This story was told by "Mickey", dedicated to the memory of Madame Henriette Guiral, wife of her boss, who died for France on leaving the German prison at Ravensbrück in 1944.
(The text has been redesigned to modernize it and make it more pleasant to read; only the form is changed; the authenticity remains intact).
We are at the end of the afternoon, in a town in the southwest of France. A discreet young man puts his bicycle against the wall and knocks three times spaced apart on the door of a middle-class house; a door opens to a young girl with an attentive gaze and the V for victory is discreetly exchanged. A clear laugh and: "Hello Mickey, you can come in, daddy is here"; she precedes him in a dining room with exotic decoration.
Mickey greets a man of a certain age, looking alert, sunk in his rocking chair, filling a very nicely sculpted pipe but seeming to have been used a lot: "hello Monsieur Daumier, hello ladies, what's up?"
The young girl sits next to her mother, Henriette, embroidering a colorful pattern.
Everything here is peaceful, with the radio playing muted; how far away the war seems.
And yet, outside, the enemy, at the approach of night, prepares his traps.
As soon as the door is crossed, the danger is there, immediate and brutal and we must try to thwart the spinning and traps; who is hiding in the shadows, Gestapo, Militia, French Police?
"Hello Mickey said Daumier, how are you? ... I have news".
But, his first name is not "Mickey", and the name of the old man is not "Daumier"!
The secret agent number 2456 comes to report his "harvest" to the departmental head of the SR, attached to the BCRA in London, where we impatiently await this information, so vital to counter the enemy wherever possible, to save the agents. who can still be, prepare for the great landing where life and death will be tossed about, or will be in the balance disaster or victory, slavery or freedom!
He gives "Daumier", his boss and friend, very fine paper documents, which can be easily concealed and which they examine together.
Then "Daumier" slips away for a few moments and returns with the instructions that the HQ of the sector sent him.
One of them particularly attracts their attention: it involves actively researching the famous Code 23. This is used by the Vichy Ministry of the Interior to communicate to the Prefects all that concerns the arrests of patriots, and police operations directed against the Resistance.
CODE 23! Of capital importance, its discovery will save many comrades from the arrest, torture and death.
"Mickey" is responsible for finding the code; enthusiastic about this mission which, if carried out successfully, would save many lives; he takes leave of his boss, registration number DR 2454, who encourages him to be vigilant and to be very careful.
But where can this precious document be? The secret agent wonders; would he be at the Prefecture? Maybe at the Prefect's office!
He deftly tries to get the Chief of Staff to speak (who knows him well and shows him some esteem), tries to make him "drop" a few words that can put him on the track.
After a few days of effort, he knows that the secret code is in the Prefect's office, but where ??
He decides to come back every day, without being noticed; Who could have the slightest suspicion towards the friend of the Chef de Cabinet of the Prefect of Vichy?
One day, when he begins to despair, his stubbornness pays off; as he converses with his "friend" his face freezes, his eyes shine with an unusual glow, oh, very little time; instantly the secret agent puts the mask back on, his joy must be interior, he must not attract attention at any price; he continues his conversation in the same tone and yet: there, on a desk, a few meters from him, a little gray book, like a study manual or a memory aid, is placed; on the left corner two black numbers shine: 23 -
this is the code!
Suddenly the phone rings; the chief of staff answers then gets up: "please excuse me, Mr the Prefect asks me; I will make you wait".
Immediately, "Mickey" grabs the manual and flips through it; this is the code. He will slip it into his pocket but changes his mind, the theft will be discovered and the code changed; he puts it back in its place and takes leave of his guest who has just returned.
Quickly, he invited himself to "Daumier" and told him about his discovery.
This one writes a note which it will be necessary to carry immediately to the HQ of Toulouse as well as other information of the greatest importance, especially the plans of the all new bazooka, which the division "Das Reich" tested in great secrecy in a barracksde Montauban and that "Suzy" had succeeded in withdrawing from an S.S.
"Suzy", the young girl, secret agent, is ready; with courage she is going to make the trip, as she has already done many times; Nobody knows ; she always volunteers for these extremely dangerous missions.
The train leaves without problems; the documents are well hidden but obviously they would be discovered during a thorough search.
In the compartment, we chat and gossip is rife (so to speak!). No one suspects that this affable and charming young girl is part of one of those organizations ("terrorists" as the Nazis and their collaborating friends call them) whose members are tortured and shot by the Germans as soon as they are discovered and arrested.
The train finally slows down and enters Toulouse la rose station; the secret agent gets out and immediately looks towards the exit of the station.
Her heart misses a beat: the Feldgendarmerie and the Gestapo search all the women.
What to do ; these documents are vital, it is imperative that they reach their destination.
Suddenly, behind her, she hears two voices with Teutonic accents which seem to speak to her and sees two senior "Boche" officers.
Usually she spits discreetly on the ground, out of contempt, when she crosses them, but today the opportunity is too good, she turns around with a smile.
They bite the hook right away, and proud to have made a great conquest, (this happens to them so infrequently), our two colonels, with great gallantry, while walking, begin an awkward court.
She chats nicely with them; but here is already the exit, and she pretends to take leave of her serving knights: she must go through the search like everyone else!
They are indignant: "but no miss, you are going to pass with us", each take her by an arm and move towards the exit.
A click of his heels, an impeccable guard, and the documents pass through the nose and the beard of those who will be the first to suffer the consequences.
"Suzy" succeeds in sowing her suitors and getting the documents to their destination; she was hot!
On her return, without incident this time, she gave the answer to "Daumier": "provide code 23 as soon as possible, very important document"
"Daumier" hatches a plan and soon everything is ready.
One dark night, two shadows glide silently along the walls, avoiding the lampposts. Eleven o'clock strikes on the cathedral clock, it's curfew.
Suddenly, a noise of boots, a throaty order; it's a patrol coming.
The two men rush into a corridor, tackle the ground, holding their breath. Phew! the danger is over, the pulsations are calming, the mission continues.
The Prefecture: a window that was deliberately poorly closed the night before is pushed, the agents enter the premises by the veiled light of a flashlight; "Mickey" who knows the place well goes upstairs and enters the office of the Prefect's chief of staff and, after having carried out a quick search, grabs Code 23 which had been placed in a drawer.
Pistol in hand, "Daumier" keeps watch at the bottom of the stairs.
The two men hurriedly left the scene and went to town to see a friend; we witness a curious scene, where, all shutters closed, masked by thick curtains to hide the flashes of the magnesium flash, three men photograph the pages of the stolen notebook at full speed.
It only remains to put it back in place, which is done quickly. Tomorrow morning, everything will be tidied up as usual, and the head of the cabinet of the Prefect of Vichy will not notice anything!
The photos developed, "Mickey" takes care of bringing them to Toulouse.
The trip goes well, no "boches" at the station, no police.
The secret agent comes out of the station whistling and suddenly turns pale; the German gendarmerie searched all the young people and the yard of the station was surrounded. "Mickey" is only twenty years old, he will be searched; to go back, it is not possible, it is to accuse oneself, the "boches" have already seen it, it will be taken back… is it irretrievably lost?
If he is caught, he will be shot tomorrow morning at dawn, after horrible tortures; he knows that his head is being put at a price by the Gestapo.
Moment of unspeakable anguish, where his mind works at an unusual speed; Before his eyes all those who are dear to him, all his short life full of promises that risk being broken tomorrow at dawn.
But it is not yet taken!
He feels a half-cigarette in the back of his pocket, takes it out, feels himself, looking dubious, and approaches the nearest feldgendarme who was looking at him, with a confident walk.
He is not scared ; his heart is beating.
Calling on the "boche" he asks him: "Feuer" (do you have any fire?) "Ya, ya" (yes, yes); the "boche" takes out his lighter and gives fire to the
l'agent qui remercie : danke schön "; the agent who thanks: danke schön "; the feldgendarm gives him a sign .... and ... he passed ...
The alert was loud, the nervous tension too; the human mind has resources!
The secret agent gives the documents to his bosses, takes the train back to his house in Verlhaguet, which he thought he would never see again.
Code 23 is in good hands; specialists will use it; they will save lives and poison the enemy who loses another round.
Thus at the risk of their lives, in the shadows, French worthy of the name fought every day to restore freedom, peace, the honor of France and the French.
signed: Georges CAUSSANEL alias "Mickey"
(This story was sent for publication in the newspaper l'Elan located rue Roquelaine in Toulouse on 10/27/1945).
Some were very young, still children - 16, 17, 18 years old - and lived every day in fear and anguish of denunciation, arrest, torture and deportation. They saw their comrades murdered or shot; who can you really trust? Members of the same family and old friends denounced each other. The spies of the Militia and the Gestapo were everywhere, the S.S was reigning terror by savage and blind reprisals. It was a dark and terrible time!
Glory to those who gave their lives; Glory to those who are still among us: we owe them so much!
Text and photos © Serge Caussanel
Registration of "Mickey" in the intelligence service of the M.U.R. (The authenticity being verified by the chiefs, possessing the other torn part of the document which had to coincide perfectly with the part possessed by the intelligence agent)
(credit: National Archives)
GESTAPO DE MONTAUBAN
STOTZ Felix was the head of the Gestapo in Montauban from 1944; he also belonged to the S.D. *
On his orders, many Resistance fighters were arrested, tortured and deported. He himself arrested Henriette and Suzanne GUIRAL.
He is responsible with his SS guard for numerous abuses, thefts, murders, assassinations and executions in Montauban and in its region.
He recruited agents from among the militiamen and some local inhabitants, attracted by the money and the immunity their Gestapo card gave them. They provided him with information and encouraged denunciation.
He was arrested on July 2, 1945 and brought before the military tribunal of Bordeaux in 1952 where he was sentenced to death.
This sentence was then transformed into hard labor for life by the high council of the judiciary. From revision to revision, he was released in 1956.
One wonders from what complicity and what collusion he benefited from within the institution of "Justice" so that this war criminal of the worst kind could end his days free and without worrying about the monstrosities he had accomplished. nor the victims and their families forever affected by these crimes.
* The S.D or Sicherheitsdienst was the security and intelligence service of the SS, founded by Reinhard Heydrich, war criminal, like Himmler, of whom he was the direct deputy