WWII Dispatches, April 2010

• New documents uncovered this fall by a Cambridge University historian have revealed that Benito Mussolini was on the payroll of British intelligence during the waning years of the First World War, when Italy was a wavering ally. Mussolini, who was a socialist journalist at the time—and who was apparently more than willing to help MI5 keep the Italians in the fight by publishing pro-war propaganda and sending thugs into the streets to intimidate protesters—was paid 100 pounds a week by the British government.

• This winter, a 90-year-old former SS sergeant who has been living anonymously in Germany since the war ended was charged with participating in a massacre of 57 Jewish forced laborers in 1945. Adolf Storms, who has been described by the court simply as a "retiree from Duisburg," was identified by an Austrian university student who came across his name while researching the killings. German prosecutors are determining whether they have enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

• A newly revealed exchange between Charles de Gaulle and a British secret agent who parachuted into France before D-Day to train members of the French Resistance has shed new light on le Général’s notorious hauteur. According to the recently declassified personnel file of Capt. Peter Lake, a war hero who was awarded the Military Cross for his exploits behind enemy lines, de Gaulle and Lake met briefly after the liberation of Paris. De Gaulle asked Lake what he was doing in France, and when Lake told him, he received a vintage Gallic brush-off. "Our troops don’t need training," de Gaulle told him. "We don’t need you here. It only remains for you to leave. You too must go home. Return, return quickly. Au revoir."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.