MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Paul Schwartz, the Lois B. Watson Professor of French, has received a Fulbright research fellowship for a project titled “Occupying the Occupiers: Women against the Wehrmacht.” She will be doing archival work in Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, and Brussels to complete a study of Communist women resisters who were charged with infiltrating Hitler’s army.
Schwartz’s Fulbright research is a part of a much larger project on gender and resistance in France that she has worked on for many years.
“Eventually I came to focus more specifically on the role of women in the French Communist underground,” Schwartz said. The subject of her Fulbright research is a small aspect of that much broader topic. It focuses on German-speaking women, Jewish and political refugees from Austria who had fled to France and Belgium.
“Everything about it interests me,” she said. “It shows how desperate people were to fight, even when doing so meant making an uncertain contribution and taking huge risks. Most of these women were arrested and deported to Auschwitz.”
Schwartz interviewed the few remaining survivors of the resistance movement in the 1980s. All the women who were part of the movement have since died, but a number of archival documents important to her research have come to light since then. She eventually plans to publish a book with translated excerpts from her interviews, along with a study of the work based on archival research.
“I have always wanted to develop this material more fully and am excited about the prospect of a deeper and more thorough investigation into a relatively little-known area of women’s resistance activity,” she said.