the danger had passed,” he noted. “The ostentation made me feel sick.”

To someone like La Rochefoucald, who spent his war in constant danger, it must have been galling to see how all the cowards come out of the woodwork to preen and brag about how brave they had been. Anyone who overcharged a German officer for lunch considered themselves a resistance hero after the war.

Possibly he didn't think that a smug, "we were all heroes, except for a few bad apples", French state had the moral standing to try anyone for their actions during the war.

I've read a few resistance memoirs from France and other countries and that seems a common sentiment from ex-resistance fighters.
posted by atrazine at 9:14 AM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


What a life. Thanks for this, Artw.

La Rochefoucauld began his training early in 1943 at RAF Ringway, near Manchester, where he learned to parachute and use small arms and explosives, as well as how to kill a man with the flat of his hand.

Is this something I can find on the internet?
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:00 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I have an awesome introduction as well?

Born in the shadow of the a smog-infested New Delhi, subscriber of Rolling Stone Magazine & James Joyce Wake Group President, and enjoyer of cheese, multiple escapee from work....

Just isn't the same....

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posted by Fizz at 12:04 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


He might have been a hero in his fight against the Nazi occupiers, but turning those same methods on the locals in a country where he belonged to the occupiers makes uncomfortable reading.
The men who fought in France's post-WW2 colonial wars were often former Resistance members (the notable exception being the ex-Waffen-SS who had joined the Foreign Legion...). That's particularly true in Indochina, where the local French officials (civil and military) had been supportive of the pro-Vichy government of Admiral Decoux. After 1945, those officials were sent home (or tried for collaborationism) and replaced by trusted Gaullists (see also Paul Aussarresses and Pierre Ponchardier).
posted by elgilito at 12:07 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who in the rest of Europe still considered him a great statesman at that point?

Aw, cut him some slack. Just because he was politically stupid at the ripe old age of fifteen, shouldn't negate his later work.
posted by MissySedai at 12:52 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aw, cut him some slack. Just because he was politically stupid at the ripe old age of fifteen, shouldn't negate his later work.

And at the ripe old age of 75 he abetted the escape of Papon, who had been convicted of crimes against humanity for arranging the deportation of 1600 French Jews from Bordeaux to Drancy. How much had he really learnt in the meantime?
posted by Azara at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2012


roger ackroyd: "as well as how to kill a man with the flat of his hand. "

Yeah, I was wondering about that too. Well, for, you know, research purposes.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:36 PM on June 30, 2012


"Parachuted into Sinai, the fighting ended before he became involved."

Strange, you wouldn't think it necessary to parachute in more fighting where there was so much already.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:40 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Salut!

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posted by jonp72 at 4:21 PM on June 30, 2012


"as well as how to kill a man with the flat of his hand. "

I'm thinking this is the same move Bruce Willis pulled in The Last Boy Scout. Although, those with actual knowledge may want to chime in.
posted by arcticseal at 8:40 PM on June 30, 2012


It may be killing with a flat hand (blow comes from the side opposite the thumb), not with the flat of the hand. See http://www.scribd.com/doc/54792045/The-Art-of-Silent-Killing-Fairbairn-Combat-Ives
posted by diodotos at 6:18 AM on July 3, 2012


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