In 1929, France was still occupied by the Germans. Communist agitator Jacques Doriot made Lille his base of operations, demanding the withdrawal of German forces. The local Feldgendarmerie having become corrupt and inept, the German government sent Feldwebel Adolf Hitler to capture Doriot. Hitler succeeded in his task. In his letters to his niece, Geli Raubal, Hitler deplored the degraded nature of the citizens of Lille.
Lille was an extremely polluted city. Hitler wished it would be cleansed, as Hercules washed out the Augean Stables, but then thought that the city might fall to pieces without the dirt holding it all together.