Tuesday, February 14, 2012

With Oswald & Hemingway in Paris

Lee Harvey Oswald, in a letter to Navy Sec. John Connally, who he is later accused of shooting, said that he was in USSR just as Ernest Hemingway went to Paris. While this has been interpetated as being a literary mission, Hemingway also went to Paris as a journalist attached to a unit that was affiliated with OSS Colonel David Bruce, who would later be best man at Hemingway's wedding and serve as President Kennedy's Ambassador to the Court of St. James.

Footnote to History

With Hemingway in Paris – 1944

General George Patton’s troops were headquartered at Chartres, some 50 miles southwest of Paris, buta rumor reached the city that the Americans were even closer – at the village of Rambouillet, just 30 miles from the capitol.

Unfortunately, “the Americans” consisted only of David Bruce and his OSS staff, who had traveled far ahead of Patton’s forces to collect useful intelligence along the road to the city. At a local hotel in the village, Bruce had joined forces with a motley force of local ffi partisans and their unofficial “capttaine,” the adventurous war correspondent Ernest Hemingway.

The writer was no stranger to OSS. He had been a frequent companion of raucous “Jedburghs” in the pubs of London, an dhis own son John had parachuted to southern France weeks earlier on an OSS mission to the resistance. “We were enchanted to see him,” wrote Bruce, who gave Heminway a hand-written order appointing him OSS chief of his constantly growing group of resistance fighters. Hemingway collected an arsenal to defend the village against possible attack by the Germans (who were only miles away) and began to gather intelligence that might prove useful in an Allied drive towards the Capital.

Colonel Bruce, for one, could not understand why the liberation had not already begun…

Friday, August 25, was the great day. LeClerc’s column, accompanied by an American infantry division, roared into the city, flushing out pockets of German resistance with the aid of the victorious resistance. Bruce and Hemingway were with the advance unit as they fought their way through an artillery battle to the Arc de Triomphe. From the roof of that magnificent edifice, the Americans commanded a spectacular view of burning tanks and trucks, and sniper fire throughout the city.

Finding the Champs Elysees completely bare of traffic, Bruce and Hemingway, accompanied by a railroad engineer in BCRA uniform and two truckloads of FFI partisans, decided to perform their own symbolic act of liberation. While General LeClerc and de Gaul received the German surrender in a railway station, and while the valorous Communist resistance buried its dead and nursed its wounded, the OSS colonel and the dashing writer made their way through thousands of cheering men and owmen to the most exclusive hotel in Paris, the RITZ.

The building was completely undamaged and entirely deserted except for the manager, who welcomed the distinguished American visitors at the door and asked Hemingway if there was anything the Ritz could offer him. The writer looked around at his boyant, shabbily dressed FFI proletariant, already roaming through the lobby of the upper-class hostelry, “How about seventy-three dry martinis?” he asked. The OSS had come to Paris.

From OSS – The Secret History of America’s First CIA By R. Harris Smith (U. of Calf. Berkely, Delta/Dell Pub. 1972) Photo of Bruce & Hemingway at Rambouillet p. 195.

That's Seventy-three dry martinis - Shaken', not sturred.