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Lucie Aubrac at age 90
|Born||Lucie Bernard Aubrac
29 June 1912
|Died||14 March 2007
Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris, France
|Occupation||member of French Resistance, history teacher|
|Spouse(s)||Raymond Aubrac (1939-2007);
Lucie Bernard was born in Mâcon, the daughter of modest Burgundy winegrowers. She was raised in a Catholic family. In 1939, Lucie married Raymond Samuel (31 July 1914 - 10 April 2012), a Jew, whom she met in Strasbourg in December 1939. Raymond Samuel would later come to be known as Raymond Aubrac, having had to change his surname due to open anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France.
Joining the Resistance
After the fall of France, Lucie joined the Libération-sud resistance group in Lyon after its formation by her husband. Later, she followed him to the Charles Delestraint's group. In 1941 they joined forces with Emmanuel d'Astier to run the underground newspaper, Libération, the same year their first child, Jean-Pierre, was born.
On 21 June 1943, the Gestapo captured Raymond alongside high-ranking Resistance member Jean Moulin (under the alias "Max") and many others. They were taken to Montluc prison, located near Lyon. The Nazis sought Jean Moulin in particular as he was General Charles de Gaulle's top representative in the French Resistance.
Lucie was able to talk face to face with Klaus Barbie, Lyon's Gestapo chief. Her alias was "Ghislaine de Barbentane", a name of high-standing, noble origin. Because of her pregnancy and a specific provision of French law called "marriage in extremis," under which a person condemned to death can marry civilly, Lucie managed to convince Barbie that she was unmarried, and being pregnant could not be a mother without being married (known as a "fille-mère"). Barbie unwisely allowed Raymond to be released for the wedding, which gave Lucie and the Resistance an opportunity.
On the day of Lucie's and Raymond's "marriage", 21 October 1943, Lucie and her comrades attacked the German truck that was transporting the prisoners back to German command, and released Raymond along with the thirteen other members of the Resistance being held. Six Germans, including the truck driver and five guards, were killed during the attack and escape.
Having had their true identities revealed, Lucie, Raymond and their first child Jean-Pierre left for London in February 1944. As it was the last alias they had used in France, Aubrac remained as their name in the United Kingdom. Their second child, Catherine, born on February 12, and became de Gaulle's goddaughter.
After the war
In 1946, Lucy gave birth to her third child, Elizabette "Babette", and Ho Chi Minh became her godfather.
After the war, Lucie Aubrac served on the consultative committees of the French Republic Provisional Government (GPRF). Her teaching degree was also restored, and she eventually returned to teaching. She was also active in the campaign for human rights. In 1984 Lucie Aubrac published her memoirs under the title Ils partiront dans l'ivresse (best translated as "They will leave with elation"). The French title refers to the radio code phrase the Aubracs listened for to know it was safe for them to leave for London. (The book was translated into English as Outwitting the Gestapo). The film Lucie Aubrac is loosely based on the events surrounding her husband's escape.
Lucie Aubrac died in Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, on 14 March 2007.
- Guardian obituary, 16 March 2007
- "Lucie Aubrac, une conscience s'est éteinte" (in French). Libération. 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
- Lucie Aubrac: The French Resistance Heroine who Defied the Gestapo, Sian Rees, Michael O'Mara Books 2015