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June 06, 2014

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Strategist

The kids running up the sand cliff at 1:34 - haunting indeed.

What a treasure trove that Pathe archive is, thanks for taking the time to pull out various pearls for us.

chris y

It occurs to me that out of all the politicians and dignitaries trying to make capital out of the event, the only WWII veteran present was former Subaltern E.Windsor, ATS.

dsquared

Although Giorgio Napolitano's time in the communist Italian resistance should probably count for a bit ...

dsquared

And (a Wikipedia search for "oldest heads of state" reveals) Karolos Papoulias actually fought against the Germans with a gun and everything, and he was also in Normandy for the anniversary.

Phil

Napolitano's role in the Resistance is unclear; there's some debate as to whether he had one at all. Born in 1925, he was a (young) Fascist from 1942-3 and joined the Communist Party in 1945, but it's not clear what, if anything, he did in the mean time. In one autobiographical account he says that "some of us" made contact with the PCI as soon as the regime fell (in July 1943), while others joined the Resistance after the Nazis' reign of terror in Naples (September 1943), but "I myself, disillusioned and confused, kept my distance and allowed myself some time to reflect."

Papoulias is a good spot, although (born in 1929) he would have been a very young resister.

Dan Hardie

'Papoulias is a good spot, although (born in 1929) he would have been a very young resister.'

By all accounts, there were plenty of very young resisters. You don't need to be that big at all to fire a submachine gun, and you can be smaller still and be a useful look-out or scout.

In a lot of places, certainly including much of Greece, male adults were packed off as forced labour as soon as the Germans saw them. That will have removed the restraints on what young boys could do and, probably, compelled some of them to take up arms. Most of the good films I can think of about Second World War Resistance movements feature partisans who were not even teenagers: they're a major part of 'Rome, open city' and the central characters of 'Ivan's childhood' and 'Come and see'.

Phil

Good point.

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