I’ve often noticed plaques on the wall in various places around Gueret. And they all have the date 7 juin 1944 on them. While waiting for Benj to take his German oral exam last Friday, I walked round and took photos of the ones I could find. Then I did some research to find out what happened in Gueret that day.
Gueret, in the free zone since 1940, was the first metropolitan prefecture (chief town of a departément) to be liberated by the résistance intérieure français (the resistance) and 7th June 1944 was the day it happened. Sadly it was short lived. The Germans retook the town on 9th June, but it was liberated again, this time permanently, on 24th August.
So what was going on in Gueret on the 7th? Creuse as a whole had been veering in favour of the resistance, away from the neutrality it was supposed to have. Starting around 5.30 am, battles between the Germans and the resistance centred on two hotels in the town. They also fought against the Vichy-controlled military police (milice), who were based at the masonic lodge in Gueret. The Germans and the milice surrendered. The people of Gueret were delighted. There was some vengeance. Collaborators were hunted out, with the cry of « A mort, vendu, salaud » and summary executions took place. But after the German lorries rumbled back into town on the 9th and re-established control, the Guérétois leaders were rounded up, and sent to Limoges for interrogation. Very few were executed as the collapse of German control of France began soon after.
As well as the three plaques I’ve shown here, there was a fourth that was in pieces. The surname Becker was visible but that’s all. I hope it will be replaced as soon as possible. We mustn’t forget these brave people and what they did that day.