Author(s): Paula Schwartz
On Mother's Day, 31 May 1942, a group of women stormed a small grocery store at the intersection of two Parisian market streets, the rue de Buci and the rue de Seine, to protest the food shortages that had become a chronic feature of daily life. The then-outlawed French Communist party aimed to channel the frustrations of hungry Parisians by organizing such actions throughout the capital and beyond. The so-called "women's demonstration on the rue de Buci" was one such protest, part of a larger, overarching resistance movement against the collaborationist Vichy regime and the German occupiers. The Buci affair became a cause célèbre, in no small part owing to its tragic consequences: the imprisonment, deportation, and execution of some of the protagonists. This book takes an in-depth look at this singular event, its dramatic repercussions, and its rich postwar afterlife. An extraordinary documentary record, together with the oral testimony of surviving resisters, reveal the minute intricacies of an underground partisan operation; the lives and deaths of the protesters, both women and men; the deployment of gender difference as a weapon of war, and the ways in which the incident has been remembered, commemorated, or forgotten. This book is also a meditation on the writing of history itself. Just as the author turns the event inside out to reveal the internal workings of a clandestine action that were hidden from public view, she turns her own project inside out, exposing the story behind the story that readers rarely see.