Gégé Smith lived with her Aunt in southern France near Bordeaux during the second year of German occupation.
French men who became 21 years old would be subject to a German draft to be taken to Germany to work in a factory or in a French coal mine.
Gégé was recruited to go to a nearby village, outside Bergerac, to pick up some forged IDs for some of the local boys. These papers showed a later birthdate so they could avoid being drafted.
As she rode her bicycle back to her Aunt’s villa, she had to pass check points and German soldiers. She looked much younger than her age of sixteen because she was short and very thin. So the Germans didn’t even ask for her papers and waved her through.
If they had searched her and found the forged documents, she would have been tortured, and forced to tell where she got the false papers. Then they would have shot her or at best sent her to a concentration camp.
When she returned to Paris to her parents, she and her sister took the train. The train was packed with travelers standing in every spot, even in the toilets. It was so packed that some of the train doors couldn’t be closed. It should have been a three hour trip, but because of the war and Allied bombing, the train trip took two days.
There was no food, so they all went hungry and slept standing up. Worst of all, the passengers relieved themselves in their clothes. The smell was overwhelming.
This wasn’t even German cruelty, just the fortunes of war.