Portland State University. Department of History
Michael F. Reardon
Date of Award
Master of Arts (M.A.) in History
1 online resource (120 pages)
German Occupation of France (1940-1945), World War (1939-1945), World War (1939-1945) -- Women -- France, World War (1939-1945) -- Underground movements -- France, War underground movements, Women, France -- History -- German occupation (1940-1945)
During the years 1940-1944, the period of the German Occupation, French women played an active role in the political sphere as part of the organized Resistance movements. The women who participated were not isolated examples, but an extremely diverse group that cut across social milieux, political alignments and religious persuasions. The range of their activity in the spectrum of roles and the differences in their style challenge the stereotypes and persistent attitudes in French culture about women’s nature.
Women were leaders in the principal Resistance movements, participated in the organization and dissemination of the underground press and in the organization of the networks of passage. Their role was crucial in liaison activity. With ingenuity and resourcefulness, women, as women, made their own unique contributions to the Resistance movements. Those who were arrested and deported continued their resistance, even in prison and in the all-women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck.
I have attempted to place the women, Resistants in the context of the social history of the period. Under the collaborationist Vichy government, the domestic policy of France moved in a direction that reinforced and sharpened the most conservative attitudes towards women's role. Some of the effects of Vichy policy carried over to the post-war period, and were built into the social policy of the Fourth Republic.
I have considered two models used by American sociologists and social historians to evaluate the effects of social crisis on women's roles. My purpose in so doing is not to compare the role and status of French women with that of American and British women, but merely to test whether the hypotheses are applicable to the situation of French women in the political sphere.
I have used the underground press and témoignages (first-hand reports) assembled and published by women's committees. I have examined documents at the Bibliothẽque Marguerite Durand in Paris, and at the Muśee de l’Histoire Vivante at Montreuil. I have talked to women who actively participated in the Resistance movements. In addition, I have used published Resistance histories, both regional and general.
Kline, Rayna, "Partisans, godmothers, bicyclists, and other terrorists: women in the French resistance and under Vichy" (1977). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2150.