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Strong in Will: Working for the American Embassy in Paris During the Nazi Occupation (Hardback)

A First-Hand Account of Working for the American Embassy in Paris during the Nazi Occupation

WWII World History > The Americas > USA

By Marie-Louise Dilkes
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 5 photographs
ISBN: 9781636243788
Published: 15th December 2023


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"September 1939 slipped into October quite silently as if it did not want to attract any notice. The atmosphere is tense with expectancy, ready for the critical times that lie ahead. Everyone is geared for eventualities with courage and the élan of high purpose. Members of the Embassy staff have received their orders to leave for different posts: Bordeaux for some, Nantes for others and for others the Château de Candé. Some of us volunteered to remain in Paris. I was one of them. Paris will be safe or as dangerous as any other place, perhaps safer as every effort will be made to protect the city with its priceless works of art and its beauty.”

Marie-Louise Dilkes’ astute observations of life in Paris during World War II are written from the unique perspective of the receptionist for the American Embassy. The Embassy was the first—or last—resort for many caught up in the chaos of war, and hers was the first face they would see as they walked through the grand doors.

She takes us from the conquest and occupation of Paris by German forces but includes the war-time journey of the American consulate in Paris from Paris to Lisbon to Lyon to Bern and back to Paris. She ends with the triumphant return of members of the American Embassy staff, after the Allies forced the German Army out of Paris, and the reestablishment of the American Embassy in Paris.

"The main attraction is her vivid observations and descriptions of Paris' ambiance as the seasons changed and the course of the war swung from German triumphs to Allied victory. It's like being in a French noir film. Enjoyed it."

Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, April 2024

About Marie-Louise Dilkes

Marie-Louise Dilkes (1886–1964) wrote about her World War II experiences in 1955 – ten years after the war yet before files of her experiences were declassified. She based her writings on letters to her sisters, her nightly journal, recollections of conversations, and newspapers. For a woman who was educated at the end of the nineteenth century, she came into her own at the start of the twentieth century. She was literate and wrote about her experiences through the arts, literature, and architecture of France and quoted from writings that inspired her. Marie-Louise Dilkes was a woman of her times, for her times, and in some respects ahead of her times.

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