FRANCE: Money Talks

A few days before the Allied breakout from Normandy in World War II, a Vichy government train was chugging through central France. Its freight: ten billion French francs (then worth $200 million) for the Bank of France in Limoges. At a tank stop the train was boarded by a gang of armed Maquis, who threw the moneybags into waiting trucks and disappeared into the night. When the Allies reached Limoges a few weeks later, they were feted by a bunch of exceptionally free-spending French partisans. Most freehanded of all was lusty, red-faced Colonel Georges Guingouin.

Guingouin, a Communist, was the...

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