Tuesday, December 6, 2011
1944: Lyon - France
french militia: commander of intelligence section
1946-47: convicted in absentia of war crimes and
sentenced to death
1971: pardonned by french president Georges Pompidou
1989: arrested (Nice)
1994: convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment
Paul Touvier (April 3, 1915 - July 17, 1996) was a French Nazi collaborator. In 1994, he was the first Frenchman convicted of crimes against humanity for his actions in Vichy France.
Paul Touvier was born in Saint-Vincent-sur-Jabron, Alpes de Haute-Provence, in southeastern France. His family was devoutly Roman Catholic, lower-middle-class and extremely conservative. He was one of 11 children, the oldest of the five boys. He was an altar boy and spent one year in a seminary, intending to become a priest.
Touvier's mother, Eugenie, was an orphan who was raised by nuns. As an adult, she was very religious and went to mass every day and died when Touvier was an adolescent. Touvier's father, François, was a tax collector in Chambéry, having retired after 19 years as a career soldier. Touvier's father was very conservative, an admirer of the monarchist and anti-parliamentarist Charles Maurras and L'Action Française.
Paul Touvier graduated from the Institute St. Francis de Sales in Chambéry at the age of 16. When he turned 21, his father got him a job as a clerk at the local railroad station, where he continued to work as World War II began. Widowed on the eve of the war, he continued to reside in Chambéry. Touvier was mobilized for the war effort in 1939. After the Vichy government was created, Touvier and his family were firm supporters of Maréchal Petain and both father and son joined the Vichy veterans' group when it was founded in 1941.
Joining the French Army's 8th Infantry Division, Touvier fought the German Wehrmacht until, following the bombing of Chateau-Thierry, he deserted.
Touvier returned in 1940 to Chambéry, which was then occupied by the Kingdom of Italy. His life took a new course with the establishment of the Milice. Touvier had become known for chasing girls and for involvement in the black market. Disgusted, his devoutly Catholic father persuaded him to join the Milice. Francois Touvier reportedly hoped that a little military discipline would, "make a man out of," his son.
Touvier was eventually appointed head of the intelligence department in the Chambéry Milice under the direction of Klaus Barbie and in January 1944 became second regional head.
After the liberation of France by the Allied forces, Touvier went into hiding and escaped the summary execution dealt out to many suspected collaborators. On September 10, 1946, he was sentenced to death in absentia for treason and collusion with the Nazis. In 1947, he was arrested for armed robbery in Paris, but escaped.
By 1966, implementation of his death sentence was barred based on a 20-year statute of limitations. Following this, attorneys for Touvier filed an application for a pardon, requesting for the lifting of the life-time ban on leaving the country and the confiscation of goods linked to his death penalty. In 1971, French President Georges Pompidou granted him the pardon. Pompidou's pardon caused a public outcry that escalated when it was revealed that most of the property Touvier claimed as his own had allegedly been property seized from deported Jews.
On July 3, 1973, a complaint against Touvier was filed in the Lyon Court by Georges Glaeser, charging him with crimes against humanity. There was no statute of limitations against these charges. Glaeser explicitly accused Touvier of ordering the execution of seven Jewish hostages at Rillieux-la-Pape, near Lyon, on 29 June 1944. This was in retaliation for the murder of Philippe Henriot, the Vichy Government's Secretary of State for Information and Propaganda, the previous evening. After being indicted, Touvier disappeared again. Years of legal maneuvering ensued through his lawyers until a warrant was issued for his arrest on November 27, 1981.
Arrest and trial
On May 24, 1989, Touvier was arrested at the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) Priory in Nice. The SSPX stated at the time that Touvier had been allowed to live in the Priory as "an act of charity to a homeless man."
After his arrest, further allegations appeared in print, stating that he had been aided for years by the Catholic Church hierarchy in Lyon and later by members of the Traditionalist Catholic movement. He was defended by the monarchist lawyer Jacques Tremollet de Villers, who later became president of the Traditionalist Catholic organization, La Cité Catholique.
In conjunction with the charges attached to the massacre at Rillieux-la-Pape, Touvier was also alleged to have played an important part in the execution of Victor Basch, a prominent human rights leader and his wife. Touvier was further accused of being involved in several deportations of other Jews. During the two years following Touvier's arrest, 20 additional allegations were made by the French media.
Paul Touvier was granted provisional release in July 1991, but his trial for complicity in crimes against humanity only began on March 17, 1994. He expressed remorse for his actions, saying that he thought of the seven Jewish victims of Rillieux-la-Pape every day. A Traditionalist Catholic priest of the Society of Saint Pius X sat beside him at the defense table, acting as his spiritual advisor. On April 20, a nine-person jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. An appeal, in 1995, was rejected by the Court.
On July 17, 1996, Paul Touvier died of prostate cancer in Fresnes prison, near Paris. A Tridentine Requiem Mass was offered for the repose of his soul by Father Philippe Laguérie at St Nicolas du Chardonnet, the Society of St. Pius X chapel, in Paris.
In popular culture
Irish-Canadian novelist Brian Moore's 1995 book The Statement is loosely based on Touvier's life story. It was later adapted into a 2003 film, also titled The Statement, directed by Norman Jewison. Michael Caine appeared as Pierre Brossard, a character inspired by Touvier.
The 1989 efforts by French authorities to find and arrest Touvier are documented in an episode of the History Television series Nazi Hunters, first broadcast November 1st, 2010.
For several years, Belgian singer Jacques Brel worked with Touvier. Touvier met Brel by reportedly approaching him in a restaurant and saying, "I am Paul Touvier, a condemned man." Brel's wife, however, said that they knew him only as "Paul Berthet", an alias he sometimes used, taking his wife's maiden name.
RAY CHARLES: LOOKING BACK
As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.
"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.
In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."
Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.
Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.
Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."
His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."
But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.
A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.
Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.
He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."
"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."
Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.
In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."
Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."
Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."
Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.
Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."
Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."
Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."
Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.
"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.
Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.
To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.
"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."
Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."
Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.
Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."
Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."
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