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Emigration & Internment of Women in France (1939-1944)

October 29, 2017 7:30 pm
October 29, 2017 9:00 pm
Mandelbaum House
(02) 9692 5240
Google Map
385 Abercrombie Street, Darlington, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 2008

At the end of the 1930s, women persecuted under a variety of European regimes came to France in order to find asylum. Some of them met in Rieucros, a French internment camp originally set up by the Third Republic. On the basis of emergency decrees of May and November 1938, the French state had established this first internment camp Rieucros in January 1939, which became a camp exclusively for women in October 1939. In February 1942, authorities transferred the entire camp population of women and children to the camp of Brens, near Albi in the South-West of France. After the transfer the situation became more and more dangerous for the Jewish prisoners as French Government more and more actively collaborated in the “final solution” On 26th August 1942 a great number of Jewish women were deported from Brens to Auschwitz where they all were killed. Anticipating this danger few women tried to escape and some of them who succeeded joined the French resistance.

While the geographical and social backgrounds of these women were extremely different, they had some points in common which provide a fascinating study. Many of the women produced autobiographical texts, which reflect their perceptions, visions and interpretations of their experiences of migration and imprisonment. These testimonies, together with numerous drawings, photos and a great number of interviews can be considered as a large archive of this specific historical event. The aim of this lecture is to give a deeper insight to this complex but long-time neglected chapter of women’s emigration to France focussing especially on the fate of Jewish women.

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