Women and children first, they are the most exhausted. After that the men. They are also weary but relieved that their women and children should go first. For women and children go first.
She was not Jewish, but French: a novelist, dramatist, poet, and intellectual. When she died on March 1, 1985, her obituary drew attention to her literary achievements. Charlotte Delbo, however, was also an Auschwitz survivor, and that achievement marked her life even more. As literary critic Lawrence L. Langer says, Delbo made "atrocity the substance as well as the subject of her art." Reimagined rather than imagined, the reality she wrote about was something she could never forget.
On September 3, 1939, two days after Hitler's army invaded Poland, France declared war on Germany. Eight months of inaction followed: It was the time of la drôle guerre, "the funny war." Then, on May 12, 1940, Germany invaded France. Four days later, the aging hero of World War I, Marshal Henri-Philippe Pétain, took over as head of the French government. He quickly asked for an armistice, which was signed at Compiègne on June 22. French collaboration resulted in a two-zone division of the country. The northern two-thirds, including Paris, was occupied directly by the Nazis; southern France, with governmental headquarters at the resort town of Vichy, was left unoccupied until early November 1942. Under these arrangements, the Germans allowed a French government, led by Pétain and then by Pierre Laval, to remain in place in exchange for its cooperation, which included financial exploitation that benefited Germany, labor brigades sent to work in German industry, and punitive measures against Jews.
Delbo was in Brazil with the great French director Louis Jouvet's theater company
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Publication information: Book title: Different Voices:Women and the Holocaust. Contributors: Carol Rittner - Editor, John K. Roth - Editor. Publisher: Paragon House. Place of publication: St. Paul, MN. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 58.