Saturday, February 2, 2013



Robert Hébras, in his late 80s, is one of the very few people who survived the...

The above picture shows Robert Hebras, one of the few people who survived the massacre, against the backdrop of the ruins of Oradour-Sur-Glane in South West France—not far from Bordeaux. It survives as a memorial. It has, quite deliberately, never been re-built.

On June 10 1944, virtually the entire population of the town—some 642 people—was massacred. 240 women and 213 children were among the dead. There were a total of five survivors.

The massacre was carried out by an SS Panzer Division, Das Reich, which was trying to make its way from Toulouse, in South West France, to the Normandy beaches. Its mission was to destroy the Allied forces that had just landed. It was an immensely powerful armored force—and could have made a strategic difference—except that it was was delayed by the French Resistance aided by Allied Special Forces. As a consequence, the frustrated SS engaged in ferocious reprisals. Oradour-Sur-Glane was just one incident.

My novel, THE BLOOD OF GENERATIONS, was inspired by such a story though my initial inspiration came from a memorial to massacre victims from a little French village called Fressinet-Le-Gelat. But I soon realized that this was just one massacre in a pattern—and that the worst had been Oradour-Sure-Glane.

Amazingly, investigations into the Oradour massacre have recently been re-opened by the public prosecutor’s office in Dortmund, Germany, even though the surviving perpetrators are now in their eighties. An initial 1953 trial of dozens of soldiers suspected of being involved in the massacre resulted in most being set free due to a political amnesty.

I mention coincidences in the headline because this is the fourth time that one of my books has been ahead of the curve. Let us hope I am not being prescient with my fifth.

Let me list my books in chronological order.

  • GAMES OF THE HANGMAN focused on the very real threat of global terrorist before its significance was truly appreciated.
  • RULES OF THE HUNT focused on terrorism in Japan before its existence was even generally accepted.
  • THE DEVIL’S FOOTPRINT focused on terrorism attacks in the U.S. and the fact that parts of Mexico were no longer under the control of the Mexican government, prior to 9/11.
  • THE BLOOD OF GENERATIONS focuses on a massacre by an SS Division in France in 1944—together with the fact that the Nazi threat is very far from over all these years later.
  • SATAN’S SMILE focuses in the threat of nuclear terrorism in the U.S. from people who are willing to die for what they believe in.

Somehow, we seem to have virtually forgotten about the threat of nuclear terrorism. Why not? The Soviet threat is over.

In the days of the Soviet nuclear threat, life was much simpler. We knew who the enemy was—and could deter them. MAD was in vogue—Mutually Assured Destruction. Now, though we are spending more on intelligence than ever before, we don’t—and there are few things more frightening than an unknown enemy.

What we do know, but prefer not to think about, is that there is a vast quality of Soviet era nuclear weapons out there; that not all are accounted for; and that numerous groups have every reason to hate—think about that word—the United States.

But it doesn’t stop there. In addition, there are other nations and groups—non-state actors—who have the necessary expertise and resources to construct and deliver nuclear weapons.

Sleep well.


Orso Clip Art


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