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Franck Bauer

Discussion in 'WWII Obituaries' started by GRW, May 6, 2018.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "Franck Bauer, radio broadcaster, PR pioneer, government adviser, theatre manager. Born: 2 July 1918, Troyes, France. Died: 6 April 2018, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, aged 99. Franck Bauer was the last surviving member of Radio Londres, the voice of the French wartime resistance broadcaster based in London, designed to boost morale throughout occupied France, but also to send coded messages to the French Underground networks. Established by General Charles de Gaulle, following the fall of France in June 1940, the station was staffed by de Gaulle’s Free French forces and served not only to counter the propaganda broadcasts of German-controlled Radio Paris and Marshall Pétain’s Vichy government Radiodiffusion nationale, but also to appeal to the French to rise up. By October it was illegal to listen to Radio Londres, punishable by a fine and a prison sentence or being sent to a concentration camp. The populace also became very wary of the Milice, the ruthless Vichy French militia. They were native Frenchmen who understood local dialects fluently, had extensive knowledge of the towns and countryside, and knew local people and informants. They were known for snooping at doors to catch people tuning in to broadcasts, so many listened hiding under blankets or tablecloths.
    Broadcast from a BBC studio at 8.30pm, Radio Londres became a daily event for millions of French people, as well as the Gestapo, who would try to block transmissions while also trying to decode any messages. It always started with the opening four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, sounding V for Victory in Morse code followed by, “Ici Londres! Les Français parlent aux Français...” (“This is London! The French speaking to the French...”). In order to counter German propaganda and to guarantee authenticity, the same elite team of presenters was used so that their voices became familiar. Bauer had escaped France and found himself in London, where he was soon recruited by the painter and journalist Jean Oberlé, who encountered him playing jazz piano in a Soho club. Soon Bauer’s voice became well known to French audiences. Denouncing the occupation and collaboration with the enemy, the programme was a source of hope; it included not just news but also sketches, songs and jokes designed to build confidence and optimism. From 28 June 1940 onwards, mysterious cryptic sentences were slipped into the “messages personnels” programme, initially reserved for escapees who wished to reassure their families. It was clear to nearly everyone that they were coded messages, often amusing and completely without context. Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, the French section head of Special Operations Executive (SOE), devised the idea of broadcasting coded messages, such as “Tante Amelie fait du vélo en short” (Aunt Amelie cycled in shorts), and “Le cheval envoie ses voeux à Polydore, sa filleule et ses amis” (The horse sends his wishes to Polydore, his godchild and his friends) as a means of communicating with the Resistance to identify SOE agents, announce acts of sabotage, equipment shipments, arrests, future threats or any other resistance operation.
    Bauer recalled: “We played our part by holding the French people’s hand, as it were, helping them and sustaining them.” After more than 500 broadcasts, Bauer resigned because he did not agree with de Gaulle’s dialogue with Admiral François Darlan, who had been pro-Vichy. Bauer was sent to Madagascar to establish Free French radio broadcasts. Other postings to Algiers and Scotland meant he didn’t land on French soil until July 1944; he then started working for French Services radio.In 2010, he joined remaining comrades and President Sarkozy in London to mark the 70th anniversary of de Gaulle’s call to arms. Born in Troyes, south-east of Paris, in 1918, Franck Adolphe Edouard Bauer was from a middle class family; his father, Jacques, was a respected architect, while his mother, Marguerite Duprat, was a professor of philosophy."
    Kai-Petri likes this.

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