PETER PAISLEY - EUROPEAN STUDIES GROUP
The Story of One who Eluded the Holocaust by the Skin of his Teeth.
In October, Peter Paisley told members of the European Studies Group about his amazing experiences in the Second World War. This is a summary to whet your appetite.
Peter Paisley was born in the centre of Berlin in 1921. His parents were German non–Orthodox Jews and until 1933 they were comfortably integrated into the city’s community. After Hitler came to power the persecution of the Jews began so Peter was sent to a boarding school in Belgium, where he quickly became fluent in French, a skill that probably saved his life. He was an apprentice brewer in Brussels when the German invasion began in May 1940. He was rounded up as an ‘enemy alien’ and sent into France. He spent more than a year internment camps run by the Vichy French. None of them was pleasant but some less nasty than others. When the Dieppe Raid happened in August 1942, he was in a French Foreign Labour Company in the Dordogne. He realised he was likely to be sent to Germany or further east, so he and several others escaped and - after several adventures - he reached Marseilles and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. He was sent for training in Algeria, a very tough regime. When the Americans arrived to liberate the North African coast and Monty with the Desert Rats had entered Tunisia from the east, his part of the Foreign Legion deserted Vichy France and joined the Allies. He was pretending to be Belgian so he was sent to England to join the Belgian Army in exile. He told the British his true identity and was interned again as an ‘enemy alien’. However, the British realized he meant well and put him in the Pioneer Corps. He then moved into a Tank Regiment but he was not fully trained when the war ended in May 1945. He was sent to Norway to interrogate German soldiers in POW camps there - a very enjoyable period. When that job ended he became an interpreter for the many German POW camps in England, and while dealing with a strike on a farm, he met his future wife. They married after he was demobbed in 1947, a marriage that lasted 62 years.
An extraordinary story of escape and military service, and a war in which he never fired a shot in anger.
The full account can be read by following the LINK at the side of this page.