|The Battle of Jebsheim,
France - from a French
point-of-view. Page 18
|AFTER THE TURMOIL
After the turmoil of war, a great silence fell over the village. We had to find lodgings,
rebuild, and find hope again for the future. As was the case everywhere in Alsace, there
were purges and scores to be settled. Jebsheim was no exception to the rule that wanted to
see those punished who had collaborated with the Nazi occupiers. Moreover, the first
anniversary celebrations of the Liberation were not feasts of joy and rediscovery. First of
all, what day should be chosen? 27 January for those on Ostheim Street? 29 January for
the south of the village since that was when the fighting stopped for them? Or the day when
the last soldier left Jebsheim and the inhabitants moved back into what remained of the
Every year the newspapers relate the wonderful celebrations of the Liberation of Colmar on
2 February, but Jebsheim did not have the heart to celebrate. Our people lowered they
heads, collected themselves in silence--rather than laughing and dancing they felt like crying
and taking a walk to the cemetery.
A Liberation where the shutters and windows open to display the flag upon the passage of
Allied troops was unknown to us. Girls rushing out to climb up on the tanks and kiss the
rugged liberators was not what we had known. Here in Jebsheim,, to risk opening a
window or cracking open a shutter meant receiving a machine gun blast. And to go out in
the street, you had to first climb up out of the cellar or makeshift shelter and clear the bodies
that blocked the courtyards and stairs.
A lot of the former combatants of the battle of Jebsheim who returned here in the years
following the war, found a population that was traumatized, silent, sad, almost defiant, and
not very inclined to share memories. But the years pass, the wounds heal, the miseries are
forgotten- the memories remain, but become clearer, freed as they are from passion and
20 YEARS--30 YEARS LATER
We had to wait years before we finally had liberation celebrations that were worthy of the
event and contacts between the citizens of Jebsheim and the men who fought to free them.
Under the guidance of a dynamic mayor of the time, Mr. Albert Hild, contacts that were
more and more frequent and friendly, became established between us and the veterans of
the Shock Battalion, the 1st Regiment of Paratroopers, the legionnaires and the African
And what a moving ceremony, after 10 years at the cemetery before the monument to the
dead, when a choir, the Choral Society of Hope, touched us with its singing. The voices of
two school children rose in the nascent twilight to give this message to the assembled throng:
"Those who have piously given their life for the Country, merit that at their tomb the
people come and pray.. and Glory to our eternal France. Glory to those who died for her."
Even the commander of the Shock Battalion, General Gambiez, could not hide his emotion.
On the 25th anniversary, the names of the soldiers killed in the Shock Battalion and the 1st
Regiment of Paratroopers were engraved on the Monument to the Dead. Planning for the
30th anniversary, Mr. Hild, with the assent of the entire population, had the Monument to
the Dead moved to the center of the village.
Then the day of the 30th anniversary came--it was celebrated 8 June 1975, with all the
pomp appropriate to such an occasion. Those present included the Secretary of the
Veterans' Administration, our much esteemed Prefect, Mr. Burgalat, delegations from the
Paratroopers of Pau with their colonel, veterans of the African Riflemen, Legionnaires, men
of the Shock Battalion, veterans of the Paratroopers with General Faure, a delegation of
American soldiers stationed in Germany, in short representatives of all the troops who
formed the prestigious 5th Armored Division of January 1945. Wreathes were laid, the
eternal flame brought expressly from Paris was rekindled, and street named in honor of our
liberators were inaugurated. All of this was followed by a very successfully executed
parachute drop at the Sports Arena by men who are champions of precision jumping and
an entire company of paratroopers jumped above the neighboring fields.
And at last the wonderful voyage to Pau, at the end of January 1976, when Mr Hild and 60
inhabitants of Jebsheim, with General Faure and some veterans of the Paratroopers, were
invited by the 1st Regiment of Paratroopers to come visit their quarters near Pau. They
came to participate in the inauguration of Jebsheim Square and take part in an impressive
parachute jump. The celebration was to end with a select ball at the Casino of Pau.
No question but the Paratroopers won the hearts of the inhabitants of Jebsheim. This round
trip in a military airplane will remain for all, an unforgettable memory.
STREETS NAMED IN HONOR OF OUR LIBERATORS.
5th Armored Division Street (Rue de la 5e D.B.)
3rd U. S. Infantry Division Street (Rue de la 3e D.I.U.S.)
1st Regiment of Paratroopers Street (Rue de 1er Bataillon de Choc0
Lieutenant Durrmeyer Street (Rue du Lieutenant Durrmeyer)
The reader who has read to the end of this account will understand that there is nothing
more to say.
It was our goal to make him understand what the name JEBSHEIM meant to all in the
Victory of the Pocket of Colmar and to leave for future generations, a trace of what this
tragedy meant to the inhabitants of Jebsheim. We wanted also to urge on those who are
preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our Liberation a moment of reflection or quiet