By Agence France-Presse
Yvette Lundy, a French Resistance figure who taught reconciliation after surviving the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, has died aged 103 in the northern French town of Epernay, authorities there said Sunday.
“Still today, I think of the camp at one point each day… often at night before I fall asleep,” Lundy told AFP in 2017.
On the occasion of her 100th birthday that year, she was elevated to the Legion of Honour’s second-highest level, that of Grand Officer.
Lundy was the youngest of seven children in a farming family in the champagne-growing region around Epernay northeast of Paris.
A schoolteacher in the nearby village of Gionge, she also worked at the town hall, a key job that allowed her to join a resistance network known as the Possum Escape Line.
Beginning in 1940, Lundy supplied fake papers to Jews, men fleeing the Nazis’ forced labour programme the STO in Germany, and escaped prisoners of war, who were hidden by her brother Georges at his farm.
But the Gestapo caught up with her in June 1944, arresting Lundy, then 28, at her school.
She would be interned at Ravensbrueck some 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Berlin, the only camp reserved for women and children.
Lundy would never forget the dehumanisation she experienced there from the very beginning when she was forced to undress in front of SS officers.
“The body is naked and the brain is suddenly in tatters. You’re like a hole, a hole full of emptiness, and if you look around it’s more emptiness,” Lundy said.
The ordeal would last nearly a year until Lundy was assigned to a Kommando slave labour unit near Weimar — liberated by the Russian army in April 1945.
It was nearly 15 years before Lundy began to speak out about her experiences, giving talks to French as well as German students.
Epernay’s mayor, Franck Leroy, recalled her “incredible commitment to the duty of remembrance”.
She “also had a viewpoint on war and notably on Franco-German reconciliation which she saw as extremely important,” Leroy told AFP.