Taking Control, Women of Lorient, France Direct Their Lives Despite the German Occupation (June 1940-May 1945)
This thesis argues that from June 1940 when German soldiers occupied Lorient, France until May 8, 1945 when the Lorient "Pocket" surrendered, although the women of this port city faced drastic changes, they took control of their everyday lives. They did what it took to feed and clothe their families, working, standing in lines, buying on the black market, bartering, demonstrating, and recycling. They developed relationships with German soldiers which ran the gamut. Due to aerial raids in the context of the Battle of the Atlantic, they sought shelter, buried their dead, took care of their wounded, looked for new lodging, and helped each other. They even tried to have some fun. After evacuation in early 1943, scattered to the four winds, in the American held "Lorient Sector," they served as advocates for others and made inquiries to the American 66th Infantry Division Counter-Intelligence Service. At the Liberation women were easy targets for blame, and some from Lorient were punished, notably for "horizontal collaboration" with Germans. When the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Lorient was celebrated in 1995, the story of the women of Lorient was essentially left out.