New York Times bestselling author Anne Sebba explores a devastating period in the history of the City of Light, sharing the stories of women who survived — or didn’t — during the Nazi occupation of Paris.
Paris in the 1940s was a place of fear, power, aggression, courage, deprivation, and secrets. During the occupation, the swastika flew from the Eiffel Tower, and danger lurked on every corner.
While Parisian men were either fighting at the front, or captured and forced to work in German factories, the women of Paris were left behind. They came face-to-face with their German conquerors on a daily basis — as waitresses, shop assistants, or wives and mothers increasingly desperate to find food to feed their families. When the Nazis and the puppet Vichy regime began rounding up Jews to ship east to concentration camps, the full horror of the war was brought home, and the choice between collaboration and resistance became unavoidable.
Sebba focuses on the role of women, many of whom faced life-and-death decisions every day. After the war ended, there would be a fierce settling of accounts between those who made peace with — or, worse, actively helped — the occupiers, and those who fought the Nazis any way they could.
Anne Sebba is a biographer, lecturer, journalist and former Reuters foreign correspondent. She read History at King’s College London, and her first job was with the BBC World Service in its Arabic department.
Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died Under Nazi Occupation was originally published in 2016, and was acclaimed “a standout social history,” by the U.S. trade journal, Booklist. It was also the winner of the Franco-British Society prize, and a TV miniseries is in development.
In English with simultaneous translation in French.
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Presented in conjunction with the World at War – International Speaker Series, an annual series of academic events, presented by the Canadian War Museum.
Generously supported by the Friends of the Canadian War Museum.
Photo: George Metcalf Archival Collection
Canadian War Museum 19650071-018_UK14564