Friday 20 April 2018

Motley crew took their cue from IRA

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

IT was a motley crew numbering between 70 and 100 members, all diehard Breton nationalists seeking independence from France.

The Bezen Perrot were closely modelled on the IRA and steadfast in their belief that France's difficulty was their opportunity, going so far as to collaborate with the occupying Nazis during World War II.

They were keen students of Padraig Pearse, and even commemorated the Easter 1916 Rising in their journal, 'Breiz Atao' (Brittany Forever).

Writing in the 'Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies', Dr Daniel Leach said each member was given a nom de guerre to protect their identity from French Resistance reprisals.

Despite joining the Waffen SS and wearing its uniforms, its members did not see themselves as collaborators.

Instead they saw themselves as "continuing Breton military resistance against France", Dr Leach said.

Its leader was Celestin Laine (known as Neven Henaff). He believed that if Brittany was to become a nation, it would have to fight as the IRA had done. Laine ended up being an SS lieutenant while Louis Feutren became an SS senior squad leader.

As the war drew to a close, many fled to Ireland.

Irish Independent

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