Crimes of War, highlights a SS massacre of a French town during WWII— makes us question what war crimes entail

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By Ramona du Houx in Maine Insights

Crimes of War, Neil Rolde’s newest novel deals with a real SS massacre of a small town in France during World War II called Oradour-sur-Glane.

“The drama here was that some of the perpetrators were French citizens—Alsatians drafted into the SS. They were put on trial in 1953 for their part—under duress, it was claimed—in the horrendous killings and destruction of that peaceful village,” said historian/author Neil Rolde.

“It has been a difficult story to tell. But I believe my current work gives the flavor, although fictionalized, that many of the non-fiction books about this incident do not.”

During the Spanish Inquisition many Cathars where tortured and murdered in the same region where the SS massacre took place, echoing the past.

“Neil tells this compelling story as if he were there—a silent witness through the centuries,” said Paul Cornell du Houx, of Polar Bear & Company, the book’s publisher.

Specific historical figures make appearances in the story.

In the novel Professor Eugene Desfosseux, a historian and self-taught ventriloquist, conjures amid the ruins figures from deep into his past and records the interviews and interrogations in a tale that epitomizes what this or any other war crime might encompass—including his own daily life of pleasures, romance and memories inflamed to a vengeance that would destroy his life’s work.

“Thus it brings up the question of what war crimes entail and thus the plural in the title.

Crimes of war are still a universal problem,” said Neil. Continue reading

History in Politics: Panic Time Again by Neil Rolde

First appeared in Maine Insights
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Editorial By Neil Rolde

In my last BLOG, which dealt with refugees and was posted well before the ISIS atrocities in Paris, I predicted the reaction in Congress to support for Syrian refugees. The exact words of my final sentence were: “One can read the handwriting on the wall for any substantial help for the Syrians while this Congress is in office.”

I stick by my prediction even though the initial thrust now post-Paris is coming mostly from Republican Governors, 29 of them to date who are barring Syrian refugees from their States and one Democrat Governor who has joined the pack. There may well be more as the current wave of hysteria is exploited.

Interesting. These persons are undoubtedly all fervent supporters of the U.S. Constitution. But does the Constitution allow them to bar persons legally in the country to enter their States. Could they keep me out of Mississippi because I’m a Democrat? Don’t tell them. I was just there last spring.

Continue reading

Neil Rolde will be the guest speaker talking about his research on the War Refugee Board in New York City, October 19th

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by Ramona du Houx | BDN
Oct. 17, 2015, at 1:24 p.m.

Neil Rolde will be the guest speaker at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in New York City on October 19, at the New York Westin Hotel, 212 East 42nd Street.

Rolde is working on a new book about the War Refugee Board (WRB) following his successful biography of Breckinridge Long, the man who restricted Jews fleeing Germany in WWII.

“I will be speaking to one of the committees of the Joint Distribution Committee. This Jewish organization was formed in 1914 to rescue European Jews caught in the Great War. In World War II, they were the largest contributors to the War Refugee Board, about which I am writing a history,” said author/statesman Neil Rolde. “I am using their voluminous archives in New York City.”

JDC is a Jewish relief organization that offers aid to the many Jewish populations in central and eastern Europe as well as the Middle East through a network of social and community assistance programs. With the rise of Hitler’s Nazi regime, JDC supported efforts that enabled 110,000 Jews to leave Germany prior to 1939. Continue reading

History in Politics: On Refugees: Here we go again editorial by Neil Rolde

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First published in Maine Insights- see it HERE

By Neil Rolde

I am in the midst of writing about a bit of forgotten American history in telling the story of the War Refugee Board, a U.S. Government Agency that from 1944 to the end of World War II worked to save refugees from within Nazi-occupied Europe.

In effect, among the 200,000 people it rescued were mostly Jews facing a blanket condemnation to death by the Nazis for the mere fact of being Jewish but there were non-Jewish anti-Nazis helped as well.

Today’s refugee crisis is different in various aspects but the principle remains the same. In this case, the victims are mainly the Moslem citizens of Syria fleeing from their war-torn country by the millions. The doom they faced was not as definitely defined for them as it was by the Nazis for the Jews but death is death whether inflicted from poison gas deliberately or haphazardly from bursting bombs, exploding shells or flying bullets. Continue reading

BUSHNELL ON BOOKS: ‘Real Political Tales’

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Review By Bill Bushnell in the KJ and Morning Sentential


Polar Bear & Company, 2014

175 pages, $12.95

Folks have long suspected that politics is just bad theater, and now award-winning author Neil Rolde proves it.

Rolde is a respected public servant and former state legislator who has written a dozen nonfiction books and one intriguing political novel, “O. Murray Carr.” This is a collection of 10 short stories, all fiction, but based on Rolde’s own political experience in state government. His well-crafted writing always entertains and educates, and this collection certainly does both.

However, if Rolde thought these stories would make readers feel all warm and fuzzy about politics and politicians, he may be disappointed. Instead, he reveals just how petty, self-serving and officious politicians can be, who focus more on power than on people.

The stories describe the political process of state government, in the house and senate, the real power of committees and lobbyists, campaigning, debating opponents and who really answers all those letters to the governor.

“The Real Legislative Process” tells how an elderly freshman representative is introduced to the nasty world of political backstabbing and deceitful promises, and how slick, oily lobbyists can manipulate legislators. In “The Liberal” a legislator finally understands how procedural rules are skillfully used to promote or kill a bill, and why open discussions and debates are merely window-dressing (decisions are often already made beforehand, behind closed doors). One of the best stories, “Fishman,” explains the Electoral College and how state delegates are selected.

Other stories poke fun at stuffy veteran career politicians, tell of hilarious pranks that often backfire, how politicians expertly use the media to promote themselves or embarrass their opponents and how arm-twisting, veiled threats and payback deals produce results in a tight vote.

The unstated message here might be: When a politician says “No problem,” he means for him.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

An evening with Neil Rolde- York Library will host veteran politician

From the Seacoast news article:

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YORK – Neil Rolde, author and statesman has written a work of fiction focused on his experiences titled: “Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician,” (Maine’s Polar Bear & Company Publishing). Rolde has lived a life of political service as well as having a scholarly career researching and writing about the history of Maine politics, some of its celebrated politicians, the state’s varied regions, and Maine Indian Tribes. Rolde has a keen sense of Maine as state and a people. Rolde’s current book is his second work of fiction. His candid style may surprise readers, but his tales promise to transport the reader into the working lives of lawmakers, perhaps leading to greater understanding and respect for those in public office.

“The short stories are fictional, to be sure, but they incorporate almost a quarter of a century working directly in State government and even more years involved in the politics of Maine. They bear out my extensive experience of the political scene from the inside, not as expressed by opinionated media nor by the average person seeing things from outside,” said Rolde.

The York Public Library will host an evening with author Neil Rolde, a York resident, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 23. He’ll discuss his most recent book and he will be available after his presentation for question and answers and book signing. His book will available for purchase at the event.

Rolde’s many years of public service include being an assistant to Governor Kenneth M. Curtis of Maine for six years and then 16 years as an elected Representative in the Maine Legislature. He represented his district of York, Maine and became Majority Leader of the Maine House during the 107th legislature from 1975-77. He became the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1990 in an election bid against Bill Cohen. Rolde has won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council. “Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician” is his second fictional work.

The York Public Library is located at 15 Long Sands Road in York.

History in Politics – The Fairest Tax

By Neil Rolde

Governor Paul LePage of Maine says he wants to eliminate Maine taxes, which would devastate thousands and the state's economy. Courtesy photo

Governor Paul LePage of Maine says he wants to eliminate Maine taxes, which would devastate thousands and the state’s economy. Courtesy photo

Maine’s bomb-throwing and wrecker Governor Paul Le Page has a new trick up his sleeve. He now proposes doing away with Maine’s State Income Tax. Installed in the late 1960’s, this major source of State revenue [at least 50 percent of the budget] has provided an irreplaceable foundation of Maine’s economy for more than half a century.

What does the bully boy in the Blaine House offer to put in its place? Apparently nothing!

Cuts, of course, will have to be made in State services. Le Page’s draconian knife no doubt will slash first and foremost at social programs helping the poor from whose ranks he came but whose plight no longer touches him. Indeed, he seems annoyed by their continued presence. He rose above poverty. Why can’t they? And if they can’t, tant pis, which means “all the worse” for them in French. Continue reading