Outwitting the Gestapo

Outwitting the Gestapo

Outwitting the Gestapo

Outwitting the Gestapo

Synopsis

Lucie Aubrac (1912-2007), of Catholic and peasant background, was teaching history in a Lyon girls' school and newly married to Raymond, a Jewish engineer, when World War II broke out and divided France. The couple, living in the Vichy zone, soon joined the Resistance movement in opposition to the Nazis and their collaborators. Outwitting the Gestapo is Lucie's harrowing account of her participation in the Resistance: of the months when, though pregnant, she planned and took part in raids to free comrades- including her husband, under Nazi death sentence- from the prisons of Klaus Barbie, the infamous Butcher of Lyon. Her book is also the basis for the 1997 French movie, Lucie Aubrac, which was released in the United States in 1999.

Excerpt

by Margaret Collins Weitz

Lucie Aubrac's memoirs chronicle nine months of her activities in the French Resistance, from May 1943 to February 1944, the nine months of her second pregnancy. By any standard her account is one of exceptional heroism and commitment as well as of intense love and devotion. As she recounts in flashbacks, Aubrac and her husband helped found the Resistance group Libération Sud in the early days of the German occupation. For them this was simply a continuation of their prewar activism on behalf of human rights in the fight against fascism. They were part of a small group of French patriots who tried to hinder the Nazis and to inform the French population of the true nature of the Vichy government of Marshal Pétain, who had signed an armistice with Hitler. Few French were involved in Resistance activities at this stage, in part because the situation in France was far from clear.

When Hitler's deeds began to match the designs set forth in his writings, the majority of the French chose to believe that they were not in serious danger. Part of the problem was France's internal crises. The country was still recovering from the depression. From an attempted rightist coup in 1934 to the Popular Front coalition government of 1936-37, France was in a state of social turbulence. The Spanish civil war, British pressures, and then the Munich Pact added to internal dissension. When the Popular Front disintegrated, its members followed their separate . . .

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