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Raymond Aubrac

Discussion in 'The French Resistance' started by Jim, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Raymond Aubrac was born in France in 1914. He became an engineer. A member of the French Communist Party, he married fellow member, Lucie Aubrac, in December, 1939.

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    After the defeat of France in 1940, the couple moved to the unoccupied zone in Lyon. Later that year Lucie Aubrac met Emmanuel d'Astier in a cafe. Together they established the left-wing Libération-sud resistance group. For the next two years Lucie and Raymond lived double lives as resistance organizers. They were also involved in the publication of the Libération newspaper.

    Lucie Aubrac gave birth to her first child, Jean-Pierre, in May 1941. She often took her child to meetings with resistance leaders such as Jean Moulin, to divert the attention of the Milice.

    At the end of 1942 the German Army occupied the whole of France and Lyon became the headquarters of Gestapo chief, Klaus Barbie. In March 1943, Raymond Aubrac was arrested. However, after two months of being interviewed he was released.

    On 7th June 1943, René Hardy, an important member of the resistance in France, was arrested and tortured by Klaus Barbie and the Gestapo. They eventually obtained enough information to arrest Raymond Aubrac and Jean Moulin at an important meeting of the French Resistance at a doctor's surgery at Caluire in Lyon on 21st June, 1943. Moulin was tortured before being moved to Paris where he died from his injuries on 8th July 1943.

    Raymond Aubrac was held and tortured in Montluc Prison in Lyon. Lucie Aubrac, who was pregnant with her second child, visited the prison and claimed that she was unmarried and that Raymond was the father of her expected child. She pleaded that Raymond be allowed to marry her before his execution. The Gestapo believed her story and allowed the couple to get married. While being transferred back to prison after the "marriage" armed members of the resistance attacked the lorry and freed him.

    Lucie and Raymond went into hiding until a plane could take them back to London, where they arrived in February, 1944. After the liberation of France General Charles De Gaulle appointed Raymond Aubrac as the Commissioner of the Republic for Marseilles (1944-45).

    Raymond Aubrac, a member of the French Communist Party, established the Bureau of Study and Research of Modern Industry. He also worked as a high official of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome.

    Lucie Aubrac visited schools and told the students about her experiences during the war. She also wrote a couple of books about the French Resistance including Outwitting the Gestapo (1984). She once said: "Resistance is not just something locked away in the period 1939-45. Resistance is a way of life, an intellectual and emotional reaction to anything which threatens human liberty."

    In 1983 Klaus Barbie was arrested in Bolivia. Before his trial, Barbie let it be known that in court he would reveal new facts about the resistance. This included the claim that Raymond Aubrac became an informer after being arrested in March, 1943, and that he had been responsible for the arrest of Jean Moulin.

    Barbie died in September, 1991. Soon afterwards the so-called "Testament of Barbie" was released that once again accused Raymond Aubrac of being an informer. In 1997 the journalist, Gerald Chauvy published a book that relied on information supplied by Barbie to suggest that Aubrac had betrayed Jean Moulin. In 1998 Raymond and Lucie Aubrac won a libel case against Chauvy.
     
  2. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Excellent !
     
  3. Jamie 111

    Jamie 111 New Member

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    A great story Jim.

    Very very brave people the Resistance. A lot of them were betrayed by their own countrymen it seems. But what agony you had to endure while being tortured by the Gestapo was unimaginable! So no wonder there were betrayals. And of course the Collaborators were everywhere.

    A terrible period in French history, the second world war. And should never be forgotten!
     
  4. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Controversary of the Aubracs

    In 1945, once the war was over, she published a short history of the resistance - the first to appear - and then returned to teaching. In retirement, she saw it as her duty to ensure that the memory of the resistance lived on in the memories of younger generations of French men and women, and she would regularly visit schools to provide her own testimony as survivor and historian.

    This is how Lucie's life might have ended had she and Raymond not been catapulted into controversy in 1983 after Barbie's extradition from Bolivia to stand trial in France. Before his trial, Barbie let it be known that he would reveal new facts about the resistance, including the claim that after his first arrest Raymond had turned informer and betrayed Moulin. The allegations never came to anything, but were troubling enough for Lucie to write her own memory of the affair (translated into English as Outwitting the Gestapo).

    After Barbie's death in 1990, however, a document - the so-called Testament of Barbie - began circulating in newspaper offices and repeating the allegations about Aubrac. It was also at this point that Chauvy produced his book. Although distancing itself from Barbie's more extreme accusations, Chauvy's work was based on genuine archival material, and its overall effect was to cast a cloud of suspicion over the veracity of Lucie's account.

    Twenty leading resistance survivors published a protest letter, but the Aubracs were deeply upset by the book, and asked to be given a chance to explain themselves before a panel of leading French historians. The newspaper Libération organised a discussion between the historians and the Aubracs.

    But what had been intended by the Aubracs as a way of clearing their name turned into an acrimonious exchange in which they found themselves almost on trial. None of the historians accepted the idea that Raymond had been an informer, but they noted inconsistencies and contradictions in the various versions Lucie had given over the years. There were oddities in the case which have never been entirely elucidated: what were the exact circumstances of Raymond's first release from prison?; why was he the only resister arrested at Caluire not to have been moved to Paris (thus making it possible for Lucie to save him)?

    The arrest of Moulin, in which the Aubracs were caught up, was the greatest drama of the resistance. And the Aubrac affair of the 1990s reminded people that, apart from the cases of betrayal that provide rich fodder for conspiracy theorists, the resistance was also plagued by internal conflicts of ideology and personalities. The fact that the Aubracs remained communist sympathisers long after the end of the war may have had something to do with the attacks on them.

    In exasperation, at one point, Lucie protested that her memoirs - written 40 years after the events, when she was in her 70s - could not be expected to be accurate in every detail: she said she had been writing her story, not history. To which the historians present could only reply that their job was to write history, even if it meant unpicking the stories people wished to tell.

    The tragedy of the situation was that Lucie, herself a historian and historical actor, was at the end of her life caught between the conflicting imperatives of historical truth and legendary memory. None of which detracts from the fact that, whatever happened in Lyon in the summer of 1943, she was a woman of great courage, character and energy, one of the last survivors of a generation that, between 1940 and 1945, helped to save the honour of France. Raymond and her three children survive her.

    Source: The UK Guardian, Julian Jackson, March 16, 2007.
     

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