Marie-Madeleine Fourcade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade (1909, Marseille - 1989) was the leader of the French Resistance network "Alliance", under the code name "Hérisson" ("Hedgehog") after the arrest of its former leader, Georges Loustaunau-Lacau, during the occupation of France in the Second World War.

Wartime resistance[edit]

Fourcade worked with Loustaunau-Lacau (also known as Navarre) on his magazine L'ordre national, an espionage publication.[1] Navarre believed espionage to be crucial in the war effort. Navarre recruited Fourcade for a network of spies and to work on L'ordre national. She was barely 30 at this point.[2] Her first mission for Navarre was to create sections of unoccupied France, then recruit and assign an agent to these section.[3] This network became the "Alliance" (later called "Noah's Ark).[4]

Soon Navarre was arrested, and sentenced to two years in prison.[5] She then took care of 3,000 resistance agents and survivors, as well as social works and the publication of Mémorial de l'Alliance, dedicated to the resistance group's 429 dead.

Post-war activities[edit]

She chaired the Committee of Resistance Action from 1962, as well as the jury of honour of Maurice Papon in 1981. She remarried, was a mother of five children, a commander of the Légion d'honneur, vice president of the International Union of Resistance and Deportation from 1960 and the National Association of Medal-holders from 1947, and a member of the L.I.C.R.A.. Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was represented at the assembly of the European Communities and in 1982 chaired the Defence of Interests in France and Europe. Her last fights were for the end of the Lebanese conflict and the Klaus Barbie lawsuit in Lyon.

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade died at age 80, on 20 July 1989 at the military hospital of Val-de-Grâce; the government and the few survivors of the resistance group paid an exceptional homage to her on 26 July at the time of her funeral in the Saint-Louis Church of the Invalids and her burial in the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris.

Noah's Ark[edit]

Fourcade wrote a memoire of her wartime experience in the book L'Arche de Noé, published in 1968, later abridged and translated into English as Noah's Ark. She describes how, as a young woman in her early 30s, she became head of the underground intelligence network which was to become known as "The Alliance". The name of the book is a reference to the name given to the network by the Nazis, because it assigned animal names to its members, as code names. Fourcade's was "Hedgehog". Their assignment was to gather information about German troop and naval movements and logistics inside France, and transmit this intelligence to Britain, using a network of clandestine radio transmitters and couriers. It was extremely dangerous work; many of Fourcade's closest associates being captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo. Some, however, were able to escape, including Fourcade herself, who escaped capture on two occasions. Arrested with her staff on 10 November 1942 she escaped, through a stroke of luck, and was taken by plane to London from where she continued to direct the network. After returning to France to direct the network on the ground, she was captured a second time. Her second escape was more harrowing: in the small hours of the morning, she stripped naked and was able to force her petite body between the bars of the cell window. At the conclusion of the war, she was decorated for her outstanding service.


  1. ^ Atwood, Kathryn (2011). Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 61. ISBN 9781556529610. 
  2. ^ Atwood. Women Heroes of World War II. p. 61. 
  3. ^ Atwood. Women Heroes of World War II. p. 62. 
  4. ^ Atwood. Women Heroes of World War II. p. 61. 
  5. ^ Atwood. Women Heroes of World War II. p. 63. 
  • L'Arche de Noé - Marie-Madeleine Fourcade - Fayard - 1968
  • Noah's Ark, - Marie-Madeleine Fourcade O.B.E., E.P. Dutton and Co., New York, 1974
  • Marie-Madeleine Fourcade , un chef de la Résistance - Michèle Cointet - Perrin - 2006
  • Website

See also[edit]