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Herbert Steinschneider


Phil Steinschneider

yelling, "One does not toy with the hope of a nation," while others ran out to stop those who might be attempting to reach posts they were assigned to man in case of an invasion.  The rest of the students turned to me for an explanation.  I had to show them the wire leading to the other room and explain the mechanics of the fake transmission.

No permanent harm came from the hoax.  We caught those who were packing their bags in order to join their fighting units; we kept the news from spreading by reaching those who were hanging on the telephone; we even kept the student with his champagne bottle from opening it, in the hope that he would savor it with us at the true date of the Allied landing.  But for a time at least a number of students threw dirty glances in my direction.

The Montpellier Invasion showed me vividly how gullible people are when it comes to the media.  Those in charge know this, and can manipulate the masses easily.  Because of my own prank, I have never totally trusted the media since.


Upon returning to the seminary in the Autumn of 1943, we found that three of the students had decided to take a sabbatical and to devote their time to the establishment of a Protestant Maquis, as the armed Resistance was commonly called.  They had established a camp near Mens, in a mountainous region not far from Grenoble.  They counted on churches to send them young people, deserters from the STO, in order to establish, in opposition to the Communists, who attracted many Résistants by hiding their political identity, a Christian armed Resistance movement.  All of us at the seminary had a standing invitation to join them at any time, and to put Protestantism on the map among the foes of the Nazi occupation.  More than a few of us seminary students were tempted.  The quiet nature of our work sometimes seemed insignificant in the struggle for the liberation of France.  Yet many hesitated to take on the harsh Winter in a tent in the Alps; the Spring was for a number of us the date for joining them in this undertaking.

Their main supplier was a member of the church in Grenoble, Girard-Clot, who had taken it upon himself to provide our three men with food and clothing as the Winter approached.  Every weekend he left Grenoble and his family of five children with a full backpack, coming back that same evening with an empty one and with all kinds of letters to be sent to friends and relatives.  As a member of the Grenoble church, I knew Girard-Clot as a quiet Christian, deeply involved in his faith and in the fight against the Nazis.   Tragedy struck, however, before the Spring, in fact, even before Christmas.  A French traitor led a group of German soldiers to the encampment at daybreak.  All three of our colleagues were taken before they could reach for their arms.  The Gestapo found the name and address of Girard-Clot in their papers and picked him up at his home.  Transported to Lyon and to the infamous Montluc prison, they were brought before Klaus Barbie, who had them condemned to death.  Their sentence was commuted, however, to "Nacht und