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Ariane Audouin-Dubreuil  







Interview in French, Log in English; Louis Audouin-Dubreuil; Sahara motor car crossing with Georges Marie Haardt  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
Mar 1999

  • France
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Audouin-Dubreuil intv
(Questionable words will be in quotes)

Q: Tell us a little bit a out what he did. You can tell us after whether or not he liked to describe his experiences to you.

A: Of course. My father was contacted by Citroen very quickly since he was in the military at the time, after the first world war, he did a first mission crossing the Sahara with Mitrailleur-Brasier tractors, under military command, but Citroen was interested because of his aerial experience. They as
ked him to try out the cars on all kinds of terrain, and to help out with a car for which the concept was totally new, equipped with caterpillar tracks with the patent for instant lubrication, what you call the ¿caterpillar¿, we call ¿la chenille¿.

Q: I¿m taking notes because I wanted to find a good translation for ¿tractor-mitrailleur¿, you said.

A: ¿Mitrailleur¿ (machine gunner) tractors were the cars that were used during the first world war, and that were equipped for all types of terrain.

Q: It¿s a sort of tank?

A: It¿s between a tank and a car, a kind of car that was very ordinary at that time.

Q: Perhaps it¿s what we call today an armored personnel carrier, that...

A: The former is equipped with wheels, but Citroen contacted Audouin-Dubreu
il for him to do a trial with this caterpillar-track propeller.

Q: What I¿m going to do because I¿m very happy now that this is working, is that I¿m going to ask you again the beginning of the interview to be certain that everything is in order. So I want to ask you your age, profession, and where you live.

A: Okay. Ariane Audouin-Dubreuil, I¿m sixty-years old. I¿m a psycho-therapist, as well as deputy mayor of Boulogne-Billancourt, in charge of personnel and unions. That pretty much covers my career; I think I fulfill the duties. Naturally, I live in Boulogne-Billancourt, being deputy-mayor.

Q: Could you please give me the pronunciations for Georges-Marie Haardt, Andre Citroen and your father?

A: ¿Ohn-dray See-trow-ehn¿, founder of the automobile company carrying his name, ¿Jhorge Mah-ree Ardt¿, and finally my father, ¿Loo-ee Oh-dwahn Doo-broy¿.

Q: Explain to me the role of your father in the Haardt expeditions for Citroen.

A: My father was contacted by Citroen to organize the first crossing of the Sahara by automobile, because he had already done a trip with other car models (with wheels) across the Sahara. Then, they asked him to prepare the route for the trip, as well as those for the other missions. That is to say, in the Sahara, in black Africa, and finally, he had to figure out the mission through Asia from a logistical point-of-view, more specifically, the route from Beirut to Peking. But obviously he was not alone in organizing it. Thus he stayed for about eighteen years working for Andre Citroen.

Q: Did he like to tell you about his experiences and adventures when you were little?

A: It has to be said that he was afraid of repeating himself, because he had an uncle who would tell him about the war of 1870, and he found that incredibly boring. So, he avoided it, but despite al
l that, we were bathed in his fame because many French people spoke about the great Andre Citroen missions, and then we had, when we went to our family-castle on vacation, which dates from 1480, that has been in our family since its construction, big rooms with objects brought back from Africa and Asia, pictures, and so of course there he would tell us stories about his adventures crossing those countries.

Q: How was he chosen for this mission? What did he do prior to that?

A: Prior to that, he was in the military. His family had a cognac distillery - what we call ¿eau-de-vie¿, in the family since Louis XV. He wasn¿t at all business-oriented, that bored him very much, and deep down, he was happy to leave for the First World War. He immediately enlisted in the army with a professional title, and he left for the war on a horse, as a horse-soldier, and he finished the war in a plane, in Tunisia, to protect against the Synocists who were in Libya, the territory under French protection in Tunisia. And it was there that he did his first all-terrain automobile tests.

Q: How did he meet Andre Citroen and Georges Haardt?

A: Well, following a mission called the Sahara-Tedikel, he left with airplanes and machine-gunner tractors to reunite all our Saharan posts, which were very spread out, in an attempt to create a route to link these Saharan posts by car.

Q: This was after the war?

A: This was in 1919. It was General Nivelle, under military command, who had ordered this expedition. So when my father got out, he was known for this successful expedition and it had achieved its goal, therefore he was contacted to prepare the first crossing of the Sahara by car.

Q: He was how old then?

A: He left for the war in 1914, when he was 27-years-old, on August 2nd, the day war was declared. Therefore, several years later - I haven¿t done the math - he was born in `87, he left ... oh, he was around 35-years-old for the first mission, and 42 when he left for As

Q: For what skills was he hired, in your opinion?

A: First of all for having some experience, for his endurance. I think that everyone who had been in the war who was on the team, the mechanics were very remarkable people who had fought, who knew the trenches of World War One, these were people with endurance who loved adventure, real adventure, and it was adventure without any aid. Plus, my father had always greatly admired explorers of the Sahara. And notably, for him, Timbuktu had always been a dream, he always imagined that someday he¿d arrive in Timbuktu like Ren Cailler who discovered Timbuktu. And this year is the bicentennial of the birth of Ren Cailler, that we will celebrate as being very important in France. So, for him it was the adventure, and starting from the moment when they proposed to him this adventure, he left. The preparatory mission was very difficult, extremely difficult because it was done so that the mission would take off with no problems. And that¿s wh
at happened for the first crossing of the Sahara, or the ¿Black Cruise¿.

Q: These were expeditions that had never before been attempted, so they had to have a certain imagination. They had to cross regions that weren¿t very well-known at the time.

A: There was a special service created in 1928, in the Citroen factories, a very specific department created in part for studying the most modern techniques to better the prototype, the caterpillar-track car, and on the other hand, there were people who were sent around the world for diplomatic purposes, because this had to do with crossing various nations, and therefore, taking for example India, they had to go to England to negotiate with the government. India was English. It was necessary to go to Peking, it was necessary to go to Russia. Mr. Guerger was in charge of this mission. My father was more in charge of the logistics, of everything that would be useful - this included the tents bought in England, or research regarding the civilization
s, which was really preparing a bibliography of the countries they would be crossing. Because the Citroen mission wanted itself to be scientific, cultural, and not just a simple mechanical test. I think that was very important, and that¿s why Mr. Citroen called upon archeologists, geologists, painters, and photographers all at the same time.

Q: Tell me about when you organize expositions and conferences - tell me a little bit about what you do, what you are trying to say.

A: Well, I put emphasis on the economic-scientific-cultural interests of the mission, speaking of course of our colonial era, how we imagined the development of those countries, and therefore in what context the story took place, and then I tell the story but with images now. So I of course have to show an exposition around only the objects and photos taken from these expeditions.

Q: Why did you decide to take this approach?

A: I can tell you that it took me more than 20 years to become interested in this. I was no
t ready, as simple as that. My father died when I was 19, and toward age 40, having seen a lot of books come out full of errors, one day I said, instead of moaning about it, it would be a lot better if I took action, and if I did something myself, and that I talk about his missions. So I plunged into the archives and because my father kept everything, I have a thousand photos, I have documents of correspondence, and many objects coming from the castle which I told you about earlier. So I had everything I needed to organize a conference or exposition. And I had to do it. You know in France, we¿re not very enterprising. We don¿t really encourage people who want to create expositions or publish books. But I think you have to be persistent, so I¿m persistent.

Q: Do you do it as a duty, or as a testimony to your father? How do you see it?

A: It can be assured that I have great admiration for my father, but I don¿t believe in making a bronze statue out of him, as I keep repeating to people. But, I think here we have a great work, and it must be valued. Notably an artistic work which has not been spoken about enough. His missions, for example, inspired painters during the `30s; there was a painting style that went along with the colonial period. We¿re starting to rediscover admirable people, like Alexandre Yakolev, who was part of both the ¿Black Cruise¿ and ¿Yellow Cruise¿ missions, who brought along his very admirable ethnological insights. There was that great archeologist trained by Mr. Guimet, who was Mr. Arkin, curator of the Guimet Museum until he left on the expedition, and who continued to research the the very popular subject of Greco-Buddhist art, following the route of Alexander the Great, in the tracks of Alexander the Great, until the Chinese Turkistan Desert.

Q: What is the public reaction when you do this kind of conference? Do you think people are interested?

A: They¿re very fascinated. I must say that I have been solicited by people who have a certain amount of culture, I¿ve been asked to speak in front of universities and academic ceremonies, in these events there are people who are very intrigued. But you also have the young, and even those in little schools, who are completely fascinated by Adventure with a capital ¿A¿. And Adventure is very secure, there are no airplanes or operational blockages, and one is always worried about maintaining their vehicle, because if you don¿t have your vehicle, you die. In the Sahara, you mainly die of thirst without the ability of being saved. When they left for the ¿Yellow Cruise¿, it was another adventure in crossing very dangerous countries.

Q: I was asked to ask you whether or not your activities were mainly in France, or if you took them outside the country?

A: Essentially in France, because I don¿t speak English. I¿d like very much to give conferences outside of France. No, I¿ve been to Switzerland, I might be sent to Belgium, but it¿s in France, of course.

Q: Explain to me ... I heard there was a film made during the yellow mission, what¿s this film about, did you see it, and can you tell our listeners what we see in the film and how it was?

A: The shooting was done daily, and thus in all the regions they crossed, you see the countryside, you see the inhabitants, the houses. Naturally, you see quite a bit of the cars, because Citroen wanted for them to talk about the cars, but you have very fascinating moments, for example when you see the Grotto of Bezeclic filmed with its Greco-Buddhist art. You see the Chinese army marching, the Jean Chez Dumas routes, where you see the Gobi desert with its sandy winds, and it¿s a great testimony to countries that have lost a bit of their identity now. Because now all countries are resembling each other more and more. Omar Williams, as a photographer, I believe took pictures that are fabulous archival documents, whether they be of Persia, Afghanistan, the Himalayas. At the time, with for example the Amir of Humsas, a little kingdom, or China which was in the middle of a revolution, but which was a China from the Middle Ages, with costumes and traditions, where there were no cars, but wheels on large carriages. Where houses were made out of straw and earth dried in the sun. It¿s a testimony to a civilization that has more-or-less disappeared. For me, it¿s absolutely exceptional.

Q: Could you describe Georges-Marie Haardt. What was he like, his age, and what kind of personality he had?

A: Georges-Marie Haardt was born 2 years before my father, I think in 1885, so he was young, 45-years-old when he left for Asia. He was a very charming man, who like to spend time with important people, rather snobbish they say. He loved beautiful objects; he was a very fascinating man, I believe. In the mission ... he was born in Italy to a Belgian father. He came to France I believe after World War One, and it was here that he worked for the Morse factories and, actually, he came to know Andre Citroen when he bought the Morse factories, who first became the director-general, and then acquired
the Morse factories.

Q: Was he an engineer who became and explorer, or ...

A: No, because I think Morse started by selling lace before making cars. Fabrics and clothes. No actually Haardt was a businessman - he had no engineer training. The engineer and creator was Mr. Andre Citroen, who studied at the Polytechnique. He was a remarkable engineer.

Q: That was my next question - could you also give us a portrait of Andre Citroen? But first could you tell us what Georges-Marie Haardt looked like physically? Was he sturdy?

A: He was a very slender man, very elegant - very solid, no. I was very touched when reading my father¿s road journal, he wrote a lot, and he wrote ¿Haardt is coughing¿, ¿Haardt is very tired¿, he seemed rather fragile, which explains why the last voyage across Asia proved to be fatal for him in that he died after arriving in Peiking. {tape change} ... a remarkable intelligence, and most of all, he was a man with a very grand vision of things. He was also a man who knew how to anticipate, who knew how to ride the rising wind and who saw how things would turn out. My father admired him because he surprised him all the time with his intellectual approach. You know, he created modern publicity. He was really the great creator of the notions about publicity of our time. They lighted up the Eiffel Tower, something that had never been seen before. Now we¿re dazzled because it¿s lighted up for the year 2000, but Citroen invented that well before. Citroen took from Ford ... for him, Ford was an extraordinary man who he admired very much. He used his assembly-line method that he studied in America, and then developed the idea. He invented cars in a big series and launched them very early. And he created credit, in a way that made cars available to everyone. But to tell you about his imagination, my father, in 1926, after the ¿Black Cruise¿, was to present the film about the ¿Black Cruise¿ in Italy, in Rome. And after the showing in front of Mussolini, Haardt went back to his hotel, tired. My father went with Citroen by foot across Rome. And then at one point, Citroen stopped in the middle of Rome, at what wa
s no doubt an old run-down corner, and there he explained to my father for fifteen minutes that if he were the duke, he would do this, ¿I would create a plaza, I would put in fountains, I would erect a building, and put that administration there,¿ and my father wrote this in his journal, something that would actually happen several years later. That¿s really an anecdote, but it illustrates the extraordinary dreams of Citroen, but his dreams became reality.

Q: He¿s very exceptional, truly ahead of his time. What was the sense of collaboration between Haardt and Citroen? How did they find common ground?

A: You know, the factory was the common ground. Georges-Marie Haardt was in charge of everything dealing with communication, external relations, sales. That¿s to say he dealt with the big market, and he worked constantly, Haardt. So he was very happy to get in a car with my father and think about something else for several months. Faced with the chance to leave on a great adventure, far from Citroen, who really made him work and travel a lot.

Q: Maynard Owen Williams, what can you say about him?

A: Not much, to be honest. He had a very good relationship with my father. I have several letters from Maynard Owen Williams - very affectionate and kind, close - but my father rarely spoke of him. He was a very original person with an adventurous career, as a photographer and journalist, they both took notes, and in the ¿r sum¿ that I found, I became aware as you did, because I no longer remembered, that at a young age he had already gone to Beirut, in 1911. In 1914, he was stuck in China and India, at the moment when war was declared. We also learned that from 1918, he was a special correspondent for Christian Herald, in Japan, and in the Philippines. Finally, he went through Siberia, he returned to work for the National Geographic Society, I believe, in 1919, and soon after traveled through India. And then in `22, he assisted in the opening of Tutankhamen¿s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. That was naturally fascinating, but he wasn¿t satisfied with that. He would ... what¿s interesting ... a stay at the Lumire laboratory, which was a photographic system in Lyon, and then in `25, he participated in the Bird expedition, to the North Pole and Greenland. Obviously, he was totally able to charm Mr. Andre Citroen, who only wanted efficient people who already were familiar with the countries. One must not forget that Alexander Yakalov, the painter, had already painted albums on China and Japan. Father Chardon, who was a part of the Jesuit group, the Jesuits, had himself participated in fascinating research near Peking, and had assisted in the discovery of , our ancestor. So you see, it was truly a group of fascinating people on this mission.

Q: Was Williams, as far as you know, the only American? Were there other nationalities present on the expedition?

A: He was the only one definitely. Yakalov was of Russian origin, but he had lived a long time in France. And Yakalov had a branch of his family in America. We know of a single descendent, Mrs. Grey. Yakolov created a school of painting after the ¿Yellow Cruise¿, in Boston. He died in `38 from cancer, after an operation.

Q: Can you describe Williams ... you have photos. And can you explain a bit his role in the yellow expedition?

A: Williams - to describe him physically is rather difficult. He had a friendly smile, I know that he was very sensitive, because from time to time he pouted a little. It must be said that the French were always making stupid jokes, and I think this was the case, from time to time they wanted to relax. But he was very well-perceived by the others on the mission. He was nice. He suffered a terrible ordeal when mounting the Himalayas on horseback, I don¿t think he was dragged to far. Let¿s talk about something more pertinent - his work. He did fabulous work, because there are nearly a thousand photos, glass plates, that were given at each step to couriers returning to France. This was a principle of Andre Citroen, that there was always an organization taking objects, film and photographic documents back to France. The things were kept safe there. He did a great deal of work in providing testimony for countries that have not retained their customs from that era.

Q: Let¿s talk now about the expeditions themselves. What was the idea behind the third expedition? Why did they organize such a route?

A: I think once one loves adventure, they can never stop. While they were in the process of completing their mission through black Africa, they were already thinking about a mission through Asia. Because they couldn¿t think of a better thing to do after black Africa. Then Asia proved to be very expensive. So, in 1927, the Lazare Bank - on which Citroen depended, being so greatly in debt - refused the project. Well, my father had imagined a voyage to the North Pole, and this trip, which was already far along in the planning, was revoked due to the price of an icebreaker. So, my father wasn¿t too happy. The icebreaker cost too much; Citroen had said ¿no¿. They took it up again once Mr. Citroen had freed himself of the Lazare Bank and his debts, and so, in `28, they took up the idea of crossing this continent, still keeping with the development of the artistic-cultural side. But, there was no longer an economic side to it, because we didn¿t have a colony to develop on the route that was covered.

Q: If you could come up with the principle reason to take on this kind of feat, it¿s less economic than the knowledge ...

A: Knowledge, scientific and cultural - the different countries traveled.

Q: And that¿s why he created a rather particular team?

A: The team was created completely in that sense. That is to say, you had a historian, who was Mr. I-Forget-His-Name, which is absolutely horrible to say ... Mr. le Fevre, so Mr. le Fevre - historian. Several people had predicted it - finally the choice was made for Mr. le Fevre, who had already made a voyage to China, and who had also written a great book on Russia, that was called ¿Un Bourgeois au Pays des Soviets¿ (An upper-middle-classman in a soviet country). You had Mr. Maynard Owen Williams, for the photo-documents; Mr. Joseph Arkin, archeological curator of the Guimet Museum;
Father Chardin, who was a geologist, and who wanted to pursue a very interesting research on the composition of soil, notably around the Gobi Desert, and he could always be seen with his little chisel and pail while the others were taking pictures, painting or writing in their travel journals. You also had Mr. Raymond, who was a naturalist; Alexander Yakolev, who I always called a painter-ethnologist, at least with an ethnological outlook; and then Mr. Sauvage, who was the filmmaker. So, you see, it was really a very good team.

Q: Was the Yellow Mission seen as a success? What did they accomplish and what was its importance during that era?

A: Well,
the mission was a very difficult one. You¿ll understand what I mean when I tell you that, when they spoke of the ¿Black Cruise¿, they were speaking of a happy Africa, and a triumphant mission. When they spoke of the Asian mission, between them ... but there, Mr. Citroen didn¿t want to hear such things ... they called it the cursed mission. That¿s just to show you how much they suffered on that mission. Nothing was simple in traveling through the countries crossed. Starting from Tehran, and even Karmantia, all throughout Persia, they were confronted by hardcore Islamists; they were well-received by the authorities, but were treated with hostility by the people. In Afghanistan, in the Northern part, the Russians had already started invading. They were forced to make a 1,500 kilometer-detour, which was dreadful for the caterpillar-trucks, which travelled at an average speed of 20 kilometers per hour. They passed through Condar and Gazani and Kaboul. There, they were faced with the hostilities of some people who came with machetes to a sacred pilgrimage cite, and it really made for a tense fifteen-or-so minutes. Then, they were affronted in the Himalayas. That, I think was something they didn¿t want to talk about, and I think that¿s a shame, because I personally think it was a triumph for them. They had left from Shrinagar on foot, for this enormous mountain range comprising of Pamiers, the Indian plate, and the Himalayas, it wasn¿t just the Himalayas. They had to leave from Shrinagar, to pass through Kilgit, in Tache-Gorgan, getting to China from Tache-Gorgan, in crossing the famous ... I can¿t remember the name of the river anymore ... the Alexander River, which was called the Axo. So, there, they abandoned the six cars and attempted to climb the Himalayas in only two cars. And that was terrifying, because obviously there weren¿t even trails, there were several mule paths, and then they found themselves in front of a rift created by an earthquake. And there they had to totally dismantled the two cars, carry them on their backs to the other side of the rift, and then get back into the cars and continue. And that was an exhausting task, that is to say that they only traveled several kilometers a day. Nevertheless, they got pretty high on the pass, but their attempts failed, so they had to go back to Mischgar, on Gilgit, and there they abandonned the two cars. Haardt¿s car was dismantled, put in a crate and sent back to Paris, while Audouin-Dubreuil¿s car stayed at the depot of the Amir of Hunsah, who was a little prince of Hunsah, and there, courageously, the whole team got on horses, except for the mechanics who had returned to France, and for three months, they travelled the Himalayas, between 2, 200 meters altitude and 5,200 meters, camping in horrible weather conditions, with a procession of several hundred people, who were needed to carry the equipment. So this was an absolutely extraordinary record. They arrived at that time in Singkong, on horseback, and they met with several members of the China group, in that there were two groups that left from a meeting-point - one group going by car, Haardt and Audouin-Dubreuil left from Beirut and headed toward Peking, while the group under the leadership of Mr. Victor Point left from Peking after their meeting, to join up again under normal circumstances in Axoo. What was not foreseen in the program was that those who had left from Peking were under the surveillance of a group of communist intellectual researchers, who belonged to the Kuomintang, and they were under inspection, and could not pursue their research, and were taken prisoner ar Ongshi, that is to say, in the middle of Singkong, and in the middle of Singkong in wartime. Prisoners of the communist General King. Nevertheless, several of them were able to meet up with two cars, and they met up at Axoo, by foot, once they had crossed the huge Caracum-Palmier Himalayan mountain range. So you see, the cursed mission, I can continue ... in the desert, in the grottos of Kisil, they tried to pursue their research, but they couldn¿t - they were hindered by the Chinese. When Georges-Marie Haardt and Audouin-Dubreuil arrived in Ongshi, they would still be held prisoner for two more months. The negotiations were very difficult; so much so that they got behind on their journey because of the incidents in crossing the Himalayas, and by the fact that the negotiations were so tedious to get out of Ongshi, and they had to return to Peking in the middle of winter, which had not been expected. So, they had to come up with special equipment to heat the cars¿ motors, the cars had to keep moving night and day because they wouldn¿t be able to start up again except with a blow-torch. It was horribly cold - minus 30¼, they drove night and day, crossing battle fields. There was a mechanic from the first group who had been held prisoner for several months, who had escaped. It was really an ordeal every step of the way. And besides, when they were preparing their trip to China, two years before the big departure, they had been told, ¿Never go into a Chinese town, even if you only camp near the city wall, you won¿t come out alive.¿ Of course the worst drama was the death of Georges-Marie Haardt, who died of exhaustion several days before arriving in Peking on February 12, 1932.

Q: At the time, when they were able to reach the Yellow Sea, was it considered a success? What was people¿s reaction in France and elsewhere?

A: There was a big reaction, a lot of dismay regarding the death of Georges-Marie Haardt, who was a hero. But for them, the goal had been achieved. People didn¿t really realize that the cars had been abandoned in the Himalayas, so the journey had appeared to be without fail. There had been that wonderful Citroen exposition on the ¿Yellow Cruise¿, the Guimet Museum exposition, newspapers around the world talking about this amazing voyage with its mechanical achievements, despite everything. And from the cultural aspect, it had much influence.

Q: What is the relation
ship between that expedition and modern times ... since we¿re in the process of exploring other planets and the depths of the oceans, is there a relationship between what they were trying to do and our era?

A: Let¿s say that they were tyring to do the impossible. It was truly ... well you know today, to go between Berut and Peiking is impossible. Things have evolved over the years - one could never get a passport to cross those countries. Perhaps one could go by plane, to Hongchi, but to re-travel that route, I think, is something that couldn¿t be done. So, to go to Mars, that¿s the big adventure of our time, and at that time, it was just that - the ultimate adventure. So in that respect, they¿re related.

Q: I¿d also like to ask you, when they came back, how did people react, were there parades, like those for Charles Lindbergh, or were they known - there was a lot written about them in France, was there not?

A: There were big events, presentations of their films, conferences, also with a huge
welcome, but there was also Haardt¿s funeral, because his body had been brought back on the Felix-Roussel, buried in the Passy Cemetery in Paris. It was very sad, and then Citroen was going through a bad time as well - terribly in debt - and finally, he was forced to give up his company, and he died very shortly afterward, always hoping to get back his company. But the Michelin brothers had bought it at the point of total bankruptcy, it was very sad. Citroen died in `35, so you see, they came back at the end of `32, the exposition was in `33, Citroen passed away in `35, and when Michelin took over, the name Citroen was greatly rubbed out. And for a long time, of course there was an artistic-cultural influence, and people spoke about the great adventure, but it would be a long time before its true value would be recognized.

Q: What was the French government¿s reaction? Did they give the legion of honor or any other honors to your father and the others?

A: Yes, of course, there were legions of honor, huge demonstrations, official receptions, receptions before the French president, showings of the film, but you know it wasn¿t in an easy context - the Depression wasn¿t far off, there were mixed reactions.

Q: (in English) Okay, this is part 2, the last part of the interview with Ariane Audouin-Dubreuil, daughter of Louis Audouin-Dubreuil, who organized the Citroen ¿Mission Jaune¿ in Asia. (back in French) Another thing I wanted to ask you was ...we know there were 3 articles in the National Geographic, complete with photos. Were there also reactions outside of France concerning the mission?

A: Yes, I totally forgot to tell you about the person who was in charge of the radio, they had what was called a TSF at the time, so each day, the French received a transmission regarding the mission¿s position, whether it was in the middle of Himalayas, the Gobi Desert, or in Afghanistan, they would put up the antenna and transmit it on TSF. The TSF was taken across the China Sea by ship, and when the boat Valdecruso capsized, they sent back the message to Berut and Berut sent the message to Citroen, and it passed directly through the radio waves in France, which was at the time, from a scientific point-of-view, a very effective trial. So, there was always information regarding the progress of the mission. And besides, Citroen who was able to foresee everything as I already said, had already made a map of the journey with little paper flags, on one side Chinese flags, and on the other side French flags, and the French who knew of the mission¿s progress would stick the little flags on the map according to their advancement. You see, everything had been thought of, and in that manner, the whole world was informed daily of the mission¿s advancement. So it was really a kind of live reporting for that day.

Q: That¿s amazing. And what did your father do - did he continue in that field of exploration?

A: You know, there was the death of his friend, Georges-Marie Haardt, and the end of a great voyage. And then Citroen¿s death and the fall of, the end of the Citroen factories, my father had also been the director of the Citroen factories in Tunisia. So he stayed on for some time, and then he entered the war - the 2nd World War - my father had never completely withdrawn from the army, so he re-enlisted, as we say in France, he was in the 4th regiment in Africa, he left for North Africa during World War II, and he was stuck there in the least combatant situation in Tunisia, he was a part of a few combats. After the war, not being so young anymore, he wrote a lot. He had already written a book about his first crossing of the Sahara, he had written a book and his travel journal about the ¿Black Cruise¿. And even though there was a historian on the Asian mission, my father published a book based on his travelogue which was awarded an honor by the French Academy, which was titled, ¿On the Road of Silk¿ (¿Sur la Route de la Soie¿), recognized by the French Academy. After the war, he wrote a series about the war in Tunisia, and he came out with two books - and then a charming book about his daily life in Southern Tunisia, where he stayed in a super house, you see the photos on the wall, it¿s the interior of that Arabian house that he bought in 1919, a house where he would go to write his books after each mission and where he died. And you¿ll notice that in the center of that patio is his tomb. My father died in `60, and had prepared his tomb. But in the meantime, he had had built a ¿bordge¿ of earth, dried in the sun, a kind of castle-fortress, dominating the Timimoon oasis in the middle of the Sahara (tape switch) ...because he kept a Saharan spirit. He continued a life of adventure because he would cross the Sahara every few years to spend several months in his bordge.

Q: And he was 80-years old?

A: No, my father died at age 73. And in the end, he could no longer travel there because the war in Algeria had broken out.

Q: What had become of Andre Citroen? You said he¿d been having a hard time ...

A: Andre Citroen died of cancer in 1935. He had still been hoping to get back his factories.

Q: Does Citroen today take any interest in the expeditions of that era?

A: After a very long period of silence, it¿s true that in the interest of launching a new car, they brought up the early days of Citroen with the caterpillar-tractor car. So, they regularly broadcasted these films on TV for certain anniversaries.

Q: After the Yellow Mission ...

A: There was a long silence, because the Michelin brothers, who took it over, did not have that much interest in what you¿d call Citroen¿s glory. But I must say that for the past thirty years, it has resurfaced. Notably, the person in charge of communications at Citroen, Mr. Vulgansanger, who did his best to try and revive the mission.

Q: But he never recreated the Yellow Mission?

A: No, he never recreated it. They tried, I think, to do Paris-Peking on horseback, but you know, it wasn¿t a real expedition, bringing spare parts and assembling them on site. It wasn¿t at all the same spirit of adventure. And then, in the case of ? they went as fast as possible. That wasn¿t at all the idea of Mr. Citroen; it wasn¿t about breaking a speed record. It was about traveling and reporting experiences. So it wasn¿t at all in the same vein. The Paris-Dakar is really about going as fast as possible and smashing up your car. The people on the Citroen missions had a firm belief, which was to always arrive with the car in good condition. It was a different frame of mind.

End of Log (Partial)

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