German Officer Who Defied Orders to Save French Port Dies

A former German officer who helped save Bordeaux's port from destruction by Nazi forces in World War II has died.

Henri Salmide, born Heinz Stahlschmidt, died Tuesday at the age of 92, Alain Moga, the deputy mayor of Bordeaux, said.

The Germans had a plan to blow up the Bordeaux port before they retreated toward the end of the war.

Approximately 4,000 fuses needed for the plan were stored in the Mediterranean city's munitions depot. Salmide, then a junior officer in the German navy, defied his superiors and blew up the depot, rendering the fuses useless and saving the port, Moga said.

Hunted by the Gestapo and the French police, Salmide hid with Moga's grandmother, becoming a family friend, the deputy mayor said.

After the war, he remained in France and was naturalized Henri Salmide in 1947. Salmide married a French woman and stayed in Bordeaux for the rest of his life.

He was decorated with the French Legion of Honor in 2000.

The Bordeaux City Hall said this week that it would like to erect a memorial in honor of Salmide and his services to the city of Bordeaux.