Following World War II, a humiliating French episode began, featuring an activity that had been mentioned in biblical history. Adulterous women during the middle ages were shaved as a mark of humiliation and identification. This practice originated from the Visigoths who practiced it in the dark ages. After the Second World War, the French used this act to shame the female collaborators. Just as the war approached its end, the French accused a lot of individuals, mostly women, of collaborating with the Germans against the French. Between and , about twenty thousand women were victims of the humiliating act as a result of these allegations. These collaborations came in different forms: from being a member of the resistance to participating in the fight at the time of the liberation and even as little as emerging in the streets immediately the Germans left.
French female collaborator punished by having her head shaved to publicly mark her, 1944
Ugly Carnivals: When Liberated France Was A Demonizing France
The sociologist J. The invasion of Normandy in June and a second invasion in the south in August, put over two million front line and support troops of the Western Allies into France in The Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. Except for German forces penned in the south-west e. After the war, the repatriation for demobilisation of the troops took time.
Robert Capa Reveals an Ugly Side of Liberation in WWII France
The liberation of occupied France during World War II endures in our collective memory as a clash of mighty armies -- a visual rhetoric that distills the horrors of the occupation, the struggle for freedom and the jubilation of the liberation itself. In August , not long before the Allies entered Paris, Capa was in the town of Chartres when he came upon a scene that was to play out across much of liberated France: a woman who had engaged in collaboration horizontale -- collaboration with, and in this case having sex with, occupying troops -- her head forcibly shaved, carrying the child she had with a German, followed by a throng of taunting townspeople. Tens of thousands of women, many of whom were merely accused of collaboration, suffered similar fates after liberation: some were killed; a good number were beaten; all were humiliated. With this and other, similar photographs, Capa captured the ugly energy lurking in a populace wound tight under the pressure of occupation, casting about for blame in the aftermath of their own subjugation. The picture is a visceral reminder of an old, grim truth: injustice begets injustice.
T he 65th anniversary of the D-day landings this week is an occasion to revisit joyful pictures of the liberation of France in But among the cheering images there are also shocking ones. These show the fate of women accused of "collaboration horizontale". It is impossible to forget Robert Capa's fallen-Madonna image of a shaven-headed young woman, cradling her baby, implicitly the result of a relationship with a German soldier. The punishment of shaving a woman's head had biblical origins.