The Effacement of Women in the French Resistance


  • Stella Etienne University of Florida



French Resistance, Women, World War II


Women who participated in the French Resistance effort have been thought to self-efface themselves from history. This paper aims to show that though it might be possible to come to this conclusion if the words they say are taken at face value, women in the French Resistance often represented their contributions in similar ways notably through the medium of memoirs that focus on duty, banalities of life, and a refusal to succumb to negative attitudes or victimization despite the horrors of the 1940’s. By comparing three notable female resistance figures (Lucie Aubrac, Germaine Tillion, and Agnés Humbert) in conjunction with numerous interviews of other women, it is evident that these women do not seek to efface themselves or other women’s contribution. Instead, the common bias of looking at Resistance efforts through a masculine heroism lens marginalizes these women’s contributions. By removing this lens or rethinking what female heroism means reconciles these women’s efforts to their true place in the historical record. The fact that these women deny their heroism does not downplay their contribution to the resistance effort, especially after constantly affirming the importance of these efforts.


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