For a very long time, Rolande Trempé, former
female member of the French Resistance and history professor at
the University of Toulouse, has been shocked by the lack of recognition
of the role of women in the Resistance. Although Rolande is invited
to official commemorations and historical conferences, she finds
that they underestimate and undervalue the role of women in the
Resistance by describing the actions of women as "auxiliary",
which is always subordinated to the masculine directive, rather
Rita Thalmann, a historian, was moved in the same
way as Rolande during a conference in 1992, in Besançon,
France, on the role of foreigners in the Resistance. While she is
pleased that some recognition has been given to the group who had
said "no" to the collaboration, "no" to the
wait-and-see policy and "yes" to military engagement to
re-conquer the lost freedoms and dignity of the people, despite
the danger it posed to their lives, there still remains an unmentioned
and unacknowledged group of citizens, primarily which are women.
The women of the Resistance even continued to fight and remained
loyal to the Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur during
the Libération in Toulouse, Nimes, and Lyon, nevertheless,
their recognized role remains second.
The publication and the reading of these two works
consolidates the intentions of Rolande Trempé :
"The forgotten of history", according to Albert Oriol-Maloire
(a term used already by Rita Thalmann), author of a book written
in the their memory, Les Femmes en guerre (1995) and especially
in Chemins de dames dans la résistance bourguignonne, by
Jeanne Gillot-Voisin (1999).
The desire to react against these facts is reinforced
by the investigations undertaken following the two subject studies
by the national Contest of the Resistance and the Deportation:
- The role of women in the Resistance (1996-1997)
- The representation of the actions of the resistance and the commemoration
of the victims (1998-1999)
This historical group has worked for the continued
recognized that the role of women in the Resistance, in 2000 the
work of these women in the Resistance and those who suffered deportation
was finally recognized by the Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
The time to recognize the role of women had finally
come. In 2001 a series of commemorative meetings was arranged by
a trade union of miners and their associates to create a day that
would be dedicated to appreciating the accomplishments of the women
who collaborated with the miners in the North and in Pas-de-Calais,
in France, and to mark a place for a commemorative plaque for Emilienne
Mopty, who was executed in Cologne, on January 18, 1943.
The reason why the role and place of women is undervalued,
if not sometimes completely ignored is still not clear. Historically
the roles of men and women would be considered highly traditional
by today's standards and were also more heavily influenced by the
judgement and criticism of the French public opinion. After the
war, the affect that woman had had on the war was considerably undermined
by the scandalous and perverse act of shaving the heads of women
who had been with German men. Acts of such male design threw discredit
on the women of the Resistance by defining Resistance by military
means solely. The concept of the Resistance needs to be widened
to include all aspects of combat (armed and not armed, civil and
military, on French territory: in Europe and oversees) that were
directed against the Germans in opposition of the occupation. It
is certain that the restrictive recognition given to women is further
minimized by the lack of commemorative ceremonies for them.
The lack of representation of female activists
illustrates the total need for more monuments dedicated to both
men and women of the Resistance. By creating these monuments we
are showing our thanks and appreciation to the people of the Resistance.
This project does not have the intention to rewrite history and
give more credit than is due to the women of the Resistance, but
to more simply evoke the diversity of the different forms of action
and the intensity of the engagement of the women beyond the difference
of classes, professions, opinions, nationalities and political cleavages.
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