The Daughters of the Resistance: Marie Gatard and Mireille Albrecht

  • Claire Gorrara


During the late 1970s and 1980s, officially endorsed images of the Resistance were under threat from a number of sides. Not only did other individual and group memories of the Occupation oppose de Gaulle’s heroic readings of the war years but the trial of Klaus Barbie, in 1987, for crimes against humanity was to trigger heated debates about corruption at the heart of the Resistance. The betrayal of Jean Moulin, de Gaulle’s envoy to the internal Resistance, at Caluire in June 1943, and the identity of the resister who gave him up to the Gestapo, was set to upstage Barbie’s indictment for crimes against humanity, initially defined as his part in the rounding-up and deportation of Jews to the Nazi extermination camps.1


Human Face Woman Writer Commit Political Activist Autobiographical Narrator Feminist Recuperation 
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  1. 2.
    I am using the term résistancialisme here as defined by Alan Morris in Collaboration and Resistance Reviewed: Writers and the Mode Rétro in Post-Gaullist France (Oxford: Berg, 1992): ‘a Gaullist “myth” of the Resistance [...] that the national response to invasion was accepted to be one of widespread heroism and revolt’, (pp. 1–2)Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Brigitte Friang, Comme un verger avant l’hiver (Paris: Julliard, 1978) p.93.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Of course, not all children of resisters questioned such images. See Catherine de Castilho, Mon père était Rémy (Paris: Edition Far, 1985), first published in 1970. I have chosen not to focus on such texts because they do not raise the issues of gender and historiography at the heart of this study.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Marie Gatard, La Guerre, mon père (Paris: Mercure de France, 1978) andGoogle Scholar
  5. Mireille Albrecht, Berty: la grande figure féminine de la Résistance (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1986).Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    For a recent historical study of the practice of head shaving of French women, see Fabrice Virgili, ‘Les “tondues” à la Libération: le corps des femmes, enjeu d’une réappropriation’, Clio, 1 (1995) 111–27.Google Scholar
  7. Enthusiastic eye-witness accounts of the head shavings from the Liberation period include those of Edith Thomas in Pages de journal 1939–1944 (Paris: Viviane Hamy, 1995).Google Scholar
  8. It is only in Thomas’ later text, Le Témoin compromis (Paris: Viviane Hamy, 1995), written in 1952, that she comes to speculate on the horror of the scene and the darker side of the crowd’s excitement.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    See Corran Laurens, ‘“La femme au turban”: les femmes tondues’, The Liberation of France: Image and Event H. R. Kedward and N. Wood (eds) (Oxford: Berg, 1995) pp.155–79.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    For a short account of her life and activities, see Marie-Louise Coudert, Elles, la Résistance (Paris: Messidor, 1983) pp.120–5.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    For the Communist Resistance, one of the key figures used to symbolize French women’s commitment to the anti-Fascist struggle was Danielle Casanova. See Hilary Footitt’s recent ‘Women and (Cold) War: the Cold War creation of the myth of ‘La Française résistante’, French Cultural Studies, 8 (1997) 41–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Claire Gorrara 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Gorrara
    • 1
  1. 1.School of European StudiesUniversity of WalesCardiffUK

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