Molières during World War II
The first years of the war seem to have left little impression on people. Molières, like most of the Dordogne department, was located in the “free zone”, below the “demarcation line”. It was only after the “Anton” operation of 11 November 1942 that the Germans invaded the region.
At the beginning of World War II, Mr Jacquet was the mayor of the village. On 29/08/1941, he was replaced by a delegation appointed by the Vichy government. They were Messrs Cassagnol, Duchamp and Conchou. They remained in office until 31/10/1944.
The village narrowly saved
One date remains engraved in the memory of the eldery: 28 June 1944. On that day, the village of Molières was taken over by a battalion of Nazis who were looking for maquisards. The soldiers pillaged the houses whose inhabitants had fled into the surrounding woods. The parish priest Bouix and Madame Ferrandon, the teacher, who had stayed behind, negotiated with the enemies and, it is said, saved the village from being burnt down by claiming that there had never been any maquisards in Molières.
A “young man“, 14 years old at the time, remembers very well and tells us about it, still moved: “It was raging from all sides… They wanted to shoot us all… I fled to my grandfather’s house… That evening, when it calmed down, over there at the dovecote, there were two young people… One of them had spoken to me, a man called Soulage. He said to me: “Kid, go quickly because it’s war, it’s going badly” and this guy got killed with another, a Spaniard, at the dovecote. And later in the evening, when it calmed down, my grandfather and Mr Mourany said: “We are going to look at the dovecote, there are dead people there.” So I went with them. There were two of them, they were both lying against the wall of the dovecote.”
At “Les Môles”, a spot on the eastern side of the village near the centre, stands the municipal dovecote, on which a memorial plaque is affixed. It is at the foot of this small building that the two resistance fighters, fleeing from the Nazi armies, were executed that day.
Resistance and "maquisards"
Contrary to what the priest and the teacher might have said that day, there were indeed resistance fighters in Molières. Older people remember:
- Parachuting took place regularly at the places called Pey Blanc, La Roche and Le Vignal. The resistance fighters lit fires there to direct the planes.
- Camps of maquisards were located at Bidot, in the commune of Saint-Avit-Sénieur and at Trappe, in the commune of Bourniquel, just at the limit with Molières. These groups were made up of resistance fighters from outside the surrounding villages, but also of villagers involved in the fight against the invader.
- There were weapons caches in several places, such as in a “cluzeau” (underground refuge) near Lespinasse.
On the Internet, you can consult many sites about the maquisards and the resistance in the Dordogne during the Second World War.
A few examples:
- Résistance, Maquis et Libération du département de la Dordogne. (Resistance, Maquis and Liberation of the Dordogne department.)
- Article about the parachute drops at La Roche in 1944.
- On this subject, see also the video “Sur la route des hommes de l’ombre”!
Molières, land of welcome
When you walk through Molières today, you may be surprised to come across the street sign “rue d’Obenheim“. And you may wonder why our village is twinned with this municipality from the “Bas-Rhin” department. The history of this twinning goes back to the very beginning of the Second World War.
A short history lesson...
The construction of the Maginot Line, which was supposed to protect France from a German invasion, was accompanied by a plan to evacuate the civilian population of Alsace and Moselle in the event of a Nazi attack. As the danger was imminent, this plan was put into effect on 1 September 1939.
More than 600,000 inhabitants of these regions had to be evacuated. They were only allowed to take 30kg of luggage and some food with them. They were transported by train, in freight or cattle cars. 80,000 of them were hosted in the Dordogne department.
The arrival of the refugees
After a gruelling journey of several days, the inhabitants of Obenheim arrived at the railway station of Le Buisson. From there they went to the villages of Cadouin, Alles-sur-Dordogne or Molières, their final destinations.
The host villages had only a few days to prepare everything. Needless to say, things were not always easy. Families were housed in old abandoned houses, tobacco barns and, for the lucky ones, in a few available rooms in the larger houses.
Many refugees did not speak French well (Alsace was annexed to Germany from 1870 to 1918), but only the Alsatian dialect. Therefore, communication was not always easy and some people considered these refugees as “dirty Krauts”.
For the Alsatians, the lack of comfort in Molières was not always easy to live with. Here, there was no running water, no bathroom and at best, a toilet at the bottom of the garden. The Moliérois still lived in very spartan conditions whereas the Alsatians, even in their country villages, were used to more comfortable houses.
And so life went on...
Little by little, things got organised. The children went to school and the refugees, mostly farmers like the Moliérois, lent a hand. This help was welcome, because many young men from the village had left for the front.
When the Alsatians were able to return to their village from the summer of 1940, many left, hoping to find their property and animals in good condition, even if it meant finding themselves under German administration.
Others stayed, either by political choice or because they had found their soul mate here. Several marriages took place in Molières!
This is how the inhabitants of Molières and Obenheim got to know each other. After the war, the families of the two villages remained linked and in 1984, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the foundation of the bastide, the twinning was established.
The 20th century in Molières
Most of the images on this page are from our private collection. The images marked with a ¤ come from a collection of photos made available by villagers during the preparation of a photo exhibition about the village. It has been impossible to trace the origin of all these photos. If any of the photos used here belong to you and you do not want them to be used, or if you wish to be credited, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to respond to your request.