Gender, women and the Occupation of France, 1940-1944
History Compass, 1, (1) (doi:10.1111/1478-0542.037).
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Perhaps the only acquaintance that a popular audience is likely to have with the women of wartime France is provided by Charlotte Gray, the eponymous fictional creation of novelist Sebastian Faulks, who, in the service of British intelligence, is parachuted into Occupied France during the Second World War to aid local resisters. Describing the film version of the novel as both ‘cinéma-sucré’ and a ‘preposterous fable’ for its romantic and simplified view of the lives of such agents, one critic has been keen to emphasise that the reality of wartime resistance for women, and indeed for men, was very different, demanding highly developed skills of communication and evasion deployed in a state of constant fear. (1) Historians now know much more about the role of women in the resistance and about their lives under the Occupation in general than was the case two decades ago, when histories of Occupied France were, for the most part, gender blind.
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