Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade: Leader of Alliance



Marie-Madeleine was starting to feel fairly confident in her work for Alliance when she suddenly discovered that her job title had changed drastically. Navarre had been arrested! He was sentenced to two years in prison by the Vichy government, headed by Marshal Petain. Up until this moment many in France, and even some in Alliance, had believed that Petain might have been secretly working with General de Gaulle, the head of the French Resistance in London, even as he pretended to oppose him. But when Navarre was sentenced to two years in prison, all hope was gone. Some members of Alliance were now confused. Who was the man to be trusted, Petain or Navarre?

Marie-Madeleine hadn't the slightest doubt about the answer to this question. Petain had condemned General de Gaulle to death and had made a bargain with the Germans. Navarre, on the other hand, she would trust with her life. And now he was putting his trust in her, only in a greater way . . . the work and safety of the Alliance members -- 3,000 spies -- would be on her shoulders for the duration of the war. She would also have sole responsibility for deciding which pieces of information were important enough to send to the French Resistance offices in London. There was no question of stepping down. She was determined to continue the work of Alliance.

The Alliance spies were so numerous and so successful that they eventually came to the attention of the Germans. Many Alliance agents were captured and interrogated, and unfortunately, some of them surrendered information. Names were given out. The Germans were on the lookout for those in high positions in the network; if they could find them and get them to talk, Alliance might be destroyed.

Excerpt from "Marie-Madeleine Fourcade: Only a Woman" from Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.

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