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25 May, 2010 09:05

“The Germans got there ahead of us and turned back to cut us off” – WWII witness

RT presents War Witness – a special project dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Second World War.

André Baumann, a civilian from France, recalls how the roads were crowded when the French were fleeing.

“I was living in a small village, and we saw refugees passing through – a day went by, two days…. Then this madness spread to the people in our village, and they too decided they wanted to leave. So we left with the other farmers, in a horse-drawn wagon. We loaded some of the furniture and mattresses onto the wagon, hung cages with chickens underneath, and left. And before we left, me and the boy next door – who was my age – we watched all those crowds go by. We had never seen so many people before! We totally forgot about the time, so we were late for our departure…”

“Since we were in a horse-drawn wagon, we kept moving,” Baumann remembers. “But the people in cars had to abandon them when they ran out of petrol. Petrol was hard to get, so there were cars abandoned on both sides of the road. We started out in the region of Chartres, but 15 days later we hadn’t even reached the Loire. The Germans got there ahead of us and turned back to cut us off. They told us to turn around and go back. I didn’t know German, and I was sitting on the very top of the farmer’s wagon, but still I realized this was not a friendly discussion – it was an order…”