Sunday, September 27, 2015

Resistance movements during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means—ranging from non-cooperation, disinformation and propaganda, to hiding crashed pilots and even to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns. In many countries, resistance movements were sometimes also referred to as “The Underground.”

Among the most notable resistance movements were the Polish Resistance, including the Polish Home ArmyLeśni and the whole Polish Underground State; the Soviet partisans, the Italian Resistenza led mainly by the Italian CLN; the French ResistanceYugoslav Partisans, Belgian Resistance, Norwegian Resistance, Greek Resistance and the Dutch Resistance.

Many countries had resistance movements dedicated to fighting the Axis invaders, and Germany itself also had an anti-Nazi movement. Although Britain was not occupied during the war, the British made preparations for a British resistance movement, called the Auxiliary Units in the event of a German invasion. Various organizations were also formed to establish foreign resistance cells or support existing resistance movements, like the British SOE and the American OSS (the forerunner of the CIA).

There were also resistance movements fighting against the Allied invaders. In Italian East Africa, after the Italian forces were defeated during the East African Campaign, some Italians participated in a guerrilla war against the British (1941–1943). The German Nazi resistance movement (Werwolf) never amounted to much. The Forest Brothers of Estonia. Latvia and Lithuania included many fighters who operated against the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States into the 1960s. During or after the war, similar anti-Soviet resistance rose up in places like Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Chechnya. While the Japanese were famous for "fighting to the last man," Japanese holdouts tended to be individually motivated and there is little indication that there was any organized Japanese resistance after the war.

After the first shock following the Blitzkrieg, people slowly started to get organized, both locally and on a larger scale, especially when Jews and other groups were starting to be deported and used for the Arbeitseinsatz (forced labor for the Germans). Organization was dangerous; so much resistance was done by individuals. The possibilities depended much on the terrain; where there were large tracts of uninhabited land, especially hills and forests, resistance could more easily get organized undetected. This favored in particular the Soviet partisans in Eastern Europe. In the much more densely populated Netherlands, the Biesbosch wilderness could be used to go into hiding. In northern Italy, both the Alps and the Apennines offered shelter to partisan brigades, though many groups operated directly inside the major cities.

There were many different types of groups, ranging in activity from humanitarian aid to armed resistance, and sometimes cooperating to a varying degree. Resistance usually arose spontaneously, but was encouraged and helped mainly from London and Moscow.


Women were generally confined to underground roles in the French Resistance network.

Lucie Aubrac, who has become a symbol of the French Resistance within France, never had a clearly defined role in the hierarchy of the movement, which in her case involved the regional Southern Liberation. Hélène Viannay, more highly educated than her husband Philippe Viannay, the founder of the Défense de la France, did not write one single article for the clandestine newspaper of the same name, nor did the other companions of the chiefs of the Défense de la France, although they did take part in meetings to edit the newspaper. On the other hand, Suzanne Buisson, cofounder of the Comité d'action socialiste (CAS) was the treasurer until her arrest. Only one woman, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, was a head of a network (by leading the British to believe that the true head of the Alliance network was actually a man). No woman ever led a movement, or a maquis (guerilla group) or a Liberation Committee; none was installed as a Commissioner within the Provisional Government of the Republic of France or a Minister of the Liberation.

Only a limited minority took part in the armed battles. Although women were typical partisan resistance fighters in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and the occupied USSR, feared and as numerous as men, they were a small minority in the maquis in France. It has been speculated that this may have been influenced by the fact that French women were not subject to the Service du travail obligatoire (Compulsory Work Service; STO), as were women in other occupied territories.

Women organized demonstrations of housewives in 1940, were active in the comités populaires of the clandestine PCF, and ever present with encouragement and material aid for strikers, as in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais in May 1941, as well as supporting the maquis. They were indispensable as typists, and above all as liaison agents—in part because the Germans distrusted women less, and also because the numerous identification controls against resistors of STO did not apply to them. Historian Olivier Wieviorka emphasizes that the strategy of these movements was often, in fact, to put women into missions that required visibility, since they were less exposed to repression: the Vichy government of occupied France and the German military were not able to fire on French women demanding food for their children.

Some of the most prominent women in the French Resistance were Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux who was chief of the women's section of the Organisation civile et militaire. She was also a member of the Paris Liberation Committee. Following the French Liberation, she was a Deputy and then Senator of the French government. Touty Hiltermann played a decisive role in the establishment and functioning of the Dutch-Paris movement. Germaine Tillion became head of the Hauet-Vildé Resistance network from 1941 to 1942, later approved by the larger Resistance network Groupe du musée de l'HommeHélène Studler organized réseau d'évasions, networks for smuggling dissidents out of France. Thousands of prisoners and Resistance members escaped to freedom through her work. She organized the escape of François Mitterrand, the future President of France; Boris Holban, founder of the network FTP-MOI in March 1942; and General Henri Giraud on 17 April 1942.

It is also worth noting that innumerable clandestine combatants survived the war as a couple, and that their Resistance participation would have been impossible or unsurvivable without the support of their companion at their side: Cécile Rol-Tanguy and husband Henry, Lucie Aubrac and husband Raymond, Paulette Kriegal-Valrimond and husband Maurice, Hélèn Viannay and husband Philippe, Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux and husband Pierre, Cletta Mayer and husband and many others were inseparable.

There were numerous women in the Resistance who married and had children entirely clandestinely, without interrupting their Resistance struggle. Some saved the lives of their husbands, such as Lucie Aubrac or Marie-Hélène Lefaucheux. Others shared their struggle up to torture, deportation and death, such as Madeleine Truel. The famous Convoi des 3100 of 24 January 1943, included many female resisters, communists and widows of men shot by the occupation regime, including Maï Politzer, wife of Georges Politzer or Hélène Solomon, daughter of the great scholar Paul Langevin and wife of writer Jacques Solomon.


A glossary of German terms and abbreviations found throughout this blog may be viewed by clicking HERE.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz (1920-2002)

Genevieve de Gaulle was the niece of General Charles de Gaulle. Her father was a diplomat and she spent much of her childhood traveling.

During WWII, she joined the Resistance movement at its early stage, recruiting Free France Resistance fighters. In 1944, she was arrested in Paris and shipped to the Ravensbruck concentration camp.

In her book The Dawn of Hope: A memoir of Ravensbruck, Genevieve documented the conditions of 75 Polish women in the camp who were operated on without anesthesia by a surgeon who later deliberately infected their wounds with gangrene, tetanus and streptococcus. She herself was subjected to beatings and near starvation conditions. After several months of performing backbreaking labor, she was mysteriously transferred to an area of the camp where inmates were treated less harshly. Shortly thereafter, she was put in a solitary confinement cell.

Since she did not know the reason for these changes, Genevieve expected to be executed at any time. What kept her from falling into total despair was the kindness of a fellow inmate, a Jehovah's Witness who brought her meals and gifts from other French prisoners. A few weeks after Paris was liberated, she was released from Ravensbruck and, in the 1950s, began a lifelong commitment to easing the plight of the poor. She died on 14 February 2002.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Annie Becker-Kriegel (1926-1995)

OBITUARY: Annie Kriegel

By Douglas Johnson
Posted October 23, 2011
Found at

Anyone who knew the Paris Latin Quarter in the late 1940s and early 1950s must have been aware of Annie Becker (or Annie Besse as she was known after her marriage to Guy Besse in 1947). As student, history teacher and journalist she was the leading militant of the Communist Party. There was scarcely a demonstration which did not seem to be led by her small, aggressive figure, deliberately provocative towards the police and violent in her denunciation of the enemy of the moment. She was important in the party apparatus, being responsible for cultural and intellectual affairs in the powerful federation of the Seine.

In 1953 some difference began to appear between the party direction and herself. Perhaps she seemed too committed to a particular line of policy. Then, since she had firmly linked the French party to Stalinism, the death of Stalin, the Khrushchev Report, and the reaction of the French leadership to these happenings, caused her to leave the party in 1957. She turned to research in history and became a supporter of the right wing, particularly after the return of de Gaulle to power. But unlike other former Communists, she continued to study communist theory and practice.

She began writing articles on a wide variety of subject for Le Figaro in the 1970s and she found no difficulty in writing for a paper that was owned and run by the wealthy, right-wing Robert Hersant. When Raymond Aron decided reluctantly that Le Figaro had become a publication with which he no longer wished to be associated, Kriegel was one of the few of his friends who urged him to stay on. It was during these years that she became the most fervent admirer and supporter of the state of Israel.

The explanation of this remarkable career is to be found in her wartime experience. Coming from a Jewish-Alsatian family and having passed idyllic school days in the Marais district of Paris, she encountered the anti-Semitic legislation of the occupation and then the infamous round-up of Jews on 16 July 1942. She frequently recalled how on that day she was at the crossing of the Rue de Turenne and the Rue de Bretagne. She had witnessed the unusual sight of a French policeman with tears running down his face, she saw flocks of children and old people carrying bundles, and then came the screams.

As the men were forcibly separated from the women and children she heard screams which she said contained all the pain that life and death provide. She did not know what to do. She sat on a bench and wept. "It was on that bench that I left my childhood," she afterwards said.

She escaped from Paris and joined the Resistance movement at Grenoble, at the age of 16, and was brought into the Communist-controlled group of immigrant workers, where Jews were prominent. With the Liberation she became a student at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Sevres, where she announced herself as the absolute communist. She shared a room with my wife (then Madeleine Rebillard) who tells me that she decorated it with a machine-gun and a lavish display of communist resistance pamphlets. She asserted her beliefs vigorously. For example, when a fellow student spoke of eventually bringing up a family, she was denounced as bourgeoise. The place for children was in a state-run creche. Her discourse of power was that victory had been that of the Soviet Union and the communist resistance. They would go on to change the world.

After she had left the party, her historical work was learned but controversial. She described the creation of the French party in 1920 as a banal accident that only acquired significance because of the intervention of the Russian Bolsheviks. A communist party in a society which it did not dominate was forced to establish a counter-society, with unfortunate results.

She married a doctor and became Annie Kriegel; she brought up four children (without sending them to creches); the University of Paris-Nanterre made her a professor; increasing deafness emphasised her isolation, although she was respected as an individual force amongst French intellectuals.

But she longed for another ideal to which she could become passionately attached. She found it in the state of Israel. Her background and her experience came together in a concept of Jewishness over which the endangered state of Israel presided. She preached its cause; she refused to believe that it would ever be defeated. The words of Charles Peguy were relevant: "the soldier who never admits that he has been defeated is always right".

As for herself she concluded her autobiography, Ce que j'ai cru comprendre, with the words "J'ai continue". Annie Becker, teacher, historian, journalist: born Paris 9 September 1926; married 1947 Guy Besse (marriage dissolved), secondly Arthur Kriegel; died Paris 26 August 1995.

Lucie Bernard-Aubrac (1912-2007)

Lucie Bernard, the daughter of modest Burgundy winegrowers, was born on 29 June 1912 in Macon, France. She married Raymond Samuel with whom she had three children: Jean-Pierre, Catherine (who later became de Gaulle's goddaughter) and Elizabette (who later became Ho Chi Minh's goddaughter). Raymond later changed his name to Aubrac due to open anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France.

After the fall of France, Lucie joined the Libération-sud resistance group in Lyon after its formation by her husband. Later, she followed him to the Charles Delestraint's group. In 1941 they joined forces with Emmanuel d'Astier to run the underground newspaper, Libération.

On 21 June 1943, the Gestapo captured Raymond alongside high-ranking Resistance member Jean Moulin (under the alias "Max") and many others. They were taken to Montluc prison, located near Lyon. The Nazis sought Jean Moulin in particular as he was General Charles de Gaulle's top representative in the French Resistance.

Lucie was able to talk face-to-face with Klaus Barbie, Lyon's Gestapo chief. Her alias was "Ghislaine de Barbentane", a name of high-standing, noble origin. Because of her pregnancy and a specific provision of French law called "marriage in extremis," under which a person condemned to death can marry civilly, Lucie managed to convince Barbie that she was unmarried, and being pregnant could not be a mother without being married (known as a fille-mère). Barbie unwisely allowed Raymond to be released for the wedding, which gave Lucie and the Resistance an opportunity.

On the day of their "marriage", 21 October 1943, Lucie and her comrades attacked the German truck that was transporting the prisoners back to German command, and released Raymond along with the thirteen other members of the Resistance being held. Six Germans, including the truck driver and five guards, were killed during the attack and escape.

Lucie and Raymond Aubrac became lovers on 14 May 1939. Each year on that date, they treated themselves to dinner at Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower. Lucie died in a Paris suburb on 14 March 2007.


From her book Lucie Aubrac: The French Resistance Heroine Who Defied the Gestapo:

"In the summer of 1940, when Paris was struggling with the new Occupation, a Socialist called Jean Texcier had produced a Manual of Dignity which was secretly passed from hand to hand. Included in his 'Advice to an Occupied Population' were semi-facetious suggestions - soldiers asking for directions in the street should be courteously sent the wrong way, for example. But Texcier's message was a serious one. 'Husband your anger,' he wrote, 'for you may need it [and] have no illusions: these men are not tourists.'

Now Liberation began to write its own editorials on how to deal with the conquerors in their midst: Whenever Germans arrived in cafes or restaurants, all French should ostentatiously rise and leave; swastika should be chalked on buildings belonging to industrialists or merchants who worked with the invader; and patriotic bunting should be hung in the streets on the anniversary of the Battle of the Marne, when French troops had soundly beaten the Germans in 1914."

Marie-Madeleine Bridou-Fourcade (1909-1989)

Marie-Madeleine Bridou, daughter of a steamship company executive, was born in Marseilles in 1929. She married in 1929 but despite giving birth to two children, the relationship didn't last. She went to work for a publishing company in Paris. 

When Henri-Philippe Petain signed the armistice with Germany in June, 1940, she joined the French Resistance and worked under Georges Loustaunau-Lacau. After Loustaunau-Lacau was arrested in May 1941, Marie-Madeleine took over the running of the unit.

The group concentrated on obtaining intelligence information about the German armed forces and sending it to Britain. The British military authorities were so impressed with the quality of this information they sent her a wireless operator in August, 1941. It turned out this wireless operator was a double agent and Marie-Madeleine and several of her unit were arrested by the Gestapo. Unlike most of her colleagues Marie-Madeleine managed to escape and was forced into hiding.
After sending her children to live in Switzerland she now concentrated on helping to develop a network for returning shot down airman to Britain.

In July 1943, MI6 decided it was too dangerous for Marie-Madeleine to remain in France and brought her to England with her latest batch of airmen. She then ran her network from a house in Chelsea. Soon after the D-day landings Marie-Madeleine returned to France where she was soon captured by the Gestapo. But once again she managed to escape and get back to Allied lines. 

During WWII 438 members of Marie-Madeleine's network were executed. In 1973 Marie-Madeleine wrote about her wartime experiences in Noah's Ark (thus called by the Germans because agents took the names of animals and birds). She died on 20 July 1989.

France Bloch-Serazin (1913-1943)

France Bloch, daughter of Jean-Richard Bloch, was born on 21 February 1913. After obtaining a degree in Chemistry, she began working at the laboratory of Professor Urbain at the National Institute of Chemistry. She joined the Communist party and became involved in the support of Spanish Republicans.

In May 1939 she married Fredo Serazin with whom she had one son: Roland. Fredo was a metallurgist working at the Hispano-Suiza automobile factory. He was arrested by the Daladier government in February 1940.

After the German occupation of France, France was barred from her laboratory as an Jewish communist and had to work as a tutor in order to survive. In 1941 she participated in the communist resistance group led by Raymond Losserand. She installed a rudimentary laboratory in her two-room apartment and made grenades and detonators used in attacks organized by the youth resistance at the end of August 1941.

France was arrested by the French police on 16 May 1942. After four months of interrogation and torture, she was condemned to death by a German military tribunal along with 18 co-conspirators who were immediately executed. France was deported to Germany and imprisoned in a fortress at Lubeck where she was subjected to further torture. She was decapitated by guillotine on February 12, 1943 in Hamburg.

Micheline Blum-Picard Glover (1924(-2000)

Micheline Glover, 76, a Bold Figure in the French Resistance

By William H. Honan
Published April 24, 2000
Found at

Micheline Glover, who as an 18-year-old girl worked for the French Resistance during World War II, delivering secret messages under the eyes of unwitting German soldiers, died April 15 in White Plains Hospital in White Plains, N.Y. She was 76.

Mrs. Glover, who was born in Paris, received a citation after the war from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for one of her activities in the Resistance: rescuing Allied airmen shot down by the Nazis.

She recalled in a privately published memoir that she was first drawn to the Resistance -- the clandestine underground that sought to disrupt the German occupation of France -- when at age 16 she joined a student protest march in Paris. German troops fired on the students with machine guns, killing several.

Two years later, after Mrs. Glover had moved with her family to Montlucon, she discovered that her English tutor was in the Resistance, and she asked him whether she could do something ''to help our cause.''

Soon Mrs. Glover became a courier for Pierre Kaan, a philosophy professor who was a major figure in the Resistance. Professor Kaan, who was Jewish, was eventually captured and killed in a Nazi death camp.

Mrs. Glover's first assignments were riding trains throughout the country, carrying secret messages taped to her back. In this work, she seems to have had nerves of steel.

Once, the train in which she was riding came to a sudden halt. She and the other passengers were told to leave the train to have their identification papers checked. Mrs. Glover's papers were found to be unacceptable, and she was instructed to stand aside while other passengers were checked and questioned. She followed orders, but when the passengers with acceptable identification papers were told to return to the train, Mrs. Glover slipped away from her forgetful guard and quietly boarded the train as it pulled out of the station.

On one occasion, she recalled in her memoir, she sat in a cafe filled with German soldiers and passed messages to her contact, sipping a glass of wine.

Another time, in still another cafe filled with enemy soldiers, her contact whispered a desperate request to her to help him repair the package he was carrying. She did his bidding, but not without first discovering that the package contained a deflated rubber raft destined for some secret mission.

A more elaborate and perhaps even more dangerous mission involved photographing the damage sustained by a large tire factory that had been bombed by American aircraft.

She could not afford to be caught prowling a factory that produced strategic war materials, but in the rubble she came upon two American airmen who had been shot down in the attack. Somehow, she would have to spirit them out of the country. She procured a couple of bicycles for the airmen to ride by night, only to discover that neither knew how to ride a bicycle.

''I was very glad we did not meet any German patrols on our way,'' she wrote.

One of the airmen was later killed; the other escaped.

Mrs. Glover finished the war as an interpreter and was awarded a medal of honor from the French government.

She met her husband, Garlan Glover, at a Red Cross dance in Paris. The couple married and moved to White Plains in 1955. Mrs. Glover then devoted herself to raising a family.

Micheline Blum-Picard was born in Paris, the daughter of a French government official. She attended school in Montlucon.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Glover is survived by a daughter, Christiane, of Ossining, N.Y.; four sons, Derek of Ridgefield, Conn., Brian of White Plains, Renny of Boulder, Colo., and Wayne of North White Plains; and six grandchildren.

Mrs. Glover recalled that in her Resistance work, after she received word that Allied forces were about to land on the Normandy coast, she asked to take part in the fighting. Her superiors decided that she could not be allowed to serve as a combat soldier, but rather as a nurse.

Nevertheless, she got her way. Even as a nurse, she was permitted to carry a rifle, a pistol and a hand grenade. She recalled that she fired repeatedly once the landings began, but could not be certain whether she hit anyone.

Boulloche Siblings

The Last Train Out of Paris

Auschwitz train. Photo by MaximilienM (2011)
Auschwitz train. Photo by MaximilienM (2011)
At 3:00 AM on Sunday, 6 August 1944, Gestapo agents burst into the third floor apartment in Paris belonging to Jacques and Hélène Boulloche (28, avenue d’Eylau). They were looking to arrest Christiane Boulloche, Jacques and Hélène’s 20 year-old daughter. The Boulloche sisters, Christiane and Jacqueline, and their brother, André, had joined the fledgling resistance movement in Paris at the outset of the Nazi occupation beginning in June 1940.
What made these 3 Résistants different than most? Well, first of all, they survived (André was one of the few who returned from the extermination camps—three including Auschwitz). The life expectancy of a resistance member in Paris (especially after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and the resistance movement became more active) was about 4-weeks. The second major difference was that they joined early on without having any political agenda. They joined because it was the right thing to do. Many of the Résistants during the subsequent years of occupation were communists and their leaders had political agendas. Towards the end when it became clear the Allies would liberate France and Paris, many people “joined” the resistance movement.
Jacques, Hélène, and the oldest son, Robert, did not join the resistance. Jacques and Robert were mid-level government bureaucrats who felt it was their duty to keep the country running (albeit under the Vichy regime). While they knew their 3 youngest children were involved, the parents knew nothing of their resistance activities. After the Allies successfully invaded Northern Africa in November 1942, the Germans took over France and eliminated the unoccupied zone. They also stepped up their brutality towards the citizens of Paris and France. They would now arrest, torture, and deport the immediate family members of a known or suspected Résistant.
Over the next week, visitors to the Boulloche apartment were detained and interrogated by the Gestapo and the French paramilitary police known as the Milice. During this time, the imprisoned Boulloches were tortured by the Gestapo (Hélène was water boarded) and when the Nazis finally determined these 3 people had no idea where Christiane was hiding, they were stuffed into a cattle car at the Pantin Station. Among the French prisoners on the train were André Boulloche’s friend and former school mate, André Rondenay, and another Résistant, Alain de Beaufort.
The train convoy left Paris on 15 August 1944 (ten days before the liberation of Paris). Less than an hour outside Paris, the train stopped and Rondenay and de Beaufort were taken off and loaded into a car. They were taken into the forest and executed by a Gestapo firing squad. The train was the last one leaving Paris that would arrive in Germany. It was also one of the few that did not carry Jews—only political prisoners (the Boulloche family were Catholic).
The men were taken to Buchenwald while the women went to Ravensbrück. Hélène died on 25 October 1944. After his wife’s letters stopped, Jacques died at Buchenwald on 18 February 1945, while Robert had succumbed on 20 January 1945 at a sub-camp of Dora-Mittelbau.
A black granite tomb inscribed Famille A. Boulloche is located at Pére Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The names of the 3 family members, Jacques, Hélène, and Robert, are chiseled on the top. The grave is empty.
The full story of the Boulloche family during the occupation of Paris is told by Charles Kaiser in his book, The Cost of Courage. It’s a remarkable story that I urge you to read.
Found at

Gabrielle "Gaby" Buffet-Picabia (1881-1985)

Jeanne Bohec (1919-2010)

Jeanne Bohec was born in 1919 in Plestin-les-Greves, France. Until the age of 10, when her father retired from the Navy, she accompanied her parents from port to port ending up in Angers where she spent her adolescence. An avid reader, her favorite books told the story of Belgian women of espionage during the Great War and naval battles.

In September 1939, as Poland was invaded by Germany, Jean started thinking about the 'approaching monster.' One day a stranger crosses her path and remarks, "Games are finished now, we have to think about the serious things." Jeanne recalls, "He could not know how much I agreed with him ... I felt an acute desire to do something. But what?" In Angers, and far from the war, she felt mostly useless and began to train in civil defense and first aid techniques.

The first attacks on Belgium happened on 10 May 1940 and were followed by a rapid advance into French territory. On June 18, preferring to not succumb to the defeatist discourse growing around her, she filled a large suitcase and told her cousin she was going to find a boat to England (her parents were away at the time). After several attempts, she found the tug Bee 4 was about to set sail. On board are 5-6 crew members, 2-3 crew wives and a family of four with their dog. At 1900 hours, as night falls, the tug's captain says, "Well, look back no further!"

They landed in Plymouth on June 21 and those on board were brought to a triage center where they were briefed by waiting intelligence officers. A few hours later, they were taken by train to London.

Once in London, Jeanne became involved with the French Volunteers of the Free French Forces. She worked first as a secretary and then as a chemist in the research laboratory involved in the manufacture of explosives. With the help of Henri Frenay, she entered the BCRA and began her training in sabotage. She eventually became an expert in plastique explosives.

On 20 February 1944 she was parachuted back into France, where she was greeted with, "What's going on? They're sending us children now!" Although she was better qualified than most men to use the machine guns that were parachuted it, her efforts to join in maquis combat were overruled. She was informed that women were not supposed to fight when men were available.

Jeanne died on 11 January 2010 and was buried in Plestin-les-Greves.

Celia Bertin (1920-2014) ~ aka Jean Voilier

Celia Bertin was born in Paris, Ile-de-France on 22 October 1920. Daughter of a boureois family, she was educated in Paris where she studied English literature.

She worked as a resistant for Pierre de Lescure, member of the Intelligence Service. Having fled Paris for security reasons, she was sent in October 1944 to Switzerland by Pierre-Henry Teitgen, an important leader of the Resistance. There she gave lectures on the Resistance.

Celia later married to Jerry Reich of New York and lived in Boston, New Hampshire, Maine and Paris where she died on 27 November 2014

Claudette Blance

Claudette Blance was an intelligence officer in the French Resistance (Maquis) and a lieutenant in the Free French Army. Her residence was used as a safe house by the Jude Jedburgh Team in 1944. As of this writing, nothing more is known of her. (JH Oct 2015)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sabine Chwast-Zlatin (1907-1996)

Sabine "Yanka" Chwast was born in Poland on 13 January 1907. As a young woman, she could not abide the stifling home environment or the widespread anti-Semitism in Poland and decided, in the mid-1920s, to leave her homeland.

Through her studies, she moved successively to Danzig, Koenigsberg, Berlin and Brussels finally arriving in Nancy, France where she began studying art history. There she met Miron Zlatin, a young Jewish student who was preparing a graduate degree at the Agricultural University of Nancy. Miron and Sabine were married 31 July 1927 and in 1929 they acquired a poultry farm which, after some difficulties, proved a success. They were naturalized 26 July 1939. (The couple had no children.) 

Children if Izieu (1943)
After the outbreak of WWII, Sabine began to train with the Red Cross. When the Germans advanced into France, the Zlatins moved to Montpellier, where Sabine was posted to a military hospital. After the formation of the Vichy government in 1941, she was forced to leave.

At the Hérault prefecture in the French-occupied zone, she contacted OSE, a charity for Jewish children, and helped to secure the release of those who had been interned in the camps at Agde and Rivesaltes. When the Germans occupied the rest of the France in 1943, she took 17 children with her to the Italian-occupied zone. Through the recommendation of the sub-prefect of Belley, she received permission to use a house in Izieu and founded the Hérault refugee children's home La Maison d'Izieu (Children's Home of Izieu) where Jewish children were hidden.

On 6 April 1944, the Lyon Gestapo, led by Klaus Barbie, raided the house and took away all 44 children and the 7 adults who were taking care of them. Sabine herself was elsewhere at the time. Forty-two of the children and five of the adults were gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp, while two of the teenage children and the home superintendent, Miron Zlatin, were executed by firing squad at Reval in Estonia.

In 1987 Sabine testified against Barbie in his war crimes trial. The same year she founded an association to create a museum for the Izieu victims. She received support from various sources, including from French president François Mitterrand. The museum opened on 4 April 1994 in the very house that she had used to try to protect the children.


In January 1942, French policemen began a special mission, in collaboration with Nazi officials, to seize those in the Resistance. 230 women were captured and sent to a German prison.

Apart from being women resisters, few had collaborated together before being captured and had little in common. Some were from rural France, others from big cities; their professions ranged from doctor and midwife, to secretary, hairdresser and teacher; their ages ran between 17 and 67; some were single, others were grandparents; and though nearly half of them communists, others were not. 

On 24 January 1943, the women were loaded into a cattle car transport called “Convoi des 31000” and transferred to Auschwitz. They were the only group of non-Jewish women sent to death camps during the Nazi occupation. Despite being treated better than the camp’s Jewish population, only 80 of the 230 women were still alive within 10 weeks of their arrival — some died from typhus, starvation and dysentery. Others by gassing, gunshot or as victims of "the race" of 10 February 1943.

Of the 230 women, only 49 survived. In her book A Train in Winter, Caroline Moorehead emphasized that friendship helped them get through the hardships they endured. Separated from home and loved ones, their common experience conquered divisions of age, education, profession and class as they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.

Detailed biographies may be found for these women by clicking HERE. The link will take you to a page where they are listed by last name. It is in French:

31779 Jeanne "Muguette" Borderie-Alexandre (1912-1943)
31777 Marie "Mariette" Alizon (1921-1943)
31776 Simone “Poupette” Alizon (1925-) *
31807 Helene Bolleau-Allaire (1924-) *
31778 Maria "Josee" Alonso (1910-1943)
31775 Helene Demangeat-Antoine (1898-1943)
31792 Yvonne T.-B. (1917-1943) =
31651 Marie-Jeanne Gantou-Bauer (1913-1984) *
31842 Germaine Pirou-Berger (1918-) *
31837 Eugenia "Jeanne-the-Russian" Beskine (1889-1943) =
31763 Antoinette Tressard-Besseyre (1919-) *
31771 Antoinette Meterreau-Bibault (1893-1943)
31734 Felicienne Pintos-Bierge (1914-1996) *
31652 Rosette Amelie Louise Blanc (1919-1943)
31737 Claudine Pinet-Blateau (1911-1981) *
31653 Yvonne Vauder-Blech (1907-1943)
31806 Emma Laumondais-Bolleau (1901-1943)
31848 Josee Bonenfant (-1943)
31... Yvonne Bonnard (1899-1943)
31650 Christiane "Cecile" Charua-Borras (1915-) *
31815 Leona Clemence Raveau-Boullard (1885-1943)
31... Alice Paris-Boulet (1914-1943)
31792 Yvonne Toublanc-Boutgourg (1908-)
31694 Sophie Czeposka-Brabander (1923-1943) =
31695 Helene Brabander (-1943)
31747 Georgette Fourcade-Bret (1905-1943)
31705 Simone Victorine Pichon-Brugal (1897-1943)
31808 Marcelle Bureau (1923-1943)
31738 Alice Gardelle-Cailbrault (1907-1943)
31740 Germaine Charles-Cantelaube (1908-1943)
31760 Yvonne Calmels-Carre (1897-1943)
31655 Vincentella "Danielle" Perini-Casanova (1909-1943) +
31719 Helene Vervin-Castera (1887-1943)
31691 Yvonne Richard-Cave (1896-1943)
31656 Camille Chaut-Champion (1898-1943)
31824 Marie-Mathilde Sapin-Chaux(1876-1943)
31796 Marguerite-Germaine Boucher-Chavaroc (1894-1943)
31687 Marie-Elisa Nordmann-Cohen (1910-1993) *
31853 Marie-Louise "Marilou" Mechain-Columbain (1920-1998) *
31657 Marguerite Helleringer-Corringer (1902-1999) *
31830 Renee Raquet-Cossin (1914-1943)
31765 Suzanne Boineau-Costentin (1893-1943)
31804 Sylviane Coupet (1925-1943)
31799 Yvonne-Marie Maguer-Courillat (1911-1943)
31772 Jeanne Couteau (1901-1943)
31685 Marie-Claude Vogel-Vaillant Couturier (1912-1996) * +
31690 Madeleine Demiot-Damous (1913-1943)
31625 Vittoria "Viva" Nenni-Daubeuf (1915-1943)
31658 Simone Noyer-David (1921-1943)
31639 Madeleine Dechavassine (1900-) *
31756 Charlotte Dauriat-Decock (1901-1945)
31659 Alida Charbonnier-Delasalle (1907-) *
31773 Rachel Deniau (1899-1943)
31767 Aimee Godefroy-Doridat (1905- / sister-in-law to Olga Godefroy) *
31762 Charlotte Merlin-Douillot (1900-1943 / mother to Rolande Vandaele)
31808 Germaine Legarde-Drapron (1903-) *
31693 Marie Corot-Dubois (1890-1943)
31746 Aurelle "Marie-Louise" Dudon-Ducros (1903-1943)
31661 Charlotte Delbo-Dudach (1913-1985) * +
31731 Elisabeth "Babet" Dufour-Dupeyron (1914-1943)
31703 Marie-Jeanne "Lili" Dupont (1921-) *
31751 Charlotte Clemence Henriette "Mauricette" Dupuis (1894-1943)
31727 Noemie Lesterp-Durand (1890-1943 / sister to Rachel Fernandez) =
31764 Simone Eiffes (1920-1943)
31662 Yvonne Lachaume-Emorine (1912-1942)
31724 Anne-Marie "Annette" Manchefaud-Epaud (1900-1943)
31625 Gabrielle Papillon-Ethis (1896-1943 / aunt to Henriette Pizzoli)
31723 Rachel Lesterp-Fernandez (1895-1943 / sister to Noemie Durand)
31816 Marie-Marcelle "Mitzy" Ferry (1918-1988) *
31663 Yvette Feuillet (1920-1943)
31839 Marie-Therese Naudin-Fleury (1907-1943)
31854 Rose-Michelle "Rosie" Floch (1925-1943)
31789 Emilie Angeline "Line" Porcher-Fourmy (1880-1943)
31793 Helene Pellault-Fournier (1904-1994) *
31826 Marcelle Fuglesang (1903-1943)
31... Marie Thomas-Gabb (1891-1943)
31642 Madeleine Van Hyfte-Galesloot (1908-1943)
31849 Yvonne-Renee Lucie Gallois (1921-1943)
31811 Suzanne Leblond-Gascard (1901-1943)
31833 Laure Gatet (1913-1943)
31750 Raymonde Le Margueresse-Georges (1917-1943)
31844 Sophie Richet-Gigand (1897-1943 / mother to Andree Gigand) =
31845 Andree Gigand (1921-1943 / daughter to Sophie Gigand)
31743 Yolande Pica-Gili (1922- /sister to Aurore Pica) *
31632 Angele-Marcelle "Renee" Girard (1894-1943)
31706 Germaine-Emma Girard (1904-1943)
31766 Olga Camus-Godefroy (1906-1943 / sister-in-law to Aimee Doridat)
31753 Marcelle "Paulette" Gourmelon (1924-1943)
31780 Franciska "Cica" Goutayer (1900-1943)
31770 Jeanne-Claire Bergoend-Grandperret (1896-1943)
31664 Claudine Guerin (1925-1943)
31729 Aminthe Auger-Guillon (1884-1943 / mother-in-law to Yvette Guillon) =
31730 Yvette Sardet-Guillon (1911-1943 / daughter-in-law to Aminthe Guillon) =
31631 Jeanne Guivarch-Guyot (1913-1945)
31636 Adrianne "Linotte" Coston-Hardenberg (1906-1943)
31755 Helene Hascoet (1910-1943)
31802 Adelaide "Heidi"  Hautval (1906-1988) * +
31832 Marthe "Violette" Guay-Hebrard (1911-1943)
31781 Lucette Suzanne Magui-Herbassier (1914-1943)
31... Jeanne "Janine" Herschtel (1911-1943)
31768 Jeanne Herve (1901-1943)
31699 Henriette Schmidt-Carr/Heussler (1912-1943)
31630 Marguerite-Josephine Hudelaine-Houdart (1904-1943)
31688 Henriette Merlin-L'Huillier (-1943)
31813 Jeanne Larcher-Humbert (1915-1943)
31827 Anna Karpen-Jacquat (1894-1943)
31782 Germaine Mouze-Jaunay (1898-1943)
31665 Marie-Louise Bonnat-Jourdan (1899-1943)
31759 Suzanne-Renee Juhem (1912-1943)
31698 Irina Byczeck-Karchewska (1899-1943)
31783 Emilia "Lea" Baliteau-Kerisit (1895-1943)
31707 Karolina Konefal (1920-1943)
31700 Eugenie Korzeniowska (1901-1943) =
31814 Marguerite Urgon-Kotlerewsky (1903-1943)
31795 Lina Kuhn or Kuhne (1908-1943)
31717 Georgette Reau-Lacabanne (1910-1943)
31666 Madeleine "Michele" Guitton-Laffitte (1914-1943)
31667 Gisele Lung-Laguesse (1915-1943)
31821 Lea Durbecq-Lambert (1892-1943)
31800 Therese Gady-Lamboy (1918-) *
31784 Fabienne Landy (1921-1943)
31668 Lucienne Langlois (1914-1943)
31721 Berthe Lescure-Lapeyrade (1895-1943) =
31... Suzanne Lasne (1924-1943)
31748 Fernande Lieval-Laurent (1902-1965)*
31785 Marcelle Mardelle-Laurillou (1914-1943)
31726 Lucienne "Nicole" Michaud-Lautissier (1923-) *
31669 Louise "Nayette" Amand-Lavigne (1904-1943)
31692 Luciennt Lebreton (1905-1943)
31841 Angele "Daniele" Denonne-Leduc (1891-1943)
31670 Marcelle Beziau-Lemasson (1909-) *
31786 Elisabeth-Marcelle Le Porte (1919-1943)
31835 Marguerite Joubert-Lermite (1910-1943)
31671 Marie Lesage (1898-1943)
31733 Charlotte Zanker-Lescure (1902-1943)
31803 Sophie Schaud-Licht (1905-1943)
31704 Yvonne Rose Llucia (1910-1943)
31672 Simone Fougere-Loche (1913-1943)*
31829 Alice Loeb (1891-1943)
31828 Louise Le Du-Loquet (1901-1943)
31835 Yvonne Loriou (1905-1943)
31757 Louise Marie-Losserand (1904-) *
31637 Jeannette “Carmen” Serre-Louis (1919-)*
31673 Louise Magadur (1899-)*
31... Suzanne Potet-Maillard (1894-1943)
31648 Lucienne Caccia-Mansuy (1915-2007) *
31787 Yvette Champion-Marival (1915-1943)
31696 Luz-Higinia Goni-Martos (1906-1943)
31788 Germaine Maurice (1918-1943)
31674 Henriette Caillor-Mauvais (1906-) *
31708 Olga Meru-Melin (1913-1945)
31851 Angele Mercier (1919-1943)
31818 Georgette "Jo" Lyet-Mesmer (1913-1943)
31... Suzanne Meugnot (1896-1943)
31675 Marthe Brillouet-Meynard (1912-1973) *
31676 Renee "Marcelle" Michaux (1920-1943)
31709 Simone Blanche Julie Brunet-Miternique (1906-1943) =
31677 Gisele Mollet (1920-1943)
31686 Suzanne Momon (1896-1943)
31820 Denise Cacaly-Moret (1919-1944)
31710 Marie-Louise Cribier-Morin (1888-1943 / mother to Madeleine Morin)
31... Madeleine Morin (1922-1943) / daughter to Marie-Louise Morin)
31825 Marie-Louise "Lisette" Moru (1925-1943)
31819 Marcelle Parate-Mourot (1918-) *
31702 Anna Nizinska (1917-1943)
31678 Madeleine Plantevigne-Normand (1897-1943)
31718 Yvonne Moudoulaud-Noutari (Yvette De Bordeaux / 1915-1944)
31660 Madeleine Dissoubray-Odru (1917-2012)*
31797 Toussainte "Nine" Oppici (1905-1943)
31801 Anne-Marie Borsch-Ostrowska (1900-1943)
31689 Lucienne Palluy (1910-1943)
31684 Helene Langevin-Solomon (1909-1995) * +
31728 Yvonne Pateau-Lateau (1901-1943)
31794 Eugenie Pakula-Pauquet (1922-) *
31633 Lucie "Lucette" Pecheux (1905-1943)
31817 Marie-Jeanne Pennec (1909-) *
31644 Madeleine Doiret-Perriot (1920-2001)*
31742 Aurore Pica (1924-1943 / sister to Yolande Gill)
31679 Germaine Morigot-Pican (1901-) *
31634 Yvonne Picard (1921-1943)
31812 Suzanne Buffard-Pierre (1912-1943)
31629 Renee "Bichette"Legros-Pitiot (1921-) *
31626 Henriette Papillon-Pizzoli (1920-1943 / niece to Gabrielle Ethis)
31769 Juliette Meme-Poirier (1918-1943)
31680 Marie "Mai" Fourcade-Politzer (1905-1943) +
31... Pauline Lafabrier-Pomies (1877-1943) =
31638 Delphine Jallat-Presset (1900-1943)
31722 Lucienne Ferre-Proux (1922-1943)
31654 Paulette "Pepee" Parant-Prunieres (1918-) *
31720 Marie-Therese Souriel-Puyoou (1897-1943)
31641 Jacqueline Quatremaire (1918-1943)
31725 Paula Trapy-Rabeaux (1911-1943)
31754 Constance Rappenau (1879-1943) =
31682 Germaine Renaud (1908-1943)
31716 Germaine Perraux-Renaudin (1906-1968) *
31840? Marguerite Cardinet-Richier (1881-1943 / mother to Armande & Odette Richier)
31846? Armande Richier (1916-1942 / daughter to Marguerite Richier)
31847? Odette Richier (1911-1943 / daughter to Marguerite Richier)
31741 Anne Riffaud-Richon (1898-1943)
31798 Gabrielle Bergin-Richoux (1894-1943)
31... Francine Rondeaux (1901-1943)
31850 Georgette Rostaing (1911-1943)
31701 Felicia "Lucia" Rostkowska (1908-1943)
31646 Denise Roucayrol (1901-1943)
31681 Suzanne Clement-Roze (1904-1943)
31838 Esterina Ruju (1885-1943)
31745 Leonie Daubigny-Sabail (1891-1943)
31713 Anna Gries-Sabot (1898-1943)
31683 Berthe-Celina Fays-Sabourault (1904-1943)
31645 Raymonde "Mounette" Salez (1919-1943)
31758 Simone Sampaix (1924-) *
31647 Alphonsine Guiard-Seibert (1899-1945)
31752 Leonie Seignolle (1901-)
31790 Raymonde Delalande-Sergent (1903-1943)
31823 Julia Slusarczyk (1902-) *
31791 Yvonne Houdayer-Souchaud (1897-1943)
31739 Jeanne Renon-Souque (1894-1943)
31805 Marguerite Battais-Stora (1895-1943)
31714 Andree Tamise (1922-1943)
31715 Gilberte Tamise (1912-2009) *
31642 Lucienne "Lulu" Serre-Thevenin (1917-2009) *
31640 Jeanne Thiebault (1909-1942)
31848 Josephine "Mado" Bizarri-Umido (1903-1943)
31732 Marguerite "Margot" Maurin-Valina (1906-1943)
31761 Rolande Douillot-Vandaele (1918- / daughter to Charlotte Douillot)*
31749 Theodora Disper-Van Dam (1882-1943 / mother to Reyna van Dam) =
31831 Reyna van Dam (1924-1943 /daughter to Theodora van Dam)
31697 Jakoba Van Der Lee (1891-1943) =
31810 Alice Varailhon (1897-1943)
31822 Alice Lumbroso-Viterbo (1895-1943) =
31744 Madeleine Davy-Zani (1915-1943)

=Victim of "The Race"
*Survived Auschwitz
+See Blog Post


A CONVOY OF WOMEN 1944-1945 
by Pierre-Emmanuel Dufayel

Review found/translated from:
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012

The Vendémiaire editions, in their collection "Investigations" publish a new book, based on research by Pierre-Emmanuel Dufayel, historian, doctoral student at the University of Caen Lower Normandy within the quantitative history Research Centre, and a member the research team at the Foundation for the Memory of the Deportation.

This historian devotes his research to French deported due to repression measures. They were more than 9,000, or 10% of the deportees of "political" nature listed by the Foundation for the Memory of the Deportation. In the spirit of the collection, it is a historical work undertaken from primary sources, archives and written testimonies.

Pierre-Emmanuel Dufayel dedicates this work to the study of the convoy of a thousand women deported from Compiegne, January 31, 1944, for the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück, whose identity is summed up upon arrival at camp , their serial numbers between 27,030 and 27,988 They become the "27000".

Of all the convoys of women, it is the only one for which a transport list has been preserved. Saved from destruction, the document for service at the camp was maintained by the secretaries held in the infirmary. As for other transport women it is sometimes difficult to determine accurately the identity of the remote, it delivers the names, first names, dates of birth, date and place of some transfers. To this are added major source of featured articles written by deportees on their return to obtain the statute of "political deported" and "CERD".

A problematic fueled by questions of historiography, a thorough analysis of sources, a rigorous and systematic review, allowing Pierre-Emmanuel Dufayel presented in eight chapters women of the convoy, the conditions of their arrest, internment and their journey, and their ordeal (and resistance) in the camp or in work Kommandos who depend on him for their return at last.

Who were the "27000"?
Over 70% of them were resistant, 75 members of different organizations. Three quarters were working for intelligence networks and escape, others were members of the great movements of resistance. Some had taken part in the armed struggle against the occupier, others parachuting operations or activities Assistance resistant families interned or deported, and others had participated in breakout networks; many had done intelligence work or had participated in the drafting, printing and distribution of newspapers and leaflets. More than 200 of them, of the 500 resistant whose author was able to identify the business, were liaison officers. Nearly half of the officers and members of the organizations had provided food and shelter to the resistance hunted, airmen fled or refractory seeking asylum, while hiding weapons, materials, equipment, or harboring resistant illegal. About 85% of them had entered the Resistance in 1942 and 1943.

Besides these explicitly committed women, we find a group of prisoners who, without having acted in an organization, had participated in what could be called "civil resistance": a hundred of these women had supported Resistance spontaneously passing housing agents, camouflaging sought clandestine resistance or hiding weapons and materials. Several were arrested for merely expressed their aversion to the Nazi regime, their sympathy for the Allies, or their patriotism. Those that were not were either resistant women, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, often arrested as hostages, either accidentally women arrested in a raid or prostitutes: at least 45 of those deported are arrested in connection with the measures taken to control sexual relations between French and Israeli troops, and thus ensure the safety of the occupied territory.

Just over two thirds of them resided in the departments of the occupied area, especially in large cities. A high proportion had a job, which clearly distinguishes them from the French female population of the time, where more than one in two women had no profession. They were of all generations, almost three-quarters were under 45 years; The oldest of them, Emilia Tillion, mother of Germaine Tillion, network member of the Museum of Man, was 68 years old; the youngest was 17 years old. Two-thirds of these women were married and mothers, including large family.

We see from all these details work quality and importance of the table that allows to draw the realities of the Resistance.

Arrest, conviction and detention
Some have been arrested by German authorities (the first Wehrmacht, Gestapo then) and sentenced by German military courts; the others were by French police, tried in French courts, jailed in French prisons and handed the hands of the German authorities: the story of these women demonstrates the interpenetration of French and German and repressive systems collaboration of the Vichy government. This is usually in this case, activists or sympathizers Communists. The arrest dates clearly show the emphasis and radicalization of repression from the beginning of 1943.

The arrested women were interned in German quarters installed in the French prisons. They were held incommunicado, interrogated and sometimes tortured and jailed in overcrowded jails, malnourished and kept in dreadful conditions promiscuity and unhealthy. The "27000" spend an average of six months in prison before being deported. Period of resistance, but also creating links almost "family", who sometimes maintain even in the concentration camps, and it will become synonymous with survival. ".

Compiegne in Ravensbrück
About two-thirds of women in this convoy were transferred to Compiegne Royallieu-camp during the weeks prior to departure. There they received the registration that will be theirs to Ravensbrück. On January 31, 1944 at dawn, they gathered outside their barracks for a call before setting off for Compiègne Train Station. She discovered the conditions of their journey, "a dusty wooden floor on which a bundle of straw was spread for convenience only iron can tinette converted to sole source of light and oxygen a screened window barbed son ." They arrive at the camp on the night of February 3, 1944.

Then begins the process of dehumanization: they are stripped naked, stripped of everything that could keep them épouillées, showered, accoutred mismatched clothes. They then undergo a period of quarantine, of varying length, during which the previously arrivals are French windows of their blocks warn them of the essence of what you need to know to have more chances to survive. This period is over, most are employed in drudgery Kommandos where the work is extremely difficult. Of these women, five, expecting a child, were returned to France: such a decision "is difficult to explain and remains rare." After August 1944 the Pregnant prisoners give birth in the camp under conditions more appalling; and almost all of the more than 500 infants die.

The concentration camp archipelago
70% of the inmates are sent to an outside Kommando in Ravensbrück, and more or less distant (50 to 550 km). They are first selected by a "commission" comprising representatives of private companies and the head of the labor camp office.They inspect the hands, teeth, the bodies of these women should be scrolled completely naked. They are then sent to the Kommandos they are still employed in the service of the German war industry: manufacturing shells, aircraft engine parts, gas masks, variety of weapons etc. These are almost always Kommandos whose operation is just beginning. The work is hard; monitoring of production is entrusted to foremen foremen and civilians but also to the SS supervisors outside working hours. All the witnesses stressed the extreme brutality of the supervisors and civilian managers.Medical care is almost absent, endless appeals in the cold have not disappeared, but overall are less abused prisoners at the camp so that they remain productive. The bombings and alerts add to the daily terror and, from the winter of 1945, the rations are dwindling.

However, a multifaceted daily resistance is organized. The instructions quickly become clues, telling gestures especially not commit, and that many are seeking to commit for the manufactured parts are faulty. The task requires more precision, more sabotage are unimaginable. The importance of resistance among those deported is probably explained by the fact that, in their great majority, they were resistant before their arrest. Several of them were severely punished or even executed.

Towards the extermination
Ravensbrück was one of the last camps and liberated, by the second half of 1944, convoys from different concentration camps got there. To cope with overcrowding, disposal of the largest possible number of inmates is organized. In early 1945, a provisional gas chamber is installed near the crematorium: Ravensbrück became an extermination camp. About 200 prisoners, among the "27 000" are still present in Ravensbrück on 1 January 1945, when snaps the extermination program. Two thirds they are over 50 years. "The death of this device is the selection of mechanical lower", organized by the head of the office of labor accompanied deputy commander of the camp and two doctors. The women selected are sent to a small camp where living conditions leave almost no chance of survival. Meanwhile dozens of women are from each camp to be gassed in the evening. SS doctors daily round up the inmates they encounter in the camp, women with white hair, complexion too pale, with swollen legs. In late April 1945, the balance sheet is terrible: the 200 detained, at least 35 were gassed and more than 60 others died. But the record is actually heavier, since this murderous program also extended to women employed in Kommandos satellites.

In the last weeks of the war, most of the prisoners of the satellite camps were evacuated in terrifying circumstances: it is the "death marches". Slightly more than 400 women from the convoy of "27000", two thirds of those who have been exploited by many Kommandos, one undergoes the ultimate test evacuations. These steps have been fatal for at least fifteen of them.

"The long way home"
The release of these women circumstances were different depending on where they were located: in the Kommandos, on the roads of death marches, or Ravensbrück. But the journey was always long and painful. Amidst the chaos of the GreatReich collapses, many women are left to themselves for several days, until they are collected by the Allied armies, American in most cases. The worst was the horrors experienced by those that were conducted at the Bergen-Belsen camp. Most "27,000" who survived these terrible conditions returned to France late May and early June 1945, more than a month and a half after release.

Of the 959 women who left Compiègne January 31, 1944, 199 died in the deportation, slightly more than 20% of prisoners. The last months were by far the deadliest and twenty prisoners succumbed after release. Older and less politically engaged were the most vulnerable.

"The return idealized, dreamed of for over a year, is not such that they have imagined. Rather, it will be for many an additional test. Collide with the real, still marked by the universe they just left, the vast majority of these "27000" has a deep confusion (...) For many, the first time the return is accompanied by appalling revelations and suffering (...) Only witnessed the death of their comrades, they must also inform the disappearance of these loved ones (...) Many are shocked by the incomprehension and disbelief of the population. Hurtful words, clumsy remarks, expressions usually unimportant, causing a mixture of indignation and disappointment among these vulnerable women (...) Before this misunderstanding, often felt like tearing the immediate postwar period was marked by a downturn self."

The interest of this work, in the spirit of the collection, is to offer the public a clear and widely accessible text (still accompanied by more than 200 notes), fruit of work based on clearly identified sources archive and fed a perfect knowledge of historiography. It will interest those who are eager to read something new about a topic they know, but it will also allow those who do not know him, to experience most aspects of the deportation through the adventure of these courageous women .

© Joel Drogland

  • The 959 women of the "27000" were deported from the Paris, Montluc, Fresnes, Dijon and Toulon prisons. 
  • They were assigned identification numbers 27030-27988. Their concentration camp badges patches bore an inverted "V" but, unlike other political prisoners, the letter "F" (France) was not added in order to further crush French national pride. 
  • All French political prisoners, including women of the Convoi des 31000, were eventually reassigned to the new Block 32. None of them knew it at the time, but they had been designated NN (Nacht und Nebel), meaning they were supposed to literally disappear into the night and fog, and nobody would ever know where.

Gabrielle Cavailles-Ferrieres (1901-2001)

Caroline Gabrielle Emma Cavailles, daughter of Pierre Ernest Alphonse Cavailles and Julie Leontine Jeanne Laport, was born on 12 August 1901. On 15 July 1926 she married Marcel Aimie Ferrieres with whom she had two children: Jean and Paul.

A descendant of Marie Durand, Gabrielle's ancestors include countess Malan de Merindol, buried alive because she had refused to reputiate her beliefs. Gabrielle followed in that tradition by joining the Resistance, initially for Liberation-Sud and then for Cohors, the intelligence and sabotage network founded by her brother, Jean Cavailles, a distinguished philosopher and Resistance hero who was captured, tortured and executed by the Germans. She was arrested by the Gestapo on 28 August 1943.

"On a beautiful evening in August 1943 in Paris, Gabrielle Ferrières and her husband go to dinner with the brother of Gabrielle (Jean), a shopping bag in hand loaded with supplies ... and reports on the economic activity of German to English. (Las) is an agent of the Abehr (against espionage service of the Wehrmacht) who, with revolver in hand, opens the door. The officer is alone to keep the trap and allows Ferrières to heat their meal at the kitchen. Gabrielle lights the gas and her husband starts to burn the reports. Shots, brawl, but the documents are unusable. Driven to the hotel Cayre Boulevard Raspail, Jean Ferrières realizes it and they hear all night over their heads brutalities which will be the object for an endless interrogation. All three were then conducted to Fresnes, where Gabrielle remained for five months before being released. Marcel Ferrieres was deported to Buchenwald. He returned, but Gabrielle never had any news of her brother. At the end of June 1945 the Minister of War made known that Jean Cavaillès was sentenced to death by the Military Court of Arras in early 1944 and the judgment was immediately executed. Gabrielle went to the town of Arras, where she learned that among the twelve torture victims exhumed from a grave discovered in the citadel, three were not identified. The envelope that contained her brother's portfolio read "Unknown No. 5." [From a biography translated by Marc Fineltin.]

Marthe Cohn (1920-)

Conversation with Marthe Cohn
“[Col. Pierre Fabien] asked me if I would accept a transfer to the intelligence service of the French 1st Army. I accepted and he left…and I sat down and wondered in what predicament I had put myself in.”

By Cindy Mindell
Found at

Marthe Cohn was born into an Orthodox Jewish family on April 13, 1920 in Metz, northeastern France, one of seven children. During World War II, the bilingual Cohn would eventually be recruited into the intelligence service of the French 1st Army, commanded by Marshal of France, Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. Her 2002 memoir, Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany (with Wendy Holden) chronicles her extraordinary story of survival and heroism.

Now 95, the much-decorated war hero will visit Connecticut next month, making stops at Chabad of Fairfield and Chabad House of Greater Hartford, to talk about her harrowing experience as a World War II spy.

She spoke with the Ledger about the wartime experiences of a family who fought and survived the Nazis, and how she went from nursing student to spy.

Q: What happened to your family during World War II?
A: There was antisemitism in Metz, but very low-grade. In September 1939, before the war started, the French government demanded that the people who could afford to do so, move to Poitiers [400 miles to the southwest, and away from the German border]. My two brothers were in the French army; my oldest brother was on the Maginot Line and my youngest was in Tunisia, where he was doing his service, until 1940, then he was sent back because Jewish kids were not kept in the French army anymore. My oldest brother was taken prisoner on the Maginot Line. He was in a camp in Strasbourg, and he overheard the Germans say that the next day they were going to be transferred to a camp in Germany so he escaped that night and he was able to come home. He joined us in Poitiers in December 1940.

We had started a store in the beginning of 1940 in Poitiers which was closed in 1941 on orders of the Germans. My oldest brother tried to escape from occupied France – Poitiers was in occupied France. He tried to cross at Bordeaux but he was caught and spent one month in prison in Poitiers. The Germans did not realize that he was an escaped prisoner of war and that he was Jewish. He came out of prison and escaped again and this time he made it. He got married in 1941 in Sainte Etienne, in unoccupied France.

We stayed in Poitiers and my youngest brother, Arnold, escaped in the beginning of 1942 to non-occupied France because at that time, we were still very naïve and we thought that only the young men were in danger. The rest of the family stayed in Poitiers.

My sister, Stephanie, and I were helping a lot of people who wanted to escape to unoccupied France. We had the assistance of Noel Degout, a farmer in the small village of Dienne, near Poitiers, who helped thousands of people cross through his property, which was partially in both zones. He never asked for one penny and posthumously received the title of Righteous among the Nations at Yad VaShem after they read my book.

On June 17, 1942, Stephanie was arrested by the SiPo [Sicherheitspolizei, Security Police, created by Hitler in March 1942] because she had written a letter to Mr. Degout and sent him vouchers for tobacco from one of the young men we had sent to him to cross into unoccupied France. If you didn’t smoke, you could barter it for food. Stephanie was questioned and refused to give any information, so they came back to our home and arrested my father, to put pressure on her and even in his presence, she refused. My father was released because they were only arresting foreign Jews, not French Jews. The foreign Jews were in the Route de Limoges camp, south of Poitiers. My sister was in prison for one month and then transferred to the Route de Limoges camp; she was the only French person in the camp. We were able to organize her escape from the camp, but she refused to escape because she told me that if she did, we would all be arrested, but the rest of us decided to escape from occupied France. She was transferred to Drancy near Paris and later to Pithiviers internment camp, and then deported on Yom Kippur, Sept. 21, 1942, to an unknown destination. In reality, she was deported to Auschwitz and never came back.

Q: How did you get out of occupied France?
A: We were able to escape from Poitiers because, several weeks before Stephanie was arrested, I met Mr. Charpentier, with whom I had worked at the city hall. He stopped me in the main street and said he had something important to tell me. He told me that he could provide us with identity papers without the stamped “Jew.” When I asked him how much it would cost, he started crying and he said, “I do not want to be paid. I do this to save you.” He gave me all the identity cards.

I was in my first year of nursing school. The night before we left, Odile de Morin, a classmate of mine, came to the house and insisted that she could not live with herself unless we came to her house because she had heard that that night would be the first rafle – deportation – of French Jews by French police, under the orders of the Germans. Odile got the title of Righteous among the Nations posthumously. We went first to Arles, where my two brothers were, and I went to Marseille, where I finished my nursing studies, at the Red Cross school. I became licensed as a registered nurse and left for Paris. I was living with my sister, Cecile, in Paris, who had been there since 1940. I lived with her from September 1943 until the liberation of Paris.

Paris was liberated in August 1944 and I tried immediately to join the army and I was able to do it only in November 1944. I was engaged at the time to Jacques Delaunay, a medical student and a friend of my sister. His mother came to Paris to tell us that Jacques and his brother had been executed by the Germans on Oct. 6, 1943, at Fort Mont-Valérien, the worst prison in Paris. Her husband was in Buchenwald. So, she was the mother of two heroes and the wife of a third hero and she vouched for me and that’s how I was accepted into the army.

Q: How were you recruited into the intelligence service?
A: I joined the army as a nurse, but when I arrived in November 1944 the front was in Alsace. I went by bus from Paris to the front. I was the only girl on the bus. I arrived in a small village very late at night and I was debriefed by a captain of intelligence. Every regiment in the war had at least one intelligence officer from the Second Bureau of the General Staff. He asked me what I had done in the Resistance and I told him about the work I was doing with Stephanie and he said that it didn’t impress him at all. I had never been able to join the Resistance because I had been interviewed by several groups in Paris and they never took me seriously: I was very short and slim, very blond with blue eyes and light skin, and they took me for a bimbo and never trusted or accepted me.

The captain said, “You should have gone out into the street and killed a German. “As much as I hated the Germans at that time, I was unable to do that. I told him, “I’m a nurse, I take care of patients, I don’t kill people” and he said, “You see, you’re not fit to be in the army.” I said, “The headquarters in Paris assigned me to your regiment; I’m going to stay.” He said, “I don’t need nurses, I have enough nurses. You are going to be a social worker.” I had no background as a social worker, but in the army, if they tell you you’re a social worker, that’s what you are. The next morning I decided I was going to see our troops at the front. I crossed a little forest and at the other side, there was a narrow canal. Our troops were on the western side of the canal. I entered the foxholes of our troops, who were very surprised because they had never seen a social worker in their foxholes. They were asking for underwear, socks, food, writing and reading materials, and the villagers gave me whatever they could give me. I went every day for several weeks to the front to bring whatever I could.

One day, crossing the village square, I met Col. Pierre Fabien, who had been a huge hero of the Resistance. He killed the first German in 1942 during the occupation, in the Barbès Metro station. He had put together a huge group of Resistance in Paris and they had fought so well against the Germans during the last two weeks of the German occupation before the French and American troops came in that Genl. Degaulle and Genl. de Lattre de Tassigny, who commanded the French 1st Army, decided to incorporate the whole group as a regular regiment in the army. That was the regiment that I had been assigned to. Col. Fabien asked me to answer his phone during his lunch break.

That’s how your life changes. I went with him and he showed me around and he said, “I’m sorry: I have nothing for you to read here; there are only German books,” and I said, “I read German fluently,” and he asked if I speak German and I said yes. He told me that men could not go into Germany on missions because all males from the age of 12 to old age were all in the army in uniform and any men in civilian clothes in the streets of Germany would immediately be arrested. And that’s why they desperately needed women who spoke German to go on missions to Germany. He asked me if I would accept a transfer to the intelligence service of the French 1st Army. I accepted and he left and I sat down and wondered in what predicament I had put myself in. But it was too late.

Q: How did you first cross into Germany as a spy?
A: Two or three days later, I was picked up and taken to Mulhouse [northeastern France] and underwent extremely intensive training for what I was going to do. I was assigned in January 1945 to the French army commanders in northern Africa, who were overseen by Col. Bouvet. From December 1944, the Germans were desperately fighting in Alsace to prevent the Allied Powers to enter Germany. That was the last resort, and we were unable to dislodge them and we had huge losses. On the morning of the day I met the commanders in northern Africa they had lost 182 dead and had a lot of wounded. Col. Bouvet immediately asked me to interrogate prisoners of war because he needed to get information for the French 1st Army on the plan of retreat of the German army from Alsace to Germany. I interrogated German colonels and generals and obtained important information. I can boast about it because it’s written in one of the citations of my Croix de Guerre, which is a medal I received on the front in 1945 from Col. Bouvet.

After that, the captain in charge of our “antenna” – the intelligence name for our group – decided that I would go into Germany directly from Switzerland. Switzerland was neutral but they had helped the Germans as long as the Germans were successful; now that we were successful, they were helping us. I was taken by an agent, “Mr. LeMer,” to Schaffhausen, very close to Germany near the Rhone River. We came to a small forest and walked through it. On the other side was a huge field and then a road. The forest and the field were Switzerland and the road was Germany, controlled by two armed German sentinels. One came from the eastern edge of the field and walked toward the middle; the other sentinel came from the west, met him in the middle, they talked for a few seconds, turned around, and walked back to the edges. Mr. LeMer told me that, toward evening, I would crawl along the edge of the field when both sentinels had their backs turned, and then walk along the road.

I had no arms, maps, radio, nothing written, not even a flashlight. Everything I needed to know was in my memory. I took my little suitcase, which contained only a change of clothes, and started crawling along the field and hid behind the bushes. Until then, everything was fine. But once behind the bushes, I suddenly realized the immensity of what I was going to undertake and I became so terrified that I was completely paralyzed by fear and it took me a very long time to overcome the fear. Finally, I got up when the two soldiers had met, separated, and turned their backs to me, and I walked on the road. There were no barriers to separate the field from the road. I walked toward the east until one of the soldiers came back toward me, I raised my right arm and said, “Heil Hitler,” and he asked for my identity papers. I was now called Marthe Ulrich. He looked at my papers, gave them back, and I was now in Germany.

 Marthe Cohn looks over the many medals she was awarded
for her heroic acts during World War II.