Wine and War, The French, The Nazis and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure by Don and Petie Kladstrup is the first book that focuses on the efforts of French wine producers to,save their wine from being stolen by the Germans when the occupied France during World War Two. In telling this story the authors also relay the history of France during the war.
Wine was not just something to drink for the French, it was the greatest product of the country. The Germans were determined to bring the best of French wine and champagne to Germany. I was surprised to learn the Germans appointed officials experienced in the German wine business to be sure the French turned over the demanded amount of wine to the Germans. Some of th se officials had been doing business with French wine families for many years. The French found all sorts of ways to hide wine but still the Germans took millions of bottles. The very b st went to top Nazi officials. Hitler as himself a teetotaler but still thousands of bottles were found at his Eagle's Nest retreat.
There are a lot of interesting facts in this book, things even those knowledgeable about French history in the period probably will find new knowledge. For example in order to make "fake" old wine to fool the Germans, whenever an ancient carpet was cleaned, the accumulated dust was packaged and then used by wine merchants to cover bottles to give them the appearance of age. We also learn of the increasingly difficult of growing wine as workers were taken by the army.
This is a book those interested in France during WW II will really enjoy. It also tells the personal stories of some of the people impacted.
Don and Petie Kladstrup are former journalists who have written extensively about wine and France for numerous publications. Don, a winner of three Emmys and numerous other awards, was a foreign correspondent for ABC and CBS television news. Petie, an Overseas Press Club winner, was a newspaper journalist and more recently protocol officer for the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO. The Kladstrups divide their time between Paris and Normandy.. (From the Webpage of Harper and Row)