Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Berthe "Berty" Wild-Albrecht (1893-1943)

Berthe Pauline Mariette Wild was born in Marseille, France into a family originally hailing from Switzerland. 

In 1911, she completed her education with a degree in nursing. After graduating, she moved to London where she took a job as supervisor at a girls' boarding school. During WWI, she worked as a Red Cross nurse at a series of military hospitals. 

In 1918, she married Dutch banker Frédéric Albrecht in Rotterdam, Netherlands with whom she had two children: Frédéric and Mireille. They moved to London in 1924. 

During the 1920s, Berthe was exposed to feminism and became passionate about the status of women in modern society. In 1931, after being separated from her husband, she moved to Paris and befriended Victor Basch of the Human Rights League. In 1933, she created the feminist journal Le Problème sexuel, in which she controversially supported contraceptives and abortion. 

When Germany began annexing neighboring countries by force, she founded a safe haven organization for refugees. Having been known as a liberal activist, she was on the German watch list they occupied France. Together with Captain Henri Frenay, Berthe produced anti-German propaganda leaflets and booklets. She was arrested in 1942 by the French police for anti-German activities, but she was able to escape. She was captured by German agents in Mâcon, France on 29 May 1943 and was tortured at the Fresnes Prison for two days before she was executed by hanging. 

Berthe's remains were found in the gardens of the prison in May 1945. She was re-interned in the crypt of Fort du mont Valérien in Suresnes, France near Paris in November 1945.

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