The village where I live is in that part of France that was occupied by the Germans during World War 2, as opposed to the ‘other’ southern portion of France which was Vichy France.
The consequence of this was that there was a German Lieutenant and a section of Germans troops billeted in the village during the War. This gave the village population someone to fear and hate directly, as opposed to the French South where the resources of Police and manpower were put at the disposal of the Third Reich, so ‘They’ instead became the feared official force.
I have never seen a photograph of this German Lieutenant who was based here, but I am sure I know what he looked like.
I believe that he was tall, slender and slightly stooped and if he had lived long enough, he would have had a receding hairline which would have meant that he would have been bald by the age of sixty five. In character I think he was dogmatic, dictatorial and definitely thought he was always right, because he did not seek any opinions other than his own.
Why should be so sure about this?
Well, I have observed a number of people in the village who have returned here to retire, this being the place of their birth. They all fit the above physical and mental descriptions, but they are not officially related to each other although they were all raised by single mothers, or mothers who apparently lost their husbands during the war. They are also in the age bracket of about 67 to 71. They seem to be like half brothers or sisters.
The sad part for us present day villagers is that these people, who seem to have some sort of common understanding, have taken control of the village council, and one of them is the mayor. The hoped for result would be an efficient and incorruptible council, but instead we seem to have a dictatorial clique with no desire to question orders, under any circumstances, only to impose their will on us, the people. The underclass.
One of their recent edicts was, at the annual competition for “Flower Gardens” and “Christmas Lights” that any one who had won a prize the year before would be ineligible for a prize in the following year.
There was one fellow who always won the “Flower Garden” first prize, because of the effort and time he expended. This is a guaranteed recipe for jealousy. A garden is not something you can “turn off and on”. It takes years of dedication and commitment. It was his pride and passion. He committed suicide a year ago, and although being denied his rightful place as “Best Gardener” was probably not the cause, it may well have been a contributing factor.
However, “Christmas Lights” can be turned “off and on”.
Last year in the village we had splendid displays of Reindeer on Roofs and flashing Stars of Bethlehem, with twinkling impressions of falling snow from the eves of houses. The competition of lights was intense and so unexpected by me, because the Burgundians are a pretty dour lot in winter, and they are not usually inclined to display any sort of exhibitionism.
But this year’s lights: nothing.
Well, almost nothing.
Most of the residents have decided not to have any “Christmas Lights” as a passive protest against a Mayor who they hate. It is sad for the children.
Two houses in the village have some lights and my little garden Christmas Tree with its single strand of lights will probably qualify for third prize.
I won’t claim a prize if I win one, because my parents fought against the occupation of France and I will do nothing to support the sons and daughters of the late Occupiers.
So I must be becoming as dour as my neighbours.
Am I now condemned to be a Passive Resistor as well?
I hope not.
I prefer Active Resistance.
But to deny myself the pleasure of “Christmas Lights” because the Mayor has decreed that prizes will not be awarded is giving her the ‘power’. There are enough decrees and objections to the celebration of Christmas already in France, and I shall not be a party to weakening, in any way, a celebration that gives everyone an opportunity to review their lives, loves and commitments and to renew friendships and contacts around the world.
It is sad to think that the German Lieutenant of WW11 is still exercising an indirect influence here.