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- 02 -012018

« A dedicated life », episode 1: Berty Albrecht

Birth: 15 February 1893
Death: 31 May 1943
Companion of the Liberation – Decree of 26 August 1943

Residing in London in 1914, she chose to return to France to become a Red Cross nurse when war broke out. She served in several hospitals in her native city of Marseille, where she saw a constant stream of wounded and mutilated soldiers, invalids and facially disfigured servicemen known as “gueules cassées” (“broken faces”), to whom she provided moral and physical support. Seeing the horrors of war and watching women take the place of men who had gone to the front persuaded her that women had to be emancipated for everyone to be free. Thus, after the war, she joined the French Human Rights League and then came to the aid of German anti-Nazis and Spanish republicans exiled in France.

She accomplished her first acts of resistance in summer 1940 before co-founding the Combat movement with her friend Henri Frenay. She was arrested several times in 1942 and escaped, but was recaptured by the Gestapo in 1943. She took her own life rather than divulge any secrets to her torturers.

Credits: Photograph of Berty Albrecht appearing in her booklet for the Association of French Ladies (Red Cross of the Committee of Marseille) © Musée de l’ordre de la Libération

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