Yvette Lundy, French Resistance heroine and camp survivor, dies 103
Yvette Lundy, a French Resistance fighter who survived Nazi concentration camps after helping Jews escape France, has died aged 103.
The youngest of seven children from Épernay, Lundy was a teacher during the occupation. She also worked at the town hall, which allowed her to join the Possum Escape Line resistance movement.
Her 2012 memoir “Le Fil de l’araignée” (The Spider’s Web) detailed her wartime experiences.
After 1940, Lundy gave counterfeit papers to Jews, Free French fighters parachuted into the region, men fleeing Nazi STO forced labour programmes in Germany and escaped prisoners of war, who were hiding with her brother Georges on his farm. Georges died in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945.
Lundy described what she did as “honest trickery”.
The Gestapo arrested Lundy in June 1944, then 28, at her school.
She was sent to Ravensbrück, 80km north of Berlin, the only Nazi camp designated for women and children.
Around 130,000 women and children were held at the camp.
Like all arrivals at Ravensbrück, she was forced to strip before SS officers.
“It is another world: starving beings with emaciated bodies, hollow eyes, shaven heads, drag themselves along in rags. In a few days, we will look like them. We go to the search, we must leave all we have: jewellery, clothing, medicine, glasses, shoes. Then it’s the shared shower in a huge shed and disinfection. Dressed in rags when there are no more striped outfits. We are unrecognisable with shorn hair,” Lundy wrote years later.
She later sent to Buchenwald and finally assigned to a Kommando slave labour operation near Weimar and was liberated by the Red Army in April 1945.
Lundy told Le Parisien in 2009: “The body is naked and the brain is suddenly in tatters. You’re like a hole, a hole full of emptiness and if you look around it’s more emptiness.
“I will never forget the screams and cries in the night from the women who no longer had their children.”
In 2017, Lundy received one of France’s highest honours, becoming a grand officer of the Legion of Honour.
She was the inspiration for the character of Mademoiselle Lisa Lundi in Tony Gatlif’s 2009 French drama Korkoro, about Porajmos, the Romany Holocaust in which about 25 per cent of European Roma were killed.
“The words of Yvette Lundy were a powerful call for citizen vigilance so that the darkest hours of the 20th century would never be repeated,” a French presidential statement said.
Yvette Lundy marks her 100th birthday in 2014. Picture credit: Wikimedia