Back in Lyons, Frenay noticed that everyone seemed resigned, defeated. But, he recollects, “I had not assimilated defeat. I could not even understand it; it was utterly foreign to me. Somehow I had evaded defeat when I escaped from Donon. I was free, but they, my neighbors, were not. They were defeated; I was undefeated. "
Frenay wrote a manifesto of his thoughts and showed it to an old friend, Marcel Recordier. Recordier was his first recruit. Next, he met Maurice Chevance at a soldier’s club-- “I could sense he was one of us.” He had his second recruit.
His first goal was to be well informed, second to collect intelligence, third to counter Vichy’s propaganda, and fourth to organize shock troops. He realized that the organization would have to be strictly cellular for security reasons and a useful division of labor. There would be 6 man and 30 man cells. Each chief of 6 would know only his 5 subordinates and his supervisor in the larger, 30 man cell. This supervisor only knew the leaders of the five 6 man cells under his orders. Above the 30-man cells would be the clandestine administrative superstructure with cantons, arrondissements, departments, and later, regional administrations. Every rookie would start in R.O.P. (Recruitment, Organization, and Propaganda). After he passed probation, he would be put into the intelligence service or para-military cadres, or kept in R.O.P. Frenay also decided to put out a paper for the average French.
Frenay had gone back to work for the French army in Marseilles. To implement his plans, he needed money--and recruits. So, every time he’d meet people, he sounded them out; if they were sympathetic, he’d suggest they join him, find new recruits, and donate. He didn’t have to be extremely careful yet. There was no Gestapo yet in that part of France, and the Vichy police had not yet been given orders to hunt him down. A chance meeting on a train gave him a contact in Toulouse, railway man Jean-Paul Lien. Frenay also recruited chemical engineer Jean Gemahling, who would serve as chief of intelligence.
Then Henri Frenay was ordered to join the Army Intelligence of Vichy General Staff. He left the Marseilles region under Chevance, who proved to be a diligent, loyal, capable, and efficient worker. The Marseilles underground grew by leaps and bounds; Chevance eventually became military director of Combat, the large organization this small undertaking would evolve into. And in spite of several arrests, Chevance would fight until virtually the last square inch of France was liberated. Soon, an old friend, Mrs. Berty Albrecht (in her 50’s) came to visit Henri. She was worried he might have succumbed to apathy, but he hadn’t; and when he told her of his activities, she exclaimed, “I’m happy to see you’re a rebel.” Henri replied, “At least we will have taken a stand! To live in peace with one’s conscience has its price, you know; but isn’t it worth it to be able to look at oneself in the mirror?” Berty joined as his secretary, and later as administrator of Social Services for their imprisoned colleagues and their families.
Frenay’s work in Vichy Army Intelligence proved very useful in making contacts and finding information for his underground newspaper, but soon, Frenay found that his army job and underground responsibilities conflicted, so he obtained a discharge.
Lien had proved very dilatory in his Toulouse work and there was virtually no progress in that region. Fortunately, Berty had found a wonderful new recruit to work on the editorial staff of their newspaper: Jacqueline Bernard. Her brother, Jean-Guy Bernard--a pilot and air force lieutenant barely over 20--also joined, and soon had the Toulouse region working efficiently. Then he came to work closely with Frenay.
By this time the police were on Frenay’s trail. He began to take precautions, changing pseudonyms often, and using inspection-proof counterfeit identity papers. He also shifted meeting places constantly, never carried addresses (carrying addresses was a common downfall of underground groups--one member would be caught by the Gestapo, and it didn’t matter if he or she talked because there was a long list of addresses and names in his or her pocket!), and always watched to see if he was shadowed. He frequently changed his hat, overcoat, and hair style. Sometimes, he wore spectacles of every type; sometimes he wore none. He sported mustaches, once grew a beard, and sometimes shaved. Eventually he started carrying a gun. His mail was never delivered directly to his hide-outs: one of his comrades--often Jean-Guy--delivered it to him.
They found a Jesuit Father Chaillet, who agreed to write the religious column for their newspaper, and they found a printer named Martinet who “hated justice and loved liberty more than life itself.” Their new newspaper was called Les Petites Ailes de France, with the motto: “To live in defeat is to die everyday.” --Bonaparte
They were just beginning a long, hard struggle.
Lesson #2 Be well informed, be cautious, and never give up. To live in defeat is to die everyday. Like Henri Frenay, we will eventually be the victors. As Christians, no matter what struggles we face, we will have the victory through Jesus Christ.
The review of this intriguing book, The Night Will End, will be continued soon--hopefully tomorrow.