In the meantime, and as expected, Italy attacked Greece. The Second World War began and would last five years, during which time countless inconceivable disruptions and upheavals would occur.
I was too young to remember the war, except for the large maps at home on which my aunt Isabelle would mark the movements of the allied forces. I do remember the anxiety and grief of the people around me. We were worried in particular about my aunt Lili. Was she still alive? Amelia of Mac Mahon, Countess of Rambuteau, was the first cousin of my mother. She and her husband had sheltered an English parachutist in their home and were subsequently denounced, a frequent occurrence in occupied France. The Gestapo arrested them and their children and sent them to a concentration camp. Uncle Amalric would die under torture. Aunt Lili was condemned to carry typewriters in the snow. She was able to curse and insult the guards in German, which she spoke fluently. Unshakeable, she survived and became the joker at all the family reunions after the war. Her sons, who had seen and survived everything, became examples of courage, good humor, and optimism.
Photographs by Justin Creedy Smith