Wine and War: The French, The Nazis, And The Battle For France's Greatest Treasure by Donald KladstrupWine and War: The French, The Nazis, And The Battle For France's Greatest Treasure by Donald Kladstrup

Wine and War: The French, The Nazis, And The Battle For France's Greatest Treasure

byDonald Kladstrup, Petie Kladstrup

Paperback | April 30, 2002

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The remarkable untold story of France’s courageous, clever vinters who protected and rescued the country’s most treasured commodity from German plunder during World War II.

"To be a Frenchman means to fight for your country and its wine."
–Claude Terrail, owner, Restaurant La Tour d’Argent

In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost immediately the German army began a campaign of pillaging one of the assets the French hold most dear: their wine. Like others in the French Resistance, winemakers mobilized to oppose their occupiers, but the tale of their extraordinary efforts has remained largely unknown–until now. This is the thrilling and harrowing story of the French wine producers who undertook ingenious, daring measures to save their cherished crops and bottles as the Germans closed in on them. Wine and War illuminates a compelling, little-known chapter of history, and stands as a tribute to extraordinary individuals who waged a battle that, in a very real way, saved the spirit of France.
The winner of three Emmys and the Alfred I. duPont—Columbia University, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, and the Overseas Press Club of America Awards for his journalism, Don Kladstrup is one of America's most distinguished network television news correspondents. His wife, Petie Kladstrup, is a freelance writer who has written widely about ...
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Title:Wine and War: The French, The Nazis, And The Battle For France's Greatest TreasureFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:304 pages, 8.22 × 5.51 × 0.64 inShipping dimensions:8.22 × 5.51 × 0.64 inPublished:April 30, 2002Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0767904486

ISBN - 13:9780767904483

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Thrilling Read for History Buffs The story of how French winemakers were able to preserve their wines from the occupying Germans during World War II is expertly told in Wine & War: The French, the Nazis & the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure by Don and Petie Kladstrup. The French used such clever tactics as creating false cellar walls behind which they hid their best vintages, smuggling Allied soldiers out in their barrels and passing off poor vintages to the German troops. It’s a thrilling read for the history buff. Pair it with the 2003 Château La Commanderie, St.-Estèphe, Bordeaux ($30).
Date published: 2007-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent history An excellent history of the hardships by the French winemakers as they tried to protect their wines from the invading forces during World War II. Interviews from actual winemakers whose parents underwent the challenge of keeping the precious wines hidden.
Date published: 2006-11-07

Read from the Book

One To Love the Vines It was late august 1939, and French winemakers were fretting about the harvest. Two months earlier, the outlook had been bright. The weather had been good and there was the promise of an excellent vintage. Then the weather changed. For six straight weeks it rained, and temperatures plummeted. So did the mood of winegrowers attending the International Congress of the Vine and Wine in the resort of Bad Kreuznach, Germany. The weather was all they could think about—that is, until the next speaker was announced. He was Walter Darre, the Minister of Food Supply and Agriculture for the Third Reich. Winegrowers had been jolted when they first walked into the convention hall and discovered a large portrait of Darre's boss, Adolf Hitler, dominating the room. Like the rest of the world, they had watched with growing alarm as Hitler annexed Austria, carved up Czechoslovakia and signed a military agreement with Italy's dictator, Benito Mussolini. Many, fearful that full-scale war was just one step away, felt sure Darre would have something to say about the latest events. But when the Reichsminister took the podium, he did not speak about the war. He did not even talk about wine. Instead, he called for the Congress delegates to go beyond the concerns of wine and winemaking and work instead to "advance the mutual understanding of peaceful peoples." Those in the audience were thoroughly confused. What they did not know was that at almost the same moment Hitler himself was giving a very different kind of speech—this one to his high command—in another German resort, Berchtesgaden, the favored vacation spot of the Nazi leadership. The Fuhrer was telling his generals what was coming next and exhorting them to remember, "Our opponents are little worms. . . . What matters in beginning and waging war is not righteousness but victory. Close your hearts to pity. Proceed brutally." Within a week, his forces invaded Poland. The date was September 1, 1939. French winegrowers at the conference were promptly summoned home. Two days later, France, along with Britain, Australia and New Zealand, declared war on Germany. For the second time in little more than a generation, French winegrowers faced the agonizing prospect of trying to get their harvest in before vineyards were turned into battlefields. As in 1914, the government mounted an extraordinary campaign to help. Winegrowers were granted delays in being called to active duty, military labor detachments were sent to the vineyards and farm horses of small growers were not to be requisitioned until the harvest was completed. Memories of that earlier war, "the war to end all wars," still haunted them—the brutality, the hardships and especially the staggering loss of life. Out of a population of 40 million, nearly a million and a half young men were killed, men who would have entered their most productive years had they survived. Another million lost limbs or were so badly wounded that they could no longer work. It was a bloodletting that left almost no family in France untouched: not the Drouhins of Burgundy, the Miaihles of Bordeaux, the de Nonancourts of Champagne, the Hugels of Alsace, nor the Huets of the Loire Valley. Gaston Huet's father returned home an invalid, his lungs permanently scarred after his army unit was attacked with mustard gas. Bernard de Nonancourt's father also suffered the ravages of trench warfare and died of wounds soon after the war. The mother of Jean Miaihle lost her entire family when German troops attacked their village in northern France. The Hugel family, which had lost its French heritage and nationality when Alsace was annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, sent their son away so that he could escape being drafted into the German army. Maurice Drouhin, a veteran of trench warfare, escaped physical injury but not the nightmares which haunted him for years afterward. Like nearly everyone else in France, these winemaking families watched with trepidation as the specter of another war approached. Although France had been the winner earlier, it had paid a terrible price. Could it afford another such victory? Many in France doubted it, especially Maurice Drouhin, who had witnessed the horrors of war close up. Thoughts of his family and vineyard were all that comforted him as he huddled with his men in the muddy blood-soaked trenches of northern France, peering at the enemy across a strip of no-man's-land. Although the winter of 1915 still had that part of the country in its grip, Maurice knew that back home in Burgundy, the vines already would be stirring and workers would be busy pruning. If he closed his eyes, he could almost picture it, the men with their secateurs working their way slowly down the long rows of vines; and he could almost hear the church bells that called them to work each day. Those bells were the first sounds Maurice heard each morning when he awoke in his home in Beaune. For him, they were the background music to life in the vineyards. They rolled across the villages and wheat fields, they sent children racing to school and mothers scurrying to markets for the freshest produce of the day. They heralded lunchtime, dinnertime, and called people to worship, and to celebrate. But as World War I ground on, they were calling more and more people to mourn. Now, on the battlefields of northern France, the sounds that surrounded Maurice were artillery and machine-gun fire and the agonized cries of the wounded. In the heat of one battle, he saw a German soldier crumple to the ground, unable to move after being shot. With German troops too frightened to venture into the storm of bullets to retrieve their comrade, Maurice ordered his men to cease firing while he raised a white flag. Then, in impeccable German, he shouted to the Germans, "Come get your man. We will hold our fire until you have him." The Germans moved quickly to rescue their fallen comrade. Before returning behind the lines, however, they halted directly in front of Maurice and saluted him. Later, in a letter to his wife, Pauline, Maurice described the incident. Pauline was so moved that she passed the story on to the local newspaper, which published it. Headlined "The Glorious Hours," the article said, "The glorious hours sound not just for heroic action on the battlefield but also for those activities that occur in daily life, for it is when war is over that a soldier's heart and character are also revealed." Maurice was highly decorated for his military service. Among his awards was the Distinguished Service Medal from the United States government, a medal for which he had been nominated by Douglas MacArthur. But as proud as Maurice was of that medal and his life in the military, it was his life in the vineyards that held even greater meaning for him—one that beckoned him home when the "war to end all wars" had finally ended.

Editorial Reviews

"A great yarn, as gripping as a good adventure story." –Wall Street Journal"Assured, detailed, highly readable . . . does honor to all those who labored to keep French wines from barbarous hands. An engrossing addition to the popular literature of WWII." –Kirkus Reviews"[A] gem for wine aficionados and history buffs." –Boston Herald"As exciting and interesting and pleasurable as wine itself." –Robert Mondavi, Chairman Emeritus, The Robert Mondavi Winery