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.

No comments:

Post a Comment