War & Nation/Nation-building & Women/Femininity

Delbo, Charlotte. Auschwitz et après...aucun de nous ne reviendra. Paris : Éditions de Minuit, 1965.

Charlotte Delbo joined the French Resistance in 1941 to aid the “Politzer group” in publishing clandestine literature. She was arrested in 1942, transferred to Romainville, and then deported to Auschwitz. Delbo was one of the 49 women who escaped the convoy to Auschwitz, but was recaptured and sent to Ravensbrück in 1944. This book is a poetic reflection on her experiences in Nazi concentration camps. After the war, Delbo worked for the United Nations.

Tillion, Germaine. La traversée du mal: entretiens avec Jean Lacouture, Edited by Jean Lacouture. Paris: Arléa, 1997.

This is the story of an extraordinary woman: at first one of the leaders of the Resistance, heading the Musée de l'homme network, then prisoner from 1942 to 1945 at Ravensbrück. In the 1950s, she focused her ethnological work on Algeria, North Africa, and the whole of the Middle East.

Chevrillon, Claire. Une résistance ordinaire: septembre 1939-août 1944. Félin: Paris, 1999.

This autobiography covers the period between Germany's declaration of war and the Liberation of Paris. Chevrillon began as a messenger for the Resistance, then became a cryptographer serving under Jean Ayral and Paul Schmidt, liaison officers of the Bureau central de renseignement et d'action (Central Bureau of Information and Action, forerunner to France's modern intelligence service). She was arrested by French police in 1943, handed over to the Gestapo, and incarcerated at Fresnes.

Morin-Rotureau, Évelyne. 1939-1945, combats de femmes, Françaises et Allemandes, les oubliées de la guerre. Paris: Autrement, 2001.

Books concerning the Second World War are almost always conjugated in the masculine. However, remembering women in historical context allows us to see the stakes of this war in a new light. Anonymous mothers, become head of the family overnight after the departure of a million and a half men, had to face up to daily life, between restrictions and ration lines. Other women engaged actively in the Resistance, such as Hélène Viannay, cofounder of the very subversive newspaper Défense de la France. This engagement would send 10,000 of them to the camp of Ravensbrück.

Minghella, Anthony. Cold Mountain. United States: Miramax Films, 2003.
Rísquez, Diego. Manuela Sáenz. Manuela Sáenz: La libertadora del Libertador. Venezuela: Blancica, 2000.


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