The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage… Thucydides


If the 1930’s were a low dishonest decade the time between the wars could truthfully be called a low dishonest generation. The political leadership was uninspired being unable to determine if it should hold on to the old or grab on to the new and the financial leadership that – as always – managed it was driven by equal parts of greed and fractiousness. That there was the disaster of war and worldwide depression is less of a surprise than that it was not more severe. The universal answer was some form of national socialism; Soviets in Russia, Nazis in Germany, Fascists in Italy and New Dealers in the United States.

All of our study of the collapse of the Weimar Republic convinces us that the level of fear in the average citizen, as their economy and society descended into chaos, must have been on par with earlier groups fleeing the plague. That they – and the world – had the great bad fortune to have Hitler emerge as their leader is only part of the problem. A Hitler can be contained – even at the highest level – if there is a tradition of freedom enshrined in fundamental law and a society healthy enough to insist on its enforcement. The apocalyptic vision of the failure to do this comes from John Adams – A Constitution Of Government Once Changed From Freedom, Can Never Be Restored. Liberty, Once Lost, Is Lost Forever

We are not quite that pessimistic but we know that things are going from bad to worse and since those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it we offer this story of what life was like for true freedom fighters trying to liberate their country from Hitler’s tyranny. They say that reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting so we hope that the readers of this book will keep Washington’s advice, Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.

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Agent for the resistance: a Belgian saboteur in World War II College Station [Texas]: Texas A & M University Press, c1994 Herman Bodson; edited by Richard Schmidt World War, 1939-1945 Underground movements Belgium Hardcover. 1st. ed. xiii, 243 p.: ill., maps; 24 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

As German pressure on Europe escalated in the late 1930s, a young Belgian pacifist completing his Ph.D. in chemistry watched with horror the preparation for the inevitable invasion of his country. In the face of advancing German troops, his passion for freedom and his growing hatred of Hitler led him and a group of his friends into the resistance movement and five years of privation, danger, and, for some, torture and death, at the hands of the Gestapo.

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This dramatic memoir traces Herman Bodson’s transformation from a pacifist and scientist to, in his own words, “a cold fighter and a killer” in the Belgian underground, an expert in explosives and sabotage. Serving first in the OMBR (Office Militaire Belge de Resistance), he later formed a group of underground fighters in the Belgian Ardennes. They undertook blowing up military trains and installations – including the sabotage of a bridge which resulted in the deaths of some six hundred German soldiers – cutting German communication lines, and rescuing downed American fliers. Bodson also served as a medical aide to an American military doctor at Bastogne in the crucial days of the Battle of the Bulge. The powerfully told narrative follows him through the liberation of Belgium and his postwar efforts with the Belgian Special Force to unmask traitors and bring them to justice.

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This, then, is the story of a man who gets caught up in a war and rather quickly becomes an efficient and clandestine killer, avenging the Nazi murder of a comrade in arms and revolting against an intolerable regime. It is also the story of the heroic resistance movement – how it came to be and how it fought bravely for the cause of human dignity and freedom.

Bodson’s honest and absorbing inside account of the underground effort in occupied Belgium adds much to the record of World War II and provides insight into the intellectual and emotional responses that have led to the birth of underground movements in many nations. It is a compelling story of a people united in a comradeship in the defense of freedom.

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