19 April 2008

RIP: Germaine Tillion

Germaine Tillion
30 May 1907 - 19 April 2008

ZUI this article from the International Herald-Tribune:
French Resistance fighter and celebrated anthropologist Germaine Tillion died on Saturday, her association said. She was 100.

Tillion died at her home in Saint-Mande, in the Paris region, the head of the Germaine Tillion Association, Tzvetan Todorov, said by telephone.


Tillion — who was sent in 1943 to the Nazi camp for women and children in Ravensbruck, Germany, for her work with France's underground Resistance network — was the recipient of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, one of France's highest distinctions. She was one of only five women to have received such an honor, the government said Saturday.

After the end of World War II, Tillion devoted herself to documenting the history of France's Resistance to German occupation. She was also a prominent voice against the French colonial presence in Algeria and spoke out against torture.

Tillion was born on May 30, 1907, in the southern town of Allegre. Her father was a judge and her mother, a writer.

Those who read French can learn more here.

ZUI also this article dated 2 June 2007 from The Telegraph:
A darkly comic operetta written by a French Resistance heroine is to have its premiere today in Paris, more than 60 years after she secretly wrote it in the Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbrück.

Germaine Tillion, who turned 100 this week, had kept Le Verfügbar aux Enfers (The Campworker goes to Hell), in a drawer at her home in east Paris because she thought "people would get the wrong idea and think we were enjoying ourselves".

The acclaimed ethnologist and historian wrote the three-act work over several months in 1944 within a tiny notebook, which she kept hidden inside the all-women camp.


The author used her ethnologist's powers of observation to depict the brutality of camp life, but the dialogue is shot through with black humour.

At one stage, a character jests that the camp offers "all creature comforts - water, gas, electricity - especially gas". In another scene, the starving characters embark on an imaginary gastronomic tour through France.

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