Etobon Project Blog - Journal posts are listed below
The Etobon Project

The Etobon blog

This blog is written as a chronological narrative.The most recent posts are found at the end of the journal.

The graves of some of those who died September 27, 1944

The Etobon blog contains portions of my translation of Ceux d'Etobon, by Jules Perret and Benjamin Valloton. Perret was an witness to a Nazi atrocity committed in the closing months of World War II in the village of Etobon, France. Perret's son, brother-in-law and son-in-law to be were victims of the massacre. has posted an article in which I've given the basic facts of the story of Etobon. Please visit the site and see other stories related to World War II prisoners of war.

You can find post links, most recent first, on the right side of each page.



Entries in occupation of France (2)


Camps in the Woods

The escaped POWs and others who were in hiding from the occupiers were sheltered in several camps in the woods around Etobon. Spots like La-Fontaine-qui-Saute (the Leaping Fountain), Tête de Cheval (Horse’s Head), la Goutte Evotte (Evotte Spring), Isaac’s Mill and the Wolf Mill were used at various times in 1944 as makeshift camps. Building tools and cooking utensils were provided by the Etobonais and those who lived there did most of the construction and daily housekeeping themselves.


The woods near Tête de ChevalOf course, the French provided the food. Isaac’s Mill was used as a supply drop for provisions: coffee, wheels of the local hard gruyere cheese, called Comté, sugar, stoves and cooking pots were kept there, according to Jules Perret. Other supply tents and caches were hidden throughout the woods.


Periodically, members of the resistance would hike in to check on the condition of the camps and their inhabitants. Once, some of the Indian POWs were found happily knitting socks in their hideaway. When the rains of autumn, 1944, arrived, though, the camps became almost unlivable. German raids in the woods and the massacre of most of Etobon’s young men meant that those who had been hidden were in greater jeopardy. Some fled deeper into the woods. Some disappeared.


Return to the Killing Fields

As men from the neighoring villages dug a huge common grave next to Etobon's cemetery, the bodies of those shot in Chenebier were exhumed from the churchyard  to be identified. It was the most horrific of days. Jules Perret could not stand to be present as Jacques and the others were identified.

Friday, December 8

What weather, last night!  This morning, the diggers are soaked.  I tried to drive a truck full of boards and poles through the mud.  In this mess, I couldn’t move an inch.  Why do we have to have more of this weather!?

Alas, in the killing field of Banvillars, there are some of ours.  Louise recognized her husband Marcel Nardin and Marguerite Nardin her brother Albert.  And five gendarmes, taken with them – the adjutant Henry, Pierre LeBlanc, Pierre Bouteiller, Jean Millet and Pierre Savant Ros.  New sadness.  And worry, because all the corpses haven’t been identified.

Three o’clock.  I just came back from the cemetery.  What a job!  So much dirt!  The five meters left between the trenches is not enough, but we can’t start over.  We’ll put the monument at the end.  But the transverse trench is badly placed for four or five coffins.  It’s so hard to do the right thing.

Five o’clock.  Suzette and Aline come home from Chenebier.  What a wrenching scene!  No more illusions.  Jacques is dead, killed by a single bullet to the back of the head.  He’s not disfigured at all.  Only his forehead is wrinkled, as if he’s worried.  But so many are unrecognizable!  Christ Guémann was shot at least fifteen times.  Our niece Hélène recognized my brother-in-law and Samuel.  Alfred still seemed to be singing.

Charles’ Marguerite didn’t leave all day.  She washed them all.  They found Jacques’ wallet, his knife and his beret; but in his shirt pocket, where he and Aline, that same morning, had put a little change-purse with 1500 or 2000 francs and some Bible verses that I had also given to Jacques, there was nothing.  His pocket was unbuttoned.

We hear details about all of them.  We shiver as we listen.

A plaque marks the location of the mass grave in the churchyard at Chenebier. The bodies of the fallen now rest in Etobon.