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Sisters in the Resistance: How Women Fought to Free France, 1940-1945by Margaret Collins Weitz
Synopses & Reviews
Sisters in the Resistance "I was in my early twenties when the Germans invaded our country. To this day, when I read about a rape trial, I am reminded of the Occupation. This was really violation—violation of my country. It was impossible to remain passive." —Lucienne Guezennec In Sisters in the Resistance, noted scholar and historian Margaret Collins Weitz weaves a remarkable collection of first-person interviews into a unique oral history of the women who fought for the French Resistance. The result is a vivid portrait of defiance and endurance that captures the unsung heroism, quiet courage, and ultimate triumph of the women in "the army of the shadows." Candidly, calmly, and modestly, the women speak—many for the first time—about the driving forces behind their struggle, the ideals that motivated them, and the daily hardships and bitter realities of life in occupied France. It was a life of unimagined privations in which food, fuel, clothes, and other daily necessities were both scarce and rationed. Newspapers became precious insulation against the cold, and posters appeared on city streets warning the population about the dangers of eating rats. Yet, despite the exigencies of day-to-day existence, the women persevered, serving as couriers, translators, and medics, and they proved indispensable to the creation and distribution of the Resistances most effective weapon: the underground press. Sisters in the Resistance also reveals how and why women operatives often had a decided advantage over their male counterparts in clandestine operations. As the war intensified, the stakes grew higher, the risks greater. Living with the constant danger of discovery, there was no margin of error for the résistantes. Relentlessly pursued by the Gestapo and their collaborators, a slight lapse in judgment could lead to imprisonment, torture or even death. During her research, Margaret Collins Weitz was given unprecedented access to volumes of previously classified materials and memoirs. As a result, Sisters in the Resistance offers fresh insights into the social and cultural fabric of occupied France, revealing the stifling paternalism and patriotic obsessions that would relegate these womens contributions to the back pages of history for decades. It is a haunting, dramatic, and long overdue addition to the written history of the Second World War.
Based on interviews with 70 surviving participants, who recreate their activities during the period, 1940-1945, and with access to previously classified materials, this is a history of the role of women in the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation.
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Critical acclaim for Sisters in the Resistance
"Often moving . . . always fascinating . . . women in the French Resistance is a key subject. Margaret Weitz has gathered personal testimonies . . . and set them in an intelligible context that helps us understand how all French people—men and women—experienced the Nazi occupation." —Robert Paxton, Mellon Professor of Social Sciences, Columbia University, and author of Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944.
"Compulsive reading . . . a valuable book which vividly portrays the intricacies of resistance within France, written in an easy but serious style." —Times Literary Supplement (London).
"An absolutely stunning and compelling chronicle of dauntless courage and unflagging patriotism." —Booklist.
"[Margaret Collins Weitz's] well-researched, thoughtful study. . . has filled a gap in the history of World War II." —Publishers Weekly.
"Balancing absorbing narrative and astute analysis, Margaret Collins Weitz has integrated the unsung achievements of women into the history of the French Resistance." —Carole Fink, Professor of History, The Ohio State University, and author of Marc Bloch: A Life in History.
"Fifty years after the end of World War II, Sisters in the Resistance renders homage to the courageous women of the French Resistance. It is high time for their contributions to be fully acknowledged, and fortunate indeed that they have found such a sympathetic, scholarly, and lucid chronicler in Margaret Collins Weitz." —Marilyn Yalom, author of Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women's Memory.
About the Author
MARGARET COLLINS WEITZ is a professor in the Department of Humanities and Modern Languages at Suffolk University in Boston, and is a Senior Affiliate at Harvard. She is the author of Femmes: Recent Writing on French Women, coeditor of Behind the Lines: Gender and the Two World Wars, and has written numerous articles about women in France.
Table of Contents
Women and the War-within-a-War.
France under German Occupation.
French Women under the Vichy Regime.
Organizing Resistance in France.
Resistance: A Family Affair.
Young and Alone.
War Is a Man's Affair.
Support Services: Women's Eternal Vocation.
Room and Board: Critical Concerns.
Conclusion: Women and the Legacy of the Resistance.
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History and Social Science » Europe » France » World War II