© Archives départementales de l'Aude   
The Aude gate with
"cheval de frise"
©Archives départementales de l'Aude
German soldiers on the ramparts
In the spring of 1944 the Germans completely surrounded the fortress. The inhabitants were evacuated, the gates walled in, the Castle packed with explosives and ammunition.

Carcassonne april 3 1944

Joë Bousquet 53, Rue de Verdun

In the name of my compatriots and friends, Mr. Prefect, I beg to request that immediate steps be taken to have Carcassonne declared an open city. As the oldest town in France, and the only one whose restoration has been a world event, it is the common heritage of all the great countries at war. Our city is the only example German archaeologists and historians have to support their theories about Visigoth construction and their research has led the way and shed light on ours. The English have shown great interest in all the commemorations involving the city. The Americans have also shown initiative in tha their press celebrated Carcassonne's two thousandth anniversary.
All these great nations have already demonstrated that they are open to requests like ours and so it falls to us to ask without hesitation for the freedom of a city so deserving of it. It is the only one whose name is sufficient to make the request seem natural and timely, when the occupant, who is only required to know its military role, is readying himself to return a town that is a living example of history, to its historical role. But, perhaps, like all the combatants who know our unparalleled situation, they are only waiting for us to take the initiative to let Carcassonne keep its eternal character and to respect it as a European treasure.

Joë Bousquet

Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur, médaillé militaire,
Croix de guerre

During the Second World War, the old fortress seemed to renew its ties with its initial destiny. Claire Charles - Géniaux, visiting her friends, the writers, Pierre and Maria Sire, had the feeling of history repeating itself :
"Our conversation linking the past with the present went from the Cathars to the anguish of the present. The presence of the occupying forces was oppressive, and in the evening when the old Visigoth city became timeless with its green gold walls, when we saw the officers in grey uniforms passing we no longer knew whether we were dealing with Montfort's crusaders or the Germanic barbarians." (Claire Charles-Géniaux in " Pierre Sire")

© Musée de la ville de Marseille
Portrait of Joë Bousquet, by Hans Bellmer, Carcassonne, 1947


 History Revisited
 War Games :
 The Children
 War Games :
 The City's Underground