Strong in Will
A First-Hand Account of Working for the American Embassy in Paris during the Nazi Occupation
320 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 5 photographs
- February 2024
“September 1939 slipped into October quite silently as if it did not want to attract any notice. The atmosphere is tense with expectancy, ready for the critical times that lie ahead. Everyone is geared for eventualities with courage and the élan of high purpose. Members of the Embassy staff have received their orders to leave for different posts: Bordeaux for some, Nantes for others and for others the Château de Candé. Some of us volunteered to remain in Paris. I was one of them. Paris will be safe or as dangerous as any other place, perhaps safer as every effort will be made to protect the city with its priceless works of art and its beauty.”
Marie-Louise Dilkes’ astute observations of life in Paris during World War II are written from the unique perspective of the receptionist for the American Embassy. The Embassy was the first—or last—resort for many caught up in the chaos of war, and hers was the first face they would see as they walked through the grand doors.
She takes us from the conquest and occupation of Paris by German forces but includes the war-time journey of the American consulate in Paris from Paris to Lisbon to Lyon to Bern and back to Paris. She ends with the triumphant return of members of the American Embassy staff, after the Allies forced the German Army out of Paris, and the reestablishment of the American Embassy in Paris.
The US Embassy in Paris
August 25, 1939–June 14, 1940—Turbulent Times
June 15–December 31, 1940—The Occupation
January 1, 1941–June 3, 1941—Relocates to Vichy
June 4, 1941–July 20, 1941—The Embassy in Paris Becomes a Consulate
July 20, 1941–December 26, 1941—American Consulate Leaves Paris