Danielle Casanova

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Danielle Casanova (born as Vincentelli Perini, 9 January 1909 - 9 May 1943) was a French militant communist and member of the French resistance. She was responsible for the French Communist Youth before founding the Union des jeunes filles de France ("French Girls' Union", abbreviated UJFF hereinafter). She died in Auschwitz.

Biography[edit]

Vincentelli Perini trained at the Dental School in Paris. There she discovered the Union fédérale des étudiants ("Federal Union of Students"). She met her future husband Laurent Casanova in this organisation. In 1928 she joined the Communist Youth.

She began to call herself "Danielle" and quickly became Group Secretary to the Faculty of Medicine. Still studying, she joined the Central Committee of the movement at the Seventh Congress of June 1932, and took up its direction in February 1934 where she was the only woman. Faced with the rapid expansion of the Communist Youth, the Eighth Congress in Marseilles of 1936 charged her with creating the UJFF. This organisation, though still close to the Communist Youth, was aimed at creating a pacifist, anti-fascist movement. She was elected Secretary General of the UJFF at its First Congress in December 1936, and organised a collection of milk for Spanish children who were victims of the Civil War.

After the French Communist Youth was banned in September 1939, Danielle Casanova went into hiding. She wrote for the newspaper Le Trait de l'Union. From October 1940, after the fall of France, she helped set up women's committees in the Paris region, while still writing for the underground press, especially Pensée Libre ("Free Thought"). She also founded la Voix des Femmes ("Women's Voice"). She organised demonstrations against the occupying forces, including the events of 8 November and 11 November 1940[1] caused by Professor Paul Langevin's arrest, and also that of 14 July 1941.

French Police arrested her on 15 February 1942 while she was aiding Georges Politzer and his wife. Transported to Auschwitz on 24 January 1943, she served in the camp infirmiary as a dentist. She did not stop campaigning, organising clandestine publications and events, even in a concentration camp. She died of typhus.

Legacy[edit]

A heroine of the Resistance, she has lent her name to streets, schools, and colleges throughout France. A ferry between Marseilles and Corsica also bears her name.

Sources[edit]

  • Pierre Durand, Danielle Casanova l'indomptable, éditions Messidor, Paris, 1990.
  • This article was translated from fr:Danielle Casanova, 23 March 2009.

References[edit]