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Town Hopes to Preserve WWI Soldier's Bedroom

Mayor of Belabre, France, hopes buyer will come along
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2014 5:42 PM CST

(Newser) – A French town wants to preserve a bedroom that has remained nearly untouched for almost 100 years. Why not update the decor a little? Because WWI dragoons officer Hubert Rochereau left the room that way when he went to war, making it a time capsule of a man who died at Flanders Fields—complete with dusty military manuals, a Bible, filled pipe, and moth-eaten military jacket, the Guardian reports. "It would be a great shame for it to disappear," says Laurent Laroche, mayor of Belabre, about the room that achieved some fame in news reports this fall. "As someone who loves history, I feel it’s also important not to forget the sacrifice made by men like Rochereau." (See several photos of the room at the Washington Post.)

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Rochereau's grief-stricken family bricked up the room's doorway and in 1935 gave the house to a military friend, General Eugène Bridoux, on the promise that the room go untouched for 500 years. Bridoux became a top official in France's Vichy regime and helped plan the deportation of Jews to Nazi camps; later condemned to death in France, he fled to Franco's Spain and died there in 1955. Now his granddaughter's husband lives in the house, and Laroche fears that one day a future owner will change the room—especially considering that the 500-year clause has no legal basis, the Daily Mail reports. Ideally the town would "buy the property and perhaps turn it into a museum, [but] we simply don’t have the money," Laroche says. "Perhaps one day a generous donor will come along and buy it." (Read more World War I stories.)

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