Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Fourcade, Marie-Madeleine Bridou (1909–1989)

French Resistance leader. Born in Marseille on 8 November 1909, Marie-Madeleine Bridou married in 1929, had two children, and was divorced by the time World War II began. She sent her children to safety in Switzerland shortly after she became involved in the Resistance movement in June 1940.

Fourcade was recruited for the French Resistance by Georges Loustaunau-Lacau, the leader of the Navarre network, which was primarily involved in gathering information for the British. When he was arrested in May 1941, she assumed command under the code name POZ 55. Fourcade was the only woman to run a major resistance network in France during the war. The Navarre network became known as the Alliance. The Germans knew it as Noah's Ark, for its members were assigned animal names. Fourcade's code name was Hedgehog. The Alliance reported German troop movements and monitored submarine activities and German military operations within France. It also published propaganda tracts and journals. Members of the network also helped identify launch facilities for V-1 buzz bombs and V-2 rockets. Under Fourcade's guidance and supported by British money and equipment, the network grew to more than 3,000 members. Arrested by the Gestapo twice, Fourcade escaped each time. The first time she was caught because a wireless operator sent by the British turned out to be a double agent working for the Germans.

In 1941 and 1942, Fourcade's network helped to conceal British airmen who had been shot down and then to smuggle them out to Spain and safety. In July 1943 after 30 months of leading the Navarre network, Fourcade was evacuated by the British along with some of the downed airmen. She continued to run the network from a house in Chelsea until July 1944, when she returned to France. Of more than 3,000 members in her network, 438 were caught and executed.

After the war, Fourcade was active in organizing the Union for the New Republic, the political party of Charles de Gaulle. She also championed recognition for former Resistance members. Fourcade died at Paris on 20 July 1989.

Laura J. Hilton


Further Reading
Ehrlich, Blake. Resistance: France, 1940–1945. Boston: Little, Brown, 1965.; Fourcade, Marie-Madeleine. Noah's Ark: The Secret Underground. New York: Zebra Books, 1973.; Sweets, John. Politics of Resistance in France, 1940–1944. Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1976.
 

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