1940, the war lost


It’s a small booklet, bound in faded black cloth. A time-yellowed label bears a name written with a dip pen: Martin Cyril. My father’s name. Surname first as was and still is customary in France. It’s my father’s flight log in 1939-1940 at the beginning of WWII.

My father, very dapper in his freshly cut apprentice officer uniform. Probably tailor-made, knowing him. Paris, Autumn 1939. A year before, in 1938, Chamberlain for Britain, Daladier for France, had signed the Munich agreement with Hitler, basically abandoning Czechoslovakia to Hitler. The latter had sworn “Czechoslovakia is the last one. I Promise.” Promises, promises. On September 1st 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany. Hitler and Stalin, who had signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression pact, took over Eastern Europe, cutting Poland in two, the Soviets eventually gaining control of the Baltic republics and Finland.


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