30 August, 2011

30 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
30 August, 1944       1100

Dearest darling Wilma –

I’ve just come from visiting a grand palace not far from here. It had been occupied as an Hq. for the Germans – no more than 4 days ago – but it was empty now – and completely stripped except for some pictures of Hitler lying ingloriously on the floor; apparently they had left in a hurry. I’ve got the pictures and this p.m. my boys will have target practice.

"France - southeast of Paris - August 1944
Former palace of Royalty, later school for Physical Culture for
Women and then German Gestapo Hq. Pictures of Hitler and
Goering were all over the place and we had a field day.

We ourselves are in a new mansion of our own – having left the other yesterday p.m. This one is just as beautiful and the estate – larger. The inside is more modern and all the bedrooms have Simmons mattresses. The bedroom I’m using – with one other officer is about 40 feet long and 30 feet wide. Unlike the previous place – the people just didn’t seem to belong to it so I asked them about the history of the place. Up to 2 yrs ago it belonged to a Jew, Bernard Levy, a publisher of Paris. It was taken from him, and his whereabouts are unknown. How the present occupants got control of it, I don’t know – but I’ll bet they were collaborators.

"Brecey - 35 km southeast of Paris - August 1944
Home of Bernard Levy, former publisher of Paris, now prisoner
of Germans. Estate run by a former employee.
Ballation C.P. and sleeping quarters of officers.
Top row: Bill Shea, Bill Bowman, Stan Sargent, myself, The Chaplain
Bottom row: Colonel Lane, Fred Ellis, Bill Brown, Hi Morley"

I hated to leave the last place. The people were swell to us. I did meet that MD from Paris and we had a talk about the sick Mme. Marcou. Then we had dinner – beautifully served and by the way, I had cantaloupe – for the first time in a long long while.

Not far from here is the estate of one of the Rothschild’s and if I get a chance – I’ll take a run over. I’m snapping pictures of almost everything I see. I found a small town yesterday with a film shop and I was able to buy 12 more rolls of Kodak film. The expiration date will be in only 3-4 mos. but I think the film can be used after that. I now have at least 25 rolls of film and I’m trying to take pictures of anything that seems worth remembering. As yet I have been unable to develop any, and I hope the rolls don’t spoil. If they don’t – I’ll be able to show you a good many spots I’ve visited and we, or I, can reminisce for you, dear; because someday – when we’re alone and relaxing I’m going to start at the beginning darling, from the time I last saw you until the day I return – and tell you everything. I haven’t kept a diary – but I’ll remember most everything and it seems to me that my letters should fill in the rest. You’ll probably tire of hearing me talk – but we can take our time about it. When you’ll get tired of listening – we’ll forget about it and just kiss; when you get tired of kissing – well, will you?

"France - August 1944
In front of Maurice Rothschild's estate east of Paris.
Maquis in picture were hunting down some
Germans hiding in the cellar."

Yesterday – we got our other officer for the medical detachment – a second lieutenant, and not an MC – but an MAC – med. Administrative corp. That’s what our new T.O. calls for. I don’t know what we need him for – but he may help out a little. He’s young – 22 and from Detroit; he’s here – only a short time, having been in the States up to July. He’s married and has a baby on the way. He’s Catholic – Irish. I’ll tell you more when I know him better.

I got no mail from you yesterday or the day before, darling. I got one letter last nite and it was quite a surprise; it was from a cousin of mine from New York – one of my father’s brother’s sons – Jack A. I haven’t seen him in years and he was just a kid then. He’s here in France and must have written for my address. I’ll write him today and I’m going to try to contact him as soon as I can. He’s a private and will have little opportunity to look me up. At present he’s with a replacement company and I do hope they don’t put him in the infantry.

Well, sweetheart, I guess that is all for this morning. I’ve got to go get something to eat. The last few nights the moon has been getting bigger and bigger and I’ve been home with you – even if you didn’t know it. Somehow a bright moon seems to bring me nearer to you, dear. I’m sure you just feel the same way. It will be a grand day when we no longer need depend on the moon – So long for now, dear, love to the folks and

All my deepest love –


about Three Châteaus

The first picture Greg shows seems to be of "Armainvilliers", which belonged to the Péreire brothers, Isaac and Emile, rich bankers and competitors to the Rothchilds. It was built in 1852 in the best style of the end of the seventeenth century. It was surrounded by a beautiful and extensive park, which was kept in admirable order, well stocked with game, and affording charming and shady walks in every direction. It was hit by bombs in 1944 and destroyed in 1950.

James de Rothschild built two châteaus east of Paris. The one Greg visited was most likely the one less than two miles from the Péreire brothers and similarly called "Château d'Armainvilliers". That one had belonged to Edmund Rothschild, Maurice's father, who had died in 1934. It was built in 1877, replacing one torn down which had been built in the 12th century. Here is a picture of that château, which was occupied by the Germans during WWII. Today it is owned by the King of Morocco.

The second chateau east of Paris built by James de Rothschild was Château de Ferrières. Here are some pictures of that chateau:

South Side
North Side

Corner View
Aerial View

According to Wikipedia:
The Château de Ferrières was built between 1855 and 1859 by Baron James de Rothschild, Maurice's grandfather. In 1870 it was owned by Edouard, Maurice's cousin. It eventually passed to Guy, Edouard's son. It is considered by far the largest and most luxurious 19th century château in France, it is about 26 km east of Paris.

Sitting at the crest of a long entry drive, the château was designed by the British architect Joseph Paxton. The inspiration for the design of Ferrières was "Mentmore Towers" in Buckinghamshire, England, the house Paxton built for Baron James's cousin Mayer Amschel de Rothschild. On seeing Mentmore, Baron James is reputed to have summoned Paxton and ordered "Build me a Mentmore, but twice the size."

With square towers at each corner, the house sits on a formal terrace that gives way to 0.5 square miles (1.25 km²) of gardens in a parkland landscaped in the English style that was part of a surrounding over 11 square miles (30 km²) forest contained in the estate. The showpiece central hall is 120 feet (36 meters)long and 60 feet (18 meters) high, its roof a full glass skylight. The sculpting of the interior atlas columns and caryatids was by Charles Henri Joseph Cordier and the decorative painting supervised by Eugène Lami. The massive library held more than 8,000 volumes. Because lavish entertaining was important, in addition to the private Rothschild apartments, the Château de Ferrières was built with eighty guest suites. Ferrières was inaugurated 16 December 1862 with a gala attended by Napoleon III.

Baron James acquired a vast collection of works of art, and statues adorned a number of the château's rooms. The Germans seized the château in WWI and again during the occupation of France in World War II, this time, looting its vast art collections. The château remained empty until 1959 when Guy de Rothschild and his new wife, Marie-Hélène de Zuylen van Nyeve set about refurbishing it. Their efforts saw it once again became the place where European nobility mingled with Hollywood movie stars at grand soirées. In 1975, Guy de Rothschild, Maurice's cousin's son, and his wife charitably donated the château to the chancellery of the University of Paris, and it is now open to the public for guided tours and special events.

This video of the treasures in and around Château de Ferrieres is shown accompanied by Beethoven's "Romance No.2 in F Major Op.50" which, unfortunately, ends abruptly:

No comments:

Post a Comment