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Posted on Jan 2, 2008 in Carlo D'Este, Front Page Features

Martin Blumenson – My Remembrance of a friend

By Carlo D'Este

Although we stayed in touch, I did not see Martin again until the summer of 1991 when my travels brought me through Paris. That evening Martin and Gève took me to dinner at one of their favorite bistros. Now, it’s a well-known fact that their apartment was situated in one of Paris’s more colorful arrondissements. My hotel was next door to their apartment building and to a nightclub, which was busy with some of Paris’s finest young (and not so young) ladies coming and going about the neighborhood fostering people-to-people relationships. Several of them also had lively conversations in the alley beneath my window.

It was an exciting day, returning to Paris after many years, meeting and having stimulating conversation and good food with Martin and Gève. It ended on an unforgettable note, when I found a pair of purple women’s panties neatly folded under my pillow! It occurred to me that perhaps the room served a dual purpose. I anticipated keeping them as a souvenir of my Paris trip but, alas, the following morning the chambermaid knocked on my door, conveyed in rapid-fire French that an article of clothing had been left in the room by mistake, and asked if Monsieur had seen it. Stupidly, I gave it back to her.

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To this day it is hard to keep from laughing whenever I recall dangling the colorful object in my hand and asking the young lady if this were the item she was looking for. I never told Martin about the great purple panty incident, fearful that perhaps he would feel badly about having recommended the hotel. In retrospect, if he were here today I think he would have found it greatly amusing and would have reminded everyone that it was simply part of the appeal of living in Paris. So ended my charming twenty-four hour Parisian experience with Martin and Gève.

It was because of Martin and the fire that he had lit in me that I undertook to write a biography of Patton. What I wrote in 1995 in the acknowledgements of that book bears repeating here today: “Since our first association nearly fifteen years ago Martin has not only enthusiastically supported my work but has encouraged me to investigate areas he himself had already written about. Where others might jealously guard their domain, Martin has offered stimulation and encouragement.”

That was typical of him and I am only one of a countless number of those he mentored over the years. To the end of his life, Martin Blumenson encouraged, sponsored and mentored others, never asking for anything in return.

He was the envy of us all for his ability to say so much and convey thoughts in lucid straightforward language. I’ve always believed that Martin could say more in a single sentence than most of us could in an entire paragraph.

His reputation as one of the giants of our profession is secure. My debt to him is incalculable but as important as this was to me professionally, what I will remember and treasure the most was our friendship. My memories will always be of a kind and gentle man that I was proud to call a friend.”

Historian Steven L. Ossad was the last in the long list of those Martin Blumenson mentored. Steve has established a superb website that fully documents Martin’s life and works. It includes his biography, photographs, and a complete bibliography of his books, along with links to reviews and other useful information. To view it, go here.

To each of you who have taken the time to read my monthly scribblings, I offer my best wishes for a happy and healthy 2008. It is a privilege to be a part of the Armchair General team. They are the best!

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1 Comment

  1. Hiya
    I was wondering if you ever had a chance to study the Avalon Hill board games (Panzer Blitz, Squad Leader) and their subsequent reincarnation into the PC game “Close Combat.” There was a great paper published by a USA officer who used a version to train his officers and non-coms.
    ref: http://www.closecombatseries.org

    William

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