Friday, 19 August 2016

Simone Segouin (b; 3/10/25) - Symbol of Female Resistance


On this day in 1944 the above picture was taken. It has since become a symbol of women’s involvement in the French Resistance. Here we can see a man with makeshift army fatigues to the left and a young man on the right, but the person who grabbed everyone's attention is the girl in shorts in the centre. 
Her name was Simone Segouin, an 18 year-old girl aka as Nicol Minet. In 1944, at the height of the Nazi occupation of France, she joined the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (Free-shooters and Partisans, or FTP) – a combat alliance made up of militant communists and French nationalists, to help liberate the capital.The group named themselves after the French irregular light infantry and saboteurs who fought the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War.
Stealing a bicycle from a German military administrator was the first mission she was assigned. After the successful outcome of her first mission, the bike was painted so it could become Simone’s ‘reconnaissance vehicle’, allowing her to deliver messages and stake out targets.
Shortly, after displaying her skills in secret weapons training, she was allowed to take part in dangerous combat missions. In 1944, at the height of the Nazi occupation of France, Simone Segouin was involved in armed actions against enemy convoys and trains, attacks against enemy detachments and acts of sabotages. She also assisted in capturing 25 German POWs during the fall of Chartres. The French newspaper Independent Eure-et-Loir on its August 26, 1944 issue described her as “one of the purest fighters of heroic French Resistance who prepared the way for the Liberation”. .
Simone became known to the world after American reporter Jack Belden interviewed her for a Life magazine feature headlined ‘The Girl Partisan of Chartres’ Her bravery would make her s symbol of female resistance across the world.
After the war Simone was promoted to lieutenant and awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre, along with other fighters who had by then been organised into a formal military organisation called the French Forces of the Interior (FFI).Simone went on to become a paediatric nurse in Chartres, where her wartime daring acts made her hugely popular . A street in Courville-sur-Eure was named for her.Simone experienced the heaviness of war years. .People have asked Simone if she has killed anyone before. "On July 14, 1944, I took part in an ambush with two comrades. Two German soldiers went by on a bike, and the three of us fired at the same time, so I don’t know who exactly killed them. You shouldn’t have to kill someone like that. It’s true, the Germans were our enemies, it was the war, but I don’t draw any pride from it." She and other women in the French resistance  played a vital role in the fight for liberation from the Nazis, showing exemplary courage under atrocious circumstances.The price of participation was enormous. Resisters suffered arrest, imprisonment, interrogation and sometimes torture, and deportation to concentration camps as political prisoners. La Roquette women's prison in Paris figured on many a woman's itinerary; another larger women's facility in Rennes grouped women resisters from the entire northern zone. From prisons in France, many were shipped to camps farther east, where they perished from disease, starvation, exhaustion, beatings, or more systematic forms of extermination. Many Frenchwomen were sent to Ravensbrück, the concentration camp for women east of Berlin. Jewish resisters and those deemed particularly dangerous were also sent to Auschwitz in eastern Poland; this is the case of the famous convoy known as the "31,000" (the series tatooed on their arm upon arrival). Unlike their male counterparts,  full recognition  and important  central role in the French Resistance  has only came several decades after the events.

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