Dangerous Territory

BY : Rhov
Category: +. to F > Attack on Titan /Shingeki No Kyojin
Dragon prints: 2537
Disclaimer: I do not own “Shingeki no Kyojin” and do not make money from this fanfic.

Chapter 3

La Résistance Française

 

The next morning, a runner came to the home Eren had taken over with his platoon. He was needed to deal with their new translator.

"An interrogation?" Jean asked with interest. "That sounds like fun."

Eren shook his head as he pulled on his uniform. "They are never fun."

Armin pouted at the idea of what an interrogation implied. "Doesn't the Gestapo normally handle that?"

"They do," Eren said, "but for the same reason Berlin can't send us a proper translator, they can't send someone from the Gestapo." He paused and looked down at the tiny soldier. "Would you really want one of those sorts of men around here anyway?"

"I have nothing to hide," Armin replied innocently.

Eren chuckled and patted Armin's golden hair. "Because you're a perfect little German boy."

"Hey!" he shouted, yanking back from the childish treatment while the platoon laughed.

Reiner had been visiting that morning, and he stepped forward. "May I accompany you, Herr Leutnant?"

Eren looked up at the bullish man. "You may, since you are an officer, but it will be the captain who decides who may be present for the interrogation. It's not some form of entertainment, after all. The prisoner may have sensitive information."

"I've sat in on Gestapo interrogations," Reiner said with a dark smile. "I may know a few techniques that can break him."

"Her," Eren corrected.

Reiner's eyes widened fractionally. "A woman?"

"Do you still want to go?"

After a slight hesitation, he nodded. "If the captain allows it, I would like to see other interrogators at work."

Eren noted that Reiner had instantly gone from wanting a part in the questioning to wanting merely to observe. "Perhaps it is a future calling in your career with the Waffen-SS," he joked, and with a tug on his hat, the two left the house.

They went to the village's small castle and were instructed to go down to a cellar just off the kitchens. Unlike the dungeons, it smelled clean here, but the room was horribly cold even on that warm May day, meant to keep food fresh in ancient times.

Eren saw that Levi was already there, and his face was more bitter than the day before. He also had a discolored mark on his cheek that Eren knew was a punch to the face. When the Jew saw the young Nazi approaching, his face changed slightly. It was not a smile, but it was a bit of relief.

"About damn time," he said in English. "I can tell they want me to translate, but I don't know German. I can't question her if I don't know the damn questions."

"I'll deal with it," Eren said softly. He approached Kitz Woermann and saluted. "I could have fetched the Jew, Herr Hauptmann. He will obey if he knows what is being asked."

"I didn't want to waste time," Kitz said, but then he smiled, "and I was getting sick of hitting a woman. I needed something more worthy of my fists, and punching a Jew a few times eased the sickness in my stomach."

Eren merely nodded. He had thought Levi must have resisted, but knowing the captain, Levi very well could have said nothing at all and still have gotten hit.

"She was carrying this letter." Kitz flicking up a folded and wrinkled letter between his fingers. "The Jew has translated it for us, although it makes little sense. An encoded message, most likely. It'll be sent to cryptographers for analysis. One thing is clear. It's a message to the Resistance leader known as Didier. What we need is to know where this Didier is. If she is a courier, she knows where to deliver the message."

Eren nodded and walked around to a chair in the center of the cellar. The blond woman's back was to him, but he saw her wrists tied up behind the chair, already bruised with dried threads of blood crusted on petite hands. Her hair had been pulled and mussed up. As Eren walked around, he saw that she had a swollen cheek and blood dripping from her lips. Looking at her, she appeared to be no more than fifteen. So young!

"Jäger," Reiner said sternly. "They use their children against us as well. Do not be fooled."

Eren kept his face implacable. Still, his stomach soured at seeing the condition of this girl, who was rather pretty with smooth blond hair and a narrow face with pale blue eyes.

"Levi, basic questions. Her name."

"Quel est votre nom?" asked the Jew.

The woman turned her eyes up to them. "Oh? Alors maintenant, t'es poli et tu demandes mon nom? Vas te faire enculer."

Eren smirked, knowing already that this woman was a spit-fire. "That's a hell of a name."

Levi did not look amused. "She's upset that you're only now being polite and asking her name."

"And what is it?"

"You're going to get fucked up the arse."

Eren arched an eyebrow. "What?"

Levi shrugged. “Should I simplify it to ‘fuck you,’ or do you want direct translations? She says you’ll get fucked up the arse. Or should I say butt? Backside? Derrière? Tuchus? Gluteus maximus?”

"Okay, I get it already." Eren sighed and stepped closer to her. "Levi, tell her exactly what I say. You are under suspicion of being a member of the French Resistance." He waited for Levi to say the words in French. "You will not escape from here, and we will not simply kill you. If you cooperate, you may even be pardoned. At the very least, try to make things easier. I will not hit a woman, but the captain will. Work with me, and you will not be hurt. So please, show at least the courtesy of letting me know your name."

Her eyes stayed on Eren, but her ear was aimed at Levi, listening to the French words but peering at the kind face that spoke with honesty. When Levi finished, the room was quiet, and she hesitated a moment before answering.

"Annie. Mon nom est Annie Leonhart."

Eren smiled and nodded. "Mon nom est Eren Jäger." That much French, he knew.

"J'apportais une lettre, mais je ne sais pas pour qui c'était. Je n'ai jamais ouvert la lettre. On m'a dit de l'apporter ici, mais on a été attaqué avant que je puisse la livrer."

Levi sighed. "So annoying." Still, he translated. "I was carrying a letter, but I do not know whom it was for. I never opened the letter. I was told to take it here, but we were attacked before I could deliver it."

Eren nodded and translated all of that into German for the officers standing around.

"A likely story," scoffed Kitz.

"Her eyes are honest, Herr Hauptmann," said Eren.

"Eyes lie! This confirms that she's a member of the French Resistance, though."

"We really should bring in a Gestapo inspector," Reiner said. "Using a Jew to investigate … I don't like this."

"I'd rather shoot the filthy thing myself, but we work with the tools we have." Kitz ignored any other complaints as he looked at the letter. "If this was the letter's destination, then whoever it was intended for must know who Didier is. Ask her the name of the recipient and who she received it from."

Eren told Levi what to ask, and in this around-about way, they got her answer.

"Enculez une mouche."

Levi sighed and shook his head. "Tu es une fille têtue." You are a stubborn girl.

"What did she say?" asked Eren.

Levi looked over to him. "Go fuck a fly."

Eren flinched and looked down at her sadly. "Please obey us."

"Obéissez, s'il vous plaît," Levi translated for her.

"Je ne suis pas une femmelette. Torturez moi si vous voulez. Je ne trahirai pas la France."

"She says, I am not a … how do you say … a weak woman. Torture me if you want. I will not betray France."

Eren's forehead furrowed. "If I tell the captain that, she'll be tortured."

Levi looked at the distressed expression in the young officer and felt a small glimmer of relief that there were kind soldiers like this in the world. "We French are stubborn people, Jäger. She may not break even after a week of torture."

"Does she understand that she will be beaten?"

"I believe the bruises are proof enough that she knows what she's about to endure."

Eren shook his head and looked down at her. "Please, don't make me tell them this."

Levi translated his plea and listened to Annie's reply. "She says, you have kind eyes and she believes that if it was just you, she would be treated fairly. However, her name means heart of a lion. She must live up to that heritage as a daughter of France."

Eren turned aside. He admired that strength, but Reiner was right. He could not let her youth nor her gender betray the fact that she was an enemy of Germany. He walked away from the chair and over to the captain.

"She won't talk. I warned her that she would be tortured. She's a stubborn one."

"They all are in this country," Kitz said with a dour grimace. "I'll need you and the Jew here in case she breaks. The rest of you may leave if you have weak stomachs. Jäger, stay near the Jew. I wouldn't want that thing to think it can be a hero and save her. If it tries to intervene, shoot it."

"Verstanden, Herr Hauptmann!" Understood, Captain! Eren pulled on Levi's sleeve. "I'm afraid you have to stay. You probably should turn your back, though. You don't need to watch, just listen for if she says anything important."

Levi scoffed at the kindness. "Do you really think I haven't already seen women and children being tortured at the hands of Germans? I've seen far worse than anything your captain could do to this girl."

"If you try to stop us, you'll be shot," Eren warned.

Levi stared right at Annie, not flinching or even looking at her with pity. His grayish eyes were cold but also held a gleam of pride. "Look at the girl, Jäger. She's ready for this. She sees it as a test of her loyalty to her country. If I tried to stop you, I would be dishonoring her strength."

"Even though she's a child?"

He laughed wryly. "You are also a child in my eyes, takhshet. She's only a few years younger than you. Youth does not weaken strength."

Kitz snapped at the two, "Hör auf zu plappern." Stop yapping.

The captain walked over to the chair. Annie kept her eyes forward, stern although Eren could see her hands shaking in fear. Suddenly, Kitz grabbed her hair, yanked so hard her entire upper body bowed back, and then slammed his hand down onto her collar. Everyone in the room heard the bone break, and her high scream made one officer leave right away.

As Kitz slapped her hard enough to make blood fly from her mouth, Eren averted his eyes. He saw that Reiner was still in the room, watching with cold interest. Eren supposed it took a certain sort of person to be interested in interrogation like this. He was definitely not that sort.

"Didier! Wer ist das?"

Eren flinched but told Levi, "Ask her who Didier is."

Not even flinching, Levi questioned Annie, "Qui est Didier?"

"Je ne sais pas," she shouted. "Je ne vous dirai rien."

Levi told Eren unemotionally. "She does not know and will not tell you anything."

"If she refuses to tell us, then she knows something useful at least," Eren deducted.

Levi merely looked at him, coldly awaiting the next order.

"Was Didier in this village?" he asked.

Levi relayed the question. Annie's blue eyes looked over to Eren, and there was mocking laughter in them.

"Ici? Non, il n'a jamais vécu dans ce village. Vous ne trouverez jamais Didier, espèces de sales boches."

Levi replied to Eren, "Her words are: 'Here? No, he never lived in this village. You will never find Didier' … hard to translate that last part into English, but maybe dirty German animals comes close."

Eren's eyes narrowed at her. "You will tell us, or you will suffer."

Levi interpreted: "Vous allez tout nous dire, ou vous allez souffrir."

Annie cracked a smile, and slowly she began to laugh. She cocked her head at Eren and grinned as she declared: "Ordure! T'as pas les couilles de me torturer. Vas crever dans ton pays de porcs, sale Fritz puant! Vive la France!"

Levi rolled his eyes over to Eren. "Do you really want me to translate all that?"

"Yes," snapped Eren.

He gave an exasperated sigh. "Garbage. You don't have the balls to torture me. Go die in your country full of porks, you filthy Fritz. Long live France."

"Annie…" Eren began to say. She spat at him, and Eren felt the moisture hit his cheek. He looked up at Kitz, into those wild eyes that now seemed to crave blood, and sadly he shook his head.

He heard the slap of flesh, but Eren could not watch as Annie bravely endured as she was hit over and over again.

* * *

It was near dinnertime when Eren escorted Levi back to the dungeon. The Jew walked sternly, his gray-blue eyes focused ahead. Eren plodded on, but he was visibly shaken. They were already in the castle's dungeon when Levi heard a thump behind him and spun around to see Eren collapsed to his knees. The young soldier suddenly leaned over and vomited.

"Jäger!" he called out.

Eren could not hold back his stomach. He leaned over again and spewed out what little he ate for lunch. Levi knelt beside him and pulled off the uniform cap, using it to fan Eren's face.

"En fait tu n'es qu'un simple garçon." In fact, you're just a simple boy.

Eren gulped, ashamed that he could not last just a little longer. Suddenly, he realized Levi could have attacked him during this moment of weakness. He jolted with a gasp, and his hand went straight to his gun.

"Idiot," Levi muttered. "Do you really think I would attack you at a time like this?"

"If you were smart, you would."

"And what would that accomplish? Do you think I could escape from this village simply by killing one Nazi? Without you around, my usefulness would be gone and I would be killed." He slapped the uniform cap back onto Eren's head. "You need me to translate; I need you because you're the only bastard in this place who gives a shit about us. I saw how you struggled so hard to get that girl to cooperate. You wouldn't have hurt her at all if this situation was up to you alone."

"No," Eren sighed, slowly rising to his feet and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "I would have been forced to do the same by sheer necessity. She is an enemy of Germany."

"I don't believe you," Levi said, watching the young man as he tried to recover. "How you are right now shows to me that you would not have hurt her, not that badly. Like she said: t'as pas les couilles. You don't have the balls."

Eren glared, but Levi looked up at the tall soldier with no fear or pity.

"You have a good heart. That is why you keep trying to save everyone. You'd make a perfect civilian, probably an outstanding politician, but that deep sense of mortality makes for a weak soldier. I'll pray that you can make it through this war alive with that goodness uncorrupted. This crazy world needs more men like you, Jäger."

"Eren," he blurted out. "Call me Eren."

Levi arched an amused eyebrow. "I think that is unwise, given our positions. I'll call you Jäger or I'll call you takhshet."

"And what should I call you?"

Levi barked a mirthless laugh. "Whatever the hell you want. Call me Ackerman, call me Levi, call me Jew or whatever it is the captain calls me—I know he speaks about me like an object and not a person—whatever you like. You're the captor, after all."

"Then just Levi," he decided. "You're still a person."

Levi paused and looked up at him, honestly amazed. He kept staring, until Eren felt uncomfortable under that gaze.

"What?" he finally shouted.

Levi still stared, but abruptly he looked away. "Si seulement t'avais été là il y a quatre ans."

"What?"

"Nothing," he muttered, and he looked down at his hand, rubbing his thumb over the tan line of a missing ring. Still, he thought to himself: If only you had been there four years ago, before my life went to hell. "Eat something light and go to bed early."

"Don't treat me like a boy."

"You are one, a little boy who still needs his father."

Suddenly, Levi felt his shirt grabbed, and before he could react, he was slammed against the prison bars. He hissed as his head hit hard, and he glared up, only to see that the young German soldier with a weak stomach a moment ago now looked like a beast ready to tear him apart limb by limb.

"Never mention my father in front of me," Eren growled. "And never, ever, think I need something so useless as that."

Levi gazed in quiet amazement. First this young man's mother was obviously dead, from what he said the day before, now something about his father. Just what was the story behind him?

Eren let Levi go and backed off, apparently surprised at himself. He looked ready to apologize, but thought better not to. He quietly went to Levi's cell and opened it.

Without a word of protest, Levi walked inside. Eren locked the door, and without any parting, he stormed out of the dungeon.

Levi sighed, "Quel bien triste et étrange garçon." What a sad and strange boy.

# # #

# #

#

La Résistance Française: The French Resistance. Many French citizens resisted their new Nazi overlords. Through espionage and sabotage, they slowed down the Germans as much as they could, derailing trains to stop supplies, burning warehouses to try starving them out, providing military intelligence to the Allies, some even seduced Nazi officers and drugged them to get information. Any act of resistance could change the course of the war.

Annie being tortured for carrying a letter meant for Didier is directly inspired from the account of Lise Lesevre, a Frenchwoman who was arrested for that exact same thing, carrying a letter meant for a Resistance leader code-named Didier. She was tortured by Gestapo interrogator Klaus Barbie, known as "the Butcher of Lyon." Lesevre and many other women (few men survived Barbie's interrogations) testified against him at his trial. He tortured prisoners as young as 13, hitting them with spiked balls, breaking out their teeth, ripping open the corners of their mouths, drowning attempts with bathtub torture, and if he suspected his victim was a Jew, he would crush their skull with his boot. All whilst petting a little kitten. Sick twisted bastard.

MORE COOL HISTORICAL FACTS! (You can skip this, or use it for an upcoming history exam.)

Germany invaded France in 1940, and Paris fell in just one month. With defeat imminent, members of the French government sought an armistice, a formal agreement to stop fighting. Prime Minister Reynaud opposed the idea, but the Cabinet voted in favor of it. Reynaud resigned rather than sign it.

Philippe Pétain became the new Prime Minister and immediately signed the armistice. President Lebrun stepped down, which meant Pétain now had complete control over the government. He abolished the presidency and indefinitely adjourned Parliament. With Paris falling under German-controlled lands, Pétain moved the capital to Vichy. Germany occupied 3/5th of France, and Berlin's demands to the Vichy Régime were generally unopposed by Pétain, which meant pretty much all of France was now under the thumb of the Nazis.

Reynaud attempted to escape to the colonies in North Africa, where many members of Parliament—especially those who were Jewish—were fleeing, but Pétain had him arrested and handed him over to the Nazis. Brigadier-General Charles de Gaulle, who had held a Cabinet position under Reynaud, had been out of the country during this, pleading with England for more military aid. When he returned to France, he learned that Reynaud had stepped down, and now he was under threat of being arrested by Pétain. Reluctantly, he escaped back to London.

Under the armistice, the new French government in Vichy would be neutral, not assisting the Allies anymore. Germany agreed for many reasons:

1) They wanted to focus on Britain and the Eastern Front.
2) They did not want the burden of administering France.
3) They lacked a navy that could occupy all of France's overseas territories.

Had Hitler aimed to defeat France, it would have taken more time, cost more lives, and the British and Americans had the means to take over all the French colonies, meaning those resources could be used in their war effort. By leaving a neutral French state intact, those colonies remained under French rule. Germany could keep those resources out of Allied hands, while also making use of them for Germany.

Germany kept two million French soldiers as hostages to ensure that the new Vichy Régime would pay tribute to Germany in gold, food, and supplies. Germany took 80% of the food produced in France, causing mass starvation, and forced France to pay the costs of the 300,000 occupying German soldiers, which amounted to 20 million Reichsmark per day. In modern inflation, that is $2,215,030 USD, 1.986.660 Euros, or £1.751.756. France also had to reduce its military forces, cease all imports from Allies, and they were commanded to round up Jews, refugees, communists, and other people Germany found to be "undesirable." In total, 50 internment camps were built throughout France, including the Drancy internment camp built outside of Paris, meant to hold only 700 people, but often filled with up to 7000.

Charles de Gaulle made radio broadcasts from London, urging the French to continue the fight and calling for a resistance. He formed the French Committee of National Liberation (Comité français de Libération nationale) as a provisional government-in-exile, challenging the legitimacy of the Vichy Régime, unifying the French soldiers who escaped to England and Norway, and organizing the civil resistance back in mainland France. This group became La Résistance Française, the French Resistance.

Germany retaliated against the Resistance by "collective punishment." They would take a thousand civilians hostage and kill a few for every action by the Resistance. It is estimated that 30,000 of these hostages were murdered. Sometimes, they simply massacred a whole village.

The French Resistance saved many Jews. Père Marie-Benoît, a Catholic priest, converted his monastery into a Resistance base camp and smuggled around 4000 Jews out of France. Georges Loinger, a Jew serving in the French Army, was captured by Germans in 1940 but wasn't suspected as being Jewish due to his blue eyes and blond hair; he escaped his prisoner-of-war camp, returned to France, and single-handedly saved 350 Jewish children. Huguenot Pastor André Trocmé persuaded his community of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to turn their entire village into a sanctuary for Jewish refugees. Villagers picked up Jewish refugees from the train station and immediately gave them forged identification and ration cards. Jewish children were enrolled in the village school under fake names. The villagers hid Jews in schools, hotels, farms, and private homes. Multiple safe houses were built, and in order to buy food supplies for the refugees, Pastor André received aid from other religious groups who wanted to protect Jews: Quakers, the Salvation Army, the American Congregational Church, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Jewish and Christian ecumenical groups, the French Protestant student organization Cimade, and the Swiss "Help to Children." Whenever Nazi patrols came through, the villagers sang songs to let Jews know it was dangerous and to flee to shelter, either in a safe house or into the forests, and then they would sing another song to let them know when it was safe. The villagers also guided Jews through the mountains to the Swiss border, using the same paths their Huguenot ancestors had used to escape religious oppression from Catholics. This one village saved 3500-5000 Jews. Some of the residents were arrested by the Gestapo and died in concentration camps for giving sanctuary to Jews. When Vichy authorities ordered Pastor André Trocmé to produce a list of the Jews in the town, he replied, "We do not know what a Jew is. We only know men." The Holocaust memorial center in Israel, Yad Vashem, recognized Pastor André Trocmé, his wife Magda, André's cousin Daniel Trocmé who was caught and died in the Majdanek concentration camp, the entire community of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, and all other Gentiles who helped to save Jews during the Holocaust, as חֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, "Righteous Among the Nations."



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