French Resistance member and concentration camp survivor Yvette Lundy dies at 103

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By Euronews  with AFP
Yvette Lundy
Yvette Lundy   -  Copyright  FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP

Yvette Lundy, a member of the French resistance and a concentration camp survivor has died at the age of 103.

Born in 1916 in a small village in the northeastern department of Marne, Lundy started from 1940 to supply fake papers to Jews, men fleeing the Nazi regime's compulsory labour service (STO) or escaped prisoners of war that one of her brothers — who died after being deported — was hiding on his farm.

But the Epernay school teacher and town clerk was arrested in her classroom by the Gestapo in June 1944 and sent to prison before being deported to Germany and finally to the Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbrück.

She told the AFP news agency in 2017 that "still today, there is a moment of the day when I think of the camp ... It is often the evening, before falling asleep."

That same year she was made a Grand Officer of the Legion d'Honneur — France's highest honour.

'Hell hole'

After her liberation by the Russian army in April 1945, Lundy returned to France and, at first, chose to remain silent about her experiences.

But 15 years later, prompted by the country's Education Department, she started going around schools to discuss the war and promote reconciliation to French and sometimes German students.

She also released a book, "The thread of the spider", to retrace her incredible journey.

She described the dehumanisation of prisoners in the "hell hole" of Ravenstruck camp, where she had been reduced to the matriculation number 47360 and where detainees were forced to undress upon arrival.

"The body is naked and the brain is suddenly ragged: we are like a hole, a hole full of emptiness, and if we look around, it's still empty," Lundy said of the experience.

She never once went back to Ravensbrück, arguing that "coming back is a miracle".

Despite stopping her public lectures in 2017, Lundy still made herself available to young people with questions from her senior residence.

The mayor of Epernay, Franck Leroy, wrote on Facebook that Lundy had been "an example for us all" and that she "represented the honour of France during the darkest hours of our history".