Wednesday, September 23, 2015

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.

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