People … none as weird as folks …

Some people stories have grabbed attention here in France. The saddest of the stories is the one about the boy of two and a half ‘forgotten’ by his father in a locked car. ‘I forgot the boy was in the car’ is what the father, 38 and a pharmacist, told police. It happened in the […]

Some people stories have grabbed attention here in France.

The saddest of the stories is the one about the boy of two and a half ‘forgotten’ by his father in a locked car. ‘I forgot the boy was in the car’ is what the father, 38 and a pharmacist, told police.

It happened in the town of Pont-de-Chéruy (pop 4700) 300 miles (482 kms) from Paris and 55 miles (88 kms) from Grenoble.

At 6.40 one evening a passer-by saw the little boy lying in the car parked in the center of the town. The child didn’t look right so she called the police on her mobile. They smashed the window to open the door and despite mouth-to-mouth and cardiac massage the child was dead. The temperature in the car was 45 degrees Celsius. He died of dehydration.

The father came running up. He’d been distracted, he said, by a car accident; the culprit driver had not stopped and he had taken down the number etc. This had made him forget completely that he had locked his child in his car.

The ‘case’ is being investigated; both parents are in a state of shock. Causing death through an act of negligence is involuntary homicide. If found guilty the father faces 20 years in jail. Maybe he’s started serving a life sentence already.

-***-
The most interesting of the stories is the Germans’ investigation into what exactly they had done, and why, in the French village of Maillé on August 25, 1944, the day Paris was liberated from Nazi occupation. Maillé, tiny, is south-west of Paris in the Indre-et-Loire region. On that day 124 villagers were massacred – shot by machine gun or firebombed or downed by bayonets – by German soldiers in revengeful anger, apparently at Resistance activity in the area. The soldiers (can they be called that?) went from street to street and house to house killing men as well as women and children. The youngest victim was 3 months; the eldest 89.

(The Picture is of the village after the massacre.)

The German investigators, led by Chief Prosecutor Ulrich Maas, arrived in the village on July 14, France’s national day, to delve into the past and a majority of French learned of this massacre for the first time. Why for the first time? If I know I’ll tell you, but I do not know. All I know is that no-one ever talked about it. Even the villagers did not although the massacre’s survivors now say that not a day had gone by since that August 1944 day that they had not thought of the loved ones they had lost. Maybe, I can say it was like a festering wound, it was there but it wasn’t ever mentioned in polite society.

Odd?

Even more so because in 1988 when the UN released some documents that mentioned the massacre, the French decided to investigate. Though, in 1990 the case was closed. France has a 30-year statute of limitation in war crimes, and 46 years had by then gone by. The Germans are also now saying that they *had* asked France for access to French war files, but the French had not responded.

Ulrich Maas from Dortmund who specializes in tracking down war criminals, became interested in the case four years ago. Laying a wreath at a memorial in the village, he was almost in tears. He said, “I am deeply ashamed of what the Germans did here. I would like to tell you how very sorry I am”.

It is apparently not even known what German regiment was in the area at that time. Probably true because with the Allies and a French regiment in Paris, the Germans were on the run. So, by the way, were their French cohorts, the Collaborators – the Collabos.

-***-

The weirdest of the stories is the case of a 50-year-old man who has lived as a recluse since the age of 14. This happened not in some remote mountain village, but in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin which lies between Menton and Monaco, a very built-up area of France.

Michel Pagès had ‘hidden’ in the villa of his aged mother. He never ventured out in daylight, but neighbors used to see him very occasionally standing in the garden very very deep into the night. Gave several of them quite a fright because they thought the old lady, Madame Pagès (Thérèse) lived alone. The fright he used to give them, though, was nowhere near the one he gave the police this week.

It happened like this. The neighbors had not seen the old lady for a while so they summoned the police. The police found her sitting lifeless in a chair. She had been dead for quite a while; one of her legs had been almost eaten away by gangrene. A pestilent odor filled the air. Also believing she lived alone, the police jumped when in walked an emaciated man of a deadly palor, dressed only in a loin cloth. His hair, 3 meters long, trailed behind him.

The story he told the police was that he had decided at the age of 14 to ‘drop out’. He wanted to have nothing more to do with the world. His parents (his father was a retired Monaco businessman) said he could do as he wished. He apparently then stopped wearing clothes, never cut his hair again and never stepped outside again – that is only occasionally at night when the neighborhood was asleep had he done so. A neighbor now actually says that already a few years ago she had gone to the local welfare office to say that there was something strange going on at old Mrs. Pagès villa, but no-one had acted on it.

The question now being asked is how come a 14-year-old boy could have successfully removed himself from the world without officialdom making enquiries. What about his school? How come the national health service did not make any enquiries about him when he had suddenly disappeared from their files? And as he is 50 years old now he should have been called up to do his military service at the age of 18, so how come no one looked for him then?

He’s now in a state mental institution for observation.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

5 Responses

7-19-2008 at 15:24:00

Your tragedy about the child in the car has happened in other places. One is desperately sorry for the youngster in such a condition.

The other two stories are very odd, lack of knowledge of the massacre is incredible, you would think the survivors would have been howling about it.

As for the recluse, that is just very odd.

7-20-2008 at 06:00:00

Marilyn,

I am certain that many feel like the recluse: step away from the world. Perhaps not quite as drastically as this Frenchman, but a couple of months/years on a remote island does sound good for a try.

My heart goes out to those villagers. I am sure there are still other similar atrocities of which we know nothing. I’m thinking of Russia now because in the years of Communism natural disasters were even ‘hidden’ out of fear that these would be interpreted as a failure of the regime. Therefore, Stalin and those who had come after him, might well have covered up past Nazi massacres in fear of the Soviet Union coming over as having failed in protecting its citizens.

So, yes, folks are weird.

Anthony Marx (no relation)

7-20-2008 at 12:37:00

All the word’s queer ‘cept me an’ thee
An’ I ‘ent so sure about thee.

7-22-2008 at 08:36:00

Marilyn, speaking about the Nazi massacre; sooner or later our evil deeds are exposed.

John Brittain

7-22-2008 at 11:03:00

What amazing stories, Marilyn. The first one, as Jo says, is not unheard of – we’ve had a couple here in Australia, including one in which a woman left her baby in the car while she went into a casino to gamble – but the other two must be unique.

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