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 World War II (12)


Etobon: A True Account of Courage and Sacrifice

The burial place of the Etobon martyrs          

        Thirty-nine men of Etobon were lined up against a church wall and shot, ten by ten, on September 27, 1944, for daring to defy their Nazi occupiers.

Etobon:  A True Account of Courage and Sacrifice is the story of a small village in eastern France whose people risked everything to resist the Germans during World War II. They rescued and sheltered escaped British Indian prisoners of war. They formed their own unit to fight the German army. When their actions were uncovered, the Germans executed almost all of the men of the village between the ages of 16 and 60. Their pastor, one of the leaders of the local resistance, was sent to the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald.

The village of Etobon is in one of the last regions of France to have been liberated at the end of the Second World War. The inhabitants who survived the massacre suffered bombardments, hunger and cold until the Germans were finally driven out in November 1944. The scars on the community are still visible. What happened at Etobon deserves a full telling. This tragedy continues to affect the lives of its people, as if it happened only a few years ago.



The Battles Begin

The maquis of Etobon had successfully hidden the escaped POWs for three months. They had established semi-permanent camps and had welcomed several gendarmes or national police who had left their posts in Héricourt, Champagney and Ronchamp. They had been on the fringes of battles between German patrols and other maquis groups from the other villages of the woods. According to Jeanne, who had been a young woman in nearby Couthenans at the time, the maquis of Etobon were becoming too self-assured, too complacent. Even Jules Perret writes that them Etobon maquis are not being careful enough, and are becoming too well-known.

In late August, after Paris had been liberated and General DeGaulle returned to the capitol, the maquis were arming themselves for a real fight. There was a constant stream of German troops and French refugees along the roads leading east. The Franc-Comtois expected their liberators to arrive any day. A battle took place on September 4 near Clairegoutte, and the Etobonais took their few guns and sparse ammuntion to join in, but saw no fighting that day.

September 6, the men of Etobon were called to arms at 4:30 a.m. They were been ordered to attack a German convoy near the Ban de Champagney. In the fighting, a German officer and several German soldiers were killed. Jules Perret reports that someone brought the German officer's cap back to Etobon, and that the children played with it until Perret took it away and burned it.

The next day, September 7, the Etobonais attacked another convoy, capturing supplies and killing German soldiers. They took a German soldier prisoner and sent him off to be fed and have his wounded hand tended to. In retaliation for the attacks, the Germans fired on Isaac's Mill, one of the maquis camps. Five French were killed and two were wounded.


The Fighting Continues

As Jules Perret writes in his journal on Thursday, September 7, 1944, “Our maquis is known now.  They’re not being careful enough.  Their cooking is done at the parsonage, in the middle of the village.  How could we resist an attack with so few guns and such poor ammunition?  We are at the mercy of the unending columns of retreating Germans along the roads.”

The Etobonais were indeed taking risks. They had captured German soldiers whom they had wounded in small skirmishes. On Friday, September 8, some of the gendarmes who had become resistance ambushed a German soldier who was riding a bicycle near Chenebier and shot him in the leg. He was brought back to the parsonage where Mme. Marlier tended to his wounds.

On Saturday, September 9, a fateful battle took place along a main road through the woods. Jules Tournier, the field commander of the Etobon maquis, led a group of men to ambush a German convoy. They had planned to meet the convoy at a bend in the road, and had stationed a lookout to fire a warning shot as the Germans approached. Somehow, a shot was fired too soon.

A motorcycle guard and a carload of officers were the first of the convoy to reach the bend. The maquis opened fire. Then, two open trucks of soldiers with machine guns arrived and opened fire on the French. A full-scale battle began. Tournier, the commander, was shot through the heart and died on the road.


A Hero is Buried

Sunday, September 9, 1944 was the first of many sad days for the people of Etobon. Jules Tournier, the commander of the maquis fighters, had been shot during a gun battle with German troops. His funeral was held September 9.

Jules Perret writes,

"3 o’clock.  We’re burying Tournier on a beautiful, calm, sweet Sunday.  Far away, the sound of an airplane.  Who would think, to see all these men in their Sunday best, that they were resistance fighters burying their comrade who was killed yesterday?  M. Marlier preached a really beautiful sermon.  He admired Tournier a lot, such a courageous leader.  A brave one has left us.

After the funeral, I’ll take some aspirin to the wounded, with the gendarmes, at la Fontaine qui Saute.  To start with, seven Russians and Poles in a kind of cave, under the cliff, without anyone watching them.  Farther on, near the big cleft rock that’s been transformed into a dormitory, two Germans.  In the kitchen, a lean-to with a wall of timber, four gendarmes and eight prisoners, including the woman arrested for collaborating, who’s dressed like a man, the cook for the group.  The last to arrive is an Alsacien, who speaks good French.  Everyone warms themselves around the fire and seems to be happy.  The wounded man was happy to get the aspirin.  He asked me what Jean’s address was and said the gendarmes were all very nice.  An idyll."


The Threat in the Woods

Monday, September 18


Jules Perret writes:

"What a night!  All night long, trucks rolled by, coming from Chenebier, going towards Belverne.  Are they bringing troops from Alsace?  All day, they keep coming.  Several trucks are pulling big cannons.  And horse-drawn wagons, too.  They stable their horses everywhere.  We have four, Jacques three.  The men are polite enough and don’t take anything without asking.  We don’t recognize ourselves in this confusion.  Are we French?  Collaborators?  A soldier from Wurtemburg told us he had come up from Perpignan, that they were on the march for four weeks, fighting Americans and “terrorists.”

The stone that marks the death of two maquis on September 18, 1944, located in the woods between Etobon and Clairegoutte

"I went up to the Goutte Evotte to check on the shelters under the big rock.  What should we do with our prisoners?  Our Hindus?  The resistants of Horse’s Head, regrouped at Arthur’s Well, near Magny d’Anigon, have suffered a lot.  What a mess!"

It was a mess. German soldiers were now searching the woods. Two members of the resistance, Fabbro Libero and Jean-Paul St. Maurice, were killed in a gun battle this day on the road near La Tête de Cheval, one of the main rendez-vous points for the Etobon maquis and those they were hiding.

Tuesday, September 19


Our maquis, gone to the Valettes [a group of hamlets a few kilometers south of Etobon], play hide and seek with the Germans.  Sometimes we have an attic full while the Germans are in the kitchen asking for eggs.  To get his orders, Jacques sometimes has to go out among the Germans with a scythe and a rake.

M.P., who has his own reasons to move around had to pass near a German battery, and told an officer that he was a teacher and had a field nearby, which he wanted to get to without being questioned.  “Wait for me for two minutes.  I have to go to Belverne.  You can go with me.”  And off they went together, talking like old buddies, the German lieutenant and the lieutenant of the maquis! 

Captain Aubert, back in the woods at last, said to Jacques, “wait for orders.”

Some Germans are patrolling the forest where I’ve set up a supply tent with lots of interesting things in it.  Jacques said to me, “Are you sure there aren’t labels with our names on them on those sacks?”  Apparently, there are!  The sacks are marked.  I get chills thinking about it.  Carrying a scythe, I climb up there, pull off the labels, hide the fire buckets marked “Etobon,” all my tools, hatchet, billhook, pick, saw, Jacques and Lamboley’s FFI backpacks.  Ouf!  Now I’m back home.

Just when I was closing the doors to go to bed for the night, a boche came up to me and, in a whisper, asked “Where can I find a girl to sleep with?”  “You’ll have to look for yourself, buddy!”