Thursday, September 17, 2015

Suzanne "Touty" Hiltermann-Souloumiac (1919-2001)

Suzanne "Touty" Hiltermann was born on 17 January 1919 in Amsterdam. At the age of 20, she left the Netherlands in order to follow studies in France on ethnology.

As the German Nazis occupied Paris, Suzanne joined the French Resistance. Following the denunciation of one of its members of the network, she was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Romainville and Fresnes. After repeated questioning, including the use of torture, she was deported to the concentration camp Ravensbrück and detained for more than 12 months. She was released by the White Buses of Count Bernadotte and brought to Sweden. A special plane of the U.S. Air Force then retrieved her from Goteborg to Paris.

The following year, she married Pierre Souloumiac, a captain of the Merchant Marines. Pierre actively participated in the defense of England throughout WWII and was one of the few survivors of the Cruel Sea.

In 1954, with her friend Germaine Tillion, Suzanne supported the independence of Algeria. Living in Hong Kong between 1961 and 1964, she had an influence on China's recognition by General de Gaulle. At the same time, she founded the Hong Kong French school, which became Asia's largest French high school.

In 1981, she retired to Désaignes Ardèche. She had multiple mail exchanges, especially with the United States and various other parts of the world from her home at Les Baux du Peyron.

The archives of the Ministry of Defense established that her network (Dutch-Paris) saved the lives of a large number of allied pilots during WWII. To acknowledge her acts of resistance against the Nazis and her services to allies, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Harry S. Truman.

On 2 October 2001, Suzanne put an end to her life. Her ashes were scattered on the mountains of the Ardèche she had loved so much.

No comments:

Post a Comment