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Defiant Diplomat

George Platt Waller: American Consul in Nazi-Occupied Luxembourg, 1939–1941

Edited by Willard Allen Fletcher and Jean Tucker Fletcher

Drafted while events were fresh in his mind in 1942–1943, Alabama-born American diplomat George Platt Waller’s memoir chronicles his war-time experience in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In vivid prose, he recalls the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the “Phony War,” the German invasion of May 10, 1940, and the Wehrmacht occupation. Intimately involved with the political and public life of this small democratic nation, Waller did not follow Grand Duchess Charlotte and her government into exile. Instead, he remained as long as he could to witness and champion the Luxembourg people, doing his best to rescue the flood of refugees seeking visas and asylum in the United States. Waller bitterly condemns the Nazi civilian administration, its oppressive racial laws, and its attempts to annex the country to Germany under the banner of Heim ins Reich.

From his pivotal position as dean of the diplomatic community, representative of the powerful United States; and trusted confidant of leaders, executives, and citizens alike, Waller was privy to information from a wide range of sources: government, military, the church, the professions, the resistance, ordinary people, and refugees. He narrates gripping accounts of individual initiative and courage and exposes the many official hindrances to the timely rescue of refugees. His observations shed new light on life in Luxembourg from 1939 to 1941, when he was finally expelled from the country.

The editors’ introduction places this brief but highly significant memoir in the context of Waller’s family background, education, and career, including his dramatic return to Luxembourg at its liberation by American troops in 1944 and his participation in the Grand Duchy’s postwar renaissance. Extensive annotations and photographs complement the text.
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University Press Copublishing Division / University of Delaware Press
Pages: 272Size: 6 1/2 x 9 3/8
978-1-61149-398-6 • Hardback • April 2012 • $84.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-61149-501-0 • Paperback • March 2014 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-1-61149-399-3 • eBook • April 2012 • $37.99 • (£24.95)
Willard Allen Fletcher is professor emeritus at the University of Delaware. Jean Fletcher is a former librarian at university libraries in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Delaware.
Editors’ Introduction
1. Ante-Chamber to Paradise
2. Thunder on the Moselle
3. The Sitz-Krieg
4. The Evening of the Ninth of May
5. So Fair and Foul a Day I Have Not Seen
6. General Gullmann Calls
7. The Diplomats Depart
8. Belgium after the Surrender
9. German Generals Toast the President
10. I Become Consul
11. A Visit from the R.A.F.
12. Pack und Gesindel
13. The Volksdeutsche Bewegung
14. Cologne
15. Persecution of Luxembourg Jews
16. The Curé of Moersdorf
17. The Gauleiter Embarks on Educational Reform
18. Into the Dustbin with the Gölle Fra, the Army, and the Law
19. It’s not so Simple, French to German
20. Underground Organizations
21. The Nine O’Clock Mass
22. Cologne Revisited
23. The Comforter of the Afflicted
24. In Sure and Certain Hope
Editors’ Afterword
About the Editors
Through Waller, one sees how an American diplomat perceived his role and how he used his office to aid citizens of an occupied country. This story speaks volumes about the premises and assumptions of American diplomacy and statecraft during the Second World War. In short, the story is significant.
James M. Brophy, University of Delaware