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INTERESTING RESEARCH by Soren Paul Petrek
I learned more about a subject area that has fascinated me for years when I did my research for my novel, Cold Lonely Courage. While I had a decent working knowledge of the French Resistance in World War Two, I had no idea the vital importance women played.
I was shocked to learn that prior to the war; women did not have the right to vote in France. Due to the incredible acts of heroism, both through direct combat and behind the scenes there was little or no resistance to women’s suffrage following the war.
Most of the Resistance groups functioned as smaller independent units in an effort to avoid the capture of one leading to the destruction of many. Several of the more important units were headed by women. Their duties included acts of sabotage, assassination, the movement of weapons, intelligence the list goes on and on.
Initially I purchased several books on the topic of women in the Resistance. I carried that forth into direct internet research and discovered more and more depictions of true life stories, incredible things that both women in the French Resistance and their female counterparts in the British Special Operations Executive did. I discovered triumphs and tragedy, husbands and wives torn apart by war, true stories of torture, internment and death.
One particularly terrifying discovery was the destruction of the small town of Oradour sur Glane by the German SS just days after the Normandy invasion. The entire town, save for a couple incredibly fortunate villagers were killed. Machine gunned and burned alive, perhaps thought to be hiding pockets of resistance or captured Nazi gold. No one knows for sure. The slaughter was so brutal that the town has been left in its burned and decimated state as a perpetual memorial to the hundreds of men, women and children killed there.
Yet there are stories of victory in all that destruction. In one true story, two French school girls and a British agent replaced the axel grease in the undercarriages of hundreds of German rail cars, loaded with tanks on their way to Normandy. The grease was removed and replaced with a paste that became as hard as concrete and kept the badly needed armor from being transported to the front.
The research was fascinating and will always be a favored part of my writing experience.
Soren Petrek is a practicing trial attorney with a passion for studying World War Two. He lived in France and England for years, listening to people's stories of personal sacrifice and struggle during the darkest years of the war. Cold Lonely Courage was inspired by the true story of a young Belgian woman who helped countless Jewish children escape from the terrors of the Nazi regime. Soren lives with his wife, Renee and sons, Max and Riley in central Minnesota.