An ugly carnival

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Posted by: Newswalle

The 65th anniversary of D-Day landing this week is an opportunity to evaluate the cheerful images of the liberation of France in 1944. But between the pictures there are also encouraging shocking. They are accused of "horizontal collaboration" the fate of women in the. It is impossible to forget the image of a young woman with shaved head like Madonna by Robert Capa, cradling her baby, implicitly the result of a relationship with a German soldier.

The punishment of shaving a woman's head had a biblical origin. In Europe, the practice dates back to the Middle Ages, with the Visigoths. In the Middle Ages this mark of shame, stripping was from a woman, what was supposed to be its most seductive feature, often a punishment for adultery. Shave the heads of women as a sign of retaliation and humiliation was introduced in the 20th century. After French troops occupied the Rhineland in 1923, the German women who had relationships with them later suffered the same fate. And in World War II, gave the Nazi government contracts that German women sleep with non-Aryan prisoners or foreign employees in companies accused should be publicly punished in this way.

Also, during the Spanish Civil War, the Phalangists had shaved the heads of the families Republican women, they treat them as if they were prostitutes. The extreme right has assured itself that the Left believes in free love. (The most famous victims in fiction is Mary, the mistress of Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway.)

It may seem strange that a shaved head, a phenomenon that essentially correct, should both while the euphoria of liberation have expanded left in France in 1944. Tondeurs But many of the head-shavers were not members of the resistance. There were only a few small employee himself, and tried to divert attention from their own lack of resistance credentials. However, resistance groups could be ruthless against women. In the UK it is so that one-third of the civilians were killed in reprisal women. And threats had shaved head, been made in the resistance underground press since 1941.

There was a strong element of vicarious eroticism between Tondeurs and his audience, despite the punishment he symbolizes on Add desexualization was his victim. This "ugly carnival" was the pattern shortly after D-Day Once a city or village was liberated by the Allies or resistance come to work the clippers. In mid-June, the market day after the capture of the town of Carentan, a dozen women were publicly undressed. In Cherbourg on 14 July, a truck full of young women, most of them young people, were driven through the streets. In Villedieu, one of the victims was a woman who just had a cleaner in the local German military headquarters.

Many French and Allied troops were accused by the treatment of these women Horizontal collaboration with the German soldiers, sickened. A large number of the victims were prostitutes who had simply exercised his trade with German and French, although in some areas it has been accepted that his conduct was professional and not political. Others were which was associated with German soldiers from arrogance or boredom stupid teenagers. In some cases, school teachers were female, living alone, German soldiers are stationed in them, erroneously as having been a reported "cushion for the Boche." Women who accused an abortion to have lived with the Germans.

Many of the victims were young mothers whose husbands were in German POW camps. During the war often had no means of support, and his only hope was to food for themselves and their children to accept a relationship with a German soldier. As the German writer Ernst disciples observed by the luxury restaurant Tour d'Argent in Paris, "the food is power."

Jealousy was guided by the moral outrage because people envied, the food and the conversation that had received these women as a result of his behavior. If Arletty, the great actor and star of the film Les Enfants du Paradis, died in 1992, she received admiring obituaries not a rumor, they had to call a shaved head in the release. These obituaries to go about his controversial love affair with an officer of the Air Force. But letters to newspapers reveals some lasting bitterness almost 50 years later. It was not the fact that Arletty had with the enemy, which they slept angry, but how they also ate at the Hôtel Ritz, while the rest of France was hungry.

After the public humiliation of a shaved head, tondues – the free women – often through the streets on the back of a truck, sometimes the sound of a drum, presented as if it were a car, and France reliving the revolution of 1789 was some. were smeared with tar, some half naked, partially marked with swastikas in color or lipstick. In Bayeux, recorded Churchill's private secretary Jock Colville their responses to one of these scenes. "I saw an open truck drive past, unhappy, even the hairs shaved her head with the accompaniment of ridicule and whistles of the French population, with a dozen women in the back. Were they crying, hang their heads in shame. During this cruelty disgusted, I thought we Brits had known no invasion or occupation of some 900 years. way were not the best judge. "

The American historian Forrest Pogue wrote that the victims "his eyes, in the hands of his executioners, was that of a hunted animal." Colonel Harry D McHugh, commander of the American Infantry Regiment near Argentan, said: "The French were rounding up people cut hair and burning in huge piles that could be smelled miles away In addition, women were forced employees to run the gauntlet and were. severely beaten. "

On the other hand, some men who had volunteered in German factories had to work shaved heads, but that was an exception. Women were almost always the first targets, because it offered the simplest and most vulnerable scapegoats, especially for those men who the opposition came in the last minute was. Overall, at least 20,000 women are known to have had a shaved head. However, the actual number could be higher, considering that some estimates put the number of children fathered by French to members of the armed forces to 80,000.

There have been cases of prostitutes in the death of that German soldiers came accepted as clients in Paris. And at the other end of the social scale, several women in the highest circles of the aristocracy were shorn to fraternize with the German officers. But leaders of the resistance in Paris a determined effort to stop all shaved head. Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy had posters warn of retaliation against emerging RenPorte Tondeurs and another leader who became famous for his strength, he called the heads of a group of young torturing a young woman had escaped.

How many allied troops understanding of the suffering of France confirmed his worst prejudices among the crew, had a considerable number of what she saw. U.S. troops who had never been abroad before France tended to be hostile territory despite attempts by the military authorities, to see them inform of the real situation. Some officers gave the order to arrest or kill all French civilians in areas of immediate invasion. Men and women are certainly French with German weapons were shot on the spot, before they had a chance to explain. The possibility that they might have been collecting these weapons for the resistance it never occurred to the affected soldiers.

A myth extraordinary battlefield soon spread like wildfire. This argues that young women French, lovers of German soldiers were fighting as allies against snipers. These rumors were quickly selected by British war correspondent and hungry Americans sensational stories. But a series of incidents also found its way into the official reports, but doubts about their authenticity. For example, a lieutenant of the First Infantry Division of America reported that they found "four women in German uniform as a sniper in the trees and five in the city. Saw only one close enough to identify them as a woman. Deceit the Uniform German and looked like a French woman. "

Churchill heard these stories of women snipers while visiting Normandy on June 12th and wrote about them, Anthony Eden, on his return. British officials, however, later increasingly skeptical about these "rumors" of latrines.

The moral confusion, if not hypocrisy, was also on the side of the Allies. In his airfield near Bayeux, Colville seemed ironic when General Montgomery ordered all brothels are closed. "The military police were posted to ensure that the order obeyed. Undeterred and defiant, more of the depressed women were presented in an adjoining garden area. Lines airmen, including, sad to say, the Romans worthy Catholic French-Canadian cock for their services , grasping objects such as cans of sardines for the payment. "

The French, meanwhile, was the attitude of some American soldiers to think that if it "buy" to young women came French seemed surprised. After drinking one night, the cabin door they call to ask if there is a "Mademoiselle" for them. Supposedly useful tactics were also published in French lessons daily publication by the armed forces of the United States provided Stars and Stripes, including the phrase "My wife does not understand me."

The Americans and British liberated Paris viewed not only as a symbol of the freedom of Europe from Nazi oppression, but as a play area for your enjoyment. "When we the city in which she took a wild kind of emotion addressed," Pogue wrote. "We started to laugh, sing, scream and otherwise show exuberance." But when I arrived in Paris Pogue, was shocked that the U.S. military authorities had taken the Petit Palais and erected a large sign that the distribution of free condoms U.S. troops. In Pigalle, quickly nicknamed "Pig Alley" by GIs is French prostitute with a view of more than 10,000 people per day. The French were deeply shocked to see the American soldiers lying drunk on the pavement of the Place Vendome. The contrast with the German troops from the service, which was forbidden, even smoking on the street, would hardly be greater.

The reaction generally misogynistic head during the liberation of France was shaved repeated in Belgium, Italy and Norway, and to a lesser extent in the Netherlands. In France, a new wave of shaving the head in the spring of 1945, held as forced laborers, prisoners of war and concentration camp victims is returned from Germany. Women's Revenge represent a form of atonement for the frustration and the feeling of impotence in men humiliated by the occupation of their country. You could almost say it was the equivalent of rape by the winner.

• D-Day Antony Beevor – The Battle of Normandy by Viking Penguin published. To request a copy of 23 with free UK p & p to / bookshop or call 0330 333 guardian.co.uk 6846

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