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French female collaborator punished by having her head shaved to publicly mark her, 1944

 

French women who befriended the Nazis through forced, forced or voluntary relations after France's independence were chosen for shameful vengeance.

The woman photographed here, who is believed to have been a prostitute who served the German occupiers, is being publicly shaved by French citizens to mark her. This photo was taken on August 29, 1944 in Montelimar, France.

At the end of World War II, many Frenchmen accused of collaborating with Germany committed a particularly outrageous act of revenge: their heads were publicly shaved.

Almost all of those sentenced were women. Most historians have emphasized the sexual concern generated by the Nazi occupation and how women's sexual activity was judged as part of the post-liberation public "cleansing".

Similar to watchful gangs that punished men who cooperated with the occupiers, the groups would band together to judge the women by parading them into a public square. This event in French history provokes shame and discomfort and, as a result, has never been the subject of a thorough investigation.

The origin of the punishment for shaving a woman's head was biblical. In Europe, this practice goes back to the Dark Ages, with the Visigoths. During the Middle Ages, this mark of shame, a woman considered her most seductive attribute, was usually a punishment for adultery. The shaving of women's heads as a mark of vengeance and humiliation was reintroduced in the 20th century.


Across France, from 1943 to early 1946, some 20,000 women of all ages and all professions who were accused of collaborating with the occupied Germans had their heads shaved. Just as the identities of those who did this work varied, so did its form.

For example, those perpetrators can be found members of the Resistance who took part in the fighting at the time of Liberation, neighbors who took to the streets after the Germans left, and men whose authority depended on the police and the courts.

Following the humiliation of a public head shaven, tongue-twistered women - often paraded through the streets on the back of a lorry, sometimes to the sound of a drum as if it were a tumbler, and the French Revolution. was resurfaced in 1789. Some were stained with tar, some semi-nude, some marked with a swastika in paint or lipstick.

In Bayeux, Churchill's private secretary Jock Colville recorded his reaction to one such scene. "I watched an open lorry drive past, the accompaniment of booze and catcalls from the French populace, with a dozen miserable women in the back, every hair on their heads shaved.

They were shedding tears, bowing their heads in shame. Disgusted by this brutality, I reflected that we Britishers had not known of any invasion or occupation for almost 900 years. That's why we weren't the best judges."



The American historian Forrest Pogue wrote of the victims that "their appearance, in the hands of their victims, was like that of a hunted animal". Colonel Harry de McHugh, commander of a US infantry regiment near Argentina, reported: "The French were rounding up allies, cutting their hair and burning it in huge heaps, which one could smell miles away. Also , the female colleagues were forced to carry the gauntlet and were actually beaten up.

Imposing punishment with distinctly sexist overtones, characterized by branding or marking, has dominated its use for all acts of association.

Until now after the war, photographs of women with shaved heads have become the only evidence of the practice, about which its perpetrators have remained silent – ​​the focus is on the victims and the act itself, excluding both what had happened before and its Ignoring the latter (cooperation, accusation, arrest, judgment, condemnation).

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