Paris-Underground: Making Mockery of Our Gangsters

paris undergroundBeing laid up a couple of days due to one of the periodic rebellions by my left knee, I took the occasion to do some reading outside the confines of the matters relating to Boston Betrayed, as I call the saga surrounding Whitey Bulger. I read Sean O’Casey’s Knocking At The Door telling of his early youth in Dublin as a protestant boy; and, Paris-Underground by Etta Shiber an American citizen who in 1936 after the death of her husband of 35 years turned to her great friend Kitty Beaurepos, who she had met in Paris in 1925, and left New York to live with her in Paris.

Their lives were quite peaceful and comfortable up until the time in 1940 when the Nazi’s invaded Paris. They tried to flee but seeing the Nazi planes began strafing the hordes of civilians engaged in the same endeavor they turned back. On the way back they stopped at an inn to get some food and discovered hidden there an RAF pilot who like 40,000 other British soldiers was unable to escape back to Britain during the Dunkirk evacuation. Like thousands of others he fled into the interior of France to avoid being captured by the Nazis.

Taking sympathy on him, 60 year-old Etta and 44 year-old Kitty brought him back into Paris in the luggage compartment of their car and hid him in their apartment hoping to be able to smuggle him from France and out of the grasp of the Nazis. They succeed in doing this with the help of some others. After doing that, Kitty, born and raised in Britain but married to a French citizen from who she lives separately, frets about the many British soldiers who are stranded in France knowing the Nazis are looking for them. She convinces Etta they should do all they can to rescue others.

The book tells of how they continue their exploits by setting up a system wherein they become the main cogs in rescuing about 150 British soldiers and moving them out of Nazi-occupied France. While they are operating this underground railroad the Nazis have announced that anyone involved in aiding British soldiers escape will be punished by death and offer a 10,000 Francs reward for anyone with information about those doing it.

The two women go to the extent of advertising in Paris Soir a German run newspaper their desire to help the soldiers. This brings them in contact with a young Catholic priest who has made contact with many of them. He has a system where he hides them in his rectory even though the other half of the rectory is occupied by German soldiers.

The Nazis will eventually capture the two women, the priest, and two others. They will be put on trial and the prosecutor will demand the death penalty for three of them. You might be saying it sounds like a thrilling tale, which it is, but how does it figure into the subject matter of the blog?

I read it to get away from the blog, as I said, but the actions of Etta, the American, after being captured stood out so starkly from that of the gangsters we encountered in this case, that I could not fail to think of this.

Etta was arrested and brought in before the Gestapo.  She was interrogated, put in prison, released, followed, re-arrested, interrogated again, told she was going to be executed, and then put back in prison again. The prisoners under the Nazis were kept in inhumane conditions on starvation diets hoping they would break. Throughout it all she refused to confess her involvement in any of the activities or implicate others even though told her recalcitrance would cost her dearly.

All this happened to this American woman in her early 60s in a foreign country under the control of the brutal Nazis but she stuck to her guns. Compare that to these supposed tough guys we saw during Whitey’s trial, Martorano, Weeks, Salemme, Flemmi and friends – murderers of upwards of fifty people – who when caught all became squealers; and like all squealers offer flimsy justifications for their betrayals. What squeamish scum these men are when compared to this middle-age woman who really had something to fear.

The priest who was sentenced to die escaped on the day of his execution; he then despite urging by many to flee refused. He went right back into the business of helping others. To see the actions of Etta, Kitty, and those who worked with her, and all those working in Paris in defiance of the Nazis, and how they stand in stark comparison to the people we have talked about over the past year makes me realize how much dirt I have been wallowing in when it comes to Whitey and his friends.

One other part of the book I must comment on is that all who had the courage to help did so without any reference to the religious beliefs or politics of those they were helping.

Read the book if you want to get a breath of fresh air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Paris-Underground: Making Mockery of Our Gangsters

  1. Very,very special Boston FBI agent James Ring sends a very special shout out to all the people posting at this site. Please buy his book so he can continue to receive treatment at the Whitey Bulger Rehabilitation Clinic for recovering serial killers.

    see link for fill FBI spin
    http://northendwaterfront.com/2013/11/retired-fbi-agent-and-local-author-james-ring-talks-necessary-assets-at-north-end-library/#comment-52417

    Retired FBI Agent and Local Author James Ring Talks “Necessary Assets” at North End Library
    Sun, Nov. 24, 2013

    Author James Ring speaking at the North End Library

    In front of a neighborhood audience, author and retired FBI agent James Ring described the “inspired” fiction of his novel, Necessary Assets, at a Saturday afternoon book reading hosted by the Friends group at the North End Branch Library.

    A longtime North End resident, Ring incorporated many neighborhood features into the book despite the broader subject matter involving global terrorism. From the “Strada Cafe” to “Franklin Wharf,” locals will recognize and appreciate the disguised hometown color (and maybe even some personalities).

    Necessary Assets describes an Al Qaeda terror plot that brings forth an unusual alliance between a modernized Sicilian Mafia and retired FBI agent character, Mark Patrick, who lives in the North End. The reader travels with the action to Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Sana’a in Yemen and eventually to Manhattan and Boston.

    Many at the book reading wanted to know how much was “real” versus “fiction” especially given Ring’s FBI experience in dealing with the Mafia and knowledge of tactics used by terrorism groups. While caveating the storyline as fictional and humbly describing his past professional experience, it is exactly that deep knowledge that brings an absorbing reality to the subject matter of the book.

    The author read passages from the book at the event, including this one about living in the North End that received a chuckle from the local attendees at the library.

    On warm summer evenings years ago, Patrick used to sit on the stoop with some of the older neighborhood women and the talk would always turn to food and cooking. He eventually figured out that some of the older women in the neighborhood would pass on to him a recipe that did not include one or two key ingredients. They openly admitted they never gave all the recipe ingredients to their own daughters-in-law. That way they could be assured their son would show up for Sunday dinner to eat “the way mama cooks it.” Despite working for the FBI and generational gaps, these women were his friends and he theirs.

    Visit http://www.jamesring.com for more information on Necessary Assets, including a blog and upcoming appearances by the author. On the blog, Ring talks about the US economy and how important it is to our national security. He also recently discussed a wake-up call right outside our door from Yemenese LNG tankers in Boston Harbor. He also gave every indication that a sequel may be in the works!

    1. ms:

      Ring is the agent who worked with Connolly to investigate Naimovich and left the FBI to join with Jeremiah O’Sullivan at a Boston Law firm. He was referred to as Pipe by Bulger and his gang; he was noted for smoking his pipe whose puffing gave his brain time to get into gear. Not a nice man.

  2. Funny you should choose France to draw a distinction in the Whitey Bulger case. A 19th Century Frenchman and criminal,Eugene Vidocq,is viewed by some as the first recorded use of criminal informants. The Paris Police used Vidocq, and his relationship with the police like,Whitey and the FBI went bad

  3. For all the Irish posting here…..

    see link for full story

    http://www.irishcentral.com/news/JFKs-Irish-driver-in-Dallas-was-secret-member-of-anti-Catholic-Orange-Order–232984301.html
    JFK’s Irish driver in Dallas was secret member of anti-Catholic Orange Order
    New details on William Greer’s past revealed on anniversary of assassination
    Friday, November 22, 2013

    JFK’s Irish driver on the day of the assassination was a secret member of the anti-Catholic Orange Order it has been revealed.

    County Tyrone native William Greer has been cited in several conspiracy books for his alleged role and for not speeding away from the scene after the first shot.

    Now conspiracy theorists have a new angle given his anti-Catholic background. Some researchers have claimed anti-Catholic elements were behind Kennedy’s killing. As the first Catholic president he had aroused tremendous opposition from some extreme Protestant leaders.

    Greer’s Orange Order ties were revealed by the Unionist Belfast Newsletter newspaper on the 50th anniversary of the shooting.

    As part of his initiation to the arch purple degree Greer would have sworn that he “should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Popish worship; he should, by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power.”

    Greer had emigrated to the US at the age of 19 and joined the Navy and later the Secret Service. He had worked for both Truman and EIsenhower before taking over as Kennedy’s driver.

    Drumbonaway, Tyrone Orange lodge secretary Edgar Kirkpatrick said he was shocked to see Greer’s name on their membership when asked to check by the News Letter.

    “I have it all here in the lodge books. We have the records right the way to when the lodge was formed. We don’t have any Greers nowadays but I always remember my father talking about Richard Greer (Bill’s father) who was a servant man around here working for the farmers.

    “But I didn’t know about his son at all until I read up in the books. There were a lot of people emigrating around that time and I notice from the lodge records that they were bought presents by the lodge – the man got a walking stick and the lady got an umbrella,” Kirkpatrick said.

    “I couldn’t believe he’d come from here and went on to drive for Kennedy,” Mr Kirkpatrick added.
    Greer has been sharply criticized for his actions that day in not immediately speeding up.

    Kenneth O’Donnell (special assistant to Kennedy), who was riding in the motorcade, later wrote: “If the Secret Service men in the front had reacted quicker to the first two shots at the President’s car, if the driver had stepped on the gas before instead of after the fatal third shot was fired, would President Kennedy be alive today?”

    He also stated that after the death of the president “Greer had been remorseful all day, feeling that he could have saved President Kennedy’s life by swerving the car or speeding suddenly after the first shots.”

    1. John F. Kennedy also had many enemies who were Catholic.

      We all didn’t fall at his feet and worship the son of the Ambassador to Great Britain like so many peasants back on the bog. Many Bostonians hated the Kennedy family, many remembering the way their parents or relatives had been evicted from their home by P. J.’s bank.

      Many Bostonians were with James Michael. And we never forgot how JFK refused to sign the pardon in 1947 — JFK alone of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.

  4. Matt: Sorry to hear about your knee. I blew out the meniscus on my left knee a couple of years ago while in New Bedford Mass interviewing former Obama Energy Czar Van Jones and Diane Wilson the Texas Shrimp Boat Captain who sank her boat in front of the Dow Chemical plant in her hometown to protest the toxic discharge from the plant that was giving everybody in town cancer. Matt reminds me a little of Diane and I thought he would like to watch the first 5 minutes of her talk “Being Unreasonable Will Get You What You Want” see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeNjKPCmLJk

    Oh, by the way Obama fired Van Jones when word leaked Van Jones believed 911 was a US Government Op.

    mATT: I should mention in passing that since I started reading your blog
    my therapist has had to increase my medication due to the sudden onset of Pseudo Bulbar Affect see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudobulbar_affect

    In keeping with the upcoming Holiday Spirits might I suggest that
    readers of your blog descend on Doyles in Jamaica Plain on a pre determined date and time and after imbibing massive quantities of Pickwick Ale sing the Arlo Guthrie song THE PAUSE OF MR CLAUSE to commemorate the closure of the Whitey Bulger-Boston FBI Office MURDERERS R US Saga. To hear tune and lyrics Arlo wrote about the FBI see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17gKw_j6Qq0

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